Friday, January 11, 2019

Varieties of Revelation

"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways" (Hebrews 1:1).

God revealed Himself to the Old Testament prophets in a myriad of ways. Today we want to survey some of the ways God revealed Himself as preparation for this year’s study of the Old Testament.

One of the most important ways God revealed Himself in the Old Testament was through “theophanies.” A theophany is an appearance or manifestation of God in and through some created thing. The most famous example of a theophany is the burning bush. God was revealing Himself to Moses in the bush as it burned with His divine glory.

God also revealed Himself through dreams. Famous dreams of Scripture include those of Jacob, Joseph, Nebuchadnezzar (in Daniel), and the night visions of Zechariah 1–6. God also spoke in dreams to Joseph the husband of Mary and to Pilate’s wife. Another type of revelation is in visions. Visions happen while people are awake, not while they are asleep. For instance, there are numerous visions in Ezekiel. Perhaps the most recognizable is in Isaiah 6. Also, Peter had a vision of the clean and unclean animals in Acts 10.

Yet another kind of revelation we may call “the opening of the eyes” so that God could show His people things they ordinarily would not see but are present in another dimension. An example of this is in 2 Kings 6:17 when the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened to see God’s angelic army.

Other forms of revelation include God speaking directly to men and indirectly through prophets. Also, God revealed Himself through events, both providential and miraculous. Additionally, the whole of God’s creation reveals Him just as a piece of art reveals its maker. The cosmos is the theater of God’s revelation.

Finally, and most importantly, Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. Modernist theologian Karl Barth denies all other forms of revelation and says that Jesus Christ is the exclusive revelation of God. Orthodox Christianity says that Christ is not the exclusive but the conclusive revelation of God.

As you read the Scripture this weekend, think of the symphonic nature of revelation. Even though God used many people and three languages over centuries of time to write the Scripture, there is a unity and harmony to its “song.” Thank God for the awesome character of His revelation.