We naturally tend to think of our life as a story; we especially do this as Christians, because the Bible tells us that Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation” (Heb5:9). When we examine our life, we can find assurance by “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb12:2). When we look at Jesus as the author of our life, we realize that we are part of a much larger story—a story that involves the death of God’s Son so that all the world could be saved.
We know that God is the author of our individual lives, and we know that God is the author of the Bible (2Tim3:16, 2Pet1:21). And yet, I can only find three times in the entire Bible where God wrote something with his own finger.
God Wrote Law
And [Jehovah] gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Ex31:18)
The first time that God ever wrote was at Mt. Sinai when he gave Moses the ten commandments. It is important for us to realize that God’s Law was part of his covenant; God’s word established a connection between him and his people (Ex19:1-6). In many ways, this is still how God’s law works in the life of the believer: Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jh14:15).
God’s law is perfect (Ps19:7ff). It is holy, and able to help us cleanse ourselves from sin (Ps119:9). The only problem with God’s law—is us! Romans 8:3 tells us that there are some things that the Law is unable to do because of the weakness of our sinful flesh. Because we are sinful and weak humans, the Law could make us good; “the law made nothing perfect” (Heb7:19).
The bad thing about God’s Law, perfect though it be, is that God’s Law sets up for us a standard that our human imperfection will not allow us to keep. The Law, perfect though it be, is weak because of our sin: it is a list of things we must—but cannot possibly—do. Because of this, God’s Law brings the curse of his judgement. When God confirmed his Law with Israel, Israel agreed: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them” (Deut27:26).
God Wrote Judgement
In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. (Dan5:5)
The second time that God wrote was in the book of Daniel. God’s people had been captured and taken as slaves by Babylon. During this invasion the temple was raided and all of the cups and serving dishes were brought to Babylon. And now the wicked king Belshazzar is throwing a debauched party, getting drunk with the same cups that Israel used to worship Jehovah.
It is in the middle of this blasphemous revelry that God’s hand appeared and once more began to write; and this time he wrote judgement. “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians” (Dan5:25-28). The essence of God’s message is—you don’t measure up.
God’s Law is based on works instead of faith (Jer11:3). Since we are unable to keep that law, the law shows us how sinful we really are (Rom7:7ff). But, that law brings judgement when we fail to keep it. All of us are in the same place that Belshazzar were in: when God “checks our books,” the accounts come up short. When God checks us out, we don’t measure up. We aren’t good enough.
The Bible tells us that the very night that God wrote judgement for Belshazzar and Babylon, their kingdom was overrun and conquered by Darius the king of Media and Persia. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, my friend, but God has written Law and God has written Judgement: if you sin, God will judge you for it—and sooner than you realize.
As perfect as his Law is, and as fair as his Judgements are, I am so thankful that these are not the only things that God wrote!
God Wrote Mercy
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. (Jh8:6-8)
The first two times that God wrote, he wrote with a hand from heaven. The third time, he wrote while incarnate on earth. God almighty stooped down into the ground—as close as he could get to sinful humans—and began to write again.
The Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. Notice what the Pharisees said when they brought her to Jesus: “They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (Jh8:4-5). The Pharisees immediately went to the first two things that God wrote: Law says that adultery is wrong, and Judgement says that adulterers are to be stoned. But thank God Jesus had more to write! The first time God wrote Law. The second time God wrote Judgement. But the third time, God wrote Mercy!
Instead of stoning the woman, Jesus offered her a chance for repentance: “And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jh8:11). I am so thankful that Jesus offers us this same chance. We do not have to die in our sins, but through Jesus we can find forgiveness and a second chance when we repent!
Notice this: when God wrote Law, we know exactly what he said. We can quote the ten commandments. When God wrote Judgement, we know exactly what he said. We can read the original and interpretation, right in the fifth chapter of Daniel. But when God wrote Mercy—we have no clue what Jesus was writing on the ground. Scripture does not tell us. I do not know what he has forgiven you of and you do not know what he has forgiven me of.
I’m so glad that Jesus did not stop at Law and Judgement, but was willing to write mercy for me. Friend, God is the author of your life. He has written Law, and you may have already experienced his Judgement. But right now Jesus wants to write mercy into your life. Please pray and ask him to forgive you of your sins. Get in touch with us if you want to learn more. You never know when your story will reach its final page. Please, don’t let the last words in your story be Law or Judgement. Let the Author write mercy!