The plane had taken off, and I was settled by a window determined to use my flight time profitably. A small clock was on my tray with a pile of typed sheets of paper beside it, and, pencil in hand, my glasses firmly on my nose, I intended to look neither to the right nor to the left until my work was finished! My task was to shorten a forty-five-minute lecture to a half hour, and I had decided that the space between Rome and Saint Louis would see the job done, if I concentrated.

“Will you have earphones for the movie? Two dollars and fifty cents.” The hostess was passing with an armful of earphones in plastic bags. “No, thank you.” It was a struggle to shut out everything and really concentrate, but I was getting along fairly well. The lights went out, but the individual lights could be kept on for reading. Then the movie started in the darkened plane. “Never mind,” I thought. “I simply won’t look up, and I can’t hear anything, so I won’t be distracted.” Suddenly shrieks came from the other passengers and my eyes were drawn to the screen. Jaws was being shown. Time after time squeals and shrieks broke into my thoughts, and my eyes shifted from my papers to the screen. I caught glimpses of waves splashing on a beach. People running, evidently in fear of the wide-open jaws of a shark as it demolished a human being out in the deep. Someone in what looked like a hospital. Then some sort of committee meeting.

What was I doing? Seeing bits and pieces of the whole and hearing no verbalized explanation. What a garbled account I would give of the film if I depended on the impressions my eyes were giving me, without the words. Yes, I was actually seeing some things with my eyes from time to time, but what I saw was inadequate.

Human beings need a continuity of words to explain what cannot be understood through the eyes alone. Misinterpretation often takes place when people see only bits and pieces, and they arrive at false conclusions. “But I saw it with my own eyes”—this can be a tragic statement when a judgment has been falsely made. What agonies occur in human relations when one or another person jumps to conclusions falsely be-does not hear the verbalized connecting links.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105). And later in the same psalm, “Thy word is true from the beginning” (106). This verbalized Word of God is a light in the midst of the darkness of mankind’s foggy understanding, and it is true in the midst of the garbled part-truths human beings set forth as explanation.

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Jesus is speaking, verbalizing, praying to God his Father in John 17:8 when he so clearly says, “I have given them the words which thou gavest me.” How fantastic! God the Son, Jesus Christ, is saying that God the Father spoke to him using words that could then be passed on to human beings.

Listen to the next part: “… and they received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee.” The Lord Jesus is saying that people heard with their ears and accepted those words. They made a judgment on the basis of the content of what was given them, and came to know in their minds, to understand, that this was a historic fact: he, Jesus, had come from God the Father to the place where these people were. They knew this because they had listened to the words of explanation God the Father sent along with the Son. The presence of the Son of God without the words of explanation as to who he was and what he had come for was not considered by God as sufficient to make truth clear.

Then: “… and they have believed that thou has sent me.” Jesus is telling the Father that people have believed the words he, the Father, gave Jesus to tell. What a happy report! The truth of God believed in its verbalized form. Those who did not believe disbelieved words that were clearly given, and they hated those who did believe. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” The world’s “explanation” of things comes from seeing bits and pieces and refusing the verbalized explanation given by God. “The world” prefers not to know; it shuns the earphones, prefering to guess and jump to conclusions.

In Romans 10:16; Isaiah 53:1 is quoted: “Who hath believed our report?” Who has believed Isaiah 53, written so long ago, clearly prophesying what the death of the Messiah would accomplish and how it would take place? Romans 10 goes on in the next verses, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The hearing that brings understanding, so that believing (or faith) can result, is the hearing of the Word of God.

Isaiah 55:8–11 is a beautiful message from God directly to us:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
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Although God’s thoughts are so very much higher than ours, although he is vastly beyond us in his infiniteness and his perfection, yet he speaks to us in words we can understand, not in some religious formula that needs a translation but in understandable words. Do we stop to marvel at this fact, and to thank God for it? God’s word to us will not only be something we can understand but will accomplish the thing he has given it to do. God’s word will not fail; how reassuring this is.

When Satan tempted Eve, he tried to get her to deny what God had said. When Satan tempted Jesus Christ, he tried to get Jesus to deny the written word of God, as he misquoted, twisted, and took out of context God’s word. Jesus answered by quoting without hesitation, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). When Jesus continued to answer Satan it was with, “It is written, it is written, it is written.…” The explanation of what exists, who made it all, who we are, how we came to be spoiled and not perfect, and what can be done about it: all has come to us in words. And these are the words by which we are to live. Words make up the Word of God. We do not have to depend on the fractured bits and pieces of truth we get from our short experience of living a few years and seeing flashes of the world and its meaning.

“The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” He has given a fully understandable explanation in his Word. Our part is to reach out and put on the earphones!


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