Chapter 12: Test of Time

Lamedh

“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.

Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts. The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes. To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless” (Psalm 119:89-96).

How many magazines do you read each month? I like magazines—their bright, glossy pictures and news bites appeal to my short attention span. However, the reality is that when I subscribe to a magazine, each month it arrives promptly and I promptly forget about it. About six months after the subscription starts, I end up throwing out a stack of unread magazines, wondering why I ever thought a subscription was a good idea.

Sitting in Barnes and Noble one afternoon, my computer propped up in front of me, I found myself staring in awe at the sheer number of magazines that are published each month. I sat facing the transportation section and did a quick guesstimate: in that category alone there had to have been nearly 200 different magazines dedicated to the art and science of getting from point A to point B via everything from skateboards to locomotives to European sports cars rarely seen outside of James Bond movies. If it has wheels, there’s a magazine for it.

Amazed, I began wondering how long each of those magazines would be in publication. Since the explosion of the internet, the magazine and newspaper industries have taken a serious hit. Periodical sales have slid even further south with the decline of the economy. I was shocked to learn that business forecasters expect the demise of the long-standing, all-American monthly, Reader’s Digest. If a magazine that has been in existence for 90 years is on the edge of extinction, what chance do any of these other magazines have? As Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a-changin’.”

The psalmist writes about the longevity of God’s Word. Even when he penned this psalm thousands of years ago, the long-standing faithfulness of God and His Word were a known truth. That’s all well and good, but I have to wonder:  what difference does this make in whether or not we follow God’s commands? Isn’t truth, truth? What difference does it make whether truth is 10 minutes old or 10 thousand years old?

The difference is the test of time. Does something that is true in this moment still hold true tomorrow? What about next week or next year? Ancient civilizations believed strongly that if a man sailed far enough across the sea, he would eventually fall off the edge of the world. For thousands of years people accepted the belief that the earth was flat. Then the Greeks came along—Pythagoras and Aristotle—and they began to rock the boat with their new-fangled ideas of a spherical earth. Imagine how the ancient peoples who had learned and accepted and built their trust around this idea of a flat earth must have felt to discover that this basic belief was false. It would be a huge shock causing them to question everything they had been taught.

The Word of God, which incidentally describes the earth as round, has been proven true for thousands of generations. Many have attempted to disprove it, yet they come up empty-handed every time—science has not found a way to disprove God or His Word. Knowing that God’s Word has passed the test of time gives us the confidence to believe and trust in His decrees. It gives us hope that what we do and say here on earth has meaning—our lives have meaning. The God we trust isn’t like the mythical gods of Greece or Rome who would change their minds, throw temper-tantrums, play favorites, and rewarded evil while playing tricks on those who did good. Our God is faithful, He keeps His word; He does not play mind games. He doesn’t keep us guessing about what is right and what is wrong, what He expects of us. He has written it down and He has given us His Holy Spirit to give us the strength and encouragement to follow His Word. Thousands of years and millions of followers who have gone before us have proven His ways.

Bible Study:

 What are some things you once thought would last forever that later fell apart, disappeared, or became obsolete?

 

Make a list of those things that do last forever.

 

Read 1 Peter 1:3-4.  What gift have believers been given? How long will it last?

 

Read 1 Peter 1:17-25.  In verse 17, we are told to live as strangers here.  What does that mean?

 

Many have taken this to mean that we should hide ourselves away and have very little contact with the world outside our church.  In reality, it’s a call to look at our world as being a temporary situation—we are made for eternity.  Everything around us will fall apart and burn in the end.  Our souls, however, are eternal.  The decisions we make here and now determine where we will spend eternity.

 

Word search: Look up the word “Perishable.” Write down the definition here:

 

Write down the contrasts in these verses: Perishable vs. Imperishable.

 

Verse 18 says we were “redeemed from your empty way of life, handed down to you from your forefathers.”  What does that mean?

 

Read Romans 3:21–24. How many people have sinned? How many people need the redeeming love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ?

 

What did our redemption cost God?  What does that tell you about humanity’s worth to God?

 

One command is given in 1 Peter 1:22. Write it out here:

 

Personal Reflection: As humans, our natural default is our sinful nature. We cannot get away from it and we don’t outgrow our flesh—it’s in our DNA (see verse 18). But one day we will be freed from its confines when we meet Jesus face to face.  Until that time, we do daily battle in the strength of the Holy Spirit, choosing to submit our lives to Christ and trust in Him, following His lead out of love, not morbid fear and rules. We are like grass, Peter reminds us. Our circumstances, opinions, feelings, our homes, stuff, jobs, finances, politics, country, even our planet—all of these things are perishable. They will not last forever.  God (Father, Spirit, and Son) is imperishable. His Word is imperishable. People are imperishable. His Kingdom is imperishable. Where we place our trust and what we invest in matters. God has redeemed us for Love: loving one another and loving Him. Putting our time and energy into the things of God—like relationships—is an investment in the eternal.

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