Lutheran Bible Translator’s Sunday – 2021 LSB #’s 973, 658, 923
Text – Jeremiah 36:23
Paper shredders range in size & price from small & inexpensive units meant for a few pages, to large machines used by commercial shredding services that cost thousands of dollars. Regardless of size, make & model, you probably know something about paper shredders.
Today we meet Mr. Paper Shredder himself – King Jehoiakim. The text is Jeremiah 36:23 (ESV), “As Jehudi read three or four columns, king Jehoiakim would cut them off with a knife...” Jehudi is in Judah of Jerusalem in 604 BC reading the book of Jeremiah while Jehoiakim shreds it with a knife!
Our paper shredders destroy bills, credit cards, bank statements & other sensitive documents. But Jehoiakim shreds God’s Word. Who in their right mind would cut up & shred the Word of God? Especially God’s Word in Jeremiah? It is loaded with Gospel promises. Take a look:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, & he shall reign as king & deal wisely, & shall execute justice & righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, & Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5–6 ESV)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare & not for evil, to give you a future & a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3 ESV)
“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, & the young men & the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, & give them gladness for sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13 ESV) “For I will forgive their iniquity, & I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34 ESV) What got into Jehoiakim that he shredded God’s Word? You know. So do I. This is the work of The Paper Shredder. We don’t know him by that name, though. Instead, we know him by the names of liar, deceiver, destroyer, devil, serpent, & Satan.
The old evil foe does not want us to have delight in God’s Word; power in God’s Word; hope in God’s Word; life in God’s Word; forgiveness in God’s Word. That’s why Satan shreds the Word of God every chance he gets. Do you want proof? A recent George Barna survey of Christians found these stunning results:
58% didn’t know who preached the Sermon on the Mount. 52% didn’t know that the book of Jonah is in the Bible. 70% did not know that “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible. 15% agreed that the Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luther, & John.
Why does Satan shred God’s Word? So he can shred our lives! Satan meets us in the morning & says, “This day is hopeless; go back to bed.” He sees us in the bathroom & says, “You are ugly. How could anyone love you?” At the end of the day he says, “You are a sorry excuse for a Christian. God is finished with you!”
Without God’s Word to push back against those lies, Satan chews us up & spits us out. That’s his strategy; keep people from God’s Word. Here is the strategy of Lutheran Bible Translators. Get people into God’s Word. Their mission statement – “LBT makes God’s Word accessible to those who do not yet have it in the language of their hearts.”
Every day LBT launches a frontal attack against the Paper Shredder. And why? Over one-billion people worldwide do not have the full Bible in a language that touches deeply – that is, the language of their heart. An estimated 165 million do not have a single verse of Scripture translated into their language. The Paper Shredder has 165 million people with no Word of God!
Martin Luther knew about the Paper Shredder. He writes in A Mighty Fortress is our
God, “The old evil foe, now means deadly woe! Deep guile & great might are his dread arms in fight. On earth is not his equal.” That’s why Luther embraced God’s Word – full throttle, especially in Romans: “For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God, & are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (3:23–24 ESV)
“He was delivered over to death for our sins & raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25 ESV) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 ESV) “Where sin increased grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20 ESV) Luther found forgiveness & comfort in the Word of God.
The old evil foe then enlisted another paper shredder to do his destructive work. In 1517, an Archbishop named Albert of Brandenburg set out to silence Luther. Albert was selling indulgences to pay off his debt to the pope. What are indulgences? The pope taught that pieces of paper purchased by people & signed by the church lessened a person’s time in purgatory.
Luther’s 95 Theses taught that indulgences were bogus. Because people began to believe Luther instead of the church, Albert was taking a big hit in the wallet! His response? Luther’s writings about God’s Word must be shredded!
In July, 1519, a debate took place in Leipzig, Germany. John Eck upheld Rome’s position – that people are saved, in large part, by what they do. Luther still would not budge on salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, for Christ’s sake alone. After the debate, Pope Leo X excommunicated the Reformer.
