Colossians 1:3-4 “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints.”
The Judeo-Christian Bible reveals its oral traditional roots; medieval European manuscripts are penned by performing scribes; geometric vases from archaic Greece mirror Homer’s oral style. (…) Indeed, if these final decades of the millennium have taught us anything, it must be that oral tradition never was the other we accused it of being; it never was the primitive, preliminary technology of communication we thought it to be. Rather, if the whole truth is told, oral tradition stands out as the single most dominant communicative technology of our species as both a historical fact and, in many areas still, a contemporary reality.John Foley, Signs of Orality
Oral transmission is a form of communication that transmits the traditions, stories, techniques, and in general knowledge from one generation to another through various forms of speech or song. Sometimes a song will serve as a reminder of a great event that unfolded in years past and then is taught to children so that it will be remembered for generations to come. At other times a recitation that was repeated at specific times served as reminders of a greater truth that remained constant. It was possible to transmit many forms of oral literature, history, and law through techniques that didn’t require a writing system.
Why is this important for us today?
First, it is important to distinguish between tradition and transmission. The term tradition implies a long-held belief or practice that is not necessarily connected to any explicit facts or evidence. Transmission is a method of conveying information.
God has revealed Himself to mankind in various forms and styles for as long as mankind has existed and the evidence for God’s revelation has proven to having been received and practiced for thousands of years. God transmitted His laws to mankind from the very beginning and those laws were conveyed and practiced for thousands of years. Even after God met Moses on Mt. Sinai and the tablets of stone conveyed God’s covenant commandments to the people, it took years for Moses to write down the laws and then have them transcribed onto other scrolls for later use.
Numbers 7:89 “Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.”
How did Moses know what happened in Genesis?
For one, before the flood people lived much longer than they do today. The human genome was much more pure, without successive generations of mutations to limit them and an environment that was conducive to long life, the oral transmission of information and knowledge was not far removed.
Secondly, God revealed knowledge to Moses. The One factor that many people have discounted is the One aspect of perfect revelation that has no limitations.
God revealed His creation story to Moses and He wrote it down without error.
As a side note, many skeptics of biblical authenticity have correlated the ancient Sumerian traditions to Biblical history and noted the similarities. The Akkadian culture that predated the Assyrian and Babylonian cultures were existent in this region after the ancient story of Babel and the rebuke God placed upon that culture. Sumerian culture dates back to Cain and the rebellion of a people that grew into a polytheistic culture and continued until the time of the flood.
Genesis 10:10-12 “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).”
Even though oral traditions were common in history, dating as far back as Enoch, pictorial tradition has been commonly considered existent back then. If Sumerian culture was formed around 4250 B.C. and Noah’s flood occurred around 3500 B.C., then there was 750 years of culture and expectation for God’s impending judgement upon the world.
Oral relevance today
The hope that Paul was expressing to the Colossian church was one that was an encouragement to him and others.
Colossians 1:5-6 “the faith and love proceeding from the hope stored up for you in heaven, of which you have already heard in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood the grace of God.”
Faithfulness extends beyond the borders of our perceived reach and carries on through a lineage that affects generations to come.
Consider someone you might know that demonstrated a legacy of faithfulness, someone who was old when you were very young. Think about the impact that person had in their children and grandchildren and all the ways those people have affected others in their generation. I know of many people who I could lift up and talk about the ways their lives impacted people they never knew.
The church in Colossae affected generations of people through Paul’s letters that were eventually stored in the Bible.
You affect people today as well.
Importance of our Lives
1 Peter 2:4-5 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
The importance of recognizing the legacy of our actions gives reason for us to consider our response to the world around us.
If we don’t take our actions seriously now, then when will we start?
The only way to live godly lives built on the rock of Christ Jesus is to submit to His Spirit, who leads all people in godliness and righteousness and truth.
What legacy are you leaving today?
It’s never too late to start.
How you start your day, affects how you walk in it. What is important to you should be revealed in your conduct and speech.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. Honor is not befitting for a fool, wisdom comes from God and walking in wisdom is to walk with Him.
Leave a legacy of godliness and know that it will carry through those that go after you. You don’t have to be rich or in a position of prominence to start doing this, it can simply begin with where you are now.
God’s Word is the source—It is where all good legacies begin and end.