The Hermeneutics of “What Hath God Wrought?”

What hath God wrought? On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse opened the Baltimore to Washington telegraph line by transmitting these words from the King James Version of Numbers 22:23.

What hath God wrought?

Modern translations render it something more like this:

now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
    ‘See what God has done!’

What hath God wrought? What has God done, or what has he promised to do, in the story of Jacob and Israel that culminates in Jesus the Messiah? This is the key hermeneutical question I ask every text of the Holy Bible, from the stories of the patriarchs to the giving of the law to the occupation of the land to the time of exile and restoration. What does this text tell me about what God did, is doing or will do? How is this a part of the great story of God’s saving work in and through the Lord Jesus? This is the key question in biblical interpretation, and it should be the foundational theme of every sermon on that text.

What has God done? Only this is good news. All the rest is good advice.

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