God’s “word,” human “words”

Posted Jan 17, 2022

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Daily Scripture

Jeremiah 1:1-3

1 These are the words of Jeremiah, Hilkiah’s son, who was one of the priests from Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. 2 The Lord’s word came to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son, 3 and throughout the rule of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, Josiah’s son, when the people of Jerusalem were taken into exile.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16 We didn’t repeat crafty myths when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when a voice came to him from the magnificent glory, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 In addition, we have a most reliable prophetic word, and you would do well to pay attention to it, just as you would to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Most important, you must know that no prophecy of scripture represents the prophet’s own understanding of things, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will. Instead, men and women led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Reflection Questions

Bible doubters (like some Christians) assume God could only speak through a fully correct, consistent Bible. But the prophet Jeremiah said his “words” bore God’s “word” (i.e. message). The apostle Peter said the Holy Spirit led, but men and women did the actual speaking. Pastor Hamilton wrote, “Many Christians today believe that God influenced the choice of every word and every idea, so that the words written were literally the words of God….that is not taught in the Bible….It was not…taught in the creeds of the early church.” *

  • Finding images from the writers’ culture or sporadic factual errors in the Bible shouldn’t trouble us. God didn’t make the Bible writers into robots. Scholar Craig Keener wrote, “Ancient thinkers often viewed prophetic inspiration as a divine possession that temporarily displaced the prophet’s own mind. The distinctive styles of different Biblical prophets shows that this view oversimplifies the matter; inspiration still used human faculties and vocabulary.” ** How can a focus on the central message, rather than on lesser details, deepen and enrich your Bible study?
  • Peter compared the prophetic writing to “a lamp shining in a dark place.” He drew on images from his Bible—the Hebrew Scriptures or “Old Testament” (cf. Psalm 84:11, 119:105, Malachi 4:2). As you have read the Bible, asking God’s help (Psalm 119:9-18 models a lovely prayer to pray as you read the Bible), have you ever had this sense of a lamp shining on some dark question you faced?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, as I read my Bible, shine into my heart through its message so that your kingdom life of love, joy and peace will shine out of me. Amen.


* Hamilton, Adam. Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today (pp. 129-130). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. This book is an excellent resource to help you reflect in more detail on the issues raised about the Bible’s trustworthiness.

** NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 283179-283181). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves on the Worship Experience team at Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

I remember a Vacation Bible School lesson when I was in 4th or 5th grade--the teacher explained to us that God speaks to us through his Word. The thing about VBS, at my church, was there was one goal…memorize as many of the Bible verses they gave you and you were rewarded with candy and stickers. The goal (from a child’s perspective) was always obtaining the reward, not really knowing what those verses were supposed to mean in our lives…until I was about 10 years old. Mrs. Gore was my VBS teacher that year, and she tried very hard to help us understand that God uses his Word to speak to our hearts.

I’d like to say that 10-year-old me completely grasped this concept and flew with it. But, in many ways, it remained a mystery for years to come. Even into my teenage years, when youth group became such a profound influence in my spiritual growth and walk, I struggled with understanding how God was using his Word to speak to me. I found much of what I read and studied to be confusing, outdated, scary, and the stuff of great fiction writers. I desperately wanted God to speak to me through his Word. I read my Bible, participated in worship, went to Sunday School, and participated in small group. Yet still, God seemed to be speaking to everyone but me. Maybe I was expecting an audible voice, a profound feeling, or writing in the sky.

The pivotal turning point came when I began singing in the church choir my freshman year at Olivet Nazarene University. Music has always been important to me, but it was then that I began to truly see how God’s word through music could speak to me. So many of the verses and stories in the Bible that I relate to the most are because someone, at some time, put them to music. Eventually, I didn’t need music to hear God speaking to me through his Word, but it definitely helped to put me on the path towards listening and expecting God to speak to me.

Now, when I read my Bible, I take a moment to ask God to speak to me through what I’m about to read. I come expecting that there’s something he wants me to hear. I love that, when I come expecting him to speak to me, verses and stories I’ve read a hundred times before suddenly have new meaning. There’s a modern hymn Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote in 2019 called Speak, O Lord. The first verse says,

“Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness

That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.”

This verse really embodies what I hope for when I read God’s Word. May God speak to you, plant truth deep in your heart, and help each of us to carry the love and light of Christ to the world.

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