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Don Stewart :: In What Special Ways Has God Revealed Himself to Humanity?

Don Stewart

The author the Book of Hebrews wrote that God has spoken to humanity in various ways.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The Bible records a variety of ways God has revealed Himself to humanity-primarily through words and deeds. The Bible lists the following ways in which God has made Himself known.

1. God Directly Communicated To Humanity With An Audible Voice

The Bible often records God speaking with an audible voice. In the Book of Genesis we read.

The Lord God said . . . (Genesis 2:18).

Later in Genesis we read.

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying . . . (Genesis 15:18).

In these instances God spoke audibly in a way that human beings could understand.

2. The Lot Was Used To Determine God's Will

One of the ways that God made himself known was in the casting of lots. The Book of Proverbs says.

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD (Proverbs 16:33).

We find an historical usage of the lot to determine the replacement for traitor Judas.

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles (Acts 1:21-26).

While the Bible records this use of the lot by Jesus' disciples, there is some question as to whether they were led by the Holy Spirit to chose the twelfth disciple in this manner.

Today we would not highly regard the use of the lot. However, in the past, it did sometimes serve to communicate the mind of God to humanity.

3. Once God Wrote With A Huge Hand On A Wall

In the Book of Daniel God revealed himself to the evil king Belshazzar by a large hand writing on a wall.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote (Daniel 5:5).

4. The Urim and Thummim Helped Determine God's Will

The Urim and Thummim (lights and perfections) were one of the ways in which God spoke to the people. There is mystery surrounding exactly how this worked. The Bible commanded the high priest to use them.

Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD (Exodus 28:30).

The high priest wore a breastplate that had a square piece of material that was folded in half. This would open at the top like a pouch. On the breastplate were twelve precious stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. It is possible that the Urim and Thummim were two precious stones placed inside the pouch that were used, in some way, to determine God's will. However, exactly how the will of God was made known to the High Priest is not certain. There are a number of examples of it being put in use. Moses wrote.

But he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the decision of the Urim before the LORD; at his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he and all the Israelites with him, the whole congregation (Numbers. 27:21).

Again Moses wrote.

Of Levi he said, "Let your Thummim and your Urim belong to your godly man, whom you proved at Massah, with whom you contended at the waters of Meribah (Deuteronomy 33:8).

In Samuel we read.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets (1 Samuel. 28:6).

Scripture tells us that it was used until the time of Ezra.

The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim (Ezra 2:63).

5. God Revealed Himself Through Dreams

While dreams are a common experience of humanity, God used them in a special way to reveal His truth. God said to Moses:

Hear now my words: "If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream" (Numbers 12:6).

The Bible says that nonbelievers, as well as believers, have experienced God-given dreams. The Book of Genesis gives examples of this occurring. This happened to a king named Abimelech.

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, "You are about to die because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a married woman" (Genesis 20:3).

God supernaturally gave a dream to a man named Laban.

But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, "Take heed that you say not a word to Jacob, either good or bad" (Genesis 31:24).

6. God Gave Visions To A Number Of People

There is some distinction between dreams and visions. Dreams happen, of course, while we are asleep. A vision can occur while the person is awake. Furthermore, in a dream the emphasis seems to be more on what is seen, while in a vision the emphasis seems to be on what is heard. The Bible records that God spoke to certain people through visions. Isaiah records.

The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1).

7. Paul Was Transported Into The Spirit World

God transported the apostle Paul into the spirit world to show him what was happening there. He testified to his experience as follos.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows. And I know that this man - whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

8. At Times God Dictated His Truth

On a few occasions God directly dictated what the biblical author would write.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary (Revelation 2:1-3).

9. Sometimes God Appeared In A Human Body (Theophanies)

A theophany is the temporary appearance of God in a human body in order to reveal something specific to His people. According to the Old Testament this has occurred a number of times. The Bible says God appeared in human form to, among others, Abraham, Joshua, and Gideon. Before the time of Christ, these theophanies were associated with the appearance of the Angel of the Lord.

10. God Used Angels To Bring His Message

God also uses created angels to carry His message to people. The Gospel according to Luke reveals angels appeared to shepherds at Jesus' birth.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).

It is interesting to note that in the Book of Revelation God will use an angel to communicate to birds!

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great" (Revelation 19:17-19)

11. Miracles Were Performed To Reveal God's Power

A miracle is a sign that points people to God. Miracles reveal the existence and power of God. On the Day of Pentecost Peter preached about the miracles of Jesus.

Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him in your midst (Acts 2:22).

John recorded the reason why he recorded the miracles of Jesus.

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31),

12. God Sometimes Gave Object Lessons

God communicated His truth through object lessons. For example Jeremiah was told by the Lord to buy a clay jar from a potter and then smash it in front of the leaders. In the same way, God said that he would smash the disbelieving nation (Jeremiah 19:1-15). God made the prophet Ezekiel lay on his side for an entire year.

13. God Directly Intervened In History

Another way in which God has revealed Himself is through His activity in history. The people were told to remember God's righteous acts. The Bible says.

My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab counseled. And what Balaam son of Beor answered him, from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of the Lord. (Micah 6:5).

Acts of judgment reveal the nature of God. The Lord told Ezekiel the following about Himself.

Therefore, behold, I have stretched out my hand against you and I will give you for spoil to the nations. And I will cut you off from the peoples and make you perish from the lands; I will destroy you. Thus you will know that I am the Lord (Ezekiel 25:7).

14. The Prophets Were Used To Reveal God's Truth

A prophet is a spokesman for God. One such man was Moses. God said to him.

Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say (Exodus 4:12).

The Old Testament prophets brought God's message to humanity. David said.

The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2).

The New Testament prophets also delivered the Word of the Lord. Paul wrote about the truth revealed in the New Testament.

Which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:5).

They spoke with authority because they were communicating the Word of the Lord. Today a preacher or teacher today does not qualify as a prophet, in this sense of the term, since he proclaims or explains God's Word, that has been previously given and recorded in the Scriptures.

15. Jesus Christ Was God's Final Word To Humanity

God's final word to humanity was through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth to reveal God to humanity.

God, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1,2).

The coming of Jesus Christ was a major avenue of special revelation. He explained what God was like.

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known (John 1:18).

16. The Bible Records All These Different Means Of Special Revelation

The record of God's direct communication, the theophanies, His miracles, His message to the prophets, and the coming of Jesus Christ is found in the Bible. However the Bible is not merely the record of the revelations from God. The Scripture also contains additional truth not revealed by these other sources. Thus the Bible is the record of different aspects of special revelation as well as special revelation itself.

Summary

Special revelation is God informing humanity concerning Whom He is and what He requires of us. The record of these divine revelations is contained in the Scriptures. The Bible records God revealing Himself in the following ways. Direct communication, the lot, the Urim and the Thummin, by a hand writing on the wall, transportation into the spirit world, dreams, visions, dictation, theophanies, angels, miracles, object lessons, direct events, prophets, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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