Inspiration - interpretation
One note before we get started. I did not discover these patterns immediately after my library insight. It took years of sifting and searching, learning and unlearning. My approach to any topic is to look for patterns rather than memorize details. That was my approach to the Bible. I held to the same standards and used the same methods as in any other field of study.
Now let’s begin. Let’s see if the Bible presents a consistent pattern of an infinite good person communicating with us through patterns.
Adam and Eve
The first couple of chapters of Scripture tells the story of God creating a perfect world and placing the first humans in a perfect place called, Eden. He talked with them face to face. We are off to a good start!
The third chapter tells the story of what is known as the temptation and fall of our first parents. After their disobedience, “they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
Before and after the start of evil, God initiated communication. He seeks connection with us. The Bible always shows Him taking the first step towards us before we take a step towards Him. This is exactly what we are looking for from an infinite good and giving person.
We are also looking for justice and healing. That is why Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden and placed in quarantine. For a long time the garden remained as a positive channel of communication, but the contagion of negative doubt, pessimism, and selfishness inspired most people to reject God. After a long time, God moved on and turned to the loyal Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites.
They made unwise choices and found themselves in Egypt, then forced into slavery. This brings us to Moses and the beginning of the recording of God’s words on paper.
Moses was living in the wilderness when God began speaking to him through the miracle of the burning bush. God wanted him to be His spokesperson to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to win the release of his people from slavery.
“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers has sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you.” (Exodus 3:13-14)
In this passage we see God authorizing a person to speak for Him. We then see God giving Moses concrete evidence of His infinite power that he can use to provide verification to Israel.
“And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor listen unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD has not appeared unto you. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in your hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth your hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared unto you.” (Exodus 4:1-5)
This was a small demonstration suitable for a small group of leaders, but many more miracles on a very large and public scale were later performed. As the smaller miracles were rejected, they grew in scope and severity. After a time, the Israelites were led out of Egypt through the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. The traveling nation of millions were given water in the desert. For 40 years they had bread (manna) rained down on them every morning except the seventh. They gathered around Mt. Sinai and saw God’s power with their own eyes and heard God’s voice with their own ears. An entire generation was saturated with miraculous evidence of Infinity. It was abundantly clear that God was speaking through His chosen Moses.
Then, at the borders of the Promised Land, “the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather you the assembly together, you and Aaron your brother, and speak you unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and you shall bring forth to them water out of the rock: so you shall give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, you rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because you believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:7-12)
40 years of miracles had abundantly declared that Moses spoke God’s words. This made it vitally important that Moses never speak his words in God’s place. The infinite good person wanted only goodness spoken. Moses’ dictatorial, disobedient, and egotistical example did not represent the positive faith, hope, and love of God.
Therefore God had to secure His channel of communication by disciplining Moses. Truth had to be separated from error, love from pride. God maintained consistency in His messaging.
From the very beginning of the Bible, God verified its divine origin with miracles and character. However, that was not a “one and done” occurrence. Going forward, God would repeat miracles to help with major developments and He would constantly reinforce positive character. He also added prophecy.
“And if you say in your heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken? When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
God is well acquainted with our dilemma of determining truth caused by our seclusion in the quarantine. He wants us to trust Him and He gives us verifiable, trustworthy evidence.
Even though the human messengers are not perfect, yet they are chosen because they are dependable enough to give the right message at the right time to the right people. We see this centuries later in the story of Jonah.
“And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” (Jonah 3:4-10)
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray you O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent you of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beg you my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the LORD, Do you well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:1-4)
Jonah was chosen because he was among the few that knew the goodness and graciousness of God. The prophet knew that God would prefer the Ninevites to repent and live rather than die in stubbornness. Instead, it was the prophet who was stubborn. He left no record of preaching salvation, only of condemnation. It was the Spirit of God that inspired the king and the people to change. Thus we see that God’s message got through. We see an unbiased account of how truth and love are communicated from God to people in the darkness of the quarantine.
Continuing our study in Biblical order, the later prophets were careful to be consistent with the earlier messages.
“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:19-20)
“The prophet which prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD has truly sent him.” (Jeremiah 28:9)
The context of Jeremiah’s message is that of false prophets telling the king of Israel that there would be peace as consequence of Israel’s transgression. Within two years, Jeremiah’s prophecy was proven correct when the armies of Babylon surrounded Jerusalem.
These themes of miracles, character, prophecy, and consistency are brought to life when God came to Earth for a personal visit in the flesh.
