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Lesson 7: on the shoulders of giants

Updated: May 30

Falling In Love With God’s Word #7

Read Psalm 119:20

 

This scripture is inspiring to us, but we may not fully grasp the importance of it.  Our soul longs for that which we crave intensely.  We need it to sustain us.  We need it to survive.  We need it all the time, can’t get enough of it.  Unfortunately, as Christians in the 21st Century, we know we should feel this way about the Bible, but may have forgotten how blessed we are to have it.  We stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us, heroes who risked (many sacrificed) their lives to make sure God’s word could be produced and distributed.


One such giant was John Wycliffe (1328-1384).  There was a time when scripture was controlled by the Catholic Church – only the educated and enlightened were allowed to read it.  It was translated into Latin so those people could understand it.  Wycliffe, an Oxford theologian, took the Latin Vulgate and translated it into English.  To do so, he challenged the pope, aggressively fighting to have scripture available to everyone.  He died a nonviolent death, but the pope was so infuriated by his teachings, that 44 years after his death, he ordered Wycliffe’s bones to be dug up, burned, and scattered in the river!  Wow.


Another giant was Johan Gutenburg (1398-1468).  He invented the printing press, making possible the first printings of the Bible.  It couldn’t be printed fast enough – people were hungry for it!  The first printings were considered illegal, but many people risked or lost their lives for this cause.


Another giant was William Tyndale (1492-1536).  He is famous for translating the Greek New Testament into English, and was the primary architect of the English language.  He devoted his life to trying to make the Bible available to the “modern man.”  He spearheaded a mass undercover printing effort, inspiring many in England.  Bibles were smuggled into England in cotton bales and sacks of wheat.  Tyndale was eventually caught (betrayed by a friend), spent 500 days in prison, then was strangled and burned at the stake!  He paved the way for the reformers, and is responsible for the Bible we have today!


Take a good look at the Bible you have.  Chances are, it has a nice cover, wonderful notes, a concordance, maps…the works!  It might even have your name on it – something that could have gotten you killed long ago!  When you read it (or don’t), try to remember that these giants, and so many others along with them, risked everything to make God’s word available.  We are beneficiaries of their sacrifice.  They longed for it, and made it their life passion.  Do we?

 

Reflections

1.  Do you appreciate how hard it was to make God’s written word possible for us today?  Do you ever take it for granted?  Think about the heroes that made your Bible possible, and pray for a heart that LONGS for God’s teaching!

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