In this posting we look at two aspects of teh word of God as a manifestation of God’s Voice. The fact that God’s word has eternal relevance and yet has historical particularity. Enjoy
- The word of God has eternal relevance – the word of God is inspired by God therefore it is eternally relevant. It is relevant in every age, in every culture, to every people grouping. You can’t say we are in the 21st century the word of God is not relevant to me. It is inspired by an eternal God, a God who speaks throughout the ages, a God who is relevant in the 1st century, as well as in the 21st Century. As the song writer put it, “The word that spoke to the prophets still speaks to me today.” You can’t say the word of God was for those days it doesn’t affect me or speak to my situation. If you think you are in the information age, or the knowledge economy and the word of God cannot speak to you, you are deceived. If you want a more modern revelation beyond the word of God and you think the written bible has nothing to say to where you are today, then you don’t understand the eternal relevance of the word of God. I build my businesses on this word of God and I have seen that it is more contemporary than most of the teachings in business school. I used to teach MBA students and I have discovered that most business concepts are beginning to borrow from the bible. They have just discovered what the bible has always said. So the bible is relevant. It speaks to you about how you raise your children, how to do what you do, it speaks to your marriage, it speaks to how you handle yourself, your friendships. The word of God is eternally relevant. You can’t say the bible doesn’t understand the Ndebele culture, no, it speaks to your culture. It speaks to all mankind, in every age and in every culture. So it has eternal relevance.
- The word Of God also has what is called historical particularity. It means that although the word of God is eternally relevant, the word of God is conditioned and shaped by the culture, the language and the habits of the people to whom it was originally written. So, because the bible used the Greek language for the New Testament you will discover that the things that were happening within the Greek culture at the time the bible was written are directed at the people at that time and directed to the situations which they were facing. So what you do as a Christian, you don’t just take all that was said to them but you look at what was said to them and you look for the principles around it, and you then apply the principles around it. Now when people don’t know that the bible is shaped by the culture of the people who were there they don’t know how to handle the bible. For example people say the bible says I do not allow women to preach or I don’t allow women to speak in church or women should wear a veil. But you have to understand the context in which it was written. It was spoken to people where you had cult temple prostitutes who would babble and say all kinds of things, and so they were disciplining them saying no you can’t just be babbling everywhere. And those cult prostitutes they would go around with shaven hair and so they were taught them to be dignified, to maintain the order and to have long hair. But you can’t now say everyone in church should wear a veil. When you do that, you are violating the fact that it was written to a specific people, at a specific time and you are forgetting the principles and you are trying to apply what was written within a context to a context which is different. And suddenly you become irrelevant. However if you draw the principle of submission and being modest out of that Scripture an apply it to women today – that is the main point.
The bible also says a man should not wear a woman’s attire. We have some churches which will get so angry when they see a lady wearing a pair of trousers because they say you can’t do this because the bible is so clear that a woman should not wear a man’s attire. By the way, did you realise that man in the Hebrew culture did not wear trousers but they wore gowns, the same with women. So what do you mean when you say women should not wear men’s dress? So it means Jesus when he wore his gown, he was violating scripture. So if there is a pair of trousers which is made for women, they can wear them.
Here is another example the bible says you shall not allow the sun to go down on your anger, but do you know there are some places up in the Scandinavian areas where the sun does not set for days. So you are saying they can carry forward their anger because the sun has not gone down. You have to understand the culture and the context in which the scripture is written. Another example, the bible says when you walk through the wilderness, talking to Israel; you should always carry a shovel because when you want to go to the loo, you are going to dig on the ground and do what you do quickly and cover. Now if we are going to take the bible as literal as some people do it means all of us should be going around with shovels. That is violating the concept of historical particularity. But the principle is you should be hygienic, you should not do what you do openly anywhere. You should go to the loo or hide somewhere.