Friday, August 01, 2008

Whence Matt: Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr.

How clearly I remember the first day of Hebrew Exegesis with Ray Ortlund (RCO).

Together, we opened our copies of the Hebrew Scriptures (what we Christians lovingly call the Old Testament), and Dr. Ortlund solemnly and joyfully (yes, those two things go together) said something like this:

"Men, we have such a great privilege today. For a thousand years, almost no one read the Bible in the original languages. From Jerome until the Reformation, the treasures of this book were not explored by Christians.

Today, we all have our own copies in front of us and can read it in Hebrew, building our theology from the pointing up. What a gift of God to us, men. Let's treat this precious gift as it--a great treasure and privilege."

And then for months on end, one class at a time, we would be caught up in worship of the living God in the pages of the sacred text. My favorite was Isaiah 40--the awesome picture of our Sovereign Creator God was breathtaking and formed the basis for my first 2 and several more sermons here at LEFC.

Dr. Ortlund's passion for God is contagious and his books continued to feed my soul over the last decade (especially A Passion for God and When God Comes to Church). Now, he's begun blogging on Fridays, and his posts are each worthy of meditation.

Today's post was characteristic of what I've really learned from him and sparked my desire to write about him:
Codex Sinaiticus, the magnificent fourth-century manuscript of the Greek Bible, is now available on-line at Along with every other manuscript of the Scriptures, it is the most precious thing in all the world. If the volumes in the British Museum, the art of the Louvre and all the treasures of all the libraries and museums throughout all the world were somehow burned to a crisp in a terrible fire, we would be diminished. But we would live on. If however we lost our Bibles and the manuscripts on which they are based, we would die. Our souls would die. It would take a few years for the full impact to be felt. But we would start to unravel at every level. Goofy ideas would somehow capture our foolish imaginations. The rich truths of the gospel would fade from view, we would embrace plastic substitutes, and we would congratulate ourselves on our progress. If we think we have troubles now, they are nothing, less than nothing, compared to what we would be without the Bible to stabilize us, refresh us, warn us, lift us, inspire us, shock us, correct us, fill us, empower us and keep us moving toward Christ.

Thank God for the Bible! It is the most precious thing in all the world.
Amen, and thanks, Dr. Ortlund for holding it out to us with solemn joy.

[UPDATE: I added more good stuff about RCO on August 30th.]


Matt, you are so kind. It's just a privilege to be your partner in the gospel. Thanks so much.

May God bless you wonderfully this Sunday!