Jesus healed the sick, calmed the sea, multiplied fish and bread, and raised the dead. He told of things that would happen in the near future and in the end of time. He gave an unbroken example of humble ministry and selfless love.
Jesus continually quoted, “It is written” as His defense against temptation and against accusations of falsehood. He confirmed all the major events in the Old Testament by referring to them as history and as having spiritual authority. He consistently demonstrated His statement, “The scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35)
The life of Jesus Christ was a summary and reflection of the Bible as a whole, because He not only spoke the words of God, but He was the Word. He performed miracles because He was The Miracle. He was the pinnacle of consistency. He prophesied the future because He was Infinity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
All the words on all the printed pages of the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ because He was the Word. His character of justice and mercy, His desire to connect with us and heal us, shines from every recorded thought. Every word finds its meaning and purpose in the Word who was not content to speak from a distance. He insisted on veiling His bright glory to be with us personally in the darkness of this quarantine. The God of the Old Testament appears to be incompatible with the Jesus of the New Testament only when we fail to understand both the new and the old testaments.
Jesus said, “Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52)
We are wrong to ignore the Bible as an old book. We are also wrong to make up new meanings and teachings from our favorite parts. Every scribe that is instructed, every teacher that truly understands brings forth things new and old.
There is nothing older than the eternal principles and patterns of the Infinite One. Therefore, every “new” teaching is but an application and unfolding of the Eternal One. Properly understood, every spiritual truth in Scripture connects consistently. Upcoming books will repeatedly demonstrate this.
That is why Christ said, “On these two commandments [love to God and people] hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:40) From the root of God’s truth grows the entire tree of Biblical teachings.
Textual analysis has shown that translation errors are so minimal that they cause nothing more than background noise. Those who read with eyes to see all the possible spiritual meanings can connect them into a beautiful, consistent system of truth.
Spiritual connection and consistency
Greater than miracles and prophecies, which are temporary by nature, is the everlasting spiritual connection God seeks with us.
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Ghost teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)
Miracles and prophecies can be seen and forgotten by skeptics and scoffers. The greatest prize, however, is the spiritual consistency of Scripture. This can be seen only by those who value positive faith, hope, and love. Only spiritual people can personally verify God’s spiritual love.
The apostle Paul verified this to himself because he wrote, “The things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ... was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” (2 Corinthians 1:17-20)
When we look at the human messengers of God and the human words of God on paper, we see surface inconsistencies in human language. We see “yea and nay.” However, when we see the spiritual messages of God delivered through those channels, we see only “yea” and “Amen.”
We are urged to build consistently “upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:20) The single reason there are so many Christian denominations is because there are so many inconsistent builders. There are many who are not “earnestly contend[ing] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3) And that faith was delivered by the prophets and apostles of Christ. It is dependable from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Even though the prophets could not understand all that they prophesied, nevertheless God speaks to us through their words. It is God’s mind, not the prophets understanding, that we want.
“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)
Even though we were not with the apostle Peter upon the mount of transfiguration when Jesus shone bright with His divinity, “we have also a more sure word of prophecy; unto which you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:18-21)
We make a big mistake when we try to contain the Word of God in the mind of man. We cannot possibly know what they were thinking and meaning at the time they wrote. None of us was there. However, the same Spirit that inspired them to write in the same consistent pattern over many centuries will help us interpret the words by the same consistent pattern. Our goal is not to understand the mind of the prophet, but to be one with the mind of God.
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-7)
The Bible is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1-2)
Prophets and apostles, even angels, are mere channels of communication. They are pipes through which spiritual messages flow. We do not drink the pipe. We drink the water that flows through the pipe. We do not worship the messenger. We honor Him who is the Message and the Truth and the Life. This is the whole point of God’s Word as He tries to heal us of our spiritual darkness and selfishness and fear.
Fallible humans could not have put together such a complete, complex, consistent structure over so long a time without contradictions in messaging and teachings. This all becomes clear when we break through the facade of shallow selfish Christians to see the Christ taught by prophets and apostles.
This has been only a short introduction to the idea that the Bible is inspired by patterns and verified by real life experiences. Miracles provide initial evidence and authority, but then the messages builds upon itself with consistency.
The following chapters and books will show example after example of these interconnected patterns. Everything from prophecy to salvation to difficult words and passages to history to Christ’s life and more are all best understood by patterns.
In your words:
In trying to determine if the Bible is inspired by an infinite good person how would you rate the relative importance of miracles, prophecy, consistency, and character? Does a miracle prove that the message is correct?