Summary: The Bible is more than ink and paper bound in leather. It is the ancient words of our Creator.
Brigham Bryant was just a ten year old school boy, but in 2002, he discovered an ancient treasure. He had long admired the dusty painting hanging behind the librarian’s desk at his Connecticut school. It had hung there for seventy years without much notice, but Brigham’s curiosity led to the discovery of this ancient treasure.
One day he told his father about this painting that he loved. The description piqued his father’s interest. He went to see it for himself. Although dark and dingy from years of neglect, Brigham’s father discovered it to be a masterpiece by Walter Craine.
This fixture in the school library, ignored by most who visited, turned out to be worth over a million dollars. (April 16, 2002 - source: Reuters/Rense.com)
That story reminds me of the discoveries on the “Antique Roadshow”. Have you seen this PBS hit, which features everyday people who ask experts to determine the value of their family heirlooms? “This bowl has been in my family for generations. My grandmother brought it with her when she immigrated from Europe.” The expert examines the glazing, the shape, the markings on the bottom and then pronounces its value. “This is no ordinary bowl. It’s worth one thousand dollars!”
Makes you want to dig through your kitchen cabinets and find out if you have any ancient treasures hiding there. Let me give you some advice. If your bowls say “Rubbermaid” on the bottom, they are not ancient treasures.
You may not have valuable antiques in your living room or masterpieces hanging on your walls, but each of you has an invaluable ancient treasure. It’s on your book shelves, or lying on your bedside table. It’s probably lying beside you right now. Go ahead and pick it up- that Bible of yours. It doesn’t matter if it’s paperback or leather bound, written in King James English or the language of the streets. Your Bible is a priceless ancient treasure and you should feel honored to possess it.
The word Bible is from the Greek word for “book”. It was the common word for all written documents, but it soon came to refer to THE BOOK- the Holy Scriptures that have been cherished by millions throughout history. What makes this book so special, so revered? Because this book was authored by God himself. Paul told Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired.” (2 Timothy 3:16). We may use the word “inspired” to refer to any great work of art or literature, but the word Paul used means “God breathed”. Those thin pages filled with print represent the very words of God, his message, breathed out for our reading.
It all began on Mount Sinai. That’s where humanity first received a written record of God’s will. Those ancient words began with ten simple commandments. “I should be your only God. You should not worship any man made gods. Don’t misuse my name. Keep my Sabbath holy. Honor your parents. Don’t murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t covet the possessions of others.” Those stone tablets were written in God’s own handwriting, but the commandments bore the markings of the very heart of our Creator.
The recent conflict over the monument of the Ten Commandments in the Alabama courthouse testifies to the power of those words. No other statue would have stirred the hearts of so many. No other words have fostered such devotion. No other words have displayed such power.
But the real power of those words are seen in the way they have shaped human nature. In World War II, US soldiers marched onto a Pacific Island as the Japanese retreated. The natives there came out to greet the soldiers, carrying their Bibles with them. When one of the locals approached one soldier, holding out his Bible, the soldier said, “We’ve outgrown that sort of thing.” The native said, “You ought to be glad we haven’t. If it weren’t for this book, we would be eating you now.”
From the deepest jungles of Africa to the urban landscape of our biggest cities, people measure right and wrong based on these ancient words. The very structure of society is held together by a shared understanding of right and wrong. Sociologists may say these come from human nature and an inbred desire to survive and prosper, but we know the truth. We hold murderers accountable, punish thieves, show respect and expect it in return because God revealed these ancient truths to us. And even though we don’t always live up to these high ideals, our basic sense of right and wrong ties back to the words on those two stone tablets. The very words printed in your Bibles.
Those words were so precious that throughout history, Godly men and women have continued to call people back to those ancient truths. Many of these were called prophets- God’s mouthpieces, announcing His message to people through many generations. Peter said these men never expressed their own opinions, but were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak the very words of God (2 Peter 1:21). What an awesome responsibility that was. Nowhere is that better seen than when God called Isaiah to speak for him. Read the story from the ancient words in your Bibles.