OceanSide church of Christ
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Paying Attention to the Details
Victor M. Eskew
The Bible contains the thoughts of God expressed in words (I Cor. 2:9-13). A study of this divine Book is both rich and rewarding. Sometimes the thoughts of God are easily attained. A simple reading of the text brings the meaning to life. At other times, however, Bible study involves paying attention to the details. Details can bother some people. They argue that God would never give us a book that requires one to examine minute matters. This, however, is not the case. Every word, according to Christ, is important (Matt. 4:4). In fact, Jesus even spoke of the jots and tittles contained in Holy Writ. “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).
As one studies God’s Word, he will find that some points are made based upon a verb tense, one word, or even one letter. Let’s look at three different examples of this. During His earthly ministry, Jesus was confronted by a sect of Jews called the Sadducees. These Jews did not believe in angels, spirits, or the resurrection from the dead. This sect set forth one of their best arguments before our Lord. When Jesus countered their argument, He did so based upon a verb tense found in a statement God had made in the Old Testament. Jesus said: “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:31-32). The argument is based upon the tense of the verb God used. God said: “I am” the God of Abraham… The verb, “am,” is present tense. At the moment God spoke the words, He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These patriarchs were dead, but they lived. Their spirits lived within the hadean realm. Jesus told those Jews that if they had properly read Exodus 3:6, they would have known this. In essence, God expected them to pay attention to the details.
In John 21, we learn that a rumor was started about John because individuals failed to pay attention to one word spoken by Jesus. Jesus had foretold the details about Peter’s death (John 21:18-19). This piqued Peter curiosity about John’s death. “Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?” (John 21:21). This should not have been a concern to Peter. Jesus, therefore, said unto him: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me” (John 21:22). From these words a rumor developed around John that he would not die until Christ returned. The rumor was wrong, however, because it failed to take into account one word which Jesus had said. Listen to John 21:23. “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren that the disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” Jesus began His words with the word “if.” This word was ignored and a false rumor developed about the Lord’s apostle. Details like one word, “if,” can be of grave importance.
The last example which we will discuss is found in Galatians 3. Paul was writing about the seed promise given to Abraham. He noted that the promise was fulfilled in one man, Jesus Christ. Paul knew this because the promise was given in the singular, not the plural. In essence, one letter made the difference. In Galatians 3:16, Paul writes: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”
God’s words are the words recorded in the Bible. It is He who has chosen the manner in which they have been revealed. Sometimes He asks us to pay attention to the details. As a student of the Word, one must accept this fact. Interesting and rich nuggets of truth are often found within the details of God’s holy and divine Word. Let’s mine them with diligence and enthusiasm.