Through Life God’s Word Guides Your Way (October 15, 2017)
Through Life God’s Word Guides Your Way
There are two ways to successfully navigate through a dark house. The first, and most obvious way, would be to turn on the lights and simply get where you need to go. But sometimes at home, that isn’t always an option. At night, when everyone else is sleeping, you probably want to avoid turning on the bedroom light and the hall light as you make your way to the bathroom or down to the kitchen to prepare a bottle. But I’m going to guess that even without the lights on, you are not completely blind in your own home. You remember how your home is laid out. You have an imprint in your mind and even spatial memory of where almost everything is at. And so, without too much difficulty, you can navigate through the darkness.
Now, what if your entire world went dark. What if the sun stopped shining, all power went out, and you were suddenly caught in deep darkness. And I’m talking about the kind of darkness where you can’t see your hand an inch away from your face. How well would your fare? Could you manage daily tasks? Could you get around? Maybe you could throw some clothes on, but who knows if they match. Maybe you could brush your teeth, but you might accidentally put Neosporin on your toothbrush instead of toothpaste. Maybe you could manage to fumble your way down the street to a corner store, but you would have no clue what kinds of things you were buying and taking home to eat.
I know that’s kind of an absurd, “what if” situation. But according to God’s Word, this is how we were living – at least spiritually. Isaiah, the prophet, says, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples” (Isa 60:2). God says that we are living in a situation that is disorienting and makes it so we can’t even function – at least spiritually. But God did not leave us wandering aimlessly in that darkness. He sent his Son, to be the light of the world! Isaiah prophesies again, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa 9:2). In fact, even before Jesus entered human flesh to be the light of the world, God’s light was already in the world through his Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105). This light of God’s Word allows you to see your Savior and guides your way throughout life to serve your Savior.
Psalm 119 is a very interesting psalm to look at and read – especially in Hebrew. I say that because what is not really reflected in the English is that this is an acrostic poem. That is, every verse begins with a specific letter. The first 8 verses each begin with the Hebrew letter aleph – the first letter of their alphabet. The next 8 verses each begin with the Hebrew letter Beth – the second letter of their alphabet; and so on through the whole alphabet. What remains in the English translation is simply each Hebrew letter as a heading for every 8 verses.
The psalm itself is the longest psalm, by far, with 176 verses. The whole psalm talks about the Word of God; and in fact, almost every verse contains a synonym for God’s Word. There is an irony in all this that is undoubtedly intentional. A psalm talking about God’s Word, also emphasizing every letter of the alphabet illustrates what Jesus said about the importance of God’s Word. “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Mt 5:18). Each and every letter of the Word has its unique and God-ordained place. And each and every promise has been or will be fulfilled in its unique and God-ordained way.
God gave the first glimmer of light to mankind when he promised to send a Savior from sin: the Messiah. And throughout history he added to that glimmer of light. The Savior would come from Abraham’s family (Gen 12:3). He would be a prophet to speak God’s Word (Deut 18:15-19). He would be the Son of God (Ps 2:7). Though the Savior would die, he would not stay in the grave. He would rise (Ps 16:9-11). He would be betrayed by one of his close friends (Ps 41:9). He would be born of a virgin (Isa 7:14) in Bethlehem in Judea (Mic 5:2). He would be a king, but humble and riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9). All of these – and there are many more – turn that glimmering ember of hope into a blazing light of confidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah – the one who has come to bring troubled people out of utter darkness and break away their chains (Ps 107:13-14)!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, see your Savior! Jesus is your Savior as promised by God’s Word. And Jesus is your Savior in a way that no other savior could be. As we were groping around in spiritual darkness, we have to come to grips with the reason for that darkness. It’s sin. It’s sin which separates us from God, and it’s sin which spiritually debilitates us so that we cannot do anything pleasing in God’s sight.
