Willmington's Guide to the Bible

I. Revelation. We know God spoke to man, but how did he speak? Hebrews 1:1 informs us he spoke to the fathers and prophets in many ways. A careful examination of the Bible reveals at least eight different modes of communication. These are:

A. He often spoke to men through angels. Consider:

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 the 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 (Lk. 1:11-20).

5. Gabriel informed Mary that God had chosen her as his vessel for Christ’s birth (Lk. 1:26-37).

6. Angels announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds (Lk. 2:8-14).

7. An angel announced the resurrection of Christ to some women (Mt. 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).

B. He spoke to men 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 (Ex. 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 Ki. 17:2-4).

9. He spoke directly to Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4, 5).

C. He spoke to men through a still, small voice (1 Ki. 19:11, 12; Ps. 32:8).

D. He spoke to men through nature (Ps. 19:1-3; Acts 14:15-17; Rom. 1:18-20).

E. He spoke to one man through the mouth of an ass (Num. 22:28). This has to be one of the funniest moments in the Bible!

F. He spoke to men 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 Ki. 3:5; 9:2).

3. Joseph in the New Testament received three messages in three dreams.

a. Assuring him of Mary’s purity (Mt. 1:20).

b. Commanding him to flee to Egypt (Mt. 2:13).

c. Ordering him to return to Palestine (Mt. 2:19-22).

4. The wise men were warned of Herod’s evil intentions in a dream (Mt. 2:12).

G. He spoke to men through visions. Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines a vision as: "A supernatural presentation of certain scenery or circumstances to the mind of a person while awake." It may be noted that many great truths in the Scriptures were related to men through this unique method.

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 Cor. 12:1-4).

15. The Apostle John received the book of Revelation in a vision.

H. He spoke to men through Christophanies. A Christophany is a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Christ. Some theologians have seen a number of these appearances in the Old Testament, believing that the term "the Angel of the Lord," is actually another name of Christ. If this is true, the following examples of Christophany communication could be submitted.

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 (Ex. 3:2).

4. The Angel of the Lord protected Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:19).

5. The Angel of the Lord prepared Israel for the Promised Land (Ex. 23:20-23; Ps. 34:7; Isa. 63:9; 1 Cor. 10:1-4).

6. The Angel of the Lord commissioned Gideon (Jdg. 6:11).

7. The Angel of the Lord ministered to Elijah (1 Ki. 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).

How then did God communicate his revelation to the forty human authors? To be truthful, we simply do not know. He could have used any one or a combination of these eight modes of communication as have been described above.

Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.