Day 12: Inspiration
The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah Micah 1:1
Came – How do you receive communication today? Well, first there’s e-mail. You’re reading one right now. I could have sent you a letter, or called you on the phone, or sent a telegram (how quaint), or traveled to your house and told you in person. Does this help me understand how God communicates His message? That’s the issue that confronts us with the doctrine of inspiration. How does God communicate exactly what He wants to say to human beings?
This Hebrew verb for “came” in the above verse gives us a clue, but it is certainly not what we were expecting. You see, the verb is not bo’ (“to come to a place, to arrive”). It is hayah, and hayah means “to exist, to be, to become, to happen.” The translation, “the word of the Lord came to,” isn’t quite right. The word did not arrive like this message you’re reading. God’s word came into existence in Micah; it happened to him. And here’s the best part. This verb, hayah, is the same verb that is behind the name of God, Yahweh. YHWH (from Exodus 3:14) is the great I AM. God’s very personal name is tied to the verb “to be.” His word is manifested into existence by the same mysterious process that all existence becomes what it is. Would you have expected anything less?
Does this help us understand divine inspiration? Yes, and no. Yes, it makes perfect sense that God’s creative process is behind His word manifesting itself in Micah – and in lots of other people. However it happens, it has God as its origin. So, Paul tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed. Of course it is! That’s how God created us. But, this doesn’t really help us answer the question, “How?” That’s because we have no more rational explanation for how life began than we do for how inspiration occurs. It is the question that is wrong, not the answer. The question assumes that there is some clearly defined, specific, rational process that can be dissected, analyzed, and replicated. The question is Greek. It is a request for technical information. But the Hebrew concept is organic. It is a description about how the happening appears to Micah, not a description about a technical manual on God’s communication.
Why is this important (other than to theologians)? Well, how many times have you heard someone say, “God spoke to me,” or “God told me”? Did they mean that God whispered something in the ear? Or did they mean that somehow, by some mysterious means, God’s word became a reality in them?
Did you think that God stopped being manifested when the last of the apostles died? If that were the case, why would Paul (and others) provide us with instructions to test what is revealed? What is in Scripture is the complete standard and accepted rule of practice for believers, but inspiration continues. God is not silent. He is still being God.