Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Precious Treasure Hidden from the Nazis

If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked."
Numbers 14:15-20

This week I came across a summary of Corrie ten Boom's story. I confess that although I had heard of Corrie and her best-selling book The Hiding Place, up until this week I really didn't know what that book was about. The ten Booms were a Christian family living in Holland during Nazi occupation that bravely chose to hide runaway Jews in their three-story home above their family's watch shop. They had a secret room constructed next to Corrie's bedroom which they called "The Hiding Place." Thanks to the ten Boom family and this hiding place, seven Jews were protected from Nazi concentration camps. These Jews were never found, but Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually arrested and sent to the women's extermination camp at Ravensbruck.

"At Ravensbruck the women were permitted worship services in their crowded barracks. At every meeting a crowd of thin, sad-faced women gathered around Corrie and Betsie to hear the sisters read from their hidden Bible. One read the Dutch text and the other translated aloud in German. Other interpreters then passed the precious words along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and other languages. These evenings were 'little previews of heaven' Corrie later wrote in The Hiding Place."*

This image of malnourished women crowding around the Word of God, devouring its precious truth, and taking great pains to share the hope they find in it with others struck me. The truth is that God's Word is always this precious and this powerful, but we do not always treat it as such. In the above passage we find that Moses did though. God has just told Moses that He is ready to wash His hands of the Israelites. They have rebelled one too many times. After the Lord rescued them mightily from Egypt, brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground, and then sustained them across the desert with bread from heaven all the way up to the Promised Land, the people of Israel choose not go in. They fear the giants in the land and still doubt God's power after all He has done. So God offers to destroy them all and start over and make a people for himself through Moses. We see Moses' response above.

The careful reader will notice that Moses recites God's words back to Him. On Mt. Sinai Moses was given a precious revelation from the Lord. God placed him in a hiding place, in a cleft in the rock, and caused His glory to pass in front of Moses. As He passed before him the Lord declared His name and character to Moses. It is clear from the fact that he quotes it back to God as the reason why He should show compassion that Moses treasured these words.

It's unfortunate that we don't appreciate God's Word in the same way. Take a lesson from Corrie and from Moses today. Open the Word and treasure it!

For further are some places you might start:
  • Exodus 34:5-9- Check out the special revelation Moses experienced on Mt. Sinai.
  • Psalm 23- Try one of the most loved Psalms in the Bible. 
  • John 1:1-18- Sample one of the most beautiful explanations of Jesus' true identity ever written. 
  • Romans 8- Give the chapter that some have called the "crown jewel of the New Testament" a chance.  

*I am indebted to James and Marti Hefley's book By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century for the information in these two paragraphs.

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