[Image: Column Heads, 2014, JA Van Devender]
Matthew 5:18 (NKJV)
18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)
20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Their beauty does not hide nor interfere with their functionality, and perhaps that is the key. The ornate "capitals" display the architect's artistic sensibilities and imparts a sense of delicate fineness to what would ordinarily only impress us with brute strength. It adds joy to the eye even as it protects us from the tons of material that would otherwise crash down on our heads. It is majesty and strength all combined into the elements of immediate life and purpose.
And so it is with God's Word.
Today we are concerned with righteousness, a concept so critical that it is a necessary characteristic of any person who would enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Today we see the two-edged sword of the Gospel, cleaving humanity into those who will hear and obey its call and those who will ignore it and pass into oblivion. Today we will contemplate the edifice of God's plan for all time and humanity, culminating in the royal birth, life, death and resurrection of a man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God.
It is a grand "ceiling", a magnificent structure, colorful beyond belief and filled with images that make Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction look like a child's coloring book. It is the vaulted realm of eternity suspended over our heads and inviting our wondering gaze.
And it is supported, from floor to ceiling, by the columns of God's Word... His Law... His Commandments... His Prophecies... His Special Revelation handed down through generations with the abiding promise, that not one jot or tittle will, in anywise, be broken away from it, until all "comes about" that God has planned. (the word translated "fulfilled" in this verse is different than the word also translated "fulfilled" in verse 17. This one properly means something a shade different. I think "comes about" answers better because it points toward a temporal change rather than a qualitative change.)
God's Word is here to stay. It is not for us to "protect it" as if it is in danger of being lost. Men may burn bibles from now to doom's day (literally for them) but they will not hinder it nor extinguish its light. Men may disparage it and seek to relegate it to irrelevance as only being of historical and academic interest. But its power will continue to change lives and evoke faith. God's Word is powerful not because it is incredibly beautiful or astonishingly deep, all of which it is. God's Word is powerful because it is God's Word... it's power is His sovereign, decreeing, instantiating voice speaking then, now and forever into the hearts of those whom He has disposed to hear it.
It is what holds up the ceiling over our heads and though functional it is yet beautiful, but it is not intended that we look and see only it. We are to see what it supports, the power of God displayed in the work of God pointing toward the purposes of God which is in fact the story of Creation, the drama of redemption, and the glorious finale of the Hallelujah chorus celebrating its eschatological fulfillment.
This is our focus... our hope... and our righteousness, that we hear... we see... and we believe.