The Way that God Speaks to Men
He also spoke, it says, in many ways, polutropos. That means through vision and prophecy and parable and type and symbol and ceremony and theophany and sometimes audible voice. And He even wrote with His finger on stone. There were many ways in which God spoke many things, collected in many texts, put into many books and He spoke to those of old by means of the prophets. That is a statement with reference to the fact that the Old Testament is God speaking.
Now let me make it as clear as I can to you. The Old Testament is not a collection of the wisdom of ancient men. The Old Testament is not a collection of the best of religious thinking. The Old Testament is not a collection of the good musings of godly people. The Old Testament is the word of God. It’s not the thinking of any men, good men, godly men or ancient men in and of themselves. It is the word of God. And the writer of Hebrews says God spoke…God spoke.
The Old Testament was God speaking to the fathers by means of the prophets. In these last days since the coming of Christ, He has spoken again. And He has spoken in the Son. The gospels record God speaking through His Son Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The book of Acts, God speaking through the extension of the proclamation of the message of His son. The epistles, God speaking through the deep and profound understanding of the meaning of the life and ministry of the Son. And even Revelation, the consummation when the Son comes back in glory, the consummation of God’s communication to this world.
Difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament
So, the Old Testament is God speaking and revealing Himself. The New Testament is God speaking and revealing His Son. The Old Testament is God’s self revelation and that is the theme of the Old Testament. From Genesis to the very end of the Old Testament, to Malachi, and all in between, the main character is God. It is the revelation of God, who He is, what are His attributes, what are His attitudes, how does He react to every possible given human situation, what is He like, what does He do, that’s the Old Testament. It is the revelation of God. It is not the story of man. It is not the story of Israel. Those stories are there but it is the revelation of God and we see God revealed through man, through history, through Israel, through all that happens. God’s attributes are sometimes listed very clearly as in the Psalms. On the other hand, sometimes we see His attributes very clearly and He’s not even mentioned, such as in the book of Esther where no mention of God is made and yet He is the dominant force and dominant character throughout the entire book.
How God Reveals Himself
What process then did God use to reveal Himself? Let’s look at another text 2 Peter chapter 1. And now we go to the process God used to reveal Himself and that has come to be known as inspiration…inspiration. In 2 Peter 1 verse 20 it says, “Know this first…know this first, first of all…that no message,” the word “prophecy” here has a very generic sense not meaning some kind of prediction of the future, but message, no telling forth, “no message of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,” epilusis. Now notice this, no message of Scripture is a matter of one’s own epilusis.
How God Used the Writers of the Bible
The content of the Bible is revelation. The process by which that content was written down is called inspiration. And it wasn’t a high level of human activity, it wasn’t even a high level of religious human activity. Men were in the process but it didn’t originate with them and it didn’t come from their desire and their will, they were used as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and enabled to speak from God. They spoke divine words. God used them. It was their personality. It was their background, some of their insights, their experiences, their perceptions, but ever word was the word of God. That’s the miracle of inspiration. Men…they were used…carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. That’s what the Scripture says.
And Jeremiah is a good illustration of this process. Jeremiah, called by God from before he was born, “The word of the Lord came to me,” verse 4 of chapter 1, “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. Then I said, Alas, Lord God, I do not know how to speak because I am a youth.” Verse 9, “And the Lord stretched out His hand, touched my mouth, the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” What a tremendous statement. I have put My words in your mouth, that was the promise for the writers of Scripture. All Scripture is God breathed. All holy writing comes from God.