How did God Speak to Men?

74-002 (Hebrews 1:1–2)/ Bible Study Guide/ Scriptures/ Introduction to Bibliology (The Doctrine of the Bible)/ Lesson # 2

Key Text: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1–2, NKJV)

Heart Questions: [1] How did God speak to men in the Old Testament? [2] How did He speak to men in the New Testament? [3] How does He speak to us today? What agency does He use? [4] Does it matter whether He speaks or not? [5] Does it matter whether we pay attention to what He has to say or not?

Introduction: Many people wonder if it is possible for us to hear God. Some don’t even believe that The Bible was inspired by God. They have never heard God speak to them directly, thus they conclude that God does not speak at all. The truth of the matter is this: God does speak! We know God spoke to man, but how did he speak? Our Key Text (Hebrews 1:1) informs us He spoke to the Fathers and Prophets in many ways. A careful examination of the Bible reveals at least 11 different modes of communication.

These modes of communication are:

HE OFTEN SPOKE TO MEN THROUGH ANGELS.

  1. Angels reassured Abraham of the birth of Isaac and informed him of God’s decision to destroy Sodom (Gen. 18).
  2. Angels warned Lot to flee Sodom before that awful destruction took place (Gen. 19).
  3. The angel Gabriel explained the nature of the tribulation to Daniel (Dan. 9:21-27).
  4. Gabriel informed Zacharias he would have a son who would become the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:11-20).
  5. Gabriel informed Mary that God had chosen her as his vessel for Christ’s birth (Luke 1:26-37).
  6. Angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14).
  7. An angel announced the resurrection of Christ to some women (Matt. 28:5-7).
  8. An angel directed Philip to the seeking eunuch (Acts 8:26).
  9. An angel directed Peter out of a Roman prison (Acts 12:7-10).

HE SPOKE THROUGH A LOUD VOICE.

  1. He spoke directly to Adam (Gen. 3:9-19).
  2. He spoke directly to Noah (Gen. 6:13-21).
  3. He spoke directly to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).
  4. He spoke directly to Moses (Exod. 20:1-17).
  5. He spoke directly to Joshua (Josh. 1:1-9).
  6. He spoke directly to Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-14).
  7. He spoke directly to Nathan, about David (2 Sam. 7:4-16),
  8. He spoke directly to Elijah (1 Kings 17:2-4).
  9. He spoke directly to Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-5).

HE SPOKE THROUGH THE MOUTH OF A DONKEY.

“Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”” (Numbers 22:28, NKJV)

HE SPOKE THROUGH THE CASTING OF LOTS.

  1. To select a scapegoat (Lev. 16:8)
  2. To divide the land of Canaan among the 12 tribes (Num. 26:55; Josh. 18:10)
  3. To determine who would live in Jerusalem (Neh. 11:1)
  4. To replace Judas (Acts 1:26)

HE SPOKE THROUGH DREAMS.

On a number of occasions God chose this method.

  1. Jacob received the confirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant in a dream (Gen. 28:12).
  2. Solomon received both wisdom and a warning in a dream (1 Kings 3:5; 9:2).
  3. Joseph in the New Testament received three messages in three dreams.
    1. Assuring him of Mary’s purity (Matt. 1:20)
    1. Commanding him to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13)
    1. Ordering him to return to Palestine (Matt. 2:19-22)
  4. The wise men were warned of Herod’s evil intentions in a dream (Matt. 2:12).

HE SPOKE THROUGH VISIONS.

  1. Jacob was instructed in a vision to go to Egypt (Gen. 46:2).
  2. David was warned of judgment in a vision (1 Chron. 21:16).
  3. Isaiah saw God’s holiness in a vision (Isa. 6:1-8).
  4. Daniel saw the great Gentile powers in a vision (Dan. 7 – 8).
  5. Daniel saw the glories of Christ in a vision (Dan. 10:5-9).
  6. Daniel saw the rise and fall of Alexander the Great in a vision (Dan. 8).
  7. Ezekiel saw the regathering of Israel in a vision (Ezek. 37),
  8. Ananias was ordered to minister to Saul in a vision (Acts 9:10).
  9. Cornelius was instructed to send for Peter in a vision (Acts 10:3-6).
  10. Peter was ordered to minister to Cornelius in a vision (Acts 10:10-16).
  11. Paul was ordered to Macedonia in a vision (Acts 16:9).
  12. Paul was comforted at Corinth in a vision (Acts 19:9).
  13. Paul was comforted at Jerusalem in a vision (Acts 23:11).
  14. Paul viewed the glories of the third heaven in a vision (2 Car. 12:1-4).
  15. The Apostle John received the book of Revelation in a vision (Rev. 1:10)

HE SPOKE THROUGH A STILL, SMALL VOICE.

God’s Revelation to Elijah. 1 Kings 19:11–13 (NKJV)11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In this particular section of the scriptures, Elijah in a cave (1 Kings 19:8–18). After being strengthened by the angel, Elijah travels 40 days and nights to Mount Sinai, where he spends the night.

