Items posted on 24 June 2012
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Ezekiel 13.4-8 and Zechariah 13.3 – Biblical revelation as the successor of prophetic utterance
Posted: 24 June 2012 in Ezekiel, Zechariah

O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God.

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

We ought to be grateful to God that the age of prophesy is over, because it means that we are no longer faced with the problem of discerning false prophets from the true. It is not as though it was only the false prophets themselves who were the recipients of divine wrath – so was anybody who listened to them. Today God reveals himself to us through the pages of the Bible, and, unlike false prophesy, it does not change to suit the changing agendas of men. So it is to the Bible that we must go if we would learn of God’s nature and of his will. As Paul says (Romans 1.20) there is just enough revelation outside of the Bible for us to hang ourselves if we ignore it, but the Bible is certainly the only major source of revelation.

But that means, of course, that we must accept what God has to say for himself in the Bible. Not just those parts of the Bible we find conducive, but also those parts we feel uncomfortable with. It is very easy to think that God should conform himself to our ideas, and to the spirit of the age, when we ought to be conforming ourselves to his ideas. I suppose a case in point is eternal punishment, especially in the light of predestination. It is very easy to understand why that makes people feel uncomfortable. But the Bible says what it says, inspite of attempts to explain away the passages we might prefer not to be there, and, since God is righteous, his will must not be questioned. Progress in the Christian life, I suppose, is probably to be found in the slow acceptance of those things we don’t like, but which are nevertheless revealed to us as being true.

That is not to say that there is nothing in the Bible which reflects the time in which it was written. Inevitably there is – Paul’s easy acceptance of slavery, for instance. But that is not to be used as an excuse for disregarding anything we find difficult. If we are not to deserve the scorn of atheists for “cherry picking” a much higher degree of objectivity than that is needed. The chief sin of liberal theology is to substitute subjectivity for objectivity, and at least some of the time that is done quite consciously. In biblical times, not only were false prophets listened to, but true prophets were rejected, and we will find ourselves in the same position if we abandon any attempt at objectivity in attending to God’s Word.

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