I was talking on the phone and after the conversation concluded, I ended the call in the usual way by saying, “Bye.” That was the end of that moment, but following the phone conversation I got to thinking about that one little word: bye. Of course when I was saying bye or goodbye on the phone, it was the bye spelled b-y-e. However, the sound has three very different meanings and usages. Bye means so long. Buy mean to purchase, and by can be used in a variety of ways.
I began thinking about all of the times in the Bible that by is found. Later, when I had time, I searched for the very first time by is used in the Bible. There it was in Genesis 7:2, where they were gathering the animals together by twos to bring them into the ark. That in itself was an interesting mental avenue to travel down and think about two by two and the preservation of species beyond the flood and what God was doing in the midst of all of that. Just as a thought, I looked in Scripture to find the last time by is found. It is Revelation 21:25, “And the gates of it (the city of God) shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” God has opened it up to us forever and ever.
As you think about that little two letter word – by – it is found almost anywhere in the Bible. As you focus on it, you will find God doing amazing things with that word. For example, if you begin to look for by in Matthew you will find it at the beginning and the end and the middle. Let me just show you how it unfolds with great truths all around it.
In Matthew 1:21, you will find the announcement of Jesus has just been given: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Listen to verse 22: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet.” By is a word of fulfillment reminding us that the word of God is always true. It will never fail. The word that had come about Jesus’s arrival was by the prophet.
Sometimes when you and I begin to wonder what is God doing and why doesn’t He do something, just remember that while heaven and earth will pass away, His word will always stand true and faithful. In this case in Matthew, Jesus is announced by the prophet, but He is the fulfillment of all that God had been doing for us through the centuries. Now, at His birth, it could be seen. You can trust God anytime, all the time. You can anchor your life in His word. He will not fail you but again and again, it will be fulfilled that God is at work in your life.
A second by in Matthew is found in Matthew 13:4. The Scripture says of the sower, “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.” This is a by of failure because when Jesus interpreted the parable, this portion of the parable is explained by Jesus in verse 19 when He said, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.”
This is Satan himself represented as the birds snatch away the word that had been sown on the heart. It’s not a failure of the word, for sure. It’s not a failure of the sower, but when a heart is unresponsive and unreceptive of the word Satan has opportunity to snatch it away. It is amazing when in a congregation everyone out there is represented as having soil. Their heart is like soil that either can take in the word or be hardened and unpenetrated by the word. Sometimes the word falls along the sidelines of your heart and Satan brings about a distraction.
The last by found in Matthew is in Matthew 28:13. This is a really interesting by. It is a by of frustration. In Matthew 28:13 it says the disciples of Jesus were accused of stealing His body by night. There they were, being accused of stealing His body, the body of Jesus, to negate the power of the resurrection and that word that was getting out. What a frustration it must have been to them. What a frustration it is for us to live in a world that so many times distorts the message. Then and now the truth of the power of God is in the resurrected Jesus who comes and makes all life, all things new for us in Him. That message is skewed, distorted, negated, and often ignored by this world that would push Him aside.
By. What a small word. By the power of God, you and I can continue to serve that living Jesus, and by His power, share the Gospel of Jesus that makes a difference in everyone who comes to faith in him.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.