After Elijah complains about his situation, the Lord invites Elijah to come out of the cave and stand in His presence. Suddenly, several spectacular events occurs – (a ferocious wind split the mountains and shatters the rocks; an earthquake struck, and a fire erupts) — but God is not present. In other words, He does not meet Elijah’s need through them. Sometime later, there is a quiet, gentle whisper – “a still small voice.” Elijah hears the whisper. Elijah—ashamed, humbled, broken—pulled his cloak over his face.

“Elijah is learning that bigness is not necessary to do God’s work. Elijah had seen a great event at Mount Carmel—it was dramatic and devastating like the wind, earthquake and fire. But God can work in the ordinary, too. He can work through the “still small voice” of His Word. We may not have a Mount Carmel church with great size and impressive services, but we can still do a work for God in a small church which has the still small voice speaking in power.” [John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor: I Kings to II Chronicles, (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2012), 155–156].

HE IS SPEAKING THROUGH NATURE.

[1] “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1–3, NKJV)

[2] “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because ‘what may be known of God’ is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:18–20, NKJV)

[3] In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas are in Lystra (14:8–20). There is a man in Lystra who has never walked. So, Paul orders him to stand up and walk, and he does. Then comes the Confusion: The astonished crowd mistakes the two apostles for “gods.”— They think Barnabas is “Zeus” (14:11–12a); they also think Paul is “Hermes” (14:12b).

Therefore, they attempt to treat these apostles as ‘gods’ (14:13–14). They were prepare to offer sacrifices and worship Paul and Barnabas. Paul couldn’t let that happen — because He knows that there is a God up in heaven; the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who alone should be worshipped. So Paul makes the necessary correction (14:15–18).

Notice how he pointed out the identity of the true God (for whom they are witnesses) and the fact that God is speaking/ revealing Himself through nature. —

“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15–17, NKJV)

HE SPOKE THROUGH THE URIM AND THUMMIN.

“And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.” (Exodus 28:30, NKJV)

What was Urim and Thummim?

  • The word in Hebrew simply means “lights” and “perfections.”
  • These were objects used by high priests in the OT to seek the divine will in doubtful situations.
  • Instances of consulting God by Urim and Thummim –(Read Jud. 1:1; 20:18, 28; 1 Sam. 23:9–11; 1 Sam. 30:7, 8).

Urim and Thummim—(An Overview).

  • They were placed in the breastplate of the high priest (Exo. 28:30; Lev. 8:8)
  • They were method of consulting God (Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 14:3–37).
  • The use of Urim and Thummim was confined to priests (Deut. 33:8). 
  • Sometimes there was no answer from God in consequence of the sin of those consulting (1 Sam. 28:6).
  • Urim and Thummim were wanting in the second temple (Ezr. 2:63; Neh. 7:65).
  • Illustrative of the light and perfection of Christ the true high priest (Deu. 33:8; Jno. 1:4, 9, 17; Col. 2:3)

HE SPOKE THROUGH THE OLD TESTAMENT CHRISTOPHANIES.

A Christophany is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Christ. Jesus Christ is also known as the “Angel of the Lord” appearing in the Old Testament to different individuals, For example:

  1. The Angel of the Lord wrestled with Jacob (Gen. 32:24-30).
  2. The Angel of the Lord redeemed Jacob from all evil (Gen. 48:16).
  3. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exod. 3:2).
  4. The Angel of the Lord protected Israel at the Red Sea (Exod. 14:19).
  5. The Angel of the Lord prepared Israel for the Promised Land (Exod. 23:20-23; Psa. 34:7; Isa. 63:9; 1 Cor. 10:1-4).
  6. The Angel of the Lord commissioned Gideon (Judg. 6:11).
  7. The Angel of the Lord ministered to Elijah (1 Kings 19:7).
  8. The Angel of the Lord reassured Joshua (Josh. 5:13-15).
  9. The Angel of the Lord saved Jerusalem (Isa. 37:36).
  10. The Angel of the Lord preserved three godly Hebrew men (Dan. 3:25).

HE SPOKE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.

Charles Ryrie observes: “Undebatably the incarnation of Jesus Christ was a major avenue of special revelation. He exegeted the Father (John 1:14), revealing the nature of God (14:9), the power of God (3:2), the wisdom of God (7:46), the glory of God (1:14), the life of God (1 John 1:1-3), and the love of God (Rom. 5:8). Our Lord did all this by both his acts (John 2:11) and his words (Matt. 16:17)” (Basic Theology, p. 64).

DEVOTIONAL IMPLICATION: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1–3, NASB95)

God spoke by the Prophets in “Many Ways.” – “This He did through the words of the Old Testament. He used men as instruments, but was Himself behind them, enlightening and energizing them. The deists teach that God started the world going and then went away, leaving it to run by itself. But God is not detached from His creation; He is not uninvolved in our world. The true and living God, unlike the false gods of man’s making, is not dumb or indifferent. The God of Scripture, unlike the impersonal “First Cause” of some philosophers, is not silent. He speaks. He first spoke in the Old Testament, which is not a collection of the wisdom of ancient men but is the voice of God.”

