In Psalm 147:19, the LORD says, “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.” The main idea of this meditation is that the Lord has not given His word so that it can be stored and archived, but so that it can be proclaimed by those who possess it. If you will not proclaim the Word, then you will atrophy and decay.
In the Old Testament, the LORD entrusted His word to the nation of Israel so that the word of God would be preserved for all time. Paul mentions this in Romans 3:1-2, when he says that one of the great privileges of being a Jew was that your nation had been entrusted with the oracles of God. Only Israel of all the nations on the earth possessed the word of the living God. Only Israel knew of the Ten Commandments and of the deliverance from Egypt and of Mount Sinai and of the holiness of God and the commandments of God and of the coming judgment of God. Israel was indeed the steward of the Holy Bible and they preserved it well (Romans 3:1-2; 9:4; etc.).
The nation of Israel preserved the word of the Lord and they studied the word of the Lord, but that was not the end for which the Lord had given His word. The Jews preserved and studied and revered the word of God, but they did not PROCLAIM the word of God, nor did they OBEY the word of God. This last statement is not intended to be entirely a rebuke. It is more an observation, for it must be admitted that the Jews of the Old Testament did not have much good news to proclaim to the Gentile nations, nor was there a divine mandate telling the Jews to proclaim to the Gentiles about the LORD. There was, therefore, a lot of knowledge of the Bible, but there was no outlet for that knowledge to be put to use. As a result, the Jews became very enamored with their knowledge of religious things while they spent almost no energy calling people to faith in God and to repentance of sin. They became puffed up (1 Corinthians 8:1) and of very little use for the Kingdom.
The net result of this accumulation of knowledge with no witnessing for the Lord was that the Jews’ faith withered and they developed a religion of ritual and works and outward appearances. Instead of faith, a great deadness smothered the Jews. They had the word of God that told of the coming Messiah and that declared the works of the Lord and that announced the penalties of sin and the availability of forgiveness and yet with no proclamation of these things to the nations, the people grew bored with their studies and they grew fat in their knowledge. Since they sensed no compelling mission, they invented their own. They grew spiritually fat and useless. They “had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” Paul declares that they did not know about God’s righteousness and so they sought to establish their own. (Romans 10:1-4)
It is the same for God’s people for all time. We are called to PRAISE the Lord and to PROCLAIM His word. If we are obedient to that calling, then there is immense blessing and joy and fullness of life (John 10:10). But there is another edge to that sword, for if we are not faithful to that calling, then we face the great peril of being religious and joyless and dead while we live. The glories of God and the amazing story of His sending His Son, the Lord Jesus, to rescue His people by His sacrifice on the cross; the power of the resurrection and the anticipation of His return in glory; even these astounding stories will eventually leave us unmoved.
And thus we come to the point of this meditation. Because they did not proclaim the glory of the Lord to the nations and did not praise the Lord with fervor and passion, the Jews became a people of religious rituals and of dead external duties. They were called to tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples (Psalm 96), but instead they spent their time remembering their own past and endlessly discussing the Law. And they withered away in religion.
Is it possible that we could do the same thing? Is it possible that, like the Jews, we would spend too much time in Bible studies and in fellowship groups and not spend enough time obeying what we are called by the Lord and instructed by the Bible to do? For even more than the Old Testament Hebrews, we are called by the Lord of glory to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) and to be Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are invited to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19) and to be sowers of the Word (Luke 8:5-15) and to warn the nations of the coming judgment (Ezekiel 33:1-20; the sword). We are given the opportunity to bring the light of Christ into the dark world (Matthew 5:16). The believer is called to PRAISE and to PROCLAIM, but do we do that? Are we intentional about that? Do we structure our lives and arrange our days so that we can find ways to PROCLAIM, or do we spend much more time in Bible studies and fellowship amongst ourselves without actively furthering the gospel?
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Reading and meditating on the word of God is what we believers are supposed to do. Of course we do that! But if we do that only to the exclusion of actively proclaiming the word to the world, then we are in danger of decaying and we run the risk of our faith becoming dull. Our God has created the universe and everything in it from nothing, and we need to proclaim that to the world, or we will lose our wonder at His power and wisdom. Our God has devised a plan of salvation whereby condemned sinners can be rescued from their deserved judgment and can be adopted as God’s own children, and this should be declared from the lips of every believer. God has visited this fallen planet in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this should be announced to the world. But more than that, God the Son has not only visited this planet, but He has also died on the cross to ransom His people from their deserved condemnation. This must be proclaimed! Jesus said that, if the people are silent, the very rocks will cry out (Luke 19:40). The fruit of proclaiming God’s glory to the world is greater boldness and greater usefulness and the opportunity to bear fruit – 30, 60, 100-fold. By contrast, the consequence of shrinking back from proclamation and of refusing to speak boldly of Jesus is that you will grow comfortable with silence and you will not respond when God calls you to act. If you do not proclaim Jesus, you will slowly drift into dead ritual and you will go through the motions of religious activity with no power (2 Tim. 3:5) and soon your faith that was once so vibrant now looks to the watching world like just another religion.
So be intentional about telling the world about Jesus. Plan this into your daily and weekly schedule. Be alert for God’s promptings and for His invitations to proclaim His glory, and when they come, immediately accept His invitations with joy. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have first-hand experience with the most amazing story that was ever told about the most amazing Person to ever live. So proclaim, and watch your power and usefulness increase.
SDG rmb 10/24/2019