The Bible is known by many as “The Word of God.” That implies that it is exactly what God has said; but, in fact, that is not what most of it is made up of. And the problem with this is that people who don’t study or read the Bible themselves don’t know the difference between the divine dictations and the divinely inspired writings.
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Inspiration is an intangible thing that is filtered through the individual’s experience, culture, language, and understanding. Divine inspiration is when someone receives a message from God, but being an inspiration means when they write it down or repeat it they are not going to be quoting God exactly.
For instance, the Ten Commandments written on the two tablets given to Moses (which he copied into the Torah) were written with the finger of God (Ex. 31:18), so they are divine dictations. From God directly to us: no interpretation, no personal bias, no filtering, and not even a typo or two. Divinely dictated, meaning presented to us, directly from God exactly as he said it.
On the other hand, when we read the letters written by Shaul, most of the time he is speaking to Gentiles who do not know the divine dictations that occur in the Torah, so he more often than not interprets what God has said. His meaning and words are divinely inspired, but they are not directly from God. He has rebranded God’s words in a way that will make sense to pagans just learning about God.
And he tells us this is what he is doing. In 1st Corinthians 9:20-22, he says that he will be whatever he needs to be in order to win people over to Messiah. Essentially, he is saying that he will teach and say whatever he needs to in whichever way his audience will understand, in order to win over souls to Messiah. In other words, he knows what God ‘s dictated words are but he is rephrasing them so that his audience can understand and relate to it.
So the question is: which is more important? Divine dictation or divine inspiration?
My answer is: obviously it is more important to know what God, himself, says than what someone thinks God meant. Divine inspiration is certainly going to be important, but it will be, by definition, in the person’s own words and stated in a way that is influenced by that person’s experience, language, culture, and understanding of the Bible, in general.
What is most important of all is that the one listening knows the difference between what God said and what someone says God said.
The Bible is composed mostly of divinely inspired writing. The New Covenant has very little that is a direct quote of God’s own words. Because Yeshua is the Messiah, he taught from divine knowledge. However, much of what he quoted from the Tanakh came from the divinely inspired writings.
God’s direct instructions to all people are found in the Torah. I believe that when Moses wrote “The Lord says…” that what he wrote was directly dictated by God. Anything and everything else Moses wrote, as well as most of what is in the Prophets and other books, is divinely inspired.
So, nu? What’s the point? The point is, as I say so very, very often, you need to read the Bible every day and ask God for his divine understanding so that you know which is which.
The many different religions that have come into existence have created man-made doctrines but pass them off as divinely dictated commandments. And those who do not read the Bible are blind, being led by the blind, and we all know where they end up.
Divine dictation is not something anyone can afford to ignore or reinterpret, whereas divinely inspired writing can be rephrased and taught using different terms and cultural identifiers so that it can be understood by people with varied backgrounds. In just the same way that Shaul taught his Messianic congregations.
When we know the difference between what God said and what people say God meant we will not be easily fooled by the Enemy of God when he tries to turn us from the path of righteousness.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Hashem!