Distractive Biblical Obsession (Part 2)

bible revelation

Part 1

Bibles are not the number one way God speaks to us

At least, according to bibles they’re not. Jesus, the Word of God, is, and he lives in us.

In Exodus 20:18-19 Israel in essence says, “Hey God, quit talking to us. If you want to tell us something, please write something down for us that we can always refer to. We don’t want to talk with you. But if you feel like you have to say something to us other than what you wrote down, you can talk through Moses. But don’t talk directly to us.” Israel thus began relating with God through rules and regulations.

Yet after more than a thousand years of studying their scriptures, the Jews could not recognize the Messiah to which it pointed. Why should we expect to fare any better?

Consider also that making bibles the central way God speaks to us effectively puts some at a disadvantage. It makes reading, and more specifically verbal communication, the most important form of communication with God. But the truth is that some people are better and are more interested in and capable of that kind of communication than others. For example, dyslexics and those in cultures that do not have systems for writing down their language. Do they need a “Moses,” a mediator other than Jesus, to communicate with their Daddy? Sounds like the Old Covenant to me.

I write this to those of you who cannot read…Discover Christ in you, and read him. Your illiteracy is in no way a limitation for God to reveal himself. – Madame Guyon

Further, since reading bibles requires interpretation, those with the most biblical knowledge would also have the greatest advantage. Those who have not gone to seminary or received some kind of formal training are made to be dependent on their pastor or some teacher, who is supposedly more capable of hearing God through reading bibles due to their informed interpretations.

Yet those who preceded the Law, such as Abraham, had no problem directly communicating with God without need for an external mediator or writings even while completely lacking in any knowledge of God. How much more us, in whom Christ has been revealed!

Part 3

8 thoughts on “Distractive Biblical Obsession (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Distractive Biblical Obsession (Part 1) | Supernatural Gospel

      • It sounds like your argument is “The Bible says that having bible-like sources of authority is sometimes detrimental to spiritual growth, so we should listen to the Bible and not rely too heavily on bibles,” which is self-referential and self-defeating.

    • It’s a good thing that that’s not my argument then :]

      I’m using a technique Jesus used, namely that of saying “you believe this to be true about the scriptures (in my case that they are the number one way God speaks), so how do you deal with this passage?” I plan to write some more about this in a future post about inspiration.

  2. Pingback: Distractive Biblical Obsession (Part 3) | Supernatural Gospel

  3. Super, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wholeheartedly disagree with you, but it was interesting to read your personal views. Please allow me to interact with you on this subject a bit. You are making some pretty strong claims here. You do realize that this goes against how God’s people have understood God’s Word all through the ages, right? So to overturn something that Christians and Jews have long believed and practiced, I hope you have some pretty strong arguments here to back up your opinions.

    Super: “Bibles are not the number one way God speaks to us
    At least, according to bibles they’re not. Jesus, the Word of God, is, and he lives in us.”

    OK, again, you are giving us your making wild claims here. You say that Jesus is the Word of God. Why do you believe this? You say that he lives in us. Why do you believe this? Do you believe it because the Bible teaches this? OK, so it seems that you believe in the Bible. Since you are quoting from the Bible and using it as a basis for your beliefs, is it safe to assume that you believe the Bible is God’s Word?

    Super said: “In Exodus 20:18-19 Israel in essence says, “Hey God, quit talking to us. If you want to tell us something, please write something down for us that we can always refer to. We don’t want to talk with you. But if you feel like you have to say something to us other than what you wrote down, you can talk through Moses. But don’t talk directly to us.” Israel thus began relating with God through rules and regulations.”

    Are you familiar with this verse? I hope that since you are quoting verses, you will not be offended if I quote some verses. 

    Deuteronomy 20:17 “And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken.”

    Do you know what God is referring to here? He is referring to the exact thing that you wrote in Ex. 20:18-19. And what does God say? He says that the Israelites were right in what they requested!

    Here are the previous two verses: ““The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’”

    Is this what you would like to return to? Actually, no one has ever seen God with their own two eyes, right? The Israelites had to spend 3 days getting ready to meet with God and they were not allowed to approach the mountain lest they die. Any animal that strayed onto the mountain died as well. God’s holiness was overwhelming and it seems that this was just a bit too much for them. The solution to this was not the Law or the OT like you insinuated. The solution to this problem if you read further in Deuteronomy 20 was that God would now speak through prophets. Sure, God gave them law and established a covenant with them. The law explained the terms of this covenant and this law, as you know, was deeply treasured, memorized, recited, read, and meditated on. I’m not aware of God reprimanding His people for doing this anywhere in the OT.

    Let me just ask you this. If God expected his people to abide by the law, don’t you think he expected them to read it and understand it?

    I’m sure you are familiar with Ezra the priest. He was famous for leading a revival to bring the people back to God. Do you know how he did that? Here is what it says:

    8:2-4 “So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. “

    v. 13 “On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to STUDY the words of the Law.”

    v. 18 “ And day by day, FROM THE FIRST DAY TO THE LAST DAY, HE READ FROM THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF GOD. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.”

    7 Days!!! They read the Law to the people for 7 straight days and a revival took place!

    Ezra had a love for God’s Word and this is what we learn about him: Ezra 7:9-10 “For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, for the good hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

    Super, why was the good hand of God with Ezra? Because he was good looking? Because he had a vision of God? Because he was a priest? The word “for” is indicative of a reason. “Because Ezra had set his heart to study, live and teach his statues and rules in Israel.” So based on this, wouldn’t you say that this is something that greatly pleases God? No wonder God used him to bring His people back to Himself. Through the reading of the Law, the people were convicted of their sin and repented before God.

