I am not a prolific writer. Communication through the written word does not come easily to me. I even agonize over my emails – constantly checking for grammar, punctuation and spelling. Whenever I take on a difficult activity, like hiking up a steep mountain, I remind myself, “It’s easier than writing.” Writing is just not a natural talent of mine.
So, as I sat in writer's funk, trying to come up with something to put in today’s bulletin, I find myself wondering whether how much God actually wrote. Oh, I know the Bible is His written word. Every jot and tittle bears His divine mark. But how much did He actually write with his own hand? I searched the Bible for examples.
The first I found was God’s writing of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 31 tells us that God, “gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” The next chapter says, “They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (32:16).
Phil Roberts used to point out the conciseness of the Hebrew language and would ask why God would need the front and back of two tablets to write only 10 commandments. One of his students once replied, “God must have had a really big finger.” Brother Roberts would then point out that it was possible that both tablets said the same thing. One copy was for Israel and the other for God and they both lay in the ark of the covenant of the Most Holy Place, where God dwelled in the center of the Israelite camp. The Tablets were representative of a treaty or covenant, similar to those made between rulers and vassal nations that spelled out what each party could rightfully expect. However, unlike the nations around them who feared the changing whims of their god’s, Israel knew exactly what God expected from them, and they from Him. God had signed a straightforward agreement. As God was penning the last jot, Israel was already violating the covenant. Upon realizing this, Moses shattered the two tablets all over the side of Mt. Sinai, later requiring the first divine re-write.
The second instance of Supernatural writing is found in the book of Daniel. Belshazzar, the Babylonian king, had defiled the vessels of the Jerusalem Temple by using them to lubricate his guests at a royal banquet. As this was taking place, the fingers of a hand appeared and wrote four words of judgment on the plaster wall. “The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way” (Daniel 5:5-6). Before the night was over the great city of Babylon was under the rule of the Medes and Persians, just as God had written.
I think both of these instances point to the authority and sovereignty of God. Whether it is over sojourners in the wilderness of Sinai or potentates in a palace, all human beings report to a higher authority. While we may attempt to make up our own rules, we will all be held to the divine standard. Its very intent is to make us, shape us and show us unto God.
The only other record that comes to mind of God writing is recorded in John 8:1-11. Religious authorities had “caught” a woman in the act of adultery. Attempting to trap Jesus, they dragged her before Him and the multitudes, asking Him what should be done to her. According to the written Law of God, she was to be stoned, however, Roman law forbade the Jews from exercising any capital punishment. What would Jesus say?
It is then we find the third writing of God, although we have no idea what He wrote. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. There has been a lot of speculation over this sand scrawling, but what I find most interesting is that in a matter of moments it would be gone, destroyed by the shuffling of feet and blowing of wind. The only thing that brings this writing of God to our attention is the fact that it took place in the moment of collision between grace and Law. The Law did not put Jesus in a position to condemn her. Only those who witnessed the violation could do so. Yet, His position as Deity, afforded Him every right to exercise judgment. Jesus finally spoke and turned the trap back upon the accusers, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Grace reigned with the instruction of Law, “Go and sin no more.”
Paul would describe one final writing of the Godhead. Borrowing from the language of the prophets, Paul said of the struggling Corinthians, “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:3). It is humbling to realize that God’s other mediums of writing – stone tablets, a plaster wall, and sand in a temple courtyard – did not survive the ravages of history. Instead, God’s literature gets passed down from generation to generation in transformed lives. Paul said of God’s children, “For we are God’s workmanship, created for good works” (Eph. 2:10). The word “workmanship” is poiema in the Greek, from which we derive our word “poem.” The word literally means, “work of art.” We are God’s work of art – Deity’s poem.”
After considering scenes of God’s writing, I no longer feel so burdened by my task of composition. Composing words on paper is one thing; creating sacred works of art out of human beings is quite another.
- Norm Webb, Jr.