OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


                  When we want to reveal the quality of something, we often use a word picture to portray the quality of the object.  We have all heard the phrase,  “He is as strong as an ox.”  The man is not an ox, but the picture of the strength of the ox lets us know that this man’s might is more than that of an ordinary man.  This writer has also heard people say, “That little child is just as cute as a bug.”  A bug?  Not too many bugs are that cute, but somehow we still get the picture.

                  Sometimes the Scriptures set forth the qualities of an object by means of a word picture.  Jesus described Herod as a fox in Luke 13:32.  The word “fox” sets forth the cunning craftiness of that wicked ruler.  In John 1:29, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as “the Lamb of God.”  In so doing, he highlighted the purity and innocence of Jesus as the One who would be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

                  The Bible is also described with numerous word pictures.  In this article, we want to examine four of these and elaborate upon their meaning.  In Luke 8:11, the Son of God calls the Word of God “seed.”  “Now the parable is this:  the seed is the word of God.”  The apostle Peter also used the picture of seed to describe the Word in I Peter 1:23.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.”  A seed is “power packed into a very small shell.”  One little seed planted into the ground can yield a very bountiful harvest.  With the proper soil, nurturing, and care, a tiny plant breaks the soil.  In a few short weeks, an abundant harvest can come from that little seed.  In like manner, the Word of God is a small volume.  It can easily be carried in a purse or coat pocket.  Yet, there is the power to produce an abundant harvest contained within it.  “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matt. 13:23).

                  Another description of God’s Word is given in Ephesians 6:17.  The offensive weapon of the child of God is the Word of God.  Paul exhorted the church at Ephesus to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  The inspired penman of Hebrews also refers to the Word as a sword in Hebrews 4:12.  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  A sharp sword is designed to penetrate.  A sharp sword will sink deeply into the inner recesses of the body.  The two-edged sword of God’s Word is designed to sink deeply into a man’s heart.  Once the heart is penetrated, one of two reactions is forthcoming.  One will gladly receive the Word as did the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:37-38, 41), or, one will become angry and close his ears to the message like the Jews to whom Stephen spoke (Acts 7:51-60).  Either way, the Word cuts.  The response is determined by the goodness or evil found in the heart of the human.

                  The third description of the Word of God is that of fire.  This description is used in two ways in the Biblical text.  One of the pictures is negative.  The fire is portrayed as a devouring enemy.  “Wherefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Because he speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jer. 5:14).  God’s Word can be a destructive force.  The warnings of God’s wrath and judgment are plenteous in the Bible’s pages.  The Word destroys all things that are vile and wicked and contrary to the truth.

                  The fire of God’s Word can also be a positive substance.  The weeping prophet of Israel, Jeremiah, grew discouraged at times when his message was not received.  In this weary state, he would resolve not to speak any more in God’s name.  God’s Word, however, burned as a fire in his bones.  Eventually, the fire brought the pot to a boil and Jeremiah could not hold back from speaking.  “Then I said, I will not make any mention of him, nor speak any more in his name.  But his word was in my heart, as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:9).  The fire here burned in a good sense.  The prophet of God was compelled to speak because of the raging fire within.  Many in Israel needed to hear the message that rolled from the lips of this man of God.  All would be warned.  Some would humbly and penitently turn to God because of his message.

                  The final picture that we will discuss involves a hammer.  Some might immediately think of the positive nature of a hammer.  It is able to construct and build.  The Word of God can do this according to Acts 20:32.  “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.”  However, when Jeremiah portrays God’s Word as a hammer, he pictures its destructive power.  “Is no my word like a fire?  saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29).  A sled hammer is here described.  It can take giant rocks and reduce them to dust.  In the immediate context of Jeremiah’s writing he is referring to God’s Word that stands in opposition to the words of the false prophets.  God’s Word would bring to naught the lies and falsehoods of the deceptive prophets.  Today God’s Word still stands in opposition to the false teachings of our day.  God’s Word pounds against them and reduces them to rubble (i.e., baptism is not essential to salvation, see Mark 16:16; and women used in the public worship, see I Corinthians 14:34-35).  Man erects his erroneous teachings and God’s Word batters each one of  them down.

                  Every one of the pictures of God’s Word that we have seen has a common aspect to it.  It shows that God’s Word is a powerful force in the world.  When God’s word is proclaimed, a man ought to tremble before it (Isa. 66:2).  He ought to hear it with swiftness and readiness of mind (James 1:19).  Upon understanding His will, He should immediately obey its demands (Matt. 7:21).  If a man does not plant the seed of God’s Word into his heart, the Word will rise up like a destroying hammer and a consuming fire against him.  It is not wise to reject the powerful Word of the living God!!!