Revelation and Response

Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible

According to the Bible, GOD has made Himself known in a variety of ways. "The heavens declare the glory of GOD" (Psalms 19:1). "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" (Rom. 1:20). But while GOD is revealed in His creation and through the inner voice of man's conscience, the primary means by which He has made Himself known is through the Bible.

GOD has revealed Himself through His mighty acts and in the words of His messengers, or spokesmen. Either of these ways is incomplete without the other. In The Old Testament record, none of the mighty acts of GOD is emphasized more than the EXODUS - GOD's deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. As He delivered His people, GOD repeatedly identified Himself as their redeemer GOD: "I am the Lord your GOD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exod. 20:2-3).

If they had been delivered with no explanation, the nation of Israel would have learned little about the GOD who redeemed His people. The Israelites might have guessed that in such events as the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the waters of the Red Sea, some supernatural Power was at work on their behalf. But they would not have known the nature of this power or GOD's purpose for them as a people.

GOD also communicated with His people, the nation of Israel, through Moses, to whom He had already made Himself known in the vision of the burning bush. GOD instructed Moses to tell his fellow Israelites what had been revealed to Him. This was no impersonal force at work, but the GOD of their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fulfillment of His promises to them, GOD was acting now on behalf of their descendants.

In communicating with his people, GOD revealed both His identity and His purpose. His purpose was to make the Israelites a nation dedicated to His service alone. This message, conveyed to the Israelites through Moses, would have been ineffective if GOD had not delivered them personally. On the other hand, His deliverance would have been meaningless without the message. Together both constituted the Word of GOD to the Israelites - the saving message of the GOD who both speaks and acts.

This pattern of GOD's mighty acts and the prophetic word interacting with each other continues throughout the course of biblical history. The Babylonian CAPTIVITY is a good example of this process. A succession of prophets warned the people that it they did not mend their ways, Captivity would come on them as judgment. But even during the years of the Captivity the prophets continued to speak, encouraging the captives and promising that GOD would deliver them from their plight.

The prophets were GOD's primary spokesmen to the people of Israel in the Old Testament times. But they were not His only messengers. Priests and sages, or wise men, were other agents through whom GOD's will was made known. The teachings of many of these messengers are preserved in the Bible.

In addition to GOD's revelation of Himself through the Bible, GOD's Word also records the response of those to whom the revelation was given. Too often the response was unbelief and disobedience. But at other times, people responded in faith and obedience. The Psalms, especially, proclaim the grateful response of men and women who experienced the grace and righteousness of GOD. These faithful people sometimes voiced their appreciation in words addressed directly to GOD. At other times, they reported to others what GOD had come to mean to them.

In the New Testament writings, revelation and response came together in the person of Jesus Christ. On the one hand, Jesus was GOD's perfect revelation of Himself - He was the divine Word in human form. His works of mercy and power portrayed GOD in action, especially His supreme act of sacrifice to bring about "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). His teaching expressed the mind of GOD.

The words and acts of Jesus also proclaimed the meaning and purpose of his works. For example, His act of casting out demons "with the finger of GOD" (Luke 11:20) was a token that the kingdom of GOD had come upon them. He also declared that His death, which he interpreted as the fulfillment of prophetic Scripture (Mark 14:49), was "a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

In his life and ministry, Jesus also illustrated the perfect human response of faith and obedience to GOD. Jesus was "the Apostle [GOD's Messenger to us] and High Priest [our Respresentative with GOD] of our confession" (Heb. 3:1). Thus, Jesus performed the mighty acts of GOD and He spoke authoritatively as GOD's Messenger and Prophet.

Taken from: the "Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible" by Herbert Lockyer, Sr., Editor with F. F. Bruce and R. K. Harrison, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1986.