    The Psalms are full of the same kind of language. God’s Word was very precious to David. He hid it in his heart. It was a lamp for his feet and a light for his path. Ps. 19:7-12 & the whole chapter of Ps 119 shows just how precious it was to him. And God called David, what?
    Remember? “A man after his own heart”. In other words, David’s love for God’s Word was a means of him drawing near to God. His time spent in God’s Word showed his love for God – among other things of course. Do you think he was depriving God of fellowship by reading His Word like your cartoon shows? That is a unique idea, but unfortunately, Jesus is not standing beside us waiting for our attention. By reading God’s word, do you really think that David was depriving God of fellowship with him? You will have a very hard time convincing me of that, but if that is honestly what you think, so be it. Me? I believe God was extremely pleased by David’s love for His Word.

    Another question. God is all knowing, right? So, when He decided to give them the law, He would have known that His people would have a tendency to treasure it, memorize it, love it, read it, etc., right? And if He did not intend for this to happen, don’t you think He would have made it clear that this was behavior that He did not tolerate? I mean He wrote down so many other laws for them to follow in the Law, certainly He would have included that as well, right?

    But, what do we find? He commands the very opposite! Deuteronomy 6:6-8. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

    Sorry. I quoted lots of Bible passages. If you think I misused them or am reading them in a particular way for my own benefit, please let me know. I hope quoting Bible verses is not a sin in your eyes, but regardless, rather than giving my opinion, I prefer to base what I say on God’s Word.

    Assuming this passage is inspired, first we see that God wants the parents to have the words of the Law on their heart. Would you agree with that?

    And second, then they were to teach those same words diligently to their children, right?

    In order to obey this command of God, do you think they needed to read and memorize the Law?

    There were not thousands of copies of Scripture back then available for the average Israelite to read, so memorization and oral retelling of the Scriptures were the common ways used to teach and communicate God’s truth. This shows how important it was to have God’s word in their hearts. If it wasn’t there, they would have difficulty fulfilling their very important God-given parental responsibility of teaching them diligently to their children.

    • Hey Jim. Thanks for responding graciously 🙂

      I would say you are making some pretty strong claims yourself. For example, that I am going “against how God’s people have understood God’s Word all through the ages.” Who do you mean by God’s people? If you mean the pre-Christ Jews, then perhaps I am going against how they understood the scriptures (although even they had a wide variety of how to understand them). But Jesus and Paul himself went against that tradition by how they quoted the scriptures (see the post https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/quoting-and-referencing-the-ot-in-the-nt/), so I would say I am only following in their footsteps. If you mean the post-Christ church, then history easily bears out that the view you are talking about has not always been held, especially in the early church. Most of the currently popular views were birthed during the Reformation by dudes such as Luther and Calvin. So you yourself would need some pretty strong arguments to back up doctrines created by them that were by no means held by the early church believers.

      I wrote about why I believe Jesus is the Word of God in https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/is-the-word-of-god-a-book-or-a-person/. I wrote about why I believe Jesus is in us in https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/humanity-in-wonderland-christ-in-all-all-in-christ/. The scriptures are definitely one of the reasons I believe these things, probably the main one. But I don’t think bibles teach anything – teaching is a verb and books are dead. I believe there are things that are true that are written in bibles. But I am not using it as a basis for my beliefs. They are simply one of the many things that I allow to influence me in order to convince me. I also afford such power to, for example, my close friends, hearing God, reasoning, history, etc. You seem to think that you have to either believe that it is God’s Word or else trash it completely. This is false, and I am the counterexample.

      Concerning Deuteronomy 18:17 (not 20:17) that you quoted, it sounds like you are reading your own interpretation into the text. The text simply says, “They are right in what they have spoken.” Okay, so they were right, not wrong. About what? About the previous verses, which *predict* that God will raise up a prophet. So their prediction was right, and God confirms this in the following verses, talking about how he will raise up a prophet. Nowhere is there any discussion about the quality of their initial request for a prophet-like figure, which is what you take it to mean. You say, “He says that the Israelites were right in what they requested!” But, again, God’s not talking about the goodness or badness of the request, but about the prediction. That’s how I read it, and I don’t see why it’s not a valid interpretation.

      Concerning the Law, there a number of NT scriptures that bring into question whether God really was the author of the Law in full. That’s for another post. But in light of this, I question the way the Israelites interpreted God’s holiness as this somehow murderous form of energy which you shouldn’t get too close to. Doesn’t sound like love to me. But that makes sense, because the Israelites did not have a revelation of God as love. So is is not surprising that they, like the nations around them, saw their God as an easily offended dude, and thus recorded him as such.

      Yeah I would say that God was pleased that the Israelites were “convicted of their sin” (realized they were living immorally and unlovingly), and repented (changed their minds about that), and yes this came about through reading the Law. But it’s not the reading of the Law in and of itself that pleased God, but the result – independent of how it came about, I would say. That’s my understanding.

      I find it funny how you keep calling the Law “God’s Word” (as if that supports your view that it is rightly to be called such) despite it not being called such anywhere. In the OT, “the word of God refers to a prophetic word, and in the NT it refers to Jesus or the gospel message (see http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/search.cfm?Criteria=%22the+word+of+God%22&t=NASB#s=s_primary_0_1).

      But even if this were not the case, I see that the vast majority of your case is based on principles in the Old Covenant – an obsolete covenant (according to Hebrews) that we are not a part of. So your attempt to apply it all to us now is nullified.

      You wrote, “This shows how important it was to have God’s word in their hearts.” and I might say, sure! But in this New Covenant, God has written it on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Yes, God did it, not us by our own efforts of reading and memorization.

      That is scandalously good news 😀

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