Are You a Good Person?

Friday, August 24, 2007

What's In a Name?

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." (Exodus 24:12)

You may be wondering why I chose such an odd name for a Christian site. Good question. It is because we have strayed so far from God's Law that we sometimes forget how important it is.

In the passage quoted above we see that the Lord actually did write His commandments on tables of stone. Sometimes I'm amazed at how many of our cliches have come from Scripture. "Written in stone" usually refers to something that cannot be changed. In conversation it usually means that whatever directions, commands, or the like that a person has received is only a guide. The statement usually goes something like this, "I know that your mother and I promised that you would be grounded for a week for staying out late, but it's not written in stone. Show us that you can be trusted and we can reduce that time for you."

Two things are being said, most of the time without realizing it. The most obvious is that if it's not written in stone it can always be changed, amended, corrected or in some other way modified. So mom and dad's decision made in disciplining their child can be altered in some way because it is not written in stone. In some ways this is a good thing, for as parents we need to be forgiving, not just mean people always looking to beat on our children. However, taken to the other extreme it is just as dangerous, because it teaches children that there are no absolutes, anything can be changed. Children are masters at manipulation. They know how to pit one parent against the other in order to get these directives modified in their favor. So teaching them that mom and dad's commands are not necessarily written in stone can lead to some dangerous consequences.

Why do I say that? Because the other thing that the above illustration says, by its omission, is that some things are written in stone. Some things are absolute. The Commandments of God are absolute, they are holy, they are perfect, they are just, and they are utterly beyond our capability to keep them. Jesus put it this way, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:17,18)

Unfortunately for some of you I like the King James Version of the Bible, but I will try to clear things up as we go along. For the longest time I wondered what a "jot" or a "tittle" was. So that you don't have to go searching and worrying about that, it refers to the tiny markings in the Hebrew language that could change a word from meaning one thing to another. Making things simple for those simple like myself, in English it is the equivalent of saying, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, not one dot over an 'i' or one cross of a 't' shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

We see then that God intended to give to us a perfect law that could never be changed, modified, altered or whatever. To impress this upon the children of Israel to whom it was given, God wrote His law in stone.

One might think this is terribly harsh for one who calls Himself a God of love, but it is precisely His love that causes Him to do this. Look at the following illustration.

When Columbus made his first voyage across what we now call the Atlantic Ocean, there came a point when the North Star and the compass pointing north did not match. The other men aboard ship with him were beside themselves. How could they find their way anywhere if they could not determine where true north was. Columbus told them to keep a steady heading and take another reading in an hour. That second reading had both the North Star and the compass point of north identical. So what happened? Did north change? Did it alter while they were sailing? No! They were using two different methods of finding north. One was the North Star, the other was the compass. As it turns out the compass remained steady, but the North Star was actually orbiting around a point in space that would have been true north.

When we travel through this life we need a means of finding our way, just as did Columbus. Tragically, many come forward with their own little ways of finding "north" so we don't get lost. Once you begin to observe them and study them you find that some of these supposed "helps" actually lead you in the wrong way intentionally. Others keep changing, just like the North Star, so they can fit whatever situation they want them to fit. However, unlike the sailors aboard ship with Columbus, the people following these movable points are not filled with the same dread as those sailors. So they drift off in life unaware that they are more than lost, they are headed for certain destruction. God's Law alone stands as the true compass point of north. The Bible itself becomes a type of spiritual compass so that we can navigate safely to God.

One last point for today, while the compass point of God, His true north is absolute, it cannot provide safety. Safety is found only in following the compass point of God's Law to the Cross of Christ. If those sailors actually sailed north history would be much different today. Instead, they used that fixed point to help them sail west. Likewise, the Law shows us where we are going without the mercy of God. It condemns each and every one of us. Knowing that, and because it is perfect, we look not to the Law to save us, but that because of the Law we have a need to be saved. This change in our direction leads us to Jesus, who offered Himself up for us, to die in our place. Knowing where judgment lie, we were able to navigate to the foot of the Cross and there find the mercy of God. It is amazing how many people still miss this and refuse the grace that God offers them.

Look to the Law. It is written in stone. It does not move, but remains constant that by it we would see ourselves utterly sinful. In light of that we can then find the mercy of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. That's when our life truly begins, not before.

David Brollier
Director of Operations for Soar Like An Eagle Ministries

No comments: