“But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.”
What is the purpose of the Bible? Why was it written? Some speak of the Bible as a “love letter from God,” others as a “manual for right living,” and still others call the Bible a “history of God’s people.” All of those ideas have their valid points, but each avoids naming the PURPOSE of the Word of God. Why did God give us this Book, this Scripture?
When Moses handed down the Ten Commandments, the Israelites finally had a written version of the voice of God. Later, once Moses had written the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), the Israelites undoubtedly felt as if that early history revealed to them how they ought to be living. But God’s revelation was not finished, and so were added the histories, the wisdom books, and the prophets. And then, after Jesus, God inspired the Gospel accounts and the rest of what we call the New Testament. But why does the Bible exist at all?
There is a clue in today’s verse from the book of Daniel, and also in another verse in the letter to the Hebrews.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Yes, there is wisdom in God’s Word, and we will find clues about how we ought to be living, but from these two passages we see that the Bible exists to reveal to us the true intents of our heart. By seeing our lives in the light of Scripture, seeing our innermost thoughts revealed against the wisdom of God, we finally come to know not just God but also ourselves. That self-revelation is the key to repentance and faith, because if we do not realize our sin we will not repent of it. If we do not know the darkness of our hearts, we will not seek the Light that was revealed in Christ. If we are not cut to the bone by God’s Word, we will not understand the gospel–which is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) The more we understand ourselves through the wisdom of God, then the more we understand God’s glory and righteousness, the more we see His abundant grace and mercy, and the more we love Him who came to die for us.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
If we had not heard the gospel, had not read the Bible, where would we be? Would we have ever come to know God and seek His face? Throughout the Bible itself, people only come to repentance through hearing the revealed Word of God. From the rebellious Israelites through the idolatrous Jews, from the people of Nineveh to a traveling Ethiopian eunuch, God’s Word was revealed and the people came to repentance. God’s Word reveals our fallen state, reveals our dependence on His mercy, reveals our need for His forgiveness, reveals that WE are not God but HE IS.
As Daniel said to King Nebuchadnezzar, the wisdom of God is not revealed so that we who share it can show off or be glorified, but so that we and our listeners can be edified, so that we may all have the thoughts of our hearts revealed to us. The person who truly looks into the depths of Scripture will see his heart revealed in the light of the heart of God, and such revelation must move us to repentance and greater faith. If we are reading the Bible merely for the “promises” of God, then we are missing the point.
2 Timothy 3:14-15
14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The wisdom of holy Scripture is for our salvation, and that salvation comes through repentance and faith. Looking only for the promises of God in His Word is putting the cart before the horse, because we cannot understand the depths of His grace without first knowing the depths of our own depravity.
Do your Bible read it every day? Do you search it for wisdom? Do you delve its depths, trolling for meaning for your life? Do you seek God’s love in His Word? All those things are good, and we can learn those things. But if we truly study God’s Word, truly dive into the Bible, we will see a sliver of the heart of God and the WHOLE of our own hearts.
Here is my challenge for us all: let us come to Scripture with a new heart, seeking God’s Word with new purpose. Yes, we can come to know God’s love and God’s will for our lives through studying the Bible. But each time we come to God’s holy Word, we need to start by setting our minds to one purpose: to see our own hearts revealed in the light of Christ and His gospel. Let us turn to Scripture daily, seeking to know God so that we also are known, seeking His wisdom so that we understand the hidden recesses of our own hearts, seeking signs of His mercy so that we truly understand our need for repentance. Ultimately, let us look to the Bible not only to better understand who we are but also to know who we can be through Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Holy God and Father, I thank You today for Your holy Word, for this Book that You have graciously given us. As I come to Your Bible each day, Lord God, help me to understand myself, to know Your will for my life, to truly see the amazing gift of Your mercy. In Your Word, let me see myself through Your eyes, through Your love. Help me to see Your Christ so that I may become more like Him. Amen.