The Oracles Of God

by Keith Macnaughtan

In the New Testament that great rabbi Paul, wrote in Romans 3:1,2, "What advantage then hath the Jew? . . . much in every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

"The Oracles of God" ! Here is a reference to the Scriptures, beginning with Genesis 1:1. And here Paul indicates that the advantage (and the corresponding responsibility) of the possession of those Oracles was given to that small but so significant nation, Israel. Not to the Greeks with their keen and intense study of Man; not to the Romans with their love for conquest, law and order; not to the Egyptians nor Babylonians, nor Assyrians, but to the Jews, God committed His Oracles.

Again and again the Scriptures contain such words as: "And the Lord said unto Moses . . . " ; "And the Lord spake unto Moses saying . . . " ; "Hear ye the Word of the Lord . . . " ; "Give ear unto the law of our God . . . " ; "Thus saith the Lord . . . " ; "And the Word of the Lord came unto me saying . . . " . Here is a constant reiteration that in the Bible are to be found the very Oracles of God.

The Story of Creation

The superiority of the Scriptures over every other so-called 'sacred' literature can easily be proved. Take as an illustration the Bible story of Creation. The revelation of Scripture begins with the words: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In that simple statement of just ten words (in the English Bible) there is a sublimity unmatched by any other attempted explanation of things that exist.

"In the beginning" . There is room there in just the three words with which the Word of God commences for all the tens of thousands of years which some scientists tell us the world has been in existence.

"God created" . Here in just two words there is a refutation of the false systems of atheism, pantheism, the eternity of matter, and others. Atheism is refuted. There IS a God.

This universe is not an agglomeration of atoms with no directing and guiding Mind. "The undevout astronomer is mad" was the considered opinion of a great scientist of a past generation. The evidence of design is such that we conclude, consistent with Genesis 1:1 that behind the design there is a designing Mind, a God. Pantheism is refuted. God stands, in a sense, outside His creation; He is not to be identified with it.

The eternity of matter is also refuted. God created it. Haeckel wrote in The Riddle of the Universe : "The universe or the cosmos is eternal, infinite and illimitable". Today, however, science contradicts that view and it teaches that matter had a beginning which, indeed, is just what the Bible says.

And Babylonian Myths

We repeat that there is no statement as to the beginning of things which can ever cmpare with the first verse of Genesis and the Jewish Scriptures. Men have drawn attention to the Babylonian myths of creation, and some unbelievers have taught that all you have in the book of Genesis is a copy of those myths, tidied up, of course, to make them look a little more respectable.

Why can they not see that, in the Jewish Scriptures, you have the truth, and that the polytheistic myths of the Babylonians and others are but a distorted version of that which did actually happen? The alleged similarity between the Genesis story of Creation and the myths and legends of other nations lies largely in the imagination of critics of the Scriptures, as any unbiased mind would agree.

To the Jews were committed the Oracles of God -- not the story of creation alone, but all of God's revelation of truth. Recently a letter in the Melbourne AGE newspaper asked that question, a question some of our readers will remember was asked by a certain Roman governor nearly two thousand years ago: "What is truth?". The answer to that lies in the claims of One Who, Himself of the Jewish race and nation said: "I am . . . the Truth" . Or, looked at from another angle, He said also "Thy Word is truth." The Word, the Jewish Scriptures, the Scripture of Truth -- in these alone is the truth found.

"Salvation is of the Jews"

To a Samaritan woman the Messiah once said "Salvation is of the Jews" . This, surely, is because to them have been committed the Oracles of God. One writer has pointed out that the Jews have been, and still are, the custodians of, and witnesses to, the Old Testament Scriptures. Both the Authorized and the Revised versions have been translated from the Hebrew Bible. He says, "We have thus recognized these people as the custodians of the Old Testament, and we have taken these Oracles of God from the hand of the Israelite."

Of the Jewish sect known as Karaites (who have sometimes been equated with the 'doctors of the Law' of whom we read in the Gospels), it has been said, "Not only did they take every precaution to hand down the Old Testament Scriptures without alteration: they also devised means by which the purity of the text might afterwards be tested.

"They counted the verses of each book and section, and placed the number of them at the end. They marked the middle verse of each book. They pointed out the middle letter of the Pentateuch, and the middle clause of each book of it. They ascertained how often each letter of the Hebrew alphabet occurred in the Old Testament."

The ancient Hebrews wrote their Scriptures only on the skin of a clean animal and each skin contained a certain number of columns of precise length and breadth, with a certain number of words. They wrote only with the purest ink . . . and only after each word was pronounced orally by the copyist. The scribe washed his pen each time before writing the Name of God.

Jewish Care for the Scriptures

John Urquhart wrote, "On no other book in the whole world's history has such labour been expended, or such ingenuity and care been lavished to hand it on from generation to generation as it was received . . . This enormous but ungrudged toil ought to be perpetually remembered.

"As if prompted by a Divinely-implanted instinct, the nation has magnificently fulfilled the duties of its stewardship, and has handed on to us the jealously guarded 'Oracles of God'. It has had to abandon much in the fires of persecution but these it has preserved unscathed".

And The New Testament, Too

We have been referring mostly, in the above, to the Old Testament: what of the New Testament? Every word in the New Testament is still part of the Jewish Scriptures. There is, we admit, the possible exception (and we say only 'possible') of the third Gospel and the book of Acts, both written by Luke.

But with this possible exception (for no one can tell with certainty whether he was a Jew or a Gentile) every word of the New Testament Scriptures has been penned by a Jewish hand; all are part of the Oracles of God. And all cluster round that Person Who, in infinite and Divine love for mankind, gave Himself up to death so that we might have life, and life eternal in Him.

From the Old Testament book of Genesis to the New Testament book of Revelation all the Oracles of God, all the Jewish Scriptures, point to Him, His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection -- yes, and His coming again to reign in righteousness and justice over Jew and Gentile alike.