Ah, the simple life!
Even the church is taken in this snare. The mundane existence lacking excitement is disdained by so many. Why? Because the Lifegiver is absent. They do not experience “the quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty,” (1Tim. 2:2) the spiritual rest that remaineth to the people of God, (Heb. 4:9,10) ceasing from their own works to be good, as God did from His at creation. So the carnal heart must fill its anxious emptiness with tangible excitement, with some kind of stimulation.
Yet the Bible describes godliness as a quiet, uneventful life. It is true, some miraculous events stand out in its accounts. But by and large, it records mostly normal, everyday experiences. Jeremiah by the potter’s wheel catching a lesson from God. David with the burdens of leading military contigencies, pursued by the bigger army of his father-in-law. Abraham up in the lonely arid regions, watching out for strangers who might wander in through the shimmering heat. Ruth clinging to Naomi and speaking her heartfelt avowals of determined love to never leave her godly mother-in-law. Elisha, trained to lead people in his early years through patiently guiding oxen on the family farm. Amos, a simple shepherd, being blessed with the Spirit of Inspiration. John deserted on the little island, meditating upon the vast Mediterranean sea. The Bible personalities were regular people going through a regular life, learning how to learn to trust God. It was in their everyday mundane surroundings, that all were learning about heavenly things. Their simple experiences are what made up the Bible. They heard the prompt of the Spirit and followed it. Like Christ, they were willing to take up what lessons were immediately around them and the Holy Spirit illuminated their minds with eternal truth. It was as simple as that! And the grand lessons and exalted themes which resulted, God has protected from those who would destroy that divinely inspired Masterpiece of divine and human interplay that has passed down to us.
Much of the teachings and precedents set forth in the Bible come from unpremeditated, spontaneous judgment calls arrived out of the process of problem and resolution. Other times it came from men, transformed by God’s grace, which was freely offered and thankfully received by them, who from the depth of their soul breathed God’s sentiments of exasperation and love—words of encouragement and of warning and of burning jealousy—for a recalcitrant people who did not love them. Moses, in a desperate plea bargain to leverage God’s mercy for his people’s apparent unpardonable sin, volunteered up his eternal life for their continued acceptance by God—a lesson of grace in the very making, learned right before our wondering eyes—God using the droll life in the wilderness to develop grace and to purify the springs of love in His servant.
Evidence that Old Testament Israelites knew of the Plan of Redemption pops up in unconverted Joab (of all people), and his plan for David to reconcile with Absalom—evidence, not from a pulpit contexted in a diatribe of doctrines, but through an off-the-cuff conversation! Its in the small things mentioned that house the truth. This is why we must look carefully for gems in this most fascinating book, the Bible! The best synopsis on the Lamb of God ever given came, not from an apostle or prophet, but from an unsuspecting priest, wholly unwanting to preach Christ, when he blasphemously chided, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save!” It was a fluke, but it was heard; and it was recalled in its splendor, and logged...forever in the annals of sacred history—the stuff powerful sermons are made of! “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.”
“The Bible was not written for the scholar alone; on the contrary, it was designed for the common people.” SC 89. Why? Because common people reading it can readily identify with the common people brought to light in its pages. And these honest commoners find they can trust in the Book. Nothing authenticates it better than by learning how very typical and faulty people made up the characters of its history, people who could trust in correction, who craved the peace that comes only from reconciliation to God and His laws; and it was only average people who came away from that experience wiser than those around them who didn’t yearn for reconciliation. And all this came while among regular, run-of-the-mill surroundings; for God can call those things that don’t appear special as though they were, and then they are special! Through the work of God’s Spirit upon the mind, the glories of Eden can once again rest on all that we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
If they were waiting for the Messiah, where did the religious leaders of Christ’s day go wrong? If they knew where and when He would arrive, how did they miss Him? Not content with God’s ability to turn their quiet, simple surroundings into an oasis of learning their duty to others, the Pharisees and priests busied themselves with remaking sacred personalities. They made Moses and the prophets into Gods...bigger than life. They said Moses fed Israel with Manna. Elijah did this and that great thing. If only David were alive, they would take on the Romans! They overdramatized the truth until it morphed into a big lie. They did the same for the Messiah. Thus they missed a beautiful opportunity when the Messiah came. And thus, had they lived in Moses’ day, they would have grumbled with their forefathers and threatened to kill him just like their fathers had. They would have been the enemies of David, who wounded his soul so often. Their religion was only imaginary; they lived in a dreamland. So, it was not the religious leaders who prided themselves in being ready and waiting for the Messiah who heard Jesus gladly, but it was the common people, because they were acquainted with the reality of survival in a real life. All the exaggerated hopes and dreams taught by the religious leaders were to the commoners simply fluff and chaff.
But now what about us? What do we do when we turn on the TV or DVD player? When we dive in to the land of fiction, not only do we miss all the golden opportunities from our God-given real life, maybe precious few opportunities for God to convert our sinful hearts, but, to add insult to injury, all the drama and glorification of man piped into our home taints our mind and trains it to entertain an imitation life, one that has no substance, but passes away. If we let the TV educate us to live the same life of luxury and pretense that modern Egypt espouses, it is by our own choice that we become unable to grasp the simple lessons from God. How rarely do the wealthy enter the kingdom of heaven.
As the Creator, Christ put lessons of His Father’s nature into creation. And every split second of His plain life as a man, Jesus saw lessons to live by and reminders of His Father’s love. Rather than waiting for some great truth to fall from the sky, He made use of that which was next to Him, then repeated those lessons to others. He found that the experiences of His daily life of toil accentuate the lessons of the Holy Scriptures. He received most of His parables from the life right around Him. To us they are nice stories from 2000 years ago. To the people of His day, His parables were so fresh and new and easily recognizable, some even front-page news, that His simple stories suprised even the deep thinkers, disarming any prejudices, and cheered the hearts of His listeners.
So let us graze freely on God’s books of infinite truth; let us be content with the plain, “boring” life we own and that old “boring” Bible, knowing that they will teach us the exciting wisdom of the Omniscient One if we will just give them a chance. Learn from the cow. It chews and swallows grass, which it coughs back up again, and then chews on it some more; and this it does multiple times. So when you study the Bible, don’t expect to comprehend it perfectly while you read. Allow the truth to sink in, now and again returning to the forefront of your thoughts to be affected by, and to affect, your everyday, plain life experiences. Then you will find its lessons to be deeply digested in the mind and to be truly a refreshing experience.
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” “The stones cry out.” “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” Prov. 66; Lk. 19:40; Job 12:7, 8).