We live is a world full of people that believe that God talks directly to them.
Everyone from suicide bombers to grandmothers will state something along the line of, “The Lord told me to do this” or “I felt impressed by God to…”.
Now there are myriad ways of explaining and qualifying what each individual means by such declarations so that you know that what they mean is a legitimate leading by the spirit of God according to His Holy Word. Otherwise it might be time to call the NSA or check somebody’s’ meds.
Actually, I think a straw poll would reveal that most people would prefer for God to speak directly to them. But I am cynically suspicious that what they actually are saying is that they really want an open dialogue with God so that they can give the Lord a piece of their mind. But both counts are covered in scripture where the representatives in such situations were much more qualified than most.
Take the patriarch, Job, for instance. He wanted an audience with God. He argued for an appointment so that he could argue. He, the most righteous man (by Jehovah’s estimation) at the time got that chance and quickly passed on it—smart guy.
For those who wish for God to speak His will directly to them, we have the example of those whom God delivered from Egypt. Now this group probably felt more ‘saved’ and ‘delivered’ than any evangelical has ever come close to. And yet when Yahweh spoke directly to them, this crowd begged for a man, one of their own, to be a proxy between God and themselves.
Now what I take from those two examples is that I need to hear the Word of God as God has designed.
Consider passages such as Romans 10—“faith comes by hearing, how shall they hear without a preacher” or Matthew 28—“go and make disciples”.
Now this is not an argument that individual bible reading and bible study is of no worth but when we see that the principle way God has chosen to speak into the life of the Christian is through men, explaining, teaching, correcting, comforting, challenging, rebuking…then we should be sure that we are on board with God’s ‘Program’.
Now being honest with you, being a proxy myself, the fact of this matter scares me, and as scared as I am every time that I preach or teach, I am aware that I am not scared enough. The realization that God could have chosen to speak directly to the church but decided, on purpose not to, but instead have a man stand in His place is inconceivable.
Doesn’t God know how weak and stupid and sinful and clueless men can be? And to top His own act, we are told: not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. So God isn’t even picking the ‘best’ from among us. Heck, even the first disciples were a rag-a-muffin band.
Again, this doesn’t denigrate individual bible study. This doesn’t mean that a father’s spiritual leadership of his home is unimportant. But what it does mean is that God has chosen to speak to you and I through men. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
The promise of this means of communication is just as potent as if God were speaking personally. And the results of choosing a proxy is two fold:
First, no one—speaker of hearer—receives glory. Knowing ourselves and knowing each other, who would take any credit? And secondly, the glory is His own and His alone.
So the next time a proxy speaks, listen well.
For if the man is faithful to the text…it is God talking.