“The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.” Ecclesiastes 12:10
Have you ever considered why we use wrapping paper to cover the gifts we are giving? Why don’t we just hand people their presents? It would definitely save time and money.
So why do we wrap presents in wrapping paper? Because the presentation of the gift matters. How the gift is presented must compliment the nature of the gift.
This Christmas we didn’t wrap our kid’s presents in Wal-Mart plastic bags, even though at times I was tempted to do so. We chose to wrap our children’s presents this year in beautiful wrapping paper because we cared about the presentation of the gifts. But there is another reason we used wrapping paper. Wrapping paper is not only aesthetically pleasing it adds to the element of surprise and elevates the excitement as you tear the paper open to uncover what’s inside.
THE BEAUTY AND SURPRISE OF GOD’S WORD
Our use of wrapping paper illustrates an important truth about God’s Word, presentation matters!!! In his wonderful book on the tabernacle Daniel Hyde writes the following, “The Word of God is as beautiful in its presentation as in its proclamation.” That single sentence has had a profound effect on me. It affirmed something I have experienced time and time again while reading the Bible, God’s Word is not only deep it is delightful.
If reading Scripture for you is occasionally delightful but most of the time you simply read for content, let me appeal to you that you should seek to read Scripture with an appreciation for the presentation of truth also. Here’s why, in 2 Timothy 3:16 Paul makes this claim about the origin of Scripture. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” This means that God inspired every word of Scripture. I hope everyone reading this article would wholeheartedly affirm the divine inspiration of Scripture. I hope you affirm and rejoice in the fact that when Scripture speaks God speaks. What we may not be so quick to affirm however is that God’s Word should not be dull if it is spoken by him. If God is speaking in Scripture he shouldn’t sound monotone or boring, like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Wah wah woh wah wah”. We should expect God to be a better communicator than that! And if Scripture is God’s precious gift to man shouldn’t we believe that God cares about the presentation of his inestimable gift more than anyone else?
So as you begin a New Year let me encourage you with this thought, as you read the Bible in the days ahead, take notice of the presentation of sacred truth and delight in it!
THE LAMP OF GOD IS STILL SHINING
To give you a glimpse of the beauty of Scripture (its presentation), let me provide one example from 1 Samuel 3:3 that I take delight in.
“The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.”
At first glance this verse appears to be communicating nothing more than facts, it was night and Samuel sleeps close to the ark of God. But when you consider the setting of the book, the time of the judges, you realize it was a spiritually dark season in Israel’s history. This is confirmed in vs. 1 when we are told that the word of the Lord was rare in those days. That statement carries a lot of weight. At this point in the book we already know about the failure of Eli’s sons and the old age of Eli, which is concerning when you consider that they are Israel’s spiritual leaders. The future of Israel is starting to look awfully bleak. Yet suddenly God calls Samuel to be his mediator and mouthpiece for the sake of his people. What first appeared to be an informational line, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out” takes on new light (no pun intended) and becomes a revelatory statement. With this one line a sudden burst of hope breaks into this story. Even though things are dark and starting to look darker, all hope is not gone for God’s people. God will come to their aid and will provide for them a spiritual leader.
We must realize that the narrator could have easily just come out and said, “All hope is not gone for God’s people”. But let’s be honest, that would not have the same effect on us. Saying that “all hope was not gone” would definitely communicate the content of the message but not the intent of the message that God wants to communicate hope to our hearts when the days are dark. So the narrator subtly informs us that “the lamp of God had not yet gone out”. Brilliant!
Now you might think to yourself, instead of saying things explicitly, narrative communicates truth implicitly and with subtly. This is the way narrative works! You are absolutely right—that is the way narrative works! But who chose narrative to be one of the main genres to communicate sacred truth? God did! So as you read your Bible remember that every word formed, every letter written, every Psalm composed, all foreshadowing, irony, character development, and repetition are the work of his skillful hand. If God is the author of sacred Scripture then he is responsible not only for its content but its style and format. He is the one responsible for the final product called The Bible, this is his masterpiece.
My prayer is that as you read Scripture this year, you will unwrap the beauty of God’s Word in a new way that will allow you to enjoy it more not only because of what it says but how it says it.
* A good article on reading your Bible literarily can be found in the ESV Study Bible entitled, Reading The Bible As Literature by Leland Ryken.
Joshua leads a home group and oversees the college ministry of Lifegate Church. He also serves in teaching capacities of the adult Sunday school as well as being on the preaching rotation for the Sunday morning worship gathering. Joshua graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2009.