A Measuring Rod of Gold

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Devotional Word for Monday, June 22, 2020

About a decade ago the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, the professional football team, said he wanted the Eagles to be the gold standard for NFL teams. It generated lots of discussion and, eventually, lots of ridicule because the football team did not become the gold standard. In fact, they had consecutive losing seasons and their longtime coach was fired. 

My question for us today is why say gold standard?  There’s a simple answer: gold serves as a fixed point of value, it provides stability, even certainty some would say. It’s contrasted with a fiat standard where value is based on what some person or authority declares something is worth. Gold means a fixed, stable value, while fiat means something only as good as the word of the issuing authority.

So, why this sudden interest in gold? Because of a revelation that occurred while I was preaching a couple of weeks ago. In Revelation 21, John is shown a vision of heaven, of the City of God. In verse 17 the measurements of the wall are given, and a somewhat obscure comment is made: And he measured its walls . . . according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. It’s a difficult verse to translate. You’ll find all sorts of different takes on it. It’s an even more difficult verse to preach about. In fact, in my sermon notes for that verse on that Sunday morning I put three question marks! I had no idea of how human measurements could be angelic measurements. I was simply going to tell everyone that such was the case.

But while I was preaching God revealed something to me. In verse 15 John describes the measuring device by which all the measurements were made. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates, and its wall. In trying to understand verse 17, I had neglected to take into account verse 15. It was a gold measuring rod. That meant it was a fixed, stable measurement that would yield the same amount regardless of the type measurement used. For instance, one can speak of 36 inches or 1 yard or 3 feet, but each represents the same distance. Gold is the most dominant element in the description of the City of God. In fact, Revelation 21:18 says, . . . and the city was pure gold. Verse 21 says, And the street of the city was pure gold. God wants us to know that heaven, our eternal dwelling, is stable, is unchanging, is of the highest value, is of unimaginable beauty, and it is all this forever and ever. 

This burst into my mind while I was preaching. It was a puzzle that suddenly was no longer a puzzle. Everything fit into place. It corresponded to what God had already shown me about His standards for this world and this life, something I had learned a decade or so ago while mining in Psalm 119! Let me explain.

Psalm 119:89 says, Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled [or, stands firm] in heaven. That’s good to know, but the next two verses bring it down to earth: Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants. The physical order of the entire universe is according to God’s gold standard, as it were. The laws of physics are fixed and stable. That, is a distinguishing mark of the biblical worldview. This universe does not have a fiat standard, a standard that changes at the whim of this person or because of some new circumstance or a new authority or the declarations of some committee. God rules. He rules by His rules. That is why it behooves us to learn His rules and let them rule our lives. 

There’s more to be said about this, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. For today, we need to know that God’s gold standard is what the world is based on. We can rest in that truth. His faithfulness continues throughout all generations. It is the gold standard. We praise God for his faithfulness. May we comprehend it more each day. May we bring our lives into conformity with it each day, including this day. 

Let us pray: We give thanks to You, Lord God, for Your great faithfulness. As the hymn says, “Great is Your faithfulness . . . there is no shadow of turning with You . . . Your compassions never fail, they are new every morning.” Help us this day to rest in Your care, in the knowledge that You are working all things out according to Your will. With the Psalmist and the people of God down through the ages, we “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.