Even in the best of times, we need to remember and celebrate this transformative truth.
by David Brickner, Executive Director | November 07 2023
The word “incarnating” is the active form of “incarnation”—which is the most dramatic and divine intervention in human history: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Even in the best of times, we need to remember and celebrate this transformative truth: the eternal Son of God took on human flesh to bring us God’s salvation. But as I write, terrorism has once again reared its ugly head in a devastating attack against Israel. And while no one knows exactly what the situation will be by the time you receive this newsletter, it’s difficult to see any earthly hope for peace. But thank God, we have received a heavenly hope and a heavenly holiness through the Incarnation. And God calls us to “incarnate” that hope and that holiness to others.
It’s no coincidence that the Son of God is called “the Word” and the Bible is called “the Word of God.” God speaks to us through His Son and through Scripture—and each speaks to us of the other. So this month, I wanted to reflect on the Word as it relates to “incarnating.”
Through the Incarnation, we now have the Word—the gospel of Jesus—implanted in our hearts, enabling us to live holy lives in an unholy world.
James tells us, “Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). God wants us to participate in what He accomplished through His Incarnation by reflecting the light and love of His holiness as well as His message.
Some pastors are distinguished for their preaching, but I recall a soft-spoken pastor whose preaching wasn’t particularly engaging or memorable. However, this pastor excelled in one area of ministry that I will never forget.
Each time we received communion, he would walk back and forth in front of the communion table quoting large swaths of Scripture passages from memory. There was something so special, and yes, pastoral about the way he spoke the Scriptures to us. It always touched my heart and made communion even more meaningful. We sensed God in our midst as this pastor ministered powerfully through his recitation.
You’ve probably heard it said, “You are what you eat,” but have you ever thought about that statement from a spiritual standpoint? God paints a beautiful picture of this in the prophet Ezekiel’s call to ministry.
He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. Then He said to me: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them” (Ezekiel 3:3–4).
Like Ezekiel, it is only when we “eat the scroll” that we truly have something of eternal value to share with others. The greatest treasure that we can actually see and touch and hold in our hands is the Word of God; it is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in [Messiah] Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
I learned so much from my studies at Moody Bible Institute. As we often said, “‘Bible’ is our middle name!” I remember a message from visiting professor, pastor, and author, Howard Hendricks. He shared how he and his wife were memorizing Scripture together, but it was becoming more and more challenging as the years went by. That motivated me to begin memorizing Scripture on my own, which I did for several years. At one point, I had memorized the entire book of Ephesians. But eventually I fell out of the habit, which I very much regret.
Now I know firsthand what Dr. Hendricks meant about memorization becoming more and more difficult. But it is not too late to work at it. I can’t think of a better way to keep our minds sharp than by meditating on and yes, memorizing, the Word of God. I don’t know about Prevagen and all those other memory supplements, but I know God, and He will honor our efforts to drink in His Word till it fills our minds and hearts.
That said, I’m going to use the new Messianic Jewish edition of Tyndale’s Chronological Life Application Study Bible to reboot my habit of Scripture memorization (see enclosed flyer). Some of you know that Jews for Jesus partnered with Tyndale to help readers dig into the Jewish context of the Scriptures. There is even a special 52-week parashah (portions) chart of readings from the Old and New Testaments throughout the year. And yet I know that it takes more than reading God’s Word to mine its riches.
Going back to Dr. Hendricks’ message at Moody, his most memorable point was a question: “You may have been through the Bible, but has the Bible been through you?” How do we know if the Bible has been “through” us? For one thing, we know by what comes out of our mouths when we get poked and prodded by life’s painful circumstances, large or small. Whether you get cut off in traffic or receive seriously bad news, wouldn’t it be great if a Bible verse was the first thing out of your mouth?
When we internalize God’s Word, it will naturally surface when we need it. That has certainly been the case among our Israel team in the midst of war, just as it continues to be for our staff in Ukraine as they, too, are living through a terrible war. Let’s remember that all of us are in the midst of a spiritual war, and pray for ways to incarnate the power of God’s Word in everyday conversations. Just as God’s divine strategy sent His Son into the world, so He sends us to bear witness to the Messiah—not only through our actions, but by speaking the Word of God so that others can hear and clearly understand His offer of salvation.
Many observant Jews respond to questions or comments by quoting from the Torah. Let’s look for similar ways to incarnate God’s Word in everyday conversations and then watch Him go to work. And may I say from all of us at Jews for Jesus, we wish you a Merry Messiahmas!