The Word of God: An Axe for the Frozen Sea within Us

"When God created humanity he created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them."

We know these words. Genesis 1:28 continues this train of thought and adds that God blessed them and spoke to them.

This morning I’m particularly interested in God’s speaking to humanity when he created them. God directed his word to humanity right at the beginning of their history. Words created trust and relationships. God regarded humanity as his partner and counterpart. He spoke to them. Human beings were created to communicate with God, to encounter God as a partner, a friend, a true counterpart. They were created to receive his Word.

We don’t live in the Garden of Eden anymore. Beyond Eden, we live in a blurred reality. Communication between humanity and God changed when humanity put his trust in the voice of a serpent. Yes. In our days, the voice of God seems to have faded away, to have become silent among all the voices that call our attention.

On the other hand, God’s Word is still there. It is still speaking into the lives of human beings. It still can be heard. It has stood the test of time.

The following passage is from one of Franz Kafka’s letters. The passage reflects on the practice of reading and the capacity of words to change lives. In that letter to a friend, Kafka, one of the major figures of 20th-century literature in Europe, wrote:

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? … We’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.”

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That’s Kafka. Centuries before Kafka, and even centuries before Christ, one of Israel’s greatest prophets used a similar picture to express the capacity of words to change lives. Against the backdrop of his dark and spiritually impoverished time, Jeremiah invites his contemporaries to hear the word of Yahweh. In chapter 22 verse 29, Jeremiah says:

“O land, land, land, Hear the word of the Lord!”

A few verses further, in chapter 23 verse 29, Yahweh speaks and asks:

“‘Is not My word like fire?’ declares the Lord, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?’”

Yahweh speaks into the reality of human beings living at Jeremiah’s time. I’d like to repeat Yahweh’s declaration: Is not My word like fire, and like a hammer which shatters a rock?

Yahweh’s word is compared to fire and a hammer which is able to shatter a rock. The land is to hear it! The fire and the hammer express the capacity of Yahweh’s words to change lives.

The Reformation is said to have been one of the most momentous turning points in world history. Martin Luther has been alternatively described as the brilliant scholar who rediscovered the central message of the Bible and brought the Bible to the people. When Martin Luther was summoned to the Diet of Worms in 1521 and asked to recant his teaching, he replied:

Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.”

A conscience captive to the word of God – which is like fire and a hammer that shatters rock – was Luther’s credo. Human beings have been transformed by that Word ever since. That word has been life-altering for many. It has shaken awake those who were paralyzed by despair and hopelessness. It has stirred the hearts of those who were wandering in a world seemingly devoid of meaning. It has been the most important turning point in human lives. Yes. It has been the axe for the frozen sea within us, softening our hardened hearts and filling it with love for others.

The reformation opened a door for that Word which then reached humanity on a large scale. That Word is there to make us encounter Yahweh, the creator and redeemer of humanity. It is there to inspire faith and hope in us. It is there to make us see the world from the perspective of God.

May this Word continue to shake us, to be the axe for the frozen sea within us, and to inspire us with hope and courage to confront life with the conviction that Yahweh is there and that his Word is able to change our lives to the core.

I’d like to pray.

Heavenly Father,

We’d like to thank you for your Word that is still speaking into our reality. It still has the capacity to change our lives and to give meaning to our broken lives. Let it lead us into true love and authentic adoration of you who created us in your image. You want us to live deeply. You want us to communicate with you. Thank you for your gracious Word that still touches our hearts.

Amen

Daniela Gelbrich is a lecturer of Old Testament at the Friedensau Adventist University in Friedensau, Germany. This devotional was presented at the Friedensau History Conference in May 2016, and is reprinted here with permission.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7488

Amen! I’m glad this was included in the piece. For all his faults, Martin Luther was the right man for the right time, just as faulty men like Roosevelt and Churchill were. A pity that now Lutherans are apologizing for their founder. Significantly, He accepted the Bible as God’s standard for living one’s life. Too bad so many today have rejected it as mere myth and legend.

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Further to the point - There must be a reason why Jesus is also called “the Word”. As enlightening as the written word might be, a life lived and a love demonstrated speaks louder than any word penned.

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There is a (Gospel Song) "I am climbing Jacob’s Ladder). The Mormon Visitors Center has a painting depicting that scene. nothing could be further from the Truth That ladder depicts Chtist’s decent to man – See Pil 2:5-11. That connection Made-- Angels now have access to us as does the Holy Spirit., Adventist’s final generation is a close fax of the Mormon concept. our link to heaven was accomplished by Christ. Belief in His satisfaction is our key to adoption. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. tom z

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Sure, but the reason Jesus is called “the Word” is because He demonstrated how important the written word of God was and still is. Contrary to popular beliefs, He didn’t come to supersede or replace the Scriptures but to fulfill them.

