Dr. Terry Cross, my theology professor, held a Bible up over his head at the beginning of his first lecture to my class. He told us that any time he opens the Word of God he tries to remember that he is beneath it, that he is willfully submitting himself to it’s claims upon him, and that he is not in charge. He then lowered his arms, bringing the Bible to his waistline, and warned that far too many people who study these Words hold it here, just as they would any other book, and place themselves in judgment over it. Humility, he said, will be the most important virtue for any of us desiring to be teachers of God’s Word.
The prophet Isaiah said the same thing this way,
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word (Isa. 66:2).
It’s been 10 years since I saw Dr. Cross illustrate the primacy of God’s Words and I wish I could say my arms never grew weary from holding up The Book. There was a time when God told Moses that so long as he held the staff of God up over his head Israel would prevail over their enemies. When Moses grew tired and the staff was lowered, their enemies prevailed. With the help of Aaron and Hur, standing on either side of Moses and holding up his hands, Israel defeated their adversary (Exodus 17:8-16).
Today is no different from Moses’ day. We are surrounded by enemies. The enemy, we are told, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). I am convinced that our only hope for survival, both individually and collectively as a church, is to lift high the word of God, to humble ourselves under it, and to tremble. When we lower our arms and tell ourselves and each other that the book in our hands is nothing more than “good literature” or “helpful wisdom” or any thing other than the inspired revelation of God Himself then we are opening ourselves up for attack from all sides.
Moses was fortunate to be surrounded by others who would help him keep lifted high that which is important to God. I need others who will help hold me accountable, who will help push me on towards holiness, who will encourage me to not grow weary in doing good. All of us need that.
If you find the enemy gaining ground, look to see what, if anything, is in your hands. Are they raised high or down low? Are you surrounded by others who will help you keep them where they need to be?