I’m sure you have many friends who claim to be very spiritual, who love connecting with “God”, enjoy “feeling” his universal love, and even go on “spiritual” retreats and meditations. God is viewed as the life-giving force we all need to connect to, he is the Universe that empowers all life. These friends just love “God”. But when you ask them about the Bible, they think it’s irrelevant, patriarchal, just opinions or even hateful. The Bible is definitely not authoritative, respected or even listened to.
Isaiah the prophet
Chapter 7 in the Old Testament book of Isaiah speaks to this. Isaiah was a prophet that God called and commissioned to speak to God’s people on God’s behalf. God spoke to Isaiah and Isaiah spoke that message to the people, including the king of Judah, King Ahaz.
Verse 10 though contains a very interesting phrase. It says, “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz”. This phrase is surprising because the Lord did not speak to Ahaz, but rather He spoke to Isaiah, who in turn spoke to Ahaz. What we learn from this short phrase is massively significant: it says “the Lord spoke to Ahaz” because it was just as if the Lord spoke to Ahaz. When the king (or anyone else) heard the Word of God through the prophet it was the same as hearing the Word of God directly from God, as if God spoke directly to them.
We don’t hear God speak audibly to us today in a booming voice from heaven. Nor do we hear God in the still, small voice of a mountain stream. God has revealed himself through the prophets and apostles, and ultimately through his Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1). God’s recorded Word in the Old and New Testaments is God’s present Word to us today (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 3:15-16). God spoke to Isaiah (and other biblical authors) and as we hear Isaiah we hear God’s word to us. In other words, we hear God’s word as we read and study and listen to the Bible (in context of course).
Rejecting God’s Word
What did God say to king Ahaz through Isaiah? God said, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” (v11) God wanted king Ahaz to ask for a sign. We know that it’s always wrong to ask God for signs (because signs are interpreted too subjectively and almost always end up meaning what we want them to mean), except when God tells you to ask for a sign! But ungodly king Ahaz does not want a sign (as he has already entrusted himself to the king of Assyria), so he rejects God’s word to him albeit in religious language, “I will not put the Lord to the test.” (v12) Ahaz sounds all spiritual and pious, but he was simply rubbishing God’s message to him. Here is the clincher: Isaiah’s response to the message of the prophet is his response to God. In other words, our response to the Bible- God’s message- is our response to God himself.
You cannot say, “I love God, but don’t like the Bible.” Your view of the Bible is your view of God; your response to the Bible is your response to God. If you reject the Bible, you are in fact rejecting God. Finding God in religious books or in nature or in your own opinion of what God should be like, is not finding God. It’s simply finding what you or someone else thinks about God – which is probably at odds with what God has said about himself in the Bible.
The motto of the denomination we are part of is, “God’s Word above all things.” We may be accused of having an overvalued view of the Bible (“God’s Word”). But I don’t think so. We treasure the Bible for we treasure God. We treat the Bible as authoritative and true, for that is how we view God. To have a low view of the Bible is to have a low view of God no matter how spiritual or pious you may sound.
Ps. Notice how Hebrews 3:7 says, when quoting from the Old Testament, “the Holy Spirit (God) says…”