Sluice Box Adventures

Believing Bible Study in the 21st century


At no time in human history did God leave mankind wholly without a verbal revelation.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."


Cowden International © 2013 John Cowden

Where Were God's Words In The Past?

John CowdenActually God's words were accessible to men long ere they were written on tables-of stone or proliferated through the art of printing. They were originally inscribed by their author on fleshy tables of the heart (2Cor 3:3). This by no means supports the notion that the Bible is a sort of religious montage, pasted together across the centuries at the whim of scribes who captured, collated and edited ancient Jewish oral traditions. Quite the contrary, the Scriptures make it clear that the Alpha and Omega who knows the end from the beginning, the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity (Isa 57:15), saw fit to bring forth his words from the infinite treasure of his wisdom at sundry times and in divers manners (Heb 1:1). At no time in human history did God leave mankind wholly without a verbal revelation. And not only was the revelation tailored to Man's spiritual needs at the time, but its extensiveness always had a direct bearing on the stringency of the legal requirements God placed upon him.

When Adam spoke face to face with his Creator in the cool of each blissful, unspoiled afternoon, God's tender and loving words were received audibly by the two fondest objects of his affection. At that time, the revelation contained only the gentlest hint of such realities as sin and retribution. All the awful aspects of these things were veiled in one succinct oral warning regarding the fruit of a certain beautiful tree in the midst of that unimaginably lovely and perfect garden. At that moment in human history it was unnecessary that Man be aware of the negativism contained in the Ten Commandments. Imagine the bewilderment of that innocent pair had they been exposed to the terrible misery and judgment described in Lamentations; or for that matter, the disgusting outline of progressive human depravity set forth in Romans chapter 1. Therefore, the Lord as a wise and compassionate Father, lovingly restricted the content of the revelation to meet the spiritual requirement of creatures to whom pride, fornication, lasciviousness, hatred, lust, wrath, sedition, envy, or murder would have been incomprehensible.

However, after Mr. and Mrs. Adam toppled from the throne of their terrestrial kingdom, things took on an entirely different perspective. It is evident from God's acceptance of Abel's blood sacrifice, and his rejection of Cain's perverted substitute (cf Gen 4:3-5), that explicit standards of propitiatory worship had been prescribed for the members of the banished royal family verbally. In fact, God's words are recorded in Gen 3:15-19, and those words set the stage for the remainder of human history.

The average so-called fundamental Christian in this age probably finds it difficult to believe that the Lord could remember what he said in 4000 BC, and then have Moses transcribe it verbatim some 2500 years later. Wouldn't that seem almost as incredible as expecting the words of Mark's Gospel or Paul's epistle to the Colossians to remain as authentic today as when they were penned 1900+ years ago by their respective human authors?

From Adam to Job a written text was totally in absentia. For more than 2000 years Man, guided by his conscience (with the added benefit of bona fide visions, dreams, angelic visitations and other personal manifestations of divine revelation (cf Gen 17:1, 18:1, 37:4, Job 4:12-21; 7:14-15), lived under a dispensation described (Acts 17:30) as the times of this ignorance. God saw fit to wink at much of the goings-on characteristic of that age. He also exterminated practically the entire human race with a universal flood so devastating that its evidence is unmistakably apparent throughout the earth to this day. It is noteworthy that as the time drew nigh for that catastrophic deluge, God's words of revelation were gradually reduced to the preaching of one righteous man (2Pe 2:5). We could draw a parallel just here between the Lord Jesus' analogy of the days of Noah (Matt 24:37), and the global wickedness abounding in 2013 AD.

About four hundred years after of the Flood, when Abram heeded God's call to emigrate from Ur of the Chaldees, there still was not a scrap of written Scripture to undergird his faith. Yet we read in Gen 26:5 that Abraham obeyed God's Voice, and kept his Charge, his Commandments, his Statutes, and his Laws. Bear in mind that this was more than three centuries before Moses ever learned hieroglyphics at the knees of Pharaoh's daughter! And further, Abraham's sacrifices were of the sort set forth in Deuteronomy, and he tithed his increase to a priest half a dozen generations before Aaron set foot inside the Tabernacle.

Not many years later, still without a written text at his disposal, Job stated emphatically (Job 6:10) that he had not concealed the words of the Holy One. And that he had not gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23:12). Then, seemingly in response to that plaintive cry from the depths of Job's bitter soul, Behold, my desire is that the Almighty would hear me, and that mine adversary had written a book (31:35); God’s Spirit led a young scribe named Elihu to fulfill that request by recording Job's words and experiences in the Bible's oldest book.

