Grace Journal 6.1 (Winter, 1965) 16-28.

[Copyright © 1965 Grace Theological Seminary; cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Grace Colleges and elsewhere]

 

THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

 

GILBERT B. WEAVER

Instructor in Bible, Greek, and Philosophy

John Brown University

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In the study of Old Testament theology an important place belongs to what

the Old Testament teaches about God's self-revelation. Likewise, it is essential that

we know what the O. T. discloses about its own inspiration and authority as a revelation

from God. Clearly, these two subjects, revelation and inspiration belong together, as

revelation pertains to that which God makes known at a particular time, and inspiration

refers to the divinely controlled process of recording that revelation, so as to make an

accurate record available to others who were not present at the time of revealing.

 

Definitions

 

For the study of this important subject, then, revelation may be defined as

"God's witness and communication of Himself to the world for the realization of

the end of creation, and for the re-establishment of the full communion of man

with God.”1 Inspiration has been defined as "a supernatural influence of the Holy

Spirit upon divinely chosen men in consequence of which their writings became

trustworthy and authoritative.”2 While this latter definition is not the best possible

 in light of New Testament emphasis on verbal inspiration, it is adequate for O. T.

theology purposes, especially if stress is placed on the terms trustworthy and

supernatural, so that inspiration as extending to the very words of Scripture is

implied. Indeed, a complete definition of inspiration is quite lengthy and involved,

as seen by the fact that Gaussen took an entire chapter to define what the term

theopneustia means.3 

 

            The authority of the O. T. is a correlative of inspiration.  If the O. T. is a

divinely given revelation to man which is so controlled in its process of recording

as to be the very Word of  God, then it bears the very authority of God Himself. 

If it is any less than inspired in such a sense, then its authority is diminished, in

spite of modern attempts to have an authoritative Bible without verbal inspiration.

Divisions of the Doctrine of Revelation

 

The doctrine of revelation has two well-recognized divisions, general revelation,

and  special revelation.  The former is termed “general” in that it is available to

all men (cf. Romans 1:19-21 and John 1:9).  It is sometimes designated “natural

revelation” because its source is in “nature,” including man himself who is made

in the image of God. While the

16

 



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT    17

 

 

doctrine of general revelation is grounded in the teaching of the O.T. (Genesis 1 and 2,

Psalm 19, etc.), it is not germane to the subject of this study.

The latter division of the doctrine of revelation is called "special" because it

implies an active self-disclosure by God in contrast to the passive nature of general

revelation, which must be gained by an effort on the part of man. But "special" also

 implies a limitation or particularization in the recipients of the revelation, in contrast

to the universality of general revelation. "The Word of the Lord came unto me,"

wrote the prophet. It is the O.T.'s teaching concerning this supernatural divine

communication which is the subject of this study of the Doctrine of Revelation

and Inspiration in the Old Testament.

 

Factors in an Act of Revelation

 

A helpful analysis of an act of revelation has been presented by David H.

Freeman. He writes:

 

An act of revealing takes place when X (the revealer - God] reveals S

[something, the content of the revelation] to Y [the recipient, who by im-

plication is ignorant of that revealed) for purpose (P) by means of M at a

time and place (T). What is thus transmitted to Y may then be referred to

as the revelation of X to Y.

 

The expression "the special revelation of God" can then be used to refer to

all such acts of revealing that satisfy the conditions X, S, Y, P, M, and T,”

where "X refers to God, S refers to what is made known, Y to those per- .

sons to whom S is made known, P, for the purpose X has in making S known

to Y, and M stands for the means used by X to make S known to Y, and T

stands for the time and place where X made S known to Y by means of M

for purpose P. 4

 

Related Disciplines

 

Using the above analysis, the companion disciplines to Biblical Theology may

be related to the factors in an act of revelation.

 

1) The study of the content of revelation (S), organized as a function of time (T)

is the study of Biblical Theology itself.

