After the heartbreaking headlines of the last two months, the ALICE drills at my children’s schools and the continual threat of political upheaval, I am desperate for some good news. Scripture claims to give me just that. In my last post, we noted that the blessings of Scripture come at the intersection of belief in and exposure to the Word. And in Psalm 119:18 the Psalmist (likely King David) captures this idea, asking God to:
Open my eyes, that I may behold
wonderful things out of your law.
Just like the psalmist, when we open our Bibles in faith, we behold wonderful things. When King David opened his Scriptures, the first wonderful thing he would have seen was the beauty of the world at its birth. It was a lovely, wild place with a garden at its center. And into that garden, God placed two of his image bearers to cultivate and extend the beauty and order of the garden over the face of the whole earth. With the work of their hands and with the procreation from their bodies they would subdue the earth and spread the loveliness of that garden to its farthest corners.
But those beautiful beginnings came to an abrupt and ugly end. Before any of the garden’s loveliness was spread, the Bible shows us something horrific in the rebellion of God’s own children against him. Adam and Eve abandoned their maker, believing that ancient lie which today is still packaged and repackaged by the Great Deceiver–that God is not good, that he takes delight in withholding what will truly make us happy.
The forbidden fruit was secretly, hungrily, greedily devoured, bringing “death into our world. And all our woe.”* No longer would humanity spread the loveliness of the garden, but by the works of their hands and the procreation of their bodies they would instead spread devastation and perversity to every corner of the earth.
But into this great darkness, God shined a greater light. He still loved his people. Though they had rejected him, he would not abandon them. He made them this wonderful promise: that Great Deceiver would be destroyed and his devastating work undone. And, his destroyer would be human. Although the multiplication of the human race would bring further destruction into the world it would also bring forth a great Savior.
The psalmist would never read of the actual birth of this human rescuer, but he would hear it prophesied about, and he would see God’s heart to rescue his creation acted out through his covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob and all of Israel. He would see God’s promise endure even after the heartbreak of brother murdering brother, and even after a destructive world-wide flood. That promise would remain intact though a lifetime of infertility threatened to unravel it. The lies and betrayals of the scoundrel Jacob could not unhinge God’s great promise and even slavery in the powerhouse of Egypt couldn’t derail His plans. Instead Scripture shows us God’s overcoming these seeming obstacles in wonderful and miraculous ways.
Israel–chosen by God to be a light to the nations of the world–instead perpetuated the darkness of Adam and Eve’s rebellion and continued the Deceiver’s spread of devastation across the world. God reasoned with them, but as their hearts grew only harder, one by one the voices of his prophets fell silent, until there was nothing. 400 years of nothing. But God was preparing to display his most wonderful act yet. And so after four centuries of silence, a whisper of angelic visitations spread throughout the Jewish community, followed by a stir about the birth of a baby boy in David’s city. And then a shepherd’s tale of an angelic host bringing a message of peace from Heaven, followed by rumors that wise men from a far place were traveling to Bethlehem with kingly gifts.
God’s promise fulfilled–the birth of our human Savior! The wonderful act of God predicted in the Old Testament now fulfilled in the New. And when we open our Scriptures, we behold this most wonderful of things–the good news that God the Son willingly set aside his royal privilege, robed himself in human flesh and came to save us from our sin and from the tyranny of that Great Deceiver.
The pages of our Bibles are full of this good news. And as we read them, we pray just like the psalmist:
Open our eyes, that we may behold
wonderful things from your Law.
*from the opening lines of Milton’s Paradise Lost