Monday, February 2, 2009

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

Various people have pointed out that the letters in the world “Bible” are an acronym for the phrase “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. While it has a certain catchiness to it, the statement also has a very profound message which becomes clear when we individually look at the words that the acronym represents.

The noun “instructions” and its modifier “basic” should be looked at together. The adjective “basic” can refer to the starting point of something. It is also related to its fundamental principle. To say that one must understand basic math in order to understand calculus implies that one must first understand the fundamental principles of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division as a starting point in order to be able to do higher level math. “Basic” can also imply the essence of the noun that it modifies. To be able to enjoy watching a sporting event we must have a basic understanding of the game being played. Thus basic instructions are those that are the general instructions that everyone should know. The noun “instructions” are precepts or directions calling for compliance or understanding. Who has not read the words “Read the instruction manual before operating” or “To assemble, follow the instructions in the installation manual” when buying a new product. It would be interesting to know what percent of us actually do so.

The Bible is God’s basic instruction manual. It is the starting point for growing closer to God, for it tells us about him. It also contains the essence of what God wants us to know. Containing God’s fundamental principles for us, it isn’t something that is so esoteric that we can’t understand it. As his instruction manual, it contains the things that he wants us to comply with.

The final three words associated with the acronym are also tied together. The preposition “before” carries a time element. It is the opposite of “after”. It implies that something must be done in advance of the next step. It is tied directly to the following word “leaving”. This word implies departing from or abandoning. A common phrase used when couples are in the process of divorce is “I’m leaving my wife (or husband)”. Putting these two words together implies that God expects us to do something before leaving. They raise the question as to what we are leaving. The word “earth” informs us of the answer. We are leaving earth. But if we are departing from earth where are we going? To heaven! Earth is not our final destiny.

Thus we can learn a lot when we put these five words together. If the Bible contains God’s “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”, we had better have a good understanding of his instruction manual because it contains the fundamental principles of who he is, what he has done, and how he wants us to live our lives. As we interact with his manual he expects us to grow closer to him. Since we are expected to know this before leaving earth, we can’t put it off till later. We have to do it now! That’s what God desires. We also see a hope for the future. Death here on earth is not the end. There is more. We will leave all this behind someday. It would be interesting to know what percent of people have read God’s instruction manual cover to cover. As we think about this, the question comes to mind, “How well do I know the BIBLE? How familiar am I with God’s basic instruction manual?

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