Gold Mining and God’s Word
Yesterday marked the 165th anniversary of gold being discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. What followed over the next two years was a mass movement of some 300,000 people in search of instant riches, eventually becoming known as the California Gold Rush.
What most of these seekers encountered upon setting out however, was a grueling trip across formidable terrain or seas only to reach an exhausting process of actually getting to the gold. Initially, there were wide-spread, but relatively small finds of gold dust and small nuggets near the surface, mainly in rivers and creeks. But over time, it was realized that to get to the real treasure, they would have to dig. Skimming the surface would result in some gains, but those profits were quickly eaten up by the requirements of living. Depth was the key to reach the gold.
There is a profound truth for Christians here, but first a question. How silly would it have been for these people, who had risked their entire livelihood on this venture, who had put their entire families’ future on the line for gold, how irresponsible and ultimately destructive would it have been for them to arrive in California only to go about the land merely kicking up dust and turning over rocks, never even breaking the ground’s surface, for years upon years?
Now overlay this idea onto the Christian view of God’s Word. We have been given something infinitely more valuable than gold, yet we go about rummaging around on the surface in hopes of a nugget here or a nugget there. True, there are jewels to be found and God can and does speak through a single verse or passage. But He gave us 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, ALL comprising His perfect and complete way of revealing Himself to His creation. That means something.
I’ll come back to what it means in just a second, but I want to say something about how we view God’s Word in general. For many Christians, the Bible is really two books. One is the New Testament which tells us about the life and death of Jesus and how to be saved. The other is the Old Testament which tells a confusing and strange story about how God dealt with people in the past. Thinking of the Bible in this manner betrays two different views of God – the way He acted before Jesus and the way He acted through Jesus. The problem is, it’s not Biblical.
God has not changed. The God that wiped out entire nations in the Old Testament to keep His chosen people safe is the exact same God who killed Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts when they played with sin. The entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is one story about God’s perfect plan for all of history in redeeming a people for Himself from their sin through the death and resurrection of His one and only Son, resulting in Him receiving all honor and glory. The Bible is God’s way of telling us about what kind of God He is and it is not mainly about us; it is about Him. It is a story about His hatred of sin, His wrath because of sin, and is great and unfailing love for His children. When we read the Old Testament, we should see one giant arrow pointing toward Christ as our only hope and the New Testament as one giant arrow coming from Christ as the only hope of the world.
Understanding this takes me back to the fact that God gave us the entire Bible, all 66 books worth.
What this means is that it is ALL important, not just the passages we find comforting or easy. God intends that all scripture be profitable to us, even Leviticus, Numbers and Revelation. The problem is that we don’t dig. We skim along the surface day after day, year after year, and end up never experiencing growth in spiritual maturity. The result is that we build unstable foundations that are easily collapsed under the hardships of life.
Every single one of us will come to a point in our lives, if we haven’t already, where all around our souls will give way. If we have a shallow understanding and small view of God, a collapse of faith is possible. But, if we have a deep, hard-sought, and hard-won understanding of the sovereign God of the universe and His ability and willingness to keep us and deliver us, the Holy Spirit may be pleased to use that knowledge and fortify the very foundations of our lives.
God intended us to read and understand the Bible. Yes, some of it is very, very difficult to understand and there is much debate on some verses, but that should not stop us from digging for treasure. We need to pray, think long and hard, and meditate on God’s Word. We need to put down the rake and pick up the shovel. There is “gold” to be found there if we put forth the effort to find it.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:33-36