Without the Bible, the mission of Jesus was meaningless as the Messiah was supposed to accomplished what had been written about Him. Like He himself said, the word of God testifies of Him.

Whoever accepts Scripture will accept Jesus and whoever accepts Jesus will accept Scripture, all of it.

In fact, the written word points to Jesus but Jesus always sent his hearers and his disciples back to the word of God (“It is written…”).

It is by having the living Word of God and the written Word of God that we have the complete picture.

The disciples walked with Jesus for several years but because they didn’t understand Scripture they didn’t understand the Messiah. And when Christ died on the cross, it was a big blow to them and it left them despondent as the story about the two disciples on their way to Emmaus reveals. But when Jesus met these disciples, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).

If the Hebrews really lived by “LAW and the PROPHETS” they would have received Jesus. Like Jesus said:


For had you believed Moses, you would have believed me: for he wrote of me
(John 5:46)

Everything Jesus did was in the Old Testament including his suffering and death (since He had to fulfill the prophecies). But many Jews wanted another Messiah and rejected Jesus and to do so, they had to reject parts of Scripture.

Many Christians are doing the same thing today. They want a Jesus according to their own desires and to do so they have to reject or neglect parts of the Bible.

To have a clear picture of the living Word of God, we need the written Word of God, as Christ himself said:


Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me
. (John 5:39)

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Sounds a little defensive - and dismissive. It was John who pointed out that Jesus was God’s “Word” right from the beginning - before anything was written. He was and is God’s ultimate communication to the world.

In times past, “God spoke through prophets, now He has spoken through His Son.” Heb. 1;1. The written word points to Jesus, not the other way around. If the written word does not lead to Christ, it is useless.

The OT Scriptures pointed to Jesus in RETROSPECT. The Jews had no concept of the Jesus that was born in Bethlehem and died on the cross. That Jesus was never expected. The Hebrews lived by LAW and the PROPHETS; and Jesus identified himself as the Messiah they were looking forward to. This does not mean that in order to understand the impact of the cross and all that Jesus taught, one has to earn a degree in OT history. In fact, it was a hindrance to the Jews - a “stumbling block”. This is also why the book of Hebrews was written especially to the Hebrews to drive home the significance of the Jesus that was OUTSIDE of their traditions - the priest in the order of Melchizedek - an unknown priest to the Hebrews. It’s one thing to use the Jewish familiar past to explain their then present; and another thing, all together, to make the present dependant on their past history.

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he Jews had a very good idea about what they expected Jesus’ role to have been. Their leaders talked to God (Yahweh) all the time and even agreed on “signs” to identify the promised" Messiah". They , however, thought that they would be getting a warlord as deliverer, but were livid when his birth did not take place within parameters agreed with Yahweh. Firstly Jesus was not born of the line of the warlord deliverer David as was expected; next he was not born in the holy month of September as would be expected of the heavenly sent Messiah. In fact he was dubbed illegitimate and therefore rejected as Messiah. The leading Jews felt that God (Yahweh) would not have allowed this unless he had changed his mind about Jesus being the military rescuer of his people. They did not of course see that Yahweh and planned for a far bigger role for Jesus…that of a moral/ ethical teacher to all mankind. The" word of god"records his teachings and deeds. The Jews were therefore delighted when Jesus was seen hobnobbing with men regarded as criminals by Rome , and who had led an anti-Roman demonstration against Pilate during which Roman soldiers were killed… The three leaders…Simon Magus, Judas Iscariot , and Theudas Barrabas fled, the Magus was sentenced to “spiritual death” by Agrippa, meaning he was confined ton a Mausoleum in grave clothes. If no priest came to “Raise him from the dead” in 3 days, it would mean his sentence was extended to literal death. The Magus Lover begged Jesus to intervene and the master full of compassion raised him from the death(though not an ordained priest at the time). The Pharisees seized on this incident, and demanded crucifixion for the Magus (center cross), Judas ( western cross) and Juesus(eastern cross) . They put a crown of thorns on Jesus. Thorns signified illegitimate birth in the Sadcucean Abbeys.

“Logic…on fire” is the delicate fusion of reason and revelation as found in the Word of God. The Spirit reasons with us: “Come let us reason together says the Lord…though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow”. Only one book has the power to axe the frozen sea…but others can point the way. Rene G.