The life-sustaining Word (Deuteronomy 8:2-4)
The very existence of the universe was begun by God’s Word of command (I Peter 3:5) and continues by His decree (Hebrews 1:3). And that being so, every part of that universe is totally and utterly dependent upon God.
When the Israelites left Egypt and struck out across the barren wilderness, taking with them only what they could carry, they were equally dependent on God for their physical needs. Within a few days of their departure, they were hungry and thirsty. But they learned from this experience that, when God declared that He would feed them, they would be fed. For nearly 40 years He kept them supplied, not only with sufficient food and water, but with everything else that they needed.
The eternal Word (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:6-8; Matthew 24:35)
Unbelievers often dismiss the Bible as being “outdated”. Now it’s true that it was written many thousands of years ago (between 1900 and about 3500 years ago, to be precise) and was originally produced in a culture that was very different from our own. Some of the customs that it refers to seem weird to us, and some of its instructions would be bizarre if applied literally today.
Yet… human nature hasn’t changed in all that time, and neither has God. We grapple with issues that appear on the surface to be very new (computers, genetic engineering, mass media, etc), but actually there is “nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Some of the applications might be different in modern society, but the underlying principles remain the same.
The timelessness of the Bible accounts for its continuing popularity – there are very few books written 3000 years ago still in print!
But what the psalmist and prophet were both stressing is the complete reliability of God’s Word. If He has said that He will do something, He will do it. Even if we have to wait many centuries (even millennia) for its fulfilment, it will certainly be fulfilled.
The effective Word (Isaiah 55:10,11; Jeremiah 23:29)
The prophets compared God’s Word to rain (which makes the earth fertile) and fire (which either transforms or destroys). To believe His Word brings life and fruitfulness; to reject it means eventual disaster. How powerful the Word of God can be was demonstrated to Ezekiel in his vision of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14): when he preached, the scattered bones came back together to form bodies. God’s Word brings life to the dead!
And that same Word – which comes to us in the form of the Gospel – is at work in our lives! (I Thessalonians 2:13) It is more than just words, or just another ‘philosophy of life’; it is backed up by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
The penetrating Word (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12,13)
When Paul listed the various items of the Christian’s armour, he included just one offensive weapon: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The Gospel, and the Bible that contains it, is all we need to proclaim the character of God, expose and identify sin, and point people to eternal life. As we read the Bible, we meet God Himself – awesome and holy, yet also loving and merciful. Through it He reaches deep down into our minds and souls, pricking our consciences, convicting us of our faults, and offering us forgiveness.