Getting to Know God Meditations: 2. God of Record
Psa 105:1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
Recorders: When we talk about ‘the psalmist’ we are actually referring to possibly half a dozen or more writers of the psalms, poetry, a book bang in the middle of the Bible (easy to find). Psalms 105 and 106 are both fairly long psalms that pick up on parts of the history of Israel. Because they are poetry they are not brilliant for the purpose of discovering what went on, but they do clearly make the point that there is a history to be noted, a history of this nation called Israel, a history that involved God throughout it. In a day when reading and writing were not the norm it is quite amazing that we have such records that make up what we now call the Bible and it is very easy to take that for granted.
Now it is clear that whoever wrote those two psalms had it in mind to make the history of Israel a source of praise and worship of God. These weren’t written to ‘prove’ the existence of God, but simply to record what had happened in their history and say, ‘Hey, we should be worshipping this God who has done these things for us.’ Those are my words but they are clearly the intent of the psalmist. Listen to how the psalm 105 goes on: “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts,” (v.2) and at the end, “Praise the Lord.” (v.45). Psalm 106 continues in the same vein: “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever,” (v.1) finishing with, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.” (v.46) In between the first and last verses of both these psalms we find numerous references to the things that had happened to Israel in their history with God so far. Whatever doubts we may have, in the mind of the psalmist there was no doubt, these things had happened and they showed the presence and activity of God in the midst of the life and experience of Israel.
Pause for breath: Before we move on and look at other references to the events of history that the writers claim involved God, we should pause up, step back and just take stock of what we have just said. There was a history, a record of the events and experiences that involved this unique nation, Israel, (and we will see in later studies why they were unique) and each of the writers maintain that these events, these experiences, can only be explained by the presence of God (who exists!), a God who is unique and so great that He demands our worship.
Now this is what the whole Bible is about – events, activities, experiences, call them what you will, that were experienced by human beings and which they all say happened because of the presence and activity of God. This uniformity of thinking, reporting, and experience, is one of the main things that makes the Bible ONE book, yes, made up of 66 ‘books’, some of which are mere letters, very short at that, but they all point us in the same direction, these books written over possibly a two thousand year period, they all say the same thing. They aren’t pompously seeking to prove the existence of God but in fact come with an almost simplistic naivety, out to prove nothing except the reality of what had happened.
Back to the Records: Perhaps one of the simplest summary records of the early history of Israel and God’s dealings with them, comes in a strange way in the New Testament. Stephen is an early Jewish Christian and is being challenged by his Jewish peers and in response he reminds them of their history and you find it in Acts chapter 7. In a later study I will seek to outline the ‘big picture’ of the Old Testament, as a starter, but if you want the shortest summary, you must read Acts 7.
Now what is interesting about that account is that Acts was compiled and written by an educated doctor, Luke, who also wrote the Gospel of that name and his introduction to that Gospel is challenging in its claims. Listen, as he writes to a Greek friend named Theophilus: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” (Lk 1:1-4) Now read that carefully and you find a most careful reporter of highest integrity saying, these are the things that have been going on and I have carefully researched them and can verify them. That is amazing and, as he also wrote Acts, we may assume it equally applies to the record of Acts – about the early years of the Church – and what Stephen said on that day before he was eventually martyred.
Another of these ‘high spots’ pointing to the veracity of the evidence of the records comes in the writing of the apostle John who we believe not only wrote the Gospel with his name, but also three letters, and it is at the beginning of the first of those letters that we find, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.” (1 Jn 1:1-3) This was John speaking to a Greek culture about Jesus Christ. But look at the language of a witness who is basically saying, ‘Look, I didn’t make this up, we saw him, heard him, lived with him and experienced him, this is why I am writing.’
And So? So here we are confronted with just a few instances from the biblical record of very down to earth writing that is not mystical ‘out of this world’ but comes to us in very easily understood terms that we would use in daily life, and it all says, this is history, this happened, and it cannot be explained without the presence of God. Remember, these are only starting thoughts, but whether we are believers of many years or simply someone coming to investigate for the first time, may I suggest there is material here that is worth that investigation, material that confirms to many of us, yes, all you have believed all these years is well founded. Now I make that last comment because there seem to be a number of rumblings around the worldwide church where people are complaining that they have not been taught or taught wrong things. My challenge is read for yourself. If you have never bothered to take time to read and study the Bible, why not start now. I will help you along the way but get hold of a modern Bible if you haven’t got one and start reading. My recommendation is begin in the New Testament to start with, perhaps Mark’s Gospel, the most brief of the four. You do the reading. I’ll just provide some provocations in the background. Enjoy!