Journeys of Grace

finding God's grace in my life every day
The Word of the LORD Came

The Word of the LORD Came

“The word of the LORD came to me . . ..”

The first chapter of Jeremiah plays this phrase on repeat. God had chosen Jeremiah for a special task, and even before he was born God was forming him for this task.

But Jeremiah was afraid. He was young—and the opposition was large. His ministry would be one of words, but he didn’t have the words to say. He didn’t know how to speak the message he was supposed to share. And he would be delivering this message to a hostile audience, an audience that had long since stopped their ears from hearing and their hearts from obeying their God.

But God reassures Jeremiah in verse 7.

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”

God promised to be with Jeremiah, to give him the words to speak. Jeremiah would not go alone—he had the sure promise of God’s constant presence. And he would not speak alone—his message and his words were the very message and words of his God.

“The word of the LORD came to me . . ..”

The second chapter of Jeremiah continues this familiar refrain, and the sequence of events demonstrates a key pattern. In verse one, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. In verse 2, God commands Jeremiah, a flawed and fearful prophet, to go and to proclaim His Word. In verse 4, Jeremiah admonishes the Israelites to hear the word of the LORD. In Jeremiah’s case, the people did not actually obey the word of the LORD. But that fact didn’t stop God from giving His Word—or Jeremiah from speaking it.

This pattern has always been God’s way of communicating His Word to people. First, God gives His Word in direct, special revelation. Then, through the broken instruments of humans and languages, that Word reaches people. It has the potential to transform their lives, if only they would submit to the God of the Word, if only they would accept the gospel message of the Word. But before they can accept the Word, and before they can submit to the Word, and before the Word can transform their lives, first they must hear the Word.

“The word of the LORD came to me . . ..”

God’s Word is not stagnant. It is constantly moving, constantly pressing forward. Constantly coming. In God’s providence, His Word came to Jeremiah and the people of Israel so long ago. And similarly, in God’s kind providence, He has preserved His Word—and it has come to me.

God’s Word started its journey to me thousands of years ago, when the first portions of Scripture were recorded by “men [who] spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Men like the prophet Jeremiah. These men were the channels of God’s revelation, and they used the tool of written language. Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek—these were the first human languages that saw the Word of God written down. God was preserving His Word—and His Word was coming to me.

For centuries, these words were copied again, and again, and again. But these words weren’t just copied—they were translated too. From the original languages to other key languages in the ancient world, and on to other languages after that. Eventually, through the tireless work of Christians who firmly believed that God intends His Word to be available to all people in their own, common language, the Word of the LORD came to the English language. God was preserving His Word—and His Word was coming to me.

Several centuries and numerous translations and versions later, the Word of the LORD entered my life. When I was a young teenager, this Word penetrated my heart and changed my life. His Word came to me in several ways—through my parents in my home, through teachers in school, through preaching at churches. But the main way that it came to me was directly, when I started to take the time each day to sit down and immerse myself in these ancient words preserved by God and given to me.

 “The word of the LORD came to me . . ..”

This Wednesday, September 30, is Bible Translation Day. It’s a day when Christians who have the Word of God can intentionally pause and reflect on the treasure they own. It’s a day when we can reflect on the journey the Word of God has undergone for the last several thousand years so it could be in our hands today. It’s a day when we can marvel at the wonder that the God who made us also spoke to us, using words we could understand, giving us a message that we could never have received otherwise, a message that shares with us the Way to eternal life.

Bible Translation Day is a day for Christians to rejoice—but it’s also a day for Christians to consider the sobering reality that many people in the world today do not yet possess this treasure. Many people have not even had the chance to accept God’s Word because they have not yet had the chance to hear it or to read it. Even many Christians, though they have heard and understood the gospel of Jesus Christ, do not have access to the full Word of God for their own growth and sanctification.

But God’s Word is still moving, still pressing forward. God’s Word is still coming to those who don’t yet have it. And God, in His wisdom, still uses the same broken tools to advance His Word on this journey: humans and languages.

So on Bible Translation Day, we thank God for His mercy in giving us His Word. We praise God that He somehow, mysteriously, uses the broken tools of humans and languages to preserve His Word. But we also pray that God would continue to advance His Word, that it would continue to move forward into new languages, to reach new people groups, to transform new lives. We pray that God would bless those who have given their lives to the seemingly endless tasks of translating the Bible into new languages and equipping people to read and understand it.

And we also pause and consider . . . could God have a role for me to play in the advancement of His Word? May God raise up a generation of Christians who, like Jeremiah, take the Word of the LORD that they have received and boldly move it forward, no matter the cost.

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