Theme: Heaven’s Means of Communication
Leading Question: Why does God speak to us through prophets instead of simply talking to us face to face?
In a perfect world, there are no barriers between God and his creatures. Fear is unknown. In the beginning God simply strolled into the garden to talk with our first parents; and in the new earth God will make his home among us. But between those two perfect worlds, God faces the messy business of communicating with sinners who are very much afraid of him. This quarter we study how God seeks to communicate to his frightened creatures – until he once again can banish fear in a world made new.
1. General and Special Revelation. In classic theological terms, all forms of God’s communication is described by two words: general (or natural) and special revelation. Psalms 19:1-6 describe general revelation for us. The rest of the psalm (Ps 19:7-14) points toward special revelation, described in terms of “law.” Why are two forms necessary? Why not just use one or the other?
2. Notable Exceptions. Even in a sinful world, Old Testament people still testified that they had seen God face to face and lived to tell the tale. When Jacob wrestled with the “man” he came away saying, “I have seen God face to face and yet my life is preserved” (Gen 32:30); on Mt. Sinai, Moses and the elders “saw the God of Israel:” (Exod 24:10). Just as Jacob was surprised to still be alive, so the text in Exodus indicates surprise: “he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel.” Is the prohibition against seeing God driven by a divine mandate or by human fear? And how was it possible to transgress the ban and still live?
3. Many and varied methods. Moving beyond the face-to-face communication which sometimes marks God’s dealings with humans, Hebrews 1:1 indicates that God had used many different methods to communicate with human beings. How would we assess the necessity and/or the effectiveness of each of these methods:
A. Nature: Psalm 19:1-6, 33:6-9; Rom 1:19-23.
B. Prophets: Exod 4:10-17; Deut 18:18-19; Amos 3:7, 7:14-15.
C. Written Word: John 20:30-31; 2 Tim 3:16-17.
D. Jesus Christ. John 1:1-3, 14; Col 2:9-10; Hebrews 1:1-2.