The definition given was anything flat, as a cupboard, a bench, a slate, a table or board for games; usually deduced from the Oriental abak (dust), because the ancients used tables covered with dust for making figures and diagrams.
Well, at times, they could have a field day in my house dragging fingers through the dust.
The drawing and writing in dust, to me, was very interesting. Can you imagine the maid deciding to clean with a dust cloth, erasing all their creativity — much like wiping the hard drive of a computer clean. (I understand the information is still there, however, and retrievable.)
But not so with dust. Whatever was written on those dusty tables could not have lasted very long. And new information would take precedence over what was already written. After all, more dust had to accumulate. You could not preserve dust.
In John 8, we read where Jesus Himself wrote on the ground (in the dust). Remember when the scribes and Pharisees “brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery.” Together this group of men, who were usually in contention, wanted Jesus to enforce the law. Their interest was not so much in the woman (and the man?), but to tempt Him.
“But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” As they continued asking him, Jesus raised up and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” then again wrote on the ground. Of course, one by one from the eldest to the youngest left. Only the woman was left and Jesus asked, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”
Her answer: “No man, Lord.”
Whatever the Lord wrote on the ground was temporary. Because the woman’s sin was gone — forgiven. And he told her, “go, and sin no more.” Her sin was wiped away. The table (writing surface) was dusted and the sin forgotten.
Not so with people. Other people’s sins are permanent in their minds. Years after being forgiven, someone will be reminded, “You did so-and-so 20 years ago.”
David wrote in Psalm 103:12 (KJV), “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16, 17 KJV).
But some things that should be permanent are sometimes deemed temporary. There are some who feel the Bible was written as a temporary measure — just for a certain time for a certain people. They read and say, “Oh, that’s not for these days — that’s not for us. Things have changed since the Scripture was written. I know it says that, but ...”
Things, maybe, but not people and certainly not God, have changed. His Word is not written in dust and the Scripture is still relevant — even in the 21st century. From the beginning, God’s plan for mankind has been fulfilled in love. His commandments are written in the heart.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 (KJV). He has no “Plan B.”