This is the fifth piece in a series in which I want to explain why some Christian people are abandoning the authority of the Bible and why you shouldn’t.
I remember door knocking once and a man said to me that he would believe in God if God came and spoke to him right now. He was after a tangible and physical experience of God and nothing else would suffice. Many Christian people hanker after the same and some even believe that as 21st Century Christians we are ripped off because God does not speak to us audibly and appear physically as he did in the OT.
I understand the feeling but it rests on the mistaken belief that God predominantly revealed himself physically and audibly to his people. Certainly, God did speak to Abraham and Moses and Samuel and the prophets but the ordinary, normal experience of God for the Israelites was through the written word.
The law was given to Moses and this Word of God was passed on either verbally or in written form. This was God’s expectation of Moses as he says in Exodus 21:1. From the beginning it was God’s plan to have his Word captured in human words for all to hear through human authors. This is what theologians call inspiration. Human authors write the divine Word.
It is God himself who commands that his word be written down and that it become the authoritative guide and criterion of judgement for his people. In fact, God himself is the first to present his word in written form (Exodus 31:18). In these written words God confronts his people, challenging them and comforting them as directly and effectively as when he spoke to Moses in the cloud. They are not merely a record of God’s self-revelation—they are that revelation. What is more, their divine authority and reliability is in no way diminished by the fact that God used very human writers in the process. God does not bypass the mind or personality of each writer, for those things too are his creation. Through the work of his Spirit, God enables them to write his word, not just their own (2 Peter 1:20-21).
So Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 30:9-10: The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
The Book of the Law was more or less the first 5 books of our Bible and from the beginning that was treated as the very Word of God. In fact all of the OT writings were to be carefully recorded so they could be consulted, memorised, transmitted to children in the community, practiced and obeyed.
Where other nations carried with them visible forms of God, Israel had the word of God. And they had it in a book. Can you see that your experience of the voice and character of God is actually the same as those who have gone before!