Summary: God has spoken to us repeatedly and in various ways, but supremely in His Son. How do we respond?
God has spoken!
Can you imagine how you would feel if you got a letter from the Queen? (I mean a real one, not just some standard letter sent by her officials.) How would you treat it? Would you throw it idly aside? Would you risk it getting lost or stained with tea? I don’t think so! You would take great care of it. You’d read it from cover to cover, time and time again to make sure you understood it properly, despite your excitement and pounding heart. Then you would go and tell all your friends what had happened and show them the letter. I doubt that you would let them touch it though ¾ they might get it dirty!
We are dealing with something immeasurably more wonderful. The eternal God has deigned to speak to us, and that not once, but repeatedly and in many different ways to make sure the message was clear. He spoke at various times and in various ways … to the fathers by the prophets.
We know nothing about what is outside our own physical experience. We can’t see God, angels, or heaven ¾ indeed we have enough trouble making sense of this world! What is amazing is that God wants us to understand such things. In Old Testament times He used many different ways to communicate with His people. He spoke to Job from a whirlwind and to Elijah in a still, small voice. He spoke to Joseph in dreams and to Moses from a burning bush. He spoke to Joshua through an angel. He even used drama! (Ezekiel and Hosea.) Principally, though, He used the spoken and written word.
Had God remained silent… the plight of mankind would have been desperate indeed; but now he has spoken his revealing, redeeming, and life giving word, and in his light we see light. (F.F. Bruce)
What amazes me is that God wanted to communicate with us at all! In addition He is so different that it made communication terribly difficult. Imagine trying to explain your world to a goldfish! How would you explain arms and legs ¾ never mind books, cars or quantum mechanics! What makes His patient persistence even more amazing is the way His chosen people responded ¾ never mind the heathen! Jesus illustrated it in a parable: Mt 21: 33”There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 34 “Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. 35 “And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. 36 “Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them.
By and large the Jewish people rejected what God had to say to them and His. Even when they responded positively they were fickle. Moses led them out of Egypt and through the Red sea and immediately they built an idol ¾ the golden calf. Other prophets were ignored, mocked or even killed, because the people did not want to hear God’s message. You can read more in chapter 11.
How would we have reacted if we had been God? Would we have kept on trying to communicate? Of course not! At best we would have broken off all contact. If we had an army we might even have wiped them out. How did God react? Jesus went on: Mt 21: 37 “Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 “But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 “So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. In the words of Hebrews 1:2 God has in these last days spoken to us in His Son.
Why did God do this? Ultimately it was because He loved us so much and wanted so much to have fellowship with us. To do this He needed to reveal Himself to us and, beautiful as it is, the Old Testament gives us a fragmentary and incomplete picture. It is like a mosaic that grew piece by piece, over the course of some 1500 years with forty or so contributors. It built truth upon truth ¾ what we call progressive revelation. Genesis reveals a bit of the truth, Exodus reveals some more and so on, progressively developing the revelation.
What wonderful accounts we have in the OT of Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, to name a few. Yet, as if with a dismissive wave of his hand, the author writes them off as nothing in comparison with Jesus Christ. 1 GOD, who gave to our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, 2 has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son. (JB Phillips) Symbol and parable, vision, metaphor and type all had their place in the divine plan, but they give us a picture of God that is like a kaleidoscope of overlapping bits. Jesus brings the picture into perfect focus giving us a complete revelation. The OT revelation is good, but the revelation that we have in Christ is incomparably better.