What was it like for your first day of school? I remember my first day of kindergarten with mom and dad watching me get onto a strange yellow bus. I didn’t know the bus driver; I did not know the 12 other 5-year-olds spread out in this large vehicle. What a shock it was to be away from my parents for half a day. I learned about designated areas to play, paint, and draw. I discovered supersized toys that I had never seen before but looked super cool. And I learned that there was a proper way to sit on the floor and listen to a storybook being read to you by the teacher. I remember my first day of school because of all that was new to me.The tradition of the Jews speaks about the Jewish practice for the very first day of a child’s education. The key elements were not toys and paints but were, instead, the very Words of God and honey. A young child was given a slate on which were written the Hebrew alphabet and two special verses of the Torah: Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob. (Deuteronomy 33:4)The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. (Leviticus 1:1)The teacher would read these words to the student and each student would repeat them back. Then the slate was drizzled with honey and the child was allowed to lick the honey off the slate. As they consumed the honey they were reminded of Ezekiel’s words (Ezekiel 3:3): I ate it; and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.What an impression! Each child’s memory would be emblazoned with the sweetness of the Very Words of the Living God. Now each time someone would read to them from Scriptures, indelible memories would remind them that God’s wisdom is sweet. They would forever be able to indulge themselves on the sweetness of God’s insights for life.
Each Word from the Living God is meant to cause excitement on the palette of every learner as we await its sweet end. Do we embrace each Word of God with that same thrill, that same desire, that same awe and wonder and sweetness? We can!How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103) God’s Words are sweet. As a disciple of Jesus, the question now becomes, “How are they sweet to me?” In Genesis, God speaks of marriage as one man and one woman. Then Genesis unravels several lives where that sweet instruction is ignored and chaos corrupts the family’s ability to be at peace and united. Proverbs scrolls through hundreds of wise sayings that provide sweet blessing to those who heed their advice. Leviticus outlines practical hygiene that exceeded medical insights by several thousand years. Leviticus also provides clearly thought-out cultural and human insights. One such dose of God’s wisdom creates welfare for the disadvantaged, which allows them the benefits of good and equitable labor. Those who benefit (Ruth for example) can be confident and not ashamed of charity because they not only receive it, they also work for it. Ingenious; God’s Words are sweet!When you open the Word of God today, ask God to reveal to you some of its sweetness. You may not find it at first read. You may not find it on your own. Part of the blessing of being a disciple is that you are not in this alone. God reveals the sweetness of the Scriptures through his Spirit—within you and through the community of believers—in discussion, in sharing insights, and in asking questions as a group. In the end, God’s goal is to bless us so that we are better equipped as disciples of Jesus, our Rabbi.
May God bless you as his sweetness is opened up for you this week.