A Devotion for 28 January 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. 9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue.” (Matthew 12:1-8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Just how important is the Word of God to you, my friends? Is it only a Sunday morning book you dutifully read for Bible lessons; or is it more like the manual of operations and maintenance of your very soul? I hope it is the latter for that is exactly what it is. It should evoke a far higher interest from the believer than any adolescent love letter from the prettiest girl or most handsome boy. At bottom line, it is a love letter from you Spouse and Maker. “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 54:5)
If we except the fact that every word our Lord spoke was Holy Scripture, the only other Scripture that He did quote was the Old Testament. Without the Law and prophets, the New Testament would be less understandable for the Old is precursor of the New. How could we appreciate the fulness of our Lord’s sacrifice at Calvary if we were oblivious to that first Passover in Egypt? That Passover lamb was fulfilled in the Lamb of God – the Lord Jesus Christ. How could we know the importance of reverential worship and dignity were it not for that ornate, goat-hair covered Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Our dark nights of the soul would be less hopeful were it not for the Psalms of David which the Lord often quoted. The Word of God is the Book upon which we must feast for it is the very Bread and Water of Life!
Please recall the temptation of our Lord during the forty day fast of the Wilderness. As He neared the end of His forty days of fast, our dear Lord was famished. His body was wracked with the pangs of hunger. There was no one there to comfort Him among the sons of men. The devil is wiser than all mortal men. He is not divine, but he does have the power of extensive observation from the cradle to grave of his prospective prey. He sees our weaknesses and our desires. He knows how to promise rewards to satisfy those desires and dreams even if his promise is as dead and meaningless as a Babylonian banknote. He has watched our Lord from the first day of His fast. He has seen His body weakened by hunger and want. The devil knows Scripture very well – perhaps better than any other preacher even if he twists and contorts the Word against itself.
At the very weakest point of our Lord’s trial, that old Serpent considers that the opportune moment to approach the Lord with his tempting beguilements: “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” How did our Lord respond? He must have desired bread with a great hunger. Our Lord quoted Old Testament Scripture: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 & Deut 8:3) The most powerful weapon any believer can muster is the Word of God. This is the lesson we glean from Christ here. Then Satan tempts our Lord to cast Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple and even falsely quotes Scripture as he did to Eve in the Garden. “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matt 4:6) Satan quotes from the Psalm 91:11,12 but omits the phrase “to keep thee in all in all thy ways.” Jesus again responds with the Power of His Word from Deut 6:16: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matt 4:7)
The devil lacks many strengths, but perseverance is not one of those. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” There is an old adage that says, “the Devil will take you where you do not want to go, and promise you things he has no power to give.” These treasures are not the devil’s to grant. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that in them is!” (1 Cor 10:26)
At last the Lord utters the Word that forces the devil to flee: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” (Matt 4:10-11 and Deut 6:13)
Do you recognize in the exchange above the mighty power of God’s Word? How courageously we must proclaim it; how assiduously must we guard against its adulteration; and how jealously must we insist on its exact counsel!
Every devoted minister of God mounts the pulpit each service with one objective – to preach the Word of God in Truth and Power; but men are mortal and subject to error. It is the duty and obligation of every believer to confirm every word preached from the pulpit as consistent with Holy Writ. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)
How we read and understand Scripture is of vital importance, and may I add, the Word means exactly what it says if we grasp the symbolism of parts and absolute application of others. “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? (Luke 10:25-26) The lawyer gave the correct answer, but further examination proved that he did not grasp the meaning, thus Jesus related the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There are many who can quote scripture ad infinitum, but do not grasp a single line of it.
Seven times our Lord asks, “Have ye not read?” Well, answer the question, friends. Have you read many times over until you have gained a deeper insight to meaning? Have you read the Ten Commandments so many times that you can recite them from heart and, yet, have no clue as to how Christ makes it possible for us to obey them? He tells us in the Summary of the Law! The key is the same given by the lawyer above: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; C” Those are the correct words of the Summary. The lawyer well knew that passage, but he had no concept of its practical application. He had the right answer but the wrong understanding. What keyword in the Summary enables us to keep the Commandments? It is the word LOVE! IF we LOVE the Lord our God with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind – there is no way we can bring shame to His Holy Name with intention. This binds the first four Commandments by the strongest of all bonds – LOVE.
The last of the Summary deals with the last five Commandments – our obligations to have love and compassion on others: “ . . . and thy neighbour as thyself.” You may ask, “What of the fifth Commandment? The fifth Commandment is, in my opinion, a transition Commandment from our duties to God to those we owe our fellow man: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” This is a divided Commandment – it relates our duty to BOTH God and man. We do, indeed honor our father and our mother, but we also must recognize that we have as Father in Heaven as well whom we must honor.
Failure to read AND study the Word of God can, and will, lead us into error. “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:31) “Have ye not read so much as this, what David did.” Luke 6:3 We cannot hide under the illusion that the Holy Spirit relieves us of the burden of reading and studying Scripture with earnest endeavor. Yes, the Holy Spirit teaches and points us to Christ, but HOW? “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Pray tell, how can the Holy Spirit bring anything to your remembrance which you have failed to read first in Holy Scripture? He will lead you to a correct understanding, but you must have the initiative and love of God’s Word to at least read and study the same.