“Now notice how God spoke: “in many portions and in many ways.” The writer uses a play on words in the original language: “God, polumerōs and polutropōs …” These two Greek words are interesting. They mean, respectively, “in many portions” (as of books) and “in many different manners.” There are many books in the Old Testament—thirty-nine of them. In all those many portions (polumerōs) and in many ways (polutropōs) God spoke to men. Sometimes it was in a vision, sometimes by a parable, sometimes through a type or a symbol. There were many different ways in which God spoke in the Old Testament. But it is always God speaking. Even the words spoken by men and angels are included because He wants us to know them.”

“Men were used—their minds were used and their personalities were used—but they were totally controlled by the Spirit of God. Every word they wrote was the word that God decided they should write and delighted in their writing.”

“Many ways includes many literary ways. Some of the Old Testament is narrative. Some of it is poetry, in beautiful Hebrew meter. The “many ways” also includes many types of content. Some is law; some is prophecy; some is doctrinal; some is ethical and moral; some is warning; some is encouragement; and so on. But it is all God speaking.” [John F. MacArthur Jr., Hebrews, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), 3–4].

THE GOSPEL’S VOICE: “In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Heb. 1:2)

Beloved, in these last days; in this year 2020 and beyond; in these last days of Earth’s history, God has spoken to us One Way: by His Son Jesus Christ.

“God’s full, perfect revelation awaited the coming of His Son. God, who used to speak in many different ways through many different people, has finally spoken in one way, through one Person, His Son Jesus Christ. The whole New Testament is centered around Christ. The gospels tell His story, the epistles comment on it, and the Revelation tells of its culmination. From beginning to end the New Testament is Christ. No prophet had been given God’s whole truth. The Old Testament was given to many men, in bits and pieces and fragments. Jesus not only brought, but was, God’s full and final Revelation.” [John F. MacArthur Jr., Hebrews, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1983), 5–6].

ACTION STEP: What response do you think this lesson should inspires us to do?  [1] Believe that “in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son.” Let Jesus Christ be your highest authority for faith and daily living. Don’t allow any religious leader or teaching to diminish the words of Christ. Believe in Jesus. Believe His words (the Bible). Believe the work He came to do on the cross (He died for you). Believe the work He is doing for you now in Heaven (interceding for you). Trust Him, let Him be the captain, “the archegos” of your life (Heb 2:10).

[2] Listen to God. God is still speaking in a ‘Still Small Voice.’ It is in a gentle whisper. He does this by putting thoughts in our minds. The good news is this: God is not inventing new ideas. God will never tell us anything that goes against His own Word, our Holy Bible. The Holy Spirit is just reminding us/ reiterating the same words that He has already written in the Bible. For instance—the need to seek the Lord for wisdom, directions, and answers to our questions. The need to ‘hate sin and love righteousness,’ like Jesus did (Heb. 1:9). The need to seek the LORD, to ‘watch and pray’ let’s we enter into temptation (Mt. 26:41); and the need to be ready for His soon return (Mt 24:44).

[3] God speaks through His Word. The most common way that God speaks to us is through His Holy Bible. This is why daily reading of our Bible is so important. God gave us His Word so that we would know what we need to know and how to respond to life situations. How many times do you read the Bible in a day? Prayer and the study of God’s word is as important as the Oxygen we breathe for our spiritual survival.

[4] We have a choice to make: Will we attentively listen to what the LORD has to say, or not? Will we obey and heed what the Spirit say to us, or not? Remember — God created us as free creatures, and has given us a free will, meaning, we can either obey Him, or do whatever we want (sin).

God wants us to obey Him because we love Him, not because we are afraid of being punished if we do not obey Him. God wants us to have a desire to listen to His voice, and follow Him.

Listen beloved as we close. God is speaking to you now. He wants the best for you. He wants to bless you. He wants to save you. But the most important question is this: Are listening? Listen to His call now: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20, NKJV)

MY COMMITMENT TODAY.

Check the appropriate Box that reflect your decision today:

  • I desire to read and study the word of God.
  • I desire to love the Lord, obey, and follow Him.
  • I desire to listen for His ‘still small voice.’
  • I desire to communicate with Him through Prayer.
  • I desire to repent of my sin and ask for His forgiveness.
  • I desire to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in my Life.

CLOSING HYMN: Give Me the Bible – (SDAH 272).

Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming, To cheer the wanderer, lone and tempest tossed; No storm can hide that peaceful radiance beaming, Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Give me the Bible– holy message shining; Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way. Precept and promise, law and love combining; ‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.

Give me the Bible when my heart is broken, When sin and grief have filled my soul with fear; Give me the precious words by Jesus spoken, Hold up faith’s lamp to show my Savior near.

Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten; Teach me the danger of these realms below;  That lamp of safety, o’er the gloom shall brighten;  That light alone the path of peace can show.

Have a Blessed Day:  Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21, NKJV)

The Gospel’s Voice/ Bible Study Guide/ Scriptures/ Introduction to Bibliology (The Doctrine of the Bible)/ Lesson # 2