 

2) When the content of revelation (S) is organized logically the result is

systematic theology.

 

3) The study of the Revealor (X), God Himself, through the revealed subject

matter (S) is Theology Proper.

 

4) The study of the recipients of revelation (Y) is Biblical Anthropology.

 



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5) The study of the purpose (P) which God had in disclosing Himself is

Soteriology, as redemption and revelation are inseparable after Genesis 3.

 

6) Finally, the study of God's method (M) of making Himself known to

man is the unique sphere for a study of the doctrine of revelation in the

O.T. A brief survey of the method used is presented in part two of this

study, followed by a consideration of the basis of the claim of the O. T.

to inspiration.

 

General Content of Special Revelation

 

While the study of the total content of O. T. revelation obviously cannot be

 included in this paper, the general content of any revelation may be set forth as

either a revelation of God's person (as in theophanies), of His acts (miracles and

providence), or a revelation of God's thoughts or words. The latter includes the

ivine explanation of the meaning of His personal appearances and acts, without

which they would be subject to mis-interpretation by finite sinful man. Indeed, as

Thomson holds, without the explanatory word the event would not constitute a

revelation.5 Edward J. Young writes concerning this point:

 

From the events themselves, it would not have been possible for the Israel-

ites to learn much about the workings of God. The events of the Exodus

were revelatory of God's power, but such revelation cannot properly be un-

derstood unless it also be accompanied by a revelation in words. . . . The

Israelites realized that God was delivering them because God told them that

it was so. Without a special communication from God to man, man cannot

properly recognize or interpret the workings of God in history.6

 

Young has previously cited G. Ernest Wright (God Who Acts), who holds that Biblical

theology ". . . is a theology of recital or proclamation of the acts of God, together

with the inferences drawn there from.”7 But Wright ignores the fact that the meaning

of the acts is divinely given in Scripture, and not left to mere human inferences.

The three forms of revelation are grouped together in Exodus 3. God's person

appears in the Angel of Jehovah in the midst of the bush. God's acts are revealed in

the unconsumed burning bush and in the changing of the rod into a serpent, etc.

God's words of explanation are given to Moses: "You are on holy ground, " etc.

 

REVELATION

 

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that God spoke in time past in "many

ways.” These ways or methods of revelation are the subject for consideration

at this point.

 

The history of revelation has been divided in various ways for consideration

of the method of revelation. Probably at the extremes are Oehler and J. Barton

Payne. Oehler sees only two divisions, the Mosaic and Prophetic, while Payne

divides the same history into ten divisions.8 Because of the position to be set

forth in the later discussion of inspiration, this writer uses the three divisions of

Heinisch, Pre-Mosaic, Mosaic, and Prophetic.9



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATI0N IN THE OLD TESTAMENT   19

 

The consideration of the available material concerning this study leads one

away from any attempt to be exhaustive. There is a vast amount of scriptural

material to be subsumed in such a study, as well as a considerable number of

studies of the doctrine in the literature available.

 

The Pre-Mosaic Period

 

1. The Primal Period - the Creation to the Flood

The revelation in the primal period, as Payne observes, is mainly on a

person to person basis.10 God speaks directly and almost casually to man as

need arises. The O.T. opens with God speaking. The voice of God (bat qol,

the daughter of a voice, as the rabbis later called it) addresses matter --"Let

there be " It is addressed to Himself in inter-

trinitary communion, "Let us make " It is addressed to man: "Be fruitful, " etc.

during the period before the fall God appears to man in the garden by a theophany each

day in the cool of the evening (Gen. 3:8). "Before the fall, " writes Vos,

 

there was such an abiding presence of God with man in paradise. After the

fall a certain remnant of this continued, though not in the old gracious

form. The throne with the cherubim still stood in the east of the garden of

God. God still walked with Enoch. With the flood all this is changed. God

has as it were, withdrawn this sacramental revelation-presence into heav-

en.