Then during a period exceeding fifteen hundred years, God used at least forty human instruments to record words which emanated from his own heart. Angelic messengers have often brought oral revelations to earth, but when the moment arrived for the Lord to begin to inscribe his words for time and eternity, he elected to use men instead of angels. Instead of some celestial, super-human language, he had it transcribed in the common vernacular of the men through whom he spoke. He even allowed their individual character traits to be evident on every page. And he seldom used the first person singular, even though each word was as surely his own as were those spoken to Adam in the Garden, or to Moses on Mount Sinai, or to Job from out of the whirlwind.

From the Exodus to the Babylonian Captivity, the Hebrew scriptures were painstakingly revealed precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little (Isa 28:13) to the nation of IsraeI. Following the return from Babylon, the Old Testament was culminated with the postexilic writings; Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther,(parts of Daniel, Haggai, Zechariah), Malachi, and the Chronicles. And for the final nearly four hundred years of the dispensation of the Law, the Heavens were seemingly silent as sixty nine of the seventy weeks of Daniel's grand prophecy (Dan 9:25-27) ticked away.

At last, with precision only possible to the author of Scripture Himself, scores of written prophecies concerning the promised Messiah of Israel intersected within the brief thirty-three year lifespan of one man. The statistical probability of even two dozen predefined events and conditions converging upon the life of a single individual by mere chance is so infinitesimally small as to be totally meaningless and numerically inexpressible. In short, it just couldn't happen! That is unless the one who wrote the Book knew what was going to happen. Perhaps a corollary to that theorem could be stated thus, "The one who knows what is going to happen wrote the Book." From the vantage point of "I AM", to scan Time's little panorama from eternity is as easy as saying "Alpha to Omega". For that reason the final test of God's revealed Truth is the fulfillment of each prophetic utterance completely and in detail, with 100% accuracy.

The Incarnate God fulfilled every jot and tittle of the prophetic scriptures concerning himself and his first advent. And as he did so, he proclaimed that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). After his resurrection, he told the disciples at Emmaus, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44).

A few years after the Lord Jesus' resurrection, the Apostle Paul began his epistle to Hebrew saints by referring to God's having spoken in time past to the fathers by the prophets. He then contrasted the messages of the prophets, themselves mortal and imperfect, with the words of the Son of God; God ... hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. Not only was the Lord Jesus the creator, but in the third verse of Hebrews 1 Paul went on to call him the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of his person.

The message of God to mankind had been expanded to include something more personal than the "thus saith the LORD" of the prophets of old. In fact the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, was commissioned to prepare the way and bear witness to the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9). John the apostle summed up the distinction by stating, For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:27).

Paul spoke of the curse of the law (Gal 3:13), and it can be no accident that the Holy Spirit moved the prophecy of Malachi into the final position among the Old Testament books in the text of Protestant Bibles; for the final word of this 39th book is the word curse. Interestingly, if one compares the 39th chapter of the book of Isaiah, the Bible in microcosm, it is impossible to overlook the awful consequences of Israel's sins in Isaiah's prophetic description of the Babylonian captivity. But then as Isaiah 40-66 begins, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, the tone of the book changes so dramatically that unbelieving critics fabricated a spurious dual authorship for Isaiah. In like manner, the 27 installments of the New Testament are a message of comfort for God's people. Let not your hearts be troubled ... ; I will not leave you comfortless ... ; be of good cheer ... ; wherefore comfort one another with these words…

In about 95 AD, as the disciple whom Jesus loved wrote the final words of the book which was to be the capstone of Scripture, he proscribed any additions or deletions to what was now God's completed written word. In Rev 22:18-19 John testified unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the-holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Notice how the two phrases the prophecy of this book and the book of this prophecy are set over against one another. Lest anyone attempt to confine the application of vv 10 and 18 to the Book of Revelation alone, verse 19 provides for a broader application to the entire Bible for which Revelation serves as the final “chapter”. And of course, similar general warnings are found near the beginning of the Bible in Deut 4:2, and right in the middle as well, Prov. 30:6.

The ink from the last original autograph has been dry for over nineteen hundred years. Even in this age of apostasy, hardly a conservative Christian can be found who would deny the “verbal, plenary inspiration” of the original manuscript of each and every one of the sixty-six canonical books of Scripture. In fact, what twice-born, blood-bought sinner would fail to affirm that the inspired originals were the very essence of Truth, Perfection and Infallibility? Surely they all agree that long ago a few men actually held in their hands and read with their eyes the very words of God. But how many believe that men still do so??

1. Where Were God's Words In The Past?
2. Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away . . .
3. Unto the Pure All Things Are Pure
4. The Word Is Nigh Thee
5. Sevenfold Purification Requires Blood
6. Seven Times Through A Furnace of Earth
7. Pure Silver

Next: 2. Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away . . .

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