Write God’s Word on the Tablet of Your Heart!
One of the verses I often inscribe in personalized Bibles is Joshua 1:8: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” Joshua, the Jesus of the Old Testament, goes on to say, “Then you will be prosperous and successful” (NIV).
Post-Gutenberg, we are primarily people of the written page. Not so the ancients. In a predominantly oral society, people practiced the principles of memory. Indeed, learning was virtually synonymous with memorization. That, of course, does not imply that the ancients did not employ written records; instead, this is just to put emphasis on the right syllable. In other words, manuscript repositories augmented mental recall and not vice versa. If there’s one thing preserved in the text of Scripture, it is the injunction to record God’s Words upon the tablet of your heart.
Think with me for just a moment to the early stages of Scripture, in what might well be among the most memorable of all biblical texts: Moses exhorts the people of God to impress the words of the Almighty upon the tablet of their consciousness. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road. When you lie down, when you get up, tie them as symbols on your hands, bind them on your foreheads, write them on the doorframes of your houses and upon your gates.
Above all, Moses warns, “Do not forget” (cf. Deut. 6:5-12, NIV). Moses was not alone, for Solomon, who prayed for a wise and discerning heart, implored his hearers to bind the Word of God around their fingers or around their necks, and to write it on the tablet of their heart (cf. Prov. 7:1-3). Even more poignantly, the Word made Flesh entreated his hearers, “Let these words sink into your ears” (Luke 9:44, NASB).
It’s not enough to record the sayings of understanding on a common tablet. We should inscribe the words of wisdom upon the tablet of our consciousness. Not only were saints in an oral culture required to discipline and dedicate themselves to recall the sayings of understanding, but the sages, the teachers, were predisposed to presenting their sayings in an inherently memorable fashion. Even Jesus, the heir to the linguistic riches of the Old Testament and a greater teacher than all of them, was the master of mnemonics. He employed repetition and rhyme and rhythm. He employed vivid imagery, visual and emotional stimuli, vibrant associations.
God in human flesh communicated the bread of life to those who are hungry and thirsty in an inherently memorable fashion. It’s one of the principles that I have attempted to employ as president of the Christian Research Institute.
I want you to be able to remember to write the wisdom of the Word upon the tablet of your consciousness, and I’m going to keep nagging this entire year because every week new people jump on board. They’re getting into the Word of God and getting the Word of God into them, and they’re beginning an adventure that I describe as authentic New Testament Christianity. They’re no longer playing the game, “going-to-church-like-a-prop” and then “leaving-church-because-I’ve-done-my-duty,” and somehow or other avoiding the One who spoke and the universe leaped into existence, the One who has given us, as God in human flesh, His words of wisdom. Authentic New Testament Christianity means that you are hiding God’s Word in your heart. It’s your lifeline.