 

Not to be overlooked are New Testament references to prophetic

ministries in this period: Abel is included by Christ among the prophets who

were slain for their testimonies (Luke 11:50, 51; cf. Hebrews 11:4); Jude

declares that Enoch prophesied of the coming of Christ in judgment (Jude 14).

 

2. The Patriarchal Period

 

In this period revelation is less casual than in the preceding one,12 but

may be characterized as more fleeting and ephemeral in its forms of manifestation.13

Revelation comes to Abraham and his descendants by theophany (Gen. 12 ff.), the

Angel of Jehovah (Gen. 22:11, 12, etc.), dreams (Gen. 37:5), and by mighty acts,

as the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19). The fact that he is in the divine favor is

revealed to Abram by the priestly blessing of Melchizedek. The principal names

by which God makes Himself known in the patriarchal period are El-Shaddai,

"God Almighty," and El-Elyon, "The Most-High God” (El is a shortened form

of Elohim). The name Jehovah is known, but its full significance is to be made

known later in the exodus period.14

 

The Mosaic Period

 

Geerhardus Vos characterizes the revelations of the Mosaic period as

more permanent manifestations than in the previous period.15 Surrounded by

the symbols of propitiation ac-



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complished, God dwells in the midst of His people in a specially prepared tabernacle, the

outward manifestations of His presence being the cloud and pillar of fire, the latter

seemingly identified with the "Shekhina" in Exodus 40:34. Besides these, revelation

came through these channels:

 

1) The Angel of Jehovah (Ex. 3:2). Note the problem of identifying this person,

whether God Himself in His Pre-incarnate Son, or an ordinary created angel.16

 

2) The Name of God (Ex. 23:31). In contrast to the various personal

appellations used in referring to deity, God's Name is said on one occasion

to be in the Angel which leads Israel, and thus refers to His very being as

that which is with them to lead them.

 

3) A similar expression is the face or presence of God, which is promised to

be with His people.

 

4) In Numbers 11:17-29 the Spirit of Jehovah comes upon certain leaders of

Israel, with the result that they prophesy.

 

5) With Prophetism thus introduced to Israel, chapter 12 of Numbers gives

the locus classicus on the institution. Miriam and Aaron challenge the

centrality of Moses as a prophet, saying, "Hath God not also spoken by us?"

(12:2).  In response God sets forth Moses as the prophet par excellence of

the O. T. and distinguishes His method of revelation to him from that to an

ordinary prophet. Moses is to receive revelation by his ordinary senses. To

an inferior prophet revelation comes by a form of super-sensory perception,

as dreams, visions, etc.

 

6) The great redemptive act of emancipating Israel from Egypt is a revelation

of God's power on her behalf which is to be remembered in all her generations,

as celebrated by the annual Passover festival (Ex. 12:14). It is the occasion for

 revelatory psalms, as the Song of Moses (15:1-18), and of Miriam (15:20, 21).

These are precursors of the inspired songs later to be gathered into the book of

Psalms.

 

7) In the Law of Moses itself, besides the revelatory aspects of the tabernacle,

priesthood and offerings, there is to be especially noted the use of the Urim

and Thummim by the High Priest to determine God's will for His people in

the ordinary questions of day-to-day life. Unusual also is the example of the

original tables of the law, written by God's own hand.

 

The Prophetic Period

 

The remainder of the O. T. after the Books of Moses, or Torah, is usually

divided up into the "Prophets" (Nebhiim), and the "Writings" (Kethubhim), although

some scholars, as Laird Harris, argue that this division is late.17 Harris argues for an

original two-fold division, reflecting the New Testament designation of the O.T. as

simply "the law and the prophets." Merrill F. Unger18 and Edward J. Young19 on the

other hand seem to regard the distinction as in use at the time of canonization, and

hold that the distinction between the two classes of books may be that the former

had the office of prophet, while the latter writers had the gift of



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT    21

 

prophet, but not the prophetic office. Whichever position is held, the corresponding

idea obtains: both the Prophets and the Writings were produced by men who had the

prophetic gift. (A consideration of this in more detail will be presented in the section

on Inspiration.)

