This week’s devotions are based on the Week 6 “Explore God” – Is the Bible Reliable? (WATCH HERE)
Matthew 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
At first read this verse perhaps seems like an exaggeration Jesus is making to highlight the point that his Word will last forever. However, in his words is a very practical point that had been carried out for centuries by those that were privileged to be “Scribes,” or ones that HAND copied the pages of the Old Testament. Each of these individuals had a very high regard for the text they were handling and considered it the Word of God. They in no way wanted to be the ones responsible for allowing the smallest letter or word to disappear from what they fully considered the Word of God.
To understand the detail, here are nine realities about the process of hand copying the Scripture:
- They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
- Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
- The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
- They must verbalize each word aloud while they were writing.
- They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the word “Jehovah,” every time they wrote it.
- There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
- The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
- The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc).
- As no document containing God’s Word could be destroyed, they were stored, or buried, in a genizah – a Hebrew term meaning “hiding place.” These were usually kept in a synagogue or sometimes in a Jewish cemetery.
As a result of this meticulous work to bring the words of God from one manuscript to the next and then preserve them for future generations, we see the hand of God in this human process to ensure there was no deviance from the very words and the very truth of God’s Word.
So, is the Bible reliable? If one looks to the history behind the transmission of the text of the Bible, we can safely conclude that from every human means possible, those that engaged in this awesome responsibility of copying God’s very words, took the matter very seriously. And when something is taken seriously so that accuracy might be passed on, that builds a rock-solid reality of reliability. Thank God for this gift!
Apply: Which of the above points of process for the scribes give you the most confidence that the Word of God truly is reliable?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for guiding the process of copying your word so we can be certain we have your very words with us today! AMEN.