God Speaks

Last week we looked at one the main reasons we have set out on the BI3Y adventure, to hear the voice of Jesus. As an extension of this theme, I’d like to look at what the Bible says about how God communicates to us. But first, another Bible Project video as we continue through the book of Numbers!

A road-trip gone bad. Israel leaves Mt. Sinai only to rebel against God at every step. God responds with short-term severity and long-term generosity as He leads them into the promised land. #Numbers #TheBibleProject #BibleVideo

The Bible spends a significant amount of time on the topic of God’s communication, revealing that God speaking to us itself is a BIG DEAL and tells us much about God, His character and what He cares about. 

The Bible itself gives us at least three ways that God speaks.

  1. God speaks through creation

"Wisdom is to be read in the immense book of God, which is the world."

-Thomaso Campanella (1616)

It is possible to speak of 2 books of God. The book of God’s Words (Bible) and the book of God’s Works (creation). Psalm 19 speaks of both of these books. Consider the first 6 verses of Psalm 19:

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,

And their utterances to the end of the world.

In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;

It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,

And its circuit to the other end of them;

And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The “Book of Creation” reveals something of God. In a sense God’s fingerprints are all over creation and certain aspects of God’s goodness and beauty are revealed. But, like communicating through a drawing, there is a lack of precision and nuance. I think this may account for the apparent contradiction between verses 2 and 3. The creation is FULL of God’s words, evidence of God’s beauty, concern and character. And yet, “There is no speech, nor are there words…” There is lots of room for interpretation even though, as Paul proclaims, there is NO excuse for missing God’s attributes, power and nature as seen through His works of creation (Romans 1:20).

  1. God speaks through the words and story of the Bible

We get the details and nuance through the words of the Bible, The Book of God’s Words. Here’s the next 5 verse of Psalm 19:

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;

In keeping them there is great reward.

In the pages of the Bible God reveals more directly who He is and what He cares about. In it we learn the purposes of creation and humanity, what went wrong and how things were made right again. In it we receive instruction for wise living and a way through darkness and death into a new way of living in community with God and one another. 

Paul affirms this when he says, 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…

-2 Timothy 3:16

But it is more than just information - in the Word of God we get something of God’s very presence communicated to us. This is seen most fully what we call the “incarnation” - that is, the Word taking on flesh and dwelling among us, which leads us to…

  1. God speaks through the Son

We get more than words in Jesus, we get the very presence of God among us. And so, just as words bring more nuance and depth and clarity than a picture, presence brings communion and friendship and life together with the divine. In the Word made Flesh we get a walking with - and a being with God.

Here’s how John sums it up in his intro to the Life of Jesus,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

The testimony of the Bible says there is some significant link between the presence of God and the Words of God. There’s something of God present to us when we are present to the words of God in the Bible.

The Bible is a focal point of God’s communication to us but located in a much larger setting of God’s speaking. And the Bible is not an end in itself but a means of experiencing life with God. My hope for us as we travel through the Bible in 3 Years is that we will be respond to the invitation to be present to God as we are present to His Words.