The North Star holds a fixed place in the sky while the rest of the vast heavens move around it. Its fixed position in relation to the earth has made it a tool used by maritime navigators for millennia to find their way in uncharted seas.
Astronomers believe the North Star’s light will continue to shine and fulfill this function for centuries to come.
In similar fashion, the Bible, as read today by Christian believers, and by evangelical Protestants such as I, has a durable and unchanging message. That’s why I think of the Bible as the North Star of our faith.
This analogy came to me while Kathleen and I were reading the Scriptures together a few days ago. We closed our Bibles but two verses we had read, Hebrews 4:12-13, played in my mind for days afterwards. They read as follows:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The first five books of the Old (some say “First”) Testament contain the Law of God as set before Israel at Mount Sinai. The ten commandments are given there, and of them Jesus said that God’s Law is fixed and will abide forever (Matthew 5:18). In the Old Testament section of the Bible, following the books of the law are historical accounts, timeless wisdom literature, and the proclamations of both divine judgment and blessing uttered by God’s chosen prophets.
The New (“Second”) Testament is no less remarkable. Many passages in it refer back to the prophecies found in the Old Testament, tying the two major sections of the Bible together.
By the fourth century AD formal councils of the rapidly growing church had decided on what writings were to be included in the Bible. Thus they canonized its content much as Christians know it now. It was called the Word of God.
The summit of Biblical writings are the four gospel accounts telling of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ while he lived on earth. The Old Testament had foretold his coming (Matthew 3:1-3). The four gospels announced that he had come. The aged Apostle John, in the preface to his gospel account, wrote of the Lord’s as the Word made flesh.
John declares about Jesus: He is eternal; he became man; we beheld his glory; he is to be trusted for our eternal salvation. Thus from that ancient time and across many centuries the Old Testament has been declared and regarded as the Word of God written. The New Testament has been known as the Word of God not only written but also made living. The two Testaments together are seen to complement each another.
At the same time, for evangelical Protestants such as I, the Bible stands forever fixed as the Christian church’s and individual Christian’s North Star — the Word of God. And in keeping with this belief, there are at least 100 places where our Scriptures are simply called the Word of God.
And the result? As Psalm 119:105 affirms: “Your word is a lamp for my feet; a light on my path.” And that assurance is proclaimed even more comprehensively in the passage of Hebrews (4:12) that caught my attention and held it for several days. I repeat them here:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit; joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intent of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Photo credit: Derek Σωκράτης Finch (via flickr.com)