So how do I escape this darkness of sin? Do I work hard at being a better person and slowly climb the ladder out of this darkness? No. The problem with that is I can never do all that God asks of me. I can never make it to the top rung of holiness as God demands. Ok, but what if I make up for the wrongs I’ve done by balancing them out with good? You know, like if I come home from work irritated and impatient with my spouse, then I’ll just buy her flowers or take her out to dinner. The problem with that is, sure, I can balance out my wrongs with rights in the world’s view, but the problem of sin still remains. I haven’t really done anything with the sinfulness that darkens my world. Even if I go the comparison route, reasoning that if God is going to save some, like maybe the top 50%, then I just have to make sure I am a better person than half of the people I meet. The truth is, God does want us to do some comparing, but it’s him he wants us to compare ourselves to. “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev 19:2) he says. If I’m honest with myself, there is no way that I can make myself holy. I am already sinful. I have already failed. I am already living in darkness.
So we need a Savior who is Holy like God is, and yet under the same law of God that we are under. We need a Savior who could take a sinner’s place in condemnation, yet be a great enough substitute to count for every person who ever lived. Do you see where the Word points us to? We need Jesus. Only he was perfect as God demanded, yet a human being under the same law that you and I are under. Only he was able to die and face the condemnation that we humans deserved, yet make that sacrifice more than enough to pay for everyone who ever lived. Jesus is the Savior like none other. And God’s Word reveals this! God’s Word is the light that allows you to see your Savior.
God’s Word indeed shows the Savior. But its light doesn’t end there. The light of God’s Word focuses on Jesus, our Savior, but it also sheds light on all other aspects of life. Through life it guides your way to serve your Savior. God warned the Israelites against straying from his Word. “Be careful,” he said, “or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them” (Deut 11:16). “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut 11:18-19). Make God’s Word such an important part of your life that it is imprinted on your mind and on your heart!
Because the sad truth is, you are still living in a world that is filled with darkness. You will often be surrounded by it. In fact, there will be times when the light of the gospel will grow dim in your life and the darkness will threaten to overtake you. You will be enticed to turn away from God and put your trust in other things. It’s in those moments that you will be glad you have made God’s Word your great heritage. It’s in those moments when you don’t see any light in the world around you that you will be glad that the light of God’s Word has been imprinted on your heart and mind. You never need to worry about fumbling around in the dark because God’s Word is always with you and will guide you through the darkness and troubling times in this life.
This light of God’s Word is a guide, and it is also a tool. It’s a tool that is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Perhaps when we think of the law part of God’s Word, we think of it as rules that must be followed. Inconveniences in our lives and dampening the fun we could be having. But that’s not at all how God sees it. God sees it as equipping you; preparing you and equipping you so that you may have peace of mind. Isn’t that what you do at every stage of life? You equip your very young children for school. As you get into your teen years you equip yourself for college or for a career. In the middle of your life you equip your future by investing and saving. And as you are nearing a full life, you equip yourself and your family for what will come next. God’s Word is there every step of the way. Not to lock you down and restrict you, but to illuminate your path and prepare you. To help you see how God is with you in every stage of life. And to see every day as a unique opportunity to serve and praise God. By grace he condemned his Son in your place. By grace God brought you out of the hopeless darkness of condemnation, to see his light! Then also illumined the rest of your life so that you could have a true perspective on life. A perspective which is aware of all the wonderful things God has done for you. An uplifting perspective which joyously serves God, recognizing that he knows how to give his children peace in life.
Now that you have seen this light, share it! You wouldn’t leave your friends or family in the dark in a power outage. You wouldn’t leave your kids out in the dark when you have found the light and safety of God’s Word. Share the light! Teach about the light! Help others build their homes upon the solid foundation of God’s Word so that they too can see their Savior and serve their Savior. And realize that the light of God’s Word is for every stage of life. You don’t have to graduate up into it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it is for this reason that Martin Luther compiled his small catechism. It consists of only 6 chief parts all focused on God’s light for your life. And at the very beginning of the catechism, he wrote, “As the head of the family should teach in the simplest way to those in his household.” The light of God’s Word is simple: Jesus takes your sins away. Yet it is also filled with such a depth that it can be your guiding light in every stage of life. For this reason, God’s Word is our great heritage.