 

1. The Prophets

 

The group which the Massoretic text calls the "Prophets" divides into two

sections, the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets.

In the Former Prophets, consisting of the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel,

and Kings, there is usually the simple statement of fact, "The Lord said to Joshua, "

or "The Lord said to Gideon," etc., without any explanation of how the revelation

came. In Joshua 5:13-15 God reveals Himself as "The Captain of Jehovah's Army,"

and in Judges 2:1, etc., the "Angel of Jehovah" manifests Himself.

In Samuel, the last judge, comes the rise of the prophets. It was he who

founded the "schools of the prophets." Early men who fulfilled this function along

with Samuel were Nathan and Gad. Later men were the miracle-working Elijah and

Elisha, called upon to counteract the rising Baalism.

The usual classification of these prophets as "non-writing" is not valid in any

absolute sense in light of I Chronicles 29:29 which states that Samuel, Nathan, and

Gad wrote histories which included the acts of David the King.

The Latter Prophets is composed of two groups, the Major Prophets, as

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, so named because of their comparatively large books,

and the Minor Prophets, often dubbed "the Twelve, “Hosea to Malachi. The words

of Amos would express the conviction of these prophets, both major and minor,

when he wrote of his calling: "The lion hath roared; who will not fear: The Lord

Jehovah hath spoken; who can but prophesy?" (3:8).

The institution of prophetism forms the basis of a study vast in itself. Note

may be made of it in all the standard O. T. theologies, and in particular in Edward

J. Young's My Servants Prophets, and James G. S. S. Thomson's The Old 

Testament View of Revelation.

 

2. The Writings

 

The “Writings" or Kethubhim consist of our "Poetical Books," plus the

remainder of the historical books, Lamentations, and Daniel. These books seem

to have been written by men who, while apparently not usually considered by their

contemporaries as prophets - in the sense that men like Nathan, Elijah, or Jeremiah

were so considered - yet had a divinely bestowed gift of prophecy. David exclaimed,

"The Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was upon my tongue” (2 Sam.

23: 2). The Psalms thus produced by the Holy Spirit through David were recognized

as such by Israel and treasured as part of their scriptures. Other examples of this

class include Solomon, also a ruler, but a recipient of revelation; Daniel, a statesman

in the court of Babylon; and Ezra, a priest. A further consideration of this subject

will be presented in the next section.

 

 



22                                            GRACE JOURNAL

 

Historically speaking, the institution of prophetism ceased with the passing

of Malachi. But it was during the period of continuing prophetic activity that all of

the books of the O. T. were produced, including the "Writings," unless we are to

believe the destructive, unbelieving theories of the modern higher critics, who

operate on the presupposition that the Bible is a wholly natural book, and that

there can be no such thing as miracle or prophecy.

 

INSPIRATION

 

The inspiration of the O. T. is an intriguing aspect of O. T. theology,

inasmuch as there is no chapter and verse in the O. T. that says even the

equivalent of, "The O. T. is inspired!” Wherein, then, lies the foundation

of its implied claim to be an accurate, God-given record of His self-revelation?

 

For Christian theology today the obvious answer is that it is established

by the New Testament, - in fact, by Jesus Christ Himself, who declared that

"Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). It is His Apostles who give the

explanation of the origin of the O. T. the Scriptures are God-breathed, Paul

tells us (2 Tim. 3: 16); the prophets were borne along by the Holy Spirit, says

Peter, so that no word of prophecy originated within any prophet himself (2 Pet.

1:20, 21). But even before these things were spoken by Christ and the Apostles,

wherein lay the claim to inspiration of the O. T.?