The excommunication began with these words from Psalm 80:13, “Arise, O Lord, a wild boar has invaded your vineyard.” Who was the wild boar accused of invading the church’s vineyard? Martin Luther! Rome’s response was that Luther must be silenced & shredded! It all came to a head at an imperial assembly in Worms, Germany. On April 17, 1521, the Roman Catholic Church demanded that Luther recant. Luther asked for an evening to think about it. The next day, the Reformer announced, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot & will not recant! Here I stand!” Luther took his cue from 1 Peter 1:25, “The word of the Lord endures forever.” Rome responded. God’s Word must be silenced, censored & shredded.
Luther’s courage, spine & conviction came from the central teaching in God’s Word – Christ crucified for sinners. Christ crucified means every one of God’s Gospel promises in Jeremiah are now yours. Christ is your righteousness. Christ has plans to give you hope & a future. Christ loves you with an everlasting love.
Because of Christ crucified, God changes our mourning into joy & sorrow into gladness. And because of Christ crucified, God forgives our iniquity & remembers our sin no more. That’s because a Roman governor named Pontius Pilate gave Jesus over to professional shredders.
They ripped the skin off the Savior’s back, preparing him for the biggest, most industrial-grade shredder of the day. And what was that called? Mors turpissima crucis – Latin for what Rome called its shredder – “the utterly vile death on a cross.” Jesus was shredded – crucified, dead, & buried. The end? It was not!
“Then Jeremiah took another scroll & gave it to Baruch… who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had shred & burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.” Let me repeat the last line. “And many similar words were added to them!” (Jeremiah 36:32 ESV)
Jeremiah says, “Mess with my sermon & the next time I will add to it!” God resurrected Jeremiah’s scroll – & then some! All of which was the prelude to another resurrected Scroll – & then some! Christ, the Word made flesh, rose from the dead. What do we call that? Easter! Those who saw Christ alive were beside themselves. Mary cried out, “Rabboni!” The Emmaus disciples exclaimed, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road?” Thomas confessed, “My Lord & my God!” Alive with the life of Jesus & with the breath of the Holy Spirit God’s Holy Word is the living voice of the Gospel.
For you, right now, it announces forgiveness for all your sin, showers you with grace, & rekindles resurrection hope. God’s Word announces that weakness is power, loss is gain, & servanthood is greatness. Wherever God’s Word is preached, studied, memorized & read it is victorious over every satanic foe that seeks to destroy its Holy Spirit power.
That’s why Lutheran Bible Translators does more than produce Bibles. LBT’s goal is production – to be sure, but production is not an end in itself. Bible production opens doors so there can be transformation – new life in Jesus.
You see, LBT works with pre-literate & semi-literate peoples. To produce a book is only the beginning because books aren’t a part of these people’s culture. LBT missionaries, therefore, establish long-term relationships. They gain trust. Learn the language. Embrace their culture.
They learn to love individuals, families & congregations, so people not only hear & read God’s Word in their heart language, but so they also interact with Scripture so it goes down into their “insidest-inside” – deep within their hearts & minds. The result? Production leads to transformation! And transformation leads to dedication.
As Luther said, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot & will not recant. Here I stand!” The Reformer took his stand upon 1 Peter 1:25 (ESV), “The word of the Lord endures forever.” In Latin, Verbum Dei Manet In Aeternum. The initials = VDMA.
Luther & his followers sewed VDMA on their coat sleeves & cloaks. Today we place VDMA deep in our hearts & minds. To all paper shredders we boldly confess, “Verbum Dei Manet in Aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever. We will help translate, publish & send this Word to the ends of the earth. Here we stand!” Amen.
Preserve Your Word, O Savior, to us this latter day, & let Your kingdom flourish; enlarge Your Church, we pray. O keep our faith from failing; keep hope’s bright star aglow. Let nothing from truth turn us while living here below. Preserve Your Word & preaching, the truth that makes us whole, the mirror of Your glory, the power that saves the soul. Oh, may this living water, this dew of heavenly grace, sustain us while here living until we see Your face. Preserve in wave & tempest Your storm-tossed little flock; assailed by wind & weather, may it endure each shock. Stand at the helm, our pilot, & set the course aright; then we will reach the harbor in Your eternal light. Amen. LSB 658:1, 4-5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet