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Don't write off the Word of God

By Rev Gareth Burke

Published 20/02/2016

I am simply amazed by the level of public interest in the House of Lords vellum row. It would appear, that in order to save £80,000 a year, the House of Lords is considering scrapping the centuries old practice of recording Acts of Parliament on vellum. A reliable 'archival paper' has been identified as a suitable alternative but many are not happy.

Much discussion has taken place within the media and on social media as to the benefits of continuing using vellum with historians telling us that the oldest Act of Parliament in the archives dates from 1497.

The Prime Minister himself has indirectly got involved in the debate with the Cabinet Office suggesting that they would cover the shortfall of £80,000 to keep the traditional practice in place.

Listening to this row over the benefits of using vellum scrolls immediately reminded me of a story which we find in the Bible in Jeremiah Chapter 36. Jeremiah, the prophet, has got his secretary Baruch to record the Word of the Lord on a scroll.

When the scroll is completed Baruch enters the temple in order to read out the Lord's words to the assembled people, but many are displeased and disturbed and report him to the King, Jehoiakim.

Indeed when King Jehoiakim hears for himself what is written on the scroll he is furious and instructs his secretary, Jehudi, to burn the scroll - section by section - in a fire which is conveniently burning nearby.

The King does not want to hear the word of the Lord. He doesn't like his sin, and the sin of the nation, being condemned by God. He doesn't want to listen to a message from God that speaks of God's displeasure with the nation of Judah because of their failure to obey God and serve Him.

Many are like Jehoiakim today. When they read the Bible they are unhappy at the idea of sin and judgment.

However, if we read on we discover that there is more to God's message concerning sin than words of judgment and punishment.

In fact we're told that "God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

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