 

The Basis of O.T. Inspiration

 

The inspiration and thus the authority of the O. T. taken by itself lies in

 its own teaching, concerning the institution of prophetism: the prophets spoke

the very words of God, hence, when they wrote down the message, that written

record was the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

That the prophets claimed to convey the words of God is taught

overwhelmingly. "Thus saith the Lord" occurs over 3500 times in the O. T.20

Jeremiah alone declares almost 100 times, “The word of the Lord came unto me.”

 

Some of the prophets, as Jeremiah and Isaiah, tell of their being commanded

to commit the word of the Lord to writing (Jer. 36, Isa. 30). Thomson notes the

advance: "The proclaimed word is now presented under the form of the written

word.”21 Even Moses was commanded on one occasion to write "in the book"

(ASV margin - Ex. 17:14).

 

Prophetistic Structure of O.T. Inspiration

 

The O.T. reveals a prophetistic structure, in the sense that it is entirely the work of

prophets, beginning with Moses.

 

1. Genesis

 

Moses, the pre-eminent prophet of his own day, was led by God to write

Genesis as historical and preliminary to the record of God's dealings with Israel

from Egypt to Palestine.



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT   23

 

Indeed, the record of Exodus to Deuteronomy and even Joshua would be unintelligible

without the book of Genesis. Contrary to the radical critics who date the book of origins

much later and consider it to be a patchwork of conflicting records, the whole foundation

of the exodus from Egypt would be sand without the historicity of the creation, fall,

flood, confusion of tongues, and the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the

 isolation of the twelve sons of Jacob in Egypt by Jehovah.

 

2. Exodus to Deuteronomy

 

The inspired historian of his own day, Moses the prophet, wrote Exodus

through Deuteronomy as God communed with him directly, "face to face"

(Deut. 18, Num. 12). He wrote "in the book" both the events which happened

and their divinely given meaning. Thus Moses directly authenticates the first five

books as inspired.

 

3. Joshua to Malachi

 

The rest of the O. T. after the Mosaic books may be affirmed to have

been produced by prophets. While this affirmation is subject to some dispute,

it is held by many conservative O.T. scholars to be the key to the canonicity

of the O.T. books.

 

In the study of canonicity a chief problem is that of the threefold division

of the O. T. books. In brief, what is the determining principle which placed the

non-pentateuchal books in either the "Prophets" or the "Writings?" Unger discusses

three critical theories: that the division represents three degrees of inspiration, that

it is due to different stages or time periods of canonization, or that it is based on

differences of material content: He concludes that "the threefold division is due

to the official position and status of the writers and not to degrees of inspiration,

differences of content or chronology.”22 Unger holds that the "Writings" ". . . are

thus grouped because the writers had the prophetic gift, but not the prophetic

office (e.g., David, Solomon, Daniel and Ezra) [italics his].”23

 

Edward J. Young takes somewhat the same position. He holds that

 

the books which belong to this third division of the canon were written by

men inspired of God who nevertheless did not occupy the office of prophet.

Some of the authors, however, such as David and Daniel, did possess the

prophetic gift although not occupying the official status of prophet.24

 

 

Concerning the "Former Prophets, "Joshua through Samuel, which are

actually historical books, Young writes,

 

When men of the status of prophets wrote an interpretive history of Israel,

it may readily be understood why such a history would be accepted by the

Israelitish church [sic.] as the Word of God. For in their interpretation of

history, these authors often profess to speak as in the Name of God. These

writings, therefore, are historical in character and profess to trace the

hand of God in Israel's history.25

 

 



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It is R. Laird Harris who develops most fully this prophetic basis of

canonicity and inspiration. Central to his development is his insistence that proper

attention be given to canonicity in discussing inspiration: “To show what is inspired

is as vital as to know the nature of inspiration.”26 After showing that Moses

produced the first five books, Harris emphasizes the on-going prophetic function

in Israel which produced other books.27 He concludes that the chain of prophets

evidently wrote a chain of histories from Genesis to Nehemiah and the writings

of these prophets were accepted, one by one, through the centuries until, when

the spirit of prophecy departed from Israel, the canon was complete.”28 He cites

Josephus to this effect: "It is true our history hath been written since Artaxerxes

very particularly but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former

by our forefathers, because there: hath not been an exact succession of prophets

since that time.”29 Harris cites further evidence from I Maccabees, The Dead Sea

Manual of Discipline, and the Talmud.

