The Wisdom of the Apocrypha

{Delighted to introduce a new guest poster on All4God today – Iain McAleavey, a good friend who is a part of the youth fellowship leadership team I am on at my church, and who is a great guy to call in on when you are in the mood for a late night cup of tea and deep theological discussion}
As someone who endured week after week of Sunday School where I heard all of the pearls and treasures that are the biblical stories I thought I knew them all. In the beginning God created all things and then you had Adam and Eve and the fall, Moses, David and Goliath and then Jesus. How this all linked together I had no idea nor indeed did I care. What I saw were the nice stories that shows the inestimable love he had for ME.
I emphasise me because personal salvation was the order of the day. It was a case of YOU must believe or you will go to hell. Now I do not deny the existence of hell but I do deny that God sends us there.
As I grew I began to have a love for the bible. I started realising that what I had been taught although foundational was lacking something. I started seeing the bible not as a collection of fluffy stories that warm your heart when things are looking glum but rather as the journey that Man had with God from the beginning to the very start!
So now with my mind sufficiently blown I travelled to Beaver Cross Camp in Albany. Just so you know I am from the partitioned part of Ireland and there is a tension between protestants and catholics. Anyhow I am sitting in the chapel…looking at the crucifix and statues of the apostles when Fr. Joe the priest declares that the reading would be from the book of wisdom. So I sat there with my protestant bible with 66 books wondering what was going on – I don’t remember the reading . How could I?
It was enough to strike curiosity in me though and when I got home I found the book of wisdom online and immediately I fell in love. The 39 articles of the anglican church teach us that the other books (the apocrypha) the church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth not apply to them to establish any doctrine. So there it was as long as I didn’t start using the apocrypha to change my core beliefs it wasn’t bad.
So I read the book of wisdom and the first verse blew me away.
“Love justice you rulers of the earth.”
At the time I read this the church here was going through a great time of social awakening, moving beyond the idea that all that mattered was my personal salvation and getting to heaven was ending. We must not only aspire to a time when justice would be brought fully but rather start to bring it about today and tomorrow and till the end of our short lives. The book of wisdom according to Charles Harris the lesser known theologian “approximates more closely than any old testament book the new testament idea that God is love”. See what I realised was that these books were chronological connectors between the Old and New Testaments. The prophetic words of Old Testament scripture and the gospel message contained therein were starting to become real and in that the anticipation of the Messiah grew. The first century Jewish consensus that they were getting a warrior messiah is clearly not realised in wisdom, rather war would not be waged on roman occupation but rather war on the occupation of sin and the enemy.
A massive question I always get asked is why does the bad stuff always happen to good people? People get angry at God when life doesn’t go to plan .Wisdom teaches us that God didn’t create death. It is blunt – there is no implication here it’s clear – God didn’t make evil, He doesn’t like it, and therefore flee from it.
To finish, Paul makes it clear that all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching and rebuking etc. Therefore one cannot deny that some of the wisdom within the apocrypha is priceless for as the articles say the church reads them for instruction and example so I encourage you to have a look at the apocrypha particularity Wisdom and let God do what he does best – show you His abundant love. Wisdom 19:22 “For in everything you have exalted and glorified your people you have not neglected to care for them at all times and in all places.”
Glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

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