A Biblical accounting of God’s giving His People words of encouragement during those times when bad things are happening. The insight for this article stems from David Platt’s “Old Testament Survey” and a major theme of his was to remember a people, a place, and a purpose throughout that survey. It is sound, sensible advice. In the broad scope of all the Holy scriptures we should ask: God’s people – who are they? God’s kingdom – Where is it? God’s purpose – Why did things happened the way they have?
A good starting point for this article is to go back to Abraham’s great, great, great, great, great … grandson Moses and the events of the Exodus. Actually, the real beginning goes back to a time before the Exodus occurred. This pre-exodus information is a key to the rest of the article and is very important.
Egyptologist, Dr. James K. Haufmier, of Wheaton College has discovered the oldest or second oldest Alphabetic inscription ever found. It was probably written by an Israelite slave from Egypt, sometime before the exodus. The Semitic inscription was located in a turquoise mine in the Sinai Peninsula. At the time of its writing the peninsula was controlled by Egypt and the Israelites were slaves
What this particular inscription depicts is a text that was written using consonants and syllables. This alphabetic form of writing is what we use to this day. It’s a written language where letters represent sounds. This alphabetic form of writing has made reading available to everyone beginning at a very young age.
This alphabetic writing is not like the ancient Sumerian cuneiform of which the law codes of Hammurabi were written. They aren’t like the Egyptian hieroglyphs of ancient times. Those writings were not intended for the masses. They were only used by scribes, priests and rulers. It took many years for the elites of these countries to learn to write those languages. Keeping people illiterate was a means to basically keep the lower class people’s ignorant, indentured or enslaved.
Finding that Hebraic inscription, in that mine, before the exodus is evidence that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wanted His people to be literate. God did not want His people to be suppressed and enslaved forever. I would go so far as to say that God has wanted all mankind to be literate and it goes all the way back to this time. God inspired this simpler method of reading and writing and it was given to His People, being used even while they were slaves in Egypt. He wanted a record kept of His being involved in this world. He wanted His People to see, to learn, and to remember the important things about their God.
There may be scoffers, but one only needs to look into the book of The Exodus and Moses for proof. Why would have God written the Commandments on stone tablets, if the people couldn’t read and comprehend them? Beginning in Exodus 17: 14 (Biblical texts are from the New America Standard Bible) “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this in a book as a memorial…’” and then in Exodus 24: 4 “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord…” As one reads further there’s more. When the Bible describes the events surrounding God’s writing of the Ten Commandments it makes explicit proclamations. It states in Exodus 31: 18 “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.” Then for the grand finale it says in Exodus 32:16 “The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets.” The writing was known and it was known to be from God.
There needed to be a way for God to communicate to His people directly. There needed to be a way for His people to remember and learn about all that God had done for them throughout the generations. God wanted there to be a written record and He wanted His people to understand what it meant individually as well as collectively. The means to do this was an alphabetically based written form of the language the Israelite’s spoke.
The God and Creator of the Universe did not leave man to wander about blindly and aimlessly. He gave his people a way to gain and keep knowledge, not only about who God was, but also about how to live their lives with one another (i.e. The Ten Commandments). In the next segment we will look at how God used the written word to encourage His people, helping them cope with the times when bad things were happening to His people.