Without any question, the most valuable book we could own is the Bible. If we take seriously our desire to know how to live, we will go directly to “The Maker’s Manual”, first and foremost. It is He who made us who best knows how to instruct us to live.
Long ago, the great leader of men, Moses, was very near the end of his life. Surely the last words of instruction from such a man are worthy of careful and profound consideration. He gave Joshua, the man to whom God had told him to “pass the baton”, this succinct last message: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous and then you shall deal wisely and have good success.” (Joshua 1:8) Similarly, Moses told all the children of Israel to “set your minds and hearts on all the words which I command you this day, that you may command them to your children, that they may be watchful to do all the words of the law. For it is not an empty or worthless trifle for you; it is your very life; by it you shall live long…” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47). Moses was conveying to them, and to us, that God’s Word held the secret of life, that it was holy and precious, the very source of the lives of our spirits, as well as our spiritual growth - and any real success in life. It is likely that when a person is on his deathbed, the final words he shares with those who will carry on in life after him are not lightly spoken. They are distilled from all the measure of one’s lifetime, and are the very core and kernel of the wisdom gained by the individual who soon will speak no more. In essence, Moses’ last message was: “What God speaks, what He instructs us to do, do. Here, it is written. Study it diligently, ponder it in your heart, and seek to align all that you think, and say, and do with the principles presented here as right – and thus it will be given to you to know how to live.”
Centuries later, David spoke of God’s instruction, saying: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) His son Solomon also wrote, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23) He exhorted people to “receive instruction and insight in wise dealing and wise thoughtfulness - in righteousness, justice, and integrity, in discretion and discernment”, and for each person to “acquire understanding and sound counsel (so that he may be able to steer his course rightly).” (Proverbs 1:2-5) And Solomon went on to emphatically pronounce that “The reverent and worshipful fear and awe of the Lord is the beginning, and the principal and choice part, of knowledge – that is, its starting point and its essence.” (Proverbs 1:7)
David, described by God Himself as “a man after His own heart” (I Samuel 13:14), based his living on God’s precepts and commandments. “I will never forget Your precepts, (how can I?) for it is by them You have quickened me – and granted me life.” (Psalm 119:93) Hundreds of times throughout the Psalms we read of David’s love for God’s statutes, of his eager desire to “have respect unto” His ways and to keep His word. “Your word have I laid up in my heart that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11) “Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch (on himself) according to Your Word (conforming his life to it.)” (Psalm 119:9) “I love Your commandments more than refined gold.” (Psalm 119:127)
David saw God’s Word as the blueprint and eternal anchor on which to build his life. “You have commanded and appointed Your testimonies in righteousness and great faithfulness.” (Psalm 119:138) “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven (it stands firm as the heavens).” (Psalm 119:89) “Your righteous testimonies are everlasting, and Your decrees are binding to eternity…and endure forever.” (Psalm 119:144, 160) “Great peace have they who love Your law…and they will not stumble.” (Psalm 119:165)
David also exclaimed, “How sweet are Your words to my mouth, sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 119:103) This echoes Job’s values: “I have not gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed and treasured up the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12). Jeremiah, too, wanted to “eat” (assimilate within himself) God’s life-giving words: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your Word was to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16) Our Lord Jesus Himself described His Father’s Word and instruction, His will, as His very food: “Jesus said to them, ‘My food (nourishment) is to do the will (good pleasure) of Him who sent me, and to accomplish and completely finish His work.’” (John 4:34) When the enemy came to Him in the wilderness, where Jesus had been without food for forty days and nights, and he tempted Him, saying, “If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made loaves of bread,” Jesus knew very well that He did not need to prove anything to this adversary. He simply but eloquently replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:2-4) And later, very near the end of His earthly life, Jesus, the Son of God, told His disciples emphatically: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63) And He clearly informed them even more explicitly: “The bread of God is He who comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world…I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes on (and cleaves to, trusts in, and relies on) Me will never thirst any more – at any time.” (John 6:33-35)
The Bible is the very Word of God. The teachings of the Holy Scriptures are ultimate, conclusively authoritative, and “more to be desired than gold.” (Psalm 19:7-11) Although men have tried repeatedly to malign and to destroy this holy Book, it cannot be destroyed. “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” (I Peter 1:25). It is like no other book ever written, for it has power to bring spiritual life to all who open to its truth. It contains everything we need for salvation from the curse of our sin, for faith, and for obedient living. It contains that which teaches us how to live. We would be fools to pass over this greatest of treasures, the actual “instruction manual” we both need and long for, whether consciously or unconsciously. It is the very Guide Book which our heavenly Father has graciously provided for us on our pilgrimage - to steer us safely Home.
May we all who seek to live the life we are meant to live, sincerely pray: “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through Your word.” (Psalm 119:37)