Hebrews 1:1, 2
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,…
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, etc. God has spoken to man. A very significant fact. It suggests the Divine interest in his human creatures. It teaches that man is capable of receiving communications from the infinite Mind. He can understand, appreciate, and appropriate to his unspeakable advantage the thoughts of God concerning him. He is under obligations to do so. Man's attitude towards the communications of God should be that of devout attention and earnest investigation. Our text teaches that God's revelation of redemptive truth to man -
I. WAS MADE THROUGH MAN. "God... spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets;" Revised Version, "in the prophets." The prophets were not simply predictors of future events; the word is applied to the sacred lawgiver, historians, poets, etc. God spake in them and through them to the fathers. "It was the very condition of the prophet's inspiration," says Robertson, "that he should be one with the people. So far from making him superhuman, it made him more man. He felt with more exquisite sensitiveness all that belongs to man, else he could not have been a prophet. His insight into things was the result of that very weakness, sensitiveness, and susceptibility so tremblingly alive. He burned with their thoughts, and expressed them. He was obliged by the very sensitiveness of his humanity to have a more entire dependence and a more perfect sympathy than other men He was me, re man, just because more Divine - more a Son of man, because more a Son of God."
II. WAS MADE GRADUALLY. "At sundry times;" Revised Version, "by divers portions." The revelation was given piecemeal, by fragments, in and by various persons, and in different ages. Very gradual was the revelation of redemptive truth to man. God's first communication (Genesis 3:15) was like the evening star, serene and solitary; the fuller communications of the patriarchal age were like the starry hosts of night; the revelations made to Moses were like the light of the fair and full-orbed moon, in which that of the stars is lost; and those made by succeeding prophets were like the dawn of the day, when the moon grows pale and dim; and the supreme revelation was like the radiance of the sun shining in noontide splendor. This gradualness of revelation may be seen in many things, e.g.:
1. The character of God. Very gradual was the unfolding of the nature and character of the Divine Being to man. The measure of the revelation was adapted to the measure of the human capacity. Jesus, the Son, revealed the essence and heart of the Father. "God is a Spirit." Parable of the prodigal son. "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."
2. The salvation of man and its method.
3. True human character and blessedness (cf. Deuteronomy 28:1-14 with Matthew 5:1-12).
4. The immortality of man. We find in the Bible longings for immortality, inquiries after it, hints concerning it, anticipations of it, but not until the final revelation in Christ was it brought into clear and assured light (2 Timothy 1:10). This gradualness of the Divine unfoldment should be remembered by us we study the Divine communications. Let us not expect to find in the earlier portions what the later alone can contain, or put to Moses inquiries which only the Son can reply to.
III. WAS MADE VARIOUSLY. "In divers manners." This is true:
1. Of God's communications to the prophets. He communicated with them by Urim and Thummim, by dreams, visions, ecstasies, by quickening and directing their thoughts, etc. God is not limited as to his modes of access to and influence over the minds of men. He can call them into active exercise, impress them with deep convictions, etc.
2. Of the communications of the prophets to men. They spoke in prose and poetry, in parable and proverb, in history and prediction, in forcible reasoning and glowing eloquence. Each prophet also has his own style. God's revelations in the Bible and in nature are alike in this, that they are characterized by endless and delightful variety. In nature we have the majestic mountain and the lowly valley, the massive oak and the modest daisy, the serene stars and the storm-driven clouds, the booming ocean and the rippling rivulet. Equally great and beautiful is the variety in the sacred Scriptures.
IV. IS CHARACTERIZED BY UNITY. The revelation was given "by divers portions and in divers manners;" it came through different men and in widely distant ages; yet all the portions are in substantial agreement. The voices are many and various, but they meet and combine in one sweet and sublime harmony. In the different portions of the revelation we discover unity of character - every portion is spiritual, pure, sacred; unity of direction - every portion points to the last great revelation, the Divine Son; unity of purpose - to make man "wise unto salvation." We conclude, then, that while the speakers were many, the inspiring Mind was One only. Or, keeping more closely to the phraseology of the text, though the voices were many, the Speaker was but one. In this marvelous unity in such great diversity, we have the basis of a cogent argument for the Divine origin of the sacred Scriptures.
V. IS PERFECTED IN HIS SON. "God... hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son;" Revised Version, "hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son." The revelations made in and by the prophets were imperfect. "They were various in nature and form, fragments of the whole truth, presented in manifold forms, in shifting lines of separated color. Christ is the full revelation of God, himself the pure Light, uniting in his one Person the whole spectrum" (Alford). It is quite appropriate that the perfect revelation should be made in and through the Divine Son. The Son will be perfectly acquainted with the Father, and therefore able to declare his will. The Son wilt resemble the Father, and therefore be able to manifest him. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son," etc. No one knoweth "the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him;" "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." The Divine revelations of redemptive truth to man culminate in him. No new or further revelations will be granted unto us; but to the devout, patient, and earnest student, new and brighter light will stream forth from the revelations already given. Many of the utterances of the Son are as yet only very partially and imperfectly understood even by his most advanced pupils. His words are of inexhaustible significance; and. that significance will become increasingly manifest to the prayerful and patient inquirer.
CONCLUSION. Let us rejoice that we have this latest and brightest revelation of God, this clearest utterance of his will concerning us and our salvation. Let us heartily accept this revelation. It is truly accepted only when it is acted upon; i.e. when we have received the Son of God as our Savior and Lord. - W. J.
Parallel VersesKJV: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,