It must be noted that Harris has argued for a twofold division of the canon,

holding that the division of the O. T. into the Law, Prophets, and Writings is late,

and that it is simply “the Law and the Prophets" in the period of canonization down

to New Testament times.

On page 170 and following Harris takes up objections to this position, the

 main one being that "one cannot prove that all the Old Testament books were of

prophetic authorship.” He sets forth his disagreement with Edward J. Young, who,

with Green (and Unger) suggests a distinction between prophetic office and prophetic

gift. Harris challenges this distinction by noting that the New Testament writers

regularly refer to the O. T. other than the Pentateuch as simply "the Prophets.” Of

a dozen examples in the New Testament, half are in the words of Christ Himself,

who groups in the same category as "prophets" Ezra, Samuel, Job, Isaiah and

Daniel. "Daniel and David," writes Harris, "are specifically called prophets in the

New Testament without a suggestion of any distinction between 'gift' and 'office'

(Matt. 24:15; Acts 2:30).”30 In Matthew 26:56, as in other passages, "the scriptures

of the prophets" refers to the O. T. as a whole. The criticism is also challenged on

the basis of the Dead Sea Scrolls which use similar terminology of the O.T .31

A second stage in Harris' argument is that most of the books probably

were actually written by prophets. David is twice called a Man of God in

Nehemiah 12 (also in 2 Chron. 8:14), and this designation, as Beecher points

out, is probably never used in the O. T. except as a synonym for prophet.32

Since God told Moses He would speak to prophets by a dream or vision, or

through seeing the similitude of the Lord (Num. 12:8), Joshua, Solomon, Daniel

and others would fit this description of a prophet, even by the evidence which has

come down to us. And since this "practical and reasonable test of canonicity. . .

could have been applied by all the generations of the Jews," we may assume that

even Judges, Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther and Job were not admitted

until such a test was applied in their day.33

By way of comparison, it may be seen that these men differ on whether

there were originally two or three divisions of the Hebrew canon, and to what

extent books now classified as "Writings" may be ascertained to have been written

by "prophets,” and whether there were official and non-official prophets. On the

other hand, they agree that the O.T. is essentially the production of men who had

the prophetic gift, and were inspired to record the very Word of God. This latter

concept, as we have stated, is the essence of O. T. inspiration.

 



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT   25

 

 

Several things may be noted at this point. First, the fact that the Septuagint

does not have the threefold division observed by the Massoretic text may be strong

evidence that the distinction was not made at the time the books were recognized

as canonical. Archer warns against making deductions concerning the canonization

of the books based on the divisions of the Massoretic text, since this division "is

obviously not pre-Christian in its origin.”34 Thus one might argue that the Massoretes

merely organized the books into divisions based on the authors whom they

recognized as being "official" prophets, and classified all they could not so recognize

(with the exception of some such as Lamentations which was used for liturgical

purposes and was therefore classed with the Megilloth, even though Jeremiah, an

official prophet, was known to be its author) as being "Writings." Thus Unger's

argument makes too much of the late opinion of Massoretes in determining the

early process of canonization.35  There are, however, references in the pre-Christian

Apocrypha which might be used to argue that besides the books of Moses and the

prophets there were "other books of our Fathers."36

Another point is that it does seem to this writer that a case might be built

for distinguishing between men like Daniel and David, who had a prophetic gift

and were so used by God, while their main function lay in another realm, and

men like Nathan and Isaiah, whom we can think of in no other official way but

as a prophet to their nation. Whether this distinction can be shown to have been

consciously employed in the minds of the Hebrew people from the time of

Samuel to Malachi is another question.

