|from Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, NIV, copyright 1983|
I've filled up most of the blank pages in the front and back with quotes and notes from messages, and nearly every book has passages highlighted and comments scrawled in the margins. I had to have the cover replaced years ago. Instead of the lovely calfskin it used to be covered in it now has an impervious binding made from some hearty animal in Idaho that had already lived a good, long life! It doesn't have a dainty look, to be sure, but I've been told that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. And what's inside is pretty good stuff!
So I was browsing through the helps at the back of the Bible the other day and I came across the Seven Editions of the Divine Law. It is an illustration of God's gradual revelation and the publication of his law. Step by step -- from the display of his workmanship in creation, to the law he has written on each person's conscience, to the tablets he inscribed for Moses, to Jesus, the Living Word, to the collection of all the scriptures we call our Bible, to the gospel written on our hearts, to believers being living epistles to the world around us -- God has revealed himself in every way possible.
Let's look at each of these seven "editions of the divine law" that are mentioned here, and the scripture that goes with each one. It may give you fresh insight into God's revelation of himself, and it might give you a way to share with others when they think there is no evidence for God's existence.
1. Written on Nature -- The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
2. Written on Conscience -- Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them (Romans 2:14-15).
3. Written on Tablets of Stone -- The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction" (Exodus 24:12).
4. Christ the Living Word -- The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
5. The Entire Scriptures -- For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
6. Written on the Heart -- This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Hebrews 8:10).
7. Christians as Living Epistles -- You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).
Can we look with integrity and see that God has indeed revealed himself through these various means so that we would be without excuse since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:19-21).
Michael Guillen,* former science editor for ABC, calls the gulf between the communities of faith and reason that is so prevalent in our world today a "divide of enormous misunderstanding." Rather than "defending science" or "defending faith," he says that the gulf would disappear if we'd stop listening to the debates and do the work of seeking the truth for ourselves. The evidence of God has clearly been given.
And if we have seen the revelation of God expressed through the first six of these editions, we will want to live in such a way that, when others read the living epistles in our lives (edition seven), they will, in seeing us, be seeing Christ.
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