Archive for category Bible

Great Writing

scarecrow

There are a few authors I really enjoy. I don’t really care for Lee Child, however, he is a great writer. Others in my Hall of Prose would include C.S. Lewis, Michael Creighton, Winston Groom, Louis Lamour, Tom Clancy, Nathaniel Philbrick, Laura Hillenbrand to name a few.  I like writers who know how to describe a place or event, vividly, with few words as possible. This is why Lee Child gets a place on my top 10 hit list; His pen is really a paintbrush and his paper the canvas on which he paints.

So when we think of the books that make up the Bible, hopefully, we  appreciate their sacred inspiration, but how often do we marvel at its ingenious prose and  resplendent poetry? Marvelous is the way God revealed His mysteries towards us by allowing men to unfurl their talents through word and song. David, a shepherd and warrior-poet writes beautiful and passionate hymns and psalms. Paul, a lawyer and analytical master, pens concise but bountiful letters, prompting us to mine the lode of scriptures daily for its precious gems.  Isaiah, the royal prophet, writes to the very heart and soul of his people, describing the coming Messiah in unavoidable definition. Then, there are Ezekiel and John. Who better to write apocalyptic literature, than these two exiles of brutal and harsh environments? Each scribe of the Bible is used by God for the purpose of communicating His will, but allowed also inspired by God to convey that message by the craft of the pen and penman.

Consider the stark yet truthful exclamation of Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet”. One excerpt from the first few verses of chapter 10 is eye-opening; Hear the word that the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel.  Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them,    for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.   They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.  (5)  Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” 

I know firsthand that the hardest part of writing, is painting a picture for the audience to see what it is that I am thinking.  Describing inanimate objects is probably the hardest aspect, and yet Jeremiah (inspired by God), masterfully defines the true essence of idols.

Within the metaphor of the scarecrow, is an array of images that help us understand the futility of putting material things before God:

1. The scarecrow requires man to make it, dress it, move it, place it, set it up, repair it.

2. The scarecrow cannot think, act, write, talk or even argue or disagree with why he’s made or where he should go.

3. The scarecrow has no free-will. It cannot choose between good or evil.  It is unconscious, unfeeling, and incommunicable.

The name we give to it is even useless. The subject in question doesn’t scare crows away, but the wind that God made that blows against it may at times deter the rook or crow from lighting.

                The scarecrow analogy is just one of a thousand ways that God paints for us the folly of this world.   On every page and within each verse or line are invaluable treasures.  The words God sent to us and the way He allowed men to express them should move us to live more faithfully.  Let us read the Bible daily and comprehend His beautiful words.

Darryl Fuller

Lost Books

Thomas Jefferson loved books! In 1770 his family home in Shadwell burned, and all the books he had collected were lost. This, what he considered his greatest loss, invigorated him to restock his library. In the midst of the American Revolution and while serving as the United States Minister to France in the 1780s, Jefferson acquired thousands of books for his library at Monticello.  jefferson-library-locThen in 1814, the British burned Washington D.C. They employed as kindling, all the books from the Library of Congress (3,000) to start a fire in the Capitol. Devastated by the lost of such a collection, Jefferson offered the sale of all his books (6,487 volumes), to Congress at a tenth of their value. For $23,950 dollars the U.S. government acquired Jefferson’s library and refilled the Library of Congress. Then in 1851, another fire devastated over 4000 of those books, and to date has not been fully recovered. Thus, in just a short amount of time, thousands of precious volumes have been lost.

The collection of books we call the Bible and its remarkable preservation is indeed a gift from God! Hold it tight and cherish it fervently. The 66 books you have in your lap or off to your side have made the most remarkable journey. Although the Bible that is near you now is one of millions of copies, its abundance was not always so.

Original books that have survived for more than 500 years are hard to come by. A few have made it and are locked away tightly in museums and vaults. Books such as:

The Gutenberg Bible which is the world’s oldest mechanically printed book – the first copies of which were printed in 1454-1455 AD. Printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany, it is considered to be oldest printed book using movable type in the West. There are 48 original copies in known existence, of which 21 are complete. Estimated age: 559 years old.

Scotland’s Book of Kells. The pocket-sized book of Psalms is housed at the University of Edinburgh, where it went on public display in 2009 for the first time. The book is thought to have been created in the 11th century AD, making it Scotland’s oldest surviving book.Estimated age: 938 years old.

Discovered in 2013, was a ‘Siddur’ – a Jewish prayer book dating back to around 840 AD. The complete parchment, still in its original binding, is so old that it contains Babylonian vowel pointing – akin to the Old or Middle English for the English language. This allowed experts to date the book to the times of Geonim – Babylonian & Talmudic leaders during the Middle Ages.Estimated age: 1,173 years old.

The Book of Kells is kept in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland, and is thought to have been created by Celtic monks around 800 AD. The book is an incredibly ornate illuminated manuscript Gospel book, written in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament.Estimated age: 1,213 years old.

Europe’s oldest known surviving intact book is the St Cuthbert Gospel, bought by the British Library in 2012 for £9 million pounds as part of a fundraising campaign. The book was buried with St Cuthbert, an early British Christian leader, on the island of Lindisfarne off Northumberland, in around 698 AD. Only just surviving the Viking conquests, the book was moved to Durham to avoid Viking raiders, narrowly escaping destruction. The book was again rediscovered in 1104 AD.Estimated age: 1,315 years old.

The preservation of such books is a testimony to the power and providence of God.   Consider the example of Thomas Jefferson. Within an 80 year period, thousands of his books were lost.  Since around 127 A.D. the collection of the 66 books of the Bible have withstood every fire, war, plague, and catastrophe  that you could think of.

Interestingly, within the canon (collection of books) of the Bible, God reveals the names of other books that have been lost.  By God’s providence, these books, for whatever reason, were not preserved.  They include:

  • The Book of Jasher (whose title fully translated means the Book of the Upright or the Book of the Just) is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. From the context in the Book of Samuel it is implied that it was a collection of poetry.
  • The Book of the Wars of the Lord Referenced in Numbers 21:14.
  • The Book of  Shemaiah the prophet, and of Iddo the Seer” (also called Story of the Prophet Iddo or The Annals of the Prophet Iddo) is mentioned in the book of 2nd Chronicles. (II Chr 9:29, 12:15, 13:22). Iddo was a seer who lived during the reigns of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Abijah.
  • The Manner of the Kingdom.
    Referenced in 1Samuel 10:25.
  • The Acts of Solomon
    Referenced at 1Kings 11:41.
  • The Annals of King David
    Referenced at 1Chronicles 27:24.
  • The Book of Samuel the Seer. Also called Samuel the Seer or The Acts of Samuel the Seer, which could be the same as1 & 2 Samuel
    Referenced at 1Chronicles 29:29
  • The Book of Nathan the Prophet Also called  Nathan the Prophet or The Acts of Nathan the  Prophet 
    Referenced at 1Chronicles 29:29, and also 2Chronicles 9:29.
  • The Book of Gad the Seer
    Referenced at 1Chronicles 29:29
  • The Prophecy of Ahijah   might be a reference to 1 Kings 14:2–18.
    Referenced at 2Chronicles 9:29
  • The Book of Jehu could be a reference to 1 Kings 16:1–7.
    Referenced at 2Chronicles 20:34
  • The Sayings of the Seers
    Referenced at 2Chronicles 33:19
  • The Chronicles of King Ahasuerus
    Referenced at Esther 2:23, Esther 6:1, Esther 10:2, and Nehemiah 12:23.

Although we do not have these lost books, we can nonetheless be assured we have God’s complete message to us.   2Pe 1:3  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

Jesus also, in His prayer before His crucifixion stated: John 17:8  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

 

                The Library of Congress has restored a great deal of Thomas Jefferson’s collection and all may go to Washington and view or read these books. In his lifetime he  collected and lost thousands of books, but all we really need is 66.  Chances are you’ve got that library sitting next to you.  It’s a lot older, far wiser, contains the secrets of God, the mystery of all ages, the eternal truth and precious promise of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Cherish it! It’s come a long way and endured much sacrifice to be in our hands, so don’t lose it!

Darryl Fuller