A last point in this connection is that the words of Christ in Luke 24:44

do not necessarily demand a threefold division of the O.T. canon. Even Unger,

who otherwise holds a threefold division, suggests the possibility "that Jesus

used the terminology in special reference to the Psalms only, as containing

notable Messianic prophecies.”37

 

The Centrality of Moses

 

The prophetistic structure of O. T. inspiration places Moses squarely

at the center of O. T. authority. It has been previously noted that Moses directly

attests the first five books of the O. T. He also predicted the on-going prophetic

institution, with tests for determining a valid prophet! Deuteronomy 13:1-5 shows

that a valid prophecy must agree with what has been previously revealed in the

Law. Likewise, Deuteronomy 18:9-22 insists that some prediction of a prophet

must be fulfilled to validate the prophet. Thus Moses indirectly validates or

authenticates the continuation of revelation through the prophets who meet

these standards and thus prove their genuineness.

 

A further evidence of Moses' centrality in this prophetistic schema is the

fact that the prophets continually pointed back to Moses in their own messages.

Their main function was not to add to or change the legislation, but to call the

people back to the Mosaic Law (e.g., Mal. 4:4). Likewise, the great events of

the future they predicted were seen to be on a par with the great acts God had

done for Israel through Moses. They lived, as it were, in a valley between the

peaks of Mosaic and eschatological glory.

 

Besides looking back to Moses the prophets saw in each other the very

spokesmen of God. Throughout the prophets lies a silver web of cross-references

 in which prophets viewed  



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each other as speaking God's word. While a complete study of this phenomenon

would require a volume, a few examples may be cited: Joel 2:32 quotes Obadiah 17,

''as Jehovah hath said.”  Isaiah 2:2-4 cites Micah 4:2-4 as the equivalent of a vision

from God. Jeremiah 26:18 quotes Micah 3:12 as God's prophet. Daniel 9:2 cites

Jeremiah as authoritative prediction. Jeremiah cites several Psalms.

 

 

Comparison of Old Testament and New Testament Patterns of Authority

 

 

The N. T. pattern of authority parallels the O. T. It likewise centers in one person,

Christ.

 

1) Christ Himself validates the O.T. by such statements as, "The Scripture

cannot be broken, " "The Holy Spirit by David said, " etc.

 

2) In His own prophetic ministry He predicted the writing of the New

Testament, in particular, the record of His own ministry among His disciples.

In John 14:26 He stated that the coming Holy Spirit is to bring to the

remembrance of the Apostles all the things He said to them. To those later

led to write the Gospels we can see in this the promise of a Spirit-enabled

recall. In the case of Matthew and John this operated directly as they wrote.

In the cases of Mark and Luke, it operated in those "eyewitnesses" from

whom they received their information.

 

3) Christ also seems to have predicted the writing of the epistles in this verse

as well as in John 16:13 and following. He said of the Comforter, "He shall

teach you all things;" "He shall guide you into all the truth. . . . He shall take

the things concerning Me and declare (them) unto you." The truths concerning

Christ's person and work as revealed in Romans through Jude are encompassed

here. And in John 16:13 Christ also promises that the Holy Spirit will show

them "things to come." Here is a promise of the eschatological features of such

books as Thessalonians, Peter, and Jude, and supremely, of the Apocalypse.

 

The O. T. similarity to this pattern is striking:

 

1) Moses, the central figure, to whom God revealed Himself as to no other,

wrote Genesis and thus directly validates the inspiration of the record of events

before him.

 

2) He is the central figure of Exodus to Deuteronomy and himself wrote or

directed the writing of these books.

