THE INSPIRATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

From the mind of God into human language . . . we call it “the word of God.” In the Bible, God reveals Himself to mankind, showing us what He has done for us and what He expects of humanity.

The whole Bible, from beginning to end, is about God’s plan to save humans through His Son. The theme/basic gist of the Old Testament message is, “The Messiah is coming.” The word “Messiah,” from the Hebrew language, means “anointed one.” When translated into the Greek language, “Messiah” becomes “Christ” (John 1:41).

The Bible declares, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). That reference includes the Old Testament, as the context shows that Timothy had known those Scriptures from his childhood (3:15). To say that the Scriptures were given “by inspiration” of God indicates that they were God-breathed, which spotlights the truth that the God of heaven is the Source of the Scriptures.

When the apostle Paul went into synagogues and “reasoned with them from the Scriptures,” the reference is to the Old Testament. His habit was to use the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and show how those were fulfilled in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 17:2,3). Again, when the Bereans searched the Scriptures, those were the Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 17:11). And, when eloquent Apollos showed “from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:28), he was using the Old Testament to do so.

So, how did it happen? How did God’s message get from His mind into the language of humans? The Bible’s answer: through the work of the Holy Spirit. “But you have to admit that human beings wrote the Bible, not God Himself.” Fair enough. If the Bible is given by inspiration of God (It is!), then God used humans as instruments to record/present His will to mankind. How did He do that? By the Holy Spirit.

Did the prophetic message of the Old Testament, both written and oral, come from the minds of mere mortal men, or did it come from God? Here is the answer: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20,21). To say that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were not of “private interpretation” does not refer to the explanation of the message of prophecy, but to the source of it. Read again what the Lord says about it: “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

David was a prophet of God (Acts 2:29,30). How was he empowered to proclaim God’s word? “Now these are the last words of David. Thus says David the son of Jesse; thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:1,2). So, the Spirit spoke via David, and the Spirit’s word was on the prophet’s tongue. The Spirit did not simply throw out some ideas, but He put His word on David’s tongue, meaning what David proclaimed as a prophet came from the Spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD” is “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2), Who is the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).

The New Testament confirms that “the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David” (Acts 1:16). What David wrote was Scripture, specifically called “the Book of Psalms” (Acts 1:16,20).

What about other Old Testament prophecy? It is not uncommon to read words such as, “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea” and others (Hosea 1:1; cf. Joel 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Micah 1:1; Haggai 1:3). The message did not originate with those holy men of God, but they were the vessels/mouthpieces through whom God revealed His will for mankind.

The book of Jeremiah begins with the words, “The words of Jeremiah . . . to whom the word of the LORD came . . .” (Jeremiah 1:1,2). How did the Lord’s word get to Jeremiah? Let us keep reading what Jeremiah penned: “Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9). God’s word was in Jeremiah’s mouth (by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21), and the message went from Jeremiah’s mouth to the ears of men.

Aaron was a spokesman for Moses, acting as Moses’ mouth (Exodus 4:16). That made Aaron a prophet of Moses (Exodus 7:1). In the same way, a prophet of God was His spokesman, speaking from God’s mouth . . . by the miraculous guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Fulfilled prophecy, such as the utter destruction of Babylon (Isaiah 13) and the role of Cyrus in helping rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44), make it clear that the prophets’ message, both in oral and written form, did not come from the mind of humans, but must have come from the only One whose understanding is infinite . . . the Almighty God! (Psalm 147:5).

— Roger D. Campbell

Share This:

Leave a Reply