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Title: BIBLE READING MARATHON Trinity Methodist Church, Petaling Jaya, 28th August 2019.
Date: 01-Aug-2019
Category: Cover Story
Source/Author: Bishop Dr Ong Hwai Teik
Description: Adapted from the Message delivered at the launching of the 2nd Klang Valley

WHY THIS PUBLIC DECLARATION OF GOD’S WORD IS SO IMPORTANT 
The Pharisees in the “Triumphal Entry” passage of Luke 19:37-40 had stridently told the Lord Jesus to rebuke His disciples who “began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen”. The revealing reply that He gave was - “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 

Similarly, even if we do not read aloud the Bible, it does not change the fact that the attestation and authenticity of this truth remains unchanging – its veracity and legitimacy being borne out by “witnesses” other than human utterance! 

God’s people have gathered in different locations in Malaysia over this Merdeka Day Weekend to read and declare God’s Word aloud, seeking God’s truth and blessing to be over this beloved nation of ours. 

Why is this public reading of the Bible so important?
There are at least four reasons.
 

  1. The Bible has significance of historical proportion. The Bible contains the sovereign holy will of God whereby the beginning and final fate of our world as He has determined will come to pass. This includes the Second Coming of Christ in which the new heaven and earth will be established. 

    Granted that now “we see dimly” and “know only in part” – but then enough had been revealed about the script of where and how the “movie of the history of our world” will end one day. 

    We declare God’s sovereign will to all creation, that we must “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” [Micah 6:8] as prescribed by the Author of the script of Earth’s history. So that no matter how overpowering the threats posed by the politics of powerful nations in adversity, the mind-boggling capacity of nuclear weapons, the technological inventions and scientific breakthroughs that challenge ethical norms, and economic developments and advancement that are soulless – His “history script” - will stand forever as declared by Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever”. 

  2. The Bible has cosmic significance for glorifying God in the “heavenly realm” of spiritual “principalities and powers”. The Bible contains the truth of God’s “undefeatable” plan from eternity - to reveal His unsearchable riches in Christ to the Gentiles. The Gentiles are also partakers of the promise of salvation in Christ Jesus through the gospel [Eph 3: 5-6]. This hitherto mystery has “now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”. 

    Paul, at the same time, says “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” [Eph 3:10]. This divine wisdom “is primarily the wisdom it took to devise a plan of redemption as great as this: a plan to unite and glorify Jew and Gentile, contrary to all human expectation, by the horrible death of the mighty Messiah” [John Piper] and its successful implementation and results. This verse tells us of the grandeur of the mission of the church. The Church on earth may feel hard-pressed and in the minority but we must never forget the cosmic significance of the Church which is beyond the terrestrial. 

    As we read the Bible aloud, we are once again proclaiming and glorifying God to the unseen cosmic realm enemies of His “manifold wisdom”. This is the revealed wondrous and undefeatable purpose of the Good News of salvation in Christ Jesus that embraces, unites and restores our broken world - so that “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” [NLT Galatians 3:28].

    We glorify the cosmic Ruler as the cosmic Church in which the “gates of hell cannot prevail against” [Matt 16:18] - under the banner of the eternal and “unchallengeable” authority of the Sovereign Ruler of the universe!
     
  3. The Bible has significance for personal transformation. We are not only declaring the hope available for the transformation of the sinful fallen human nature but also that there is actual power to bring this to pass. This we read in NLT Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

    As we read the Bible aloud, we are declaring the available living power for transformation of lives in our nation – that God’s Word will spread and effect changes in the young and old, male and female, the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, the sojourners and the citizens, inside and outside of the church. Only the Word of God has divine authority and only the Word of God awakens life in sinners - supernaturally.
     
  4. The Bible has significance for worship. Worship is rooted in WHO GOD IS – the Bible asserts this clearly. This is seen especially in the names and dealings of this Holy and Almighty God. We shall proclaim what the wondrous God Whom we cannot but worship, Who is responsible for the great miracles of the crossing of the Red Sea, the sun standing still as Joshua battled the Amalekites, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Christ etc.  

    In our Bible reading marathon - we shall proclaim why we worship this Sovereign and Holy God as revealed by His names. 

    He is Elohim [Genesis 1:1] – referring to God’s incredible power and immeasurable might. He is the One and only God. Who in the “Beginning... created the heavens and the earth.”

    He is Yahweh – “The Lord” – the self-existing eternal great “I Am” [Exo 3:13-14] - from the verb which means to “exist,” “be.” He is responsible for all that exists but Himself dwells in eternity. He is the Absolute self-existent One that means God does not depend on anyone or anything for His existence or sustenance. 

    He is Abba [Gal 4:6] – the most intimate form of God’s name, demonstrating the character of the ultimate, faultless Father, Who is lovingly ever-present in our lives to provide protection, security and unconditional love. 

    He is El Elyon [Ps 7:17], the “God Most High” – revealing that He is the supreme cosmic God Who is above all principalities and powers, that nothing in life is more sacred. He reigns supreme, even if there are those who are deemed as “gods”. 

    He is El Roi [Gen 16:13] - “The God Who Sees” with kindness and care. He is the one who sees us when we feel lonely and abandoned. He sees the situations and affairs of people, and knows when they feel displaced, misplaced and out of place in life. 

    He is El Shaddai [Ps 91:1] which means “God Almighty” (Septuagint - Deus Omnipotens in Latin). Another view says it is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “enough, sufficient, sufficiency”. No wonder Paul says he would boast all the more gladly of his weaknesses because he had heard our El Shaddai God say to him – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Cor 12:9]. 

    He is Yahweh Jireh [Gen 22:14] – “The Lord will Provide” – the faithful, generous and not petty God Whom churches celebrate with thanksgiving from anniversary to anniversary!

    He is Yahweh Nissi [Exo 17:15] - “The Lord Is my Banner”. He gives leadership, covering, protection and deliverance for His people. He is the One Who makes the Church a minority with a majority status!

    He is Jehovah Rapha [Exo 15:26] – the “Healer” [The Lord who heals you]. He is the compassionate God Who knows we are in need of healing, including our land, Malaysia. This name brings untold comfort and hope to many suffering illness, brokenness, or painful circumstances. This God knows and understands we are in need of help, as we live in a broken world.

    He is Yahweh Shalom [Judges 6:24] - “The Lord is Peace” – the only One capable and willing to give us the peace that passes all of our own understanding, beyond all that the world can give to us. The common western definition of peace is the absence of conflict or war but in Hebrew it means so much more. The root word for “shalom” means, “to be safe in mind, body, or estate.” It speaks of completeness, fullness, or a type of wholeness that encourages you to give back, to generously re-pay, so that in the middle-eastern context, the greeting “shalom” means “may you be full of well-being” – so as to overflow and bless others.

    The context of the Aaronic blessing was one of war, as Israel went out to conquer the Promised Land. Numbers 6:23-26 states - “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’”       
     
    This Aaronic Benediction would not make sense, if peace means “the absence of war” as they would soon be in battle. Rather God was referring to an inner peace and a sense of complete well-being brought on by His face favourably shining upon His people, and His countenance of approval that extends His pro- tection. That was the blessing that Israel needed as they scarcely experienced times of “outward peace”, that even in the midst of battles in the tumultuous voyage of life, they were to have an inward rest brought on by the presence of the Lord, regardless of the outward circumstance. That should be so for each of us as well! 

    When we read out God’s Word we declare Who He is – the Sovereign Author of the Script of History, the Cosmic Ruler of seen and unseen realms, the Powerful Transformer of lives, and the Only One to be worshipped. 

    So whatever the situations and appearances around us may be - let us now proceed to read aloud the Bible which is the everlasting Word of God that is alive to all of creation and to all realms seen and unseen! 

    I now declare the Second Bible Reading Marathon in Klang Valley officially open IN THE NAME OF GOD THE FATHER – the Source of all revelations, THE SON – the Living Word, and the HOLY SPIRIT – the INSPIRER OF THE WRITTEN WORD. Amen.  


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