 

3) Moses was divinely gifted to look ahead to the coming of more truth and

predicted in Deuteronomy 18 the coming of a series of prophets who would

continue to speak for God, in short, the on-going prophetic institution. Each

true prophet who arose in Israel could thus, in part, at least, look back to

Moses for his authority in speaking.

In keeping with this pattern with its centrality of Moses, it is interesting to note

the "build-up" which Moses is given by God in the eyes of the people. In Exodus 33:7-11

every eye is upon him as he goes to commune with God. In the books of Exodus to

Numbers God deals directly and immediately with every challenge to the centrality and

leadership of Moses.

 



THE DOCTRINE OF REVELATION AND INSPIRATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT   27

 

The key passages here are Numbers 12, where Miriam leads a challenge to his prophetic

pre-eminence and is made a leper, and later in Numbers 16, where Korah and his

ompany challenge his authority, with the result that the ground swallows them up.

A further validation lies in the specific comparison between Moses and Christ

made in the New Testament. John 1:17 states that "the law was given by Moses, but

grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Here both sides of the comparison refer to a

revelation from God, one centering in Moses, the other in Christ. Hebrews 3:2-6

referring to Numbers 12:7, declares that "Moses truly was faithful in all his house,

as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but

Christ as a Son. . . ." The teaching seems to be that as Moses, though a mere servant

in God's "house," predicted the coming of more revelation which was authoritative,

how much more to be heeded is that which Christ predicted would be given, since He

is the Son over God's "house." Compare also Hebrews 2:1-4 for the same parallel of

the revelation in the O. T. with the New Testament.

 

Conclusion

 

The inspiration of the O. T. is found in the O. T. doctrine of prophetism. Since

God used prophets to speak for Him, when He led them to write, the product was the

written Word of God. Like Christ in the New Testament, Moses authenticated by

prediction the continuing prophetic institution. This continuing stream of prophets

wrote the books of the O. T.

 

DOCUMENTATION

 

 

1. Gustav Friedrich Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, p. 15.

2. Carl F. H. Henry, "Inspiration," Baker's Dictionary of Theology.

3. L. Gaussen, The Inspiration of Holy Scriptures.

4. Recent Studies in  Philosophy and Theology, pp. xxi and xxii.

5. James G. S. S. Thomson, The Old Testament View of Revelation, p. 24.

6. The Study of Old Testament Theology Today, p. 25.

7. Wright,  op. cit., p. 11.

8. J. Barton Payne, The Theology of the Old Testament.

9. Paul Heinisch, Theology of the Old Testament.

10. Payne, op. cit., p. 44.

11. Geerhardus  Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 121.

12. Payne, op. cit.,  p. 45.

13. Vos, loc. cit.

14. See O. T. Allis, The Five Books of Moses, pp. 26-32.

15. Vos, loc. cit.

16. See Payne, op. cit., pp. 167-70.

17. R. Laird Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible, p. 171.

18. Introductory Guide to the Old Testament, pp. 55, 56.

19. An Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 41, 42.

20. Erich Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption, p. 11.

21. Thomson, op. cit., pp. 75, 76.



28                                            GRACE JOURNAL

 

 

 

22. Op. cit., p. 59, cf. pp. 56-58.

23. Ibid., 56.

24. Introduction, p. 41.

25. Loc. cit.

26. Op. cit., p. 7.

27. Ibid., pp. 160-64.

28. Ibid., pp. 168-69.

29. Ibid., p. 169, citing  Josephus, Against Apion, i., 8.

30. Ibid., p. 171.

31. Loc. cit.

32., Willis S. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise, pp. 28, 29.

33. Harris, op. cit., p. 174.

34. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 61.

35. Suggested by Dr. S. Herbert Bess in personal conversation with the writer.

36. Cf. Young, Introduction, p. 42, and Archer, op. cit., pp. 62, 63.

37. Unger, op. cit., p. 56.

 

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

            Grace Theological Seminary

            200 Seminary Dr.

            Winona Lake,  IN   46590

www.grace.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu