The Torah, Taurat, or ‘Law of Moses’ as some people know it, is the first five books of any Old Testament of the Bible. These writing are attributed to Moses:
These are the foundational books for all ‘Abrahamic’ religions of the world such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
For in them alone do we have an account given for the creation of the heavens and the earth, the very first man and woman, what God intended, the first mention of a serpent who had thoughts and opinions contrary to God’s intention, what went wrong, and the promise of God’s salvation and redemption.
The world famous ‘Ten Commandments’ are also given in these books; the call of Abram, the mighty deliverance of God’s people out of Egypt, and hundreds of prophetic words and symbols given to recognize the *Messiah* who was to come.
Most people know at least one of these historical facts already.
But what if I told you that these books were all written by a murderer?
Before his call by the true and living God, Moses tried to exert the same sort of politically motivated power of his native Egyptian upbringing and murdered his Egyptian neighbour while trying to defend his Israelite brothers to whom he had recently learned that he was rightly a descendant of.
Later on in history, we have a compilation of poetry that can be found in any Old Testament or “Tanakh’ as the Jews call it. It is the book of Psalms. In Islam, it is referred to as the ‘Zabur.’
These are one-hundred-and-fifty Psalms written by twelve authors – seventy-three of which, have been attributed to *King David* – one by Moses. These poetic writings make up a very wide range in themes:
Psalms of Laments
Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalms of Confidence
Psalms of Praise
Enthronement Psalms of the Divine Kingdom
Songs of Zion
Psalms of Ascent
& Acrostic Psalms
Every human emotion is covered in these hymns of aspiration to God.
What if I told you that the predominant writer of these Psalms – was a murderer?
King David, after becoming a powerful ruler over all of Israel, committed adultery with the wife of one of the soldiers of his armed forces. Then in an attempt to cover up the birth of an illegitimate child, King David had the husband of that woman intentionally killed in battle.
Lastly, in the New Testament, we have twenty seven books written by about nine authors.
The *Apostle Paul* who was one of the most prominent writers of the New Testament letters and epistles to the early church has a whopping thirteen books attributed to him. And one more that has caused a little bit of controversy as to whether he too might be the author – the book of Hebrews.
But of those we are absolutely certain:
– The book of Romans
– 1st Corinthians
– 2nd Corinthians
– 1st Thessalonians
– 2nd Thessalonians
– 1st Timothy
– 2nd Timothy
Paul, previously known as Saul of Tarsus, was one of the most violent persecutors of those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah – that is, until he personally met Jesus after his resurrection – which then transformed Saul into one of the most dedicated ministers of the Gospel both to his own people and to people all over the ancient world!
What would you say if I told you that the Apostle Paul was once a murderer?
Do you realize that over one-third of our Bible was written by people who had formerly (and in one case even after coming to know God) committed murder?
Now that’s not a statistic that we might often hear in our gatherings, maybe because we sense that people are looking for a ‘pious’ faith to follow, and to highlight the reality that God actually chooses whomsoever He sees fit in His Sovereign rule over the nations – including murderers – is an offence to our false sense of safety and control.
In reality however, that could be exactly who God is searching among to find his next powerful preacher of the Gospel! But instead of using Samuel’s example of discerning the Lord’s anointed, (1 Samuel 16:7) we simply disregard one-third of the potential powerhouses that were once considered as pioneers of the Christian faith as secondary citizens in the Kingdom of God because of their criminal record, and choose those who give us a safer though ‘false’ sense of security by their immaculately spotless pasts.
Now by saying that, I do not intend to lead you to develop a ‘reverse-bias’ that neglects the wisdom in acknowledging a demonstrated history of committed faithfulness and putting forward those who have shown this sort of consistency in their lives, but since it is clearly not the norm to go outside of these lines, what I am trying to speak to is all the powerful but lost potential sitting behind bars who are looking for leadership, meaning, and purpose to life who are being overlooked – while those who have completely lost touch with the reality of human suffering, misery, poverty, loss, and even sincere love for others – are being promoted on account of their educational credentials and popularity instead of the Lord’s choosing.
The Bible shows us that some of the most powerful pillars of faith were often the most passionately misdirected at first. And that’s what you find in prisons all across Canada today.
I found it telling that the books of Moses were placed at the beginning of our Bibles when in fact it is actually the *Book of Job* that is the historically oldest and therefore should be the ‘first’ book of the Bible.
I found it very telling because if we set aside our presumption about what is foremost important to God, and consider what the Book of Job is actually about, it would seem that long before God desired that we understood:
– where we came from
– Who created it all
– why He created it
– how sin entered the world
– or even how He would redeem it
Our Creator appears to be far more interested with us thoroughly reflecting on the question of human suffering, to maybe lend wisdom on how to best counsel those who are going through difficulties – as well as for our own adversities when we go through difficult trials in life.
I think that since God in His infinite wisdom recognizes that our hearts are so desperately wicked and prone to evil, and the preparation of it can be a long and difficult process before we are truly ready to fulfill our calling, that we’d be more adequately prepared as ministers of the new Covenant to learn how to walk with and comfort others in their sufferings with far more understanding – if we took the time to reflect on trials and tribulations more intimately.
This is why sometimes the drug addict needs to reach a certain point before they can realize how much money, time, health, and life is lost by ‘lighting up’ every week.
Sometimes the pleasure seeker needs reach a certain place before they can realize how the happiness that all the pleasures of the world try to offer, doesn’t actually make them feel any more loved, fulfilled, or joy-filled day-to-day than it first appeared that it would.
Sometimes the gossip has to reach a certain point before they can look back on their past reckless and destructive use of their tongue, and all the division it has caused before they can understand how much harm they have caused others and themselves before they decide to depend upon the Spirit of God to bridle it.
Sometimes even the murderer has to reach a certain point before they can realize that no matter how much they think they are in control of situations and circumstances by exerting power or force over others, they are actually powerless and desperately in need of the only true saving power of Jesus Christ through surrender.
And sometimes we too need to realize that – just as God patiently loves and waits for us to learn these things in our own hearts through our own failures, and yet He has _never_ given up on us through it all – this world is also waiting to see the true sons and daughters of the living God revealed who reflect the same character of unfailing love for them as they work through the unimaginable difficulties of navigating life on earth amidst its ever-increasing sounds, sights and experiences vying for our souls.
In one of his worship songs, Jason Upton wrote something that I believe so accurately captures something of our Heavenly Father`s heart for prisoners even though I don’t think that was the intention of the song. He says:
“I want to build you a garden
In a dry and desert land
I’m gonna find a river there
I’m gonna find a river there
I have seen,
a garden grow
In a land,
filled with injustice
And I have heard,
a mother’s cry
For her child,
to live again.”
– verse from ‘The Garden Song’
This is God’s hope for prisoners of every kind, and should also be the heartbeat of the church.
This is what the Lord says:
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
Do you not perceive it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16, 19
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And I implore you,