When God speaks through a prophet, is the prophet experiencing God? Is the prophet speaking for God? Let’s assume ‘Yes,’ in the cases we’ll discuss today.
Now what language is that prophet speaking in? Which human language is she using to deliver the immediate message from the infinite heart of God to Earth?
Well now, that’s going to depend. The voice of God expressed in that prophetic word will generally come in the language that the prophet knows, and will always come in the language that those the Lord is speaking to know. Around here, that’s English. God speaks in English, specifically American English. With the ‘r’s included.
Why does God speak English? English is certainly not God’s first language. English is not the official language of Heaven. None of the Bible was actually written in English, it needed to be translated. When God became man and walked on this ball of dirt, he didn’t even speak English then. Why would God speak English?
Why wouldn’t he speak Latin? Latin is a good language for careful communication. Or German. German can handle a whole lot of ideas that English can’t. Why doesn’t God speak German?
You already figured that out. If God’s prophesying to me (or through me) God doesn’t use German because I don’t know German (yet). The reality is that God is more committed to the people to whom he is speaking than he is to the sterile, strict, legalistic communication of his words.
When he’s speaking to English speakers (such as myself), he is kind enough to speak in English. When he is addressing Germans, he speaks German. When he’s speaking to Imbongu tribes people of Papua New Guinea’s southern highlands, he speaks Imbongu to them.
In this, God is modifying his message because of the vessel he’s speaking through, and because of the limitations of the people he’s speaking to. He limits the infinite, omniscient thoughts of the Almighty to a message that a human can communicate, and another human can hear, understand and respond to.
It’s like all of infinity has just a little tiny pinhole to get through. So most of it doesn’t make it. Most of God’s infinite thoughts don’t make it through that pinhole to me. For example, I’ve never heard God talk to me about why he made Deneb, in the constellation Cygnus, as a stable blue-white star instead of a variable star like 9 Cephi [in the constellation Cepheus, of course]. For some reason, that information hasn’t made it through the translation from the vastness of Heaven’s knowledge to the realm of human knowledge.
God modifies his message in order to fit people better. Sometimes he speaks English, sometimes he speaks German, sometimes, he speaks Imbongu.
Another way to say that is that God modifies the way he reveals himself to us so that his infinite omnipotence doesn’t blow up our mortal little brain cases. Every experience we have of God is ‘toned down’ from the full-power of the Infinite Almighty.
More than that, it’s toned down in ways that speak to individuals. Like speaking in a human language, he also tones down visions and spiritual experiences. Jesus’ presentation of the Kingdom of God was much different to Mary Magdalene than his presentation to the Apostles, and both of those were different than his presentation to the Pharisees of the day.
So God limits what he shares, how much he shares, and how he shares it, based on who he’s sharing with.
But he also governs what he shares, how much he shares and how he shares it based on who he’s saying it through. Everything we hear God say through a prophet is flavored by that prophet, by that prophet’s language, by that prophet’s history with God.
Now, let’s go one step further. I think that God specifically chooses among available prophetic voices in order to find one whose particular flavor is pleasing to him about the topic he wants to communicate.
I can imagine God getting ready to deliver a word to a congregation, and he’s thinking, ‘I could send it through Shaniqua, because she’s got a great gift of mercy, and this is a tough word. Or I could use Digory because he’s ready to start giving public words. But I think I’ll use Ivanka this time; her mind is so logical and ordered that this word coming through her will be understood by Thomas over in the corner, and he’s the one that is the key to the whole thing. Besides, it’ll do Pastor Bob good to get a good word like this through someone like Ivanka!’
When you prophesy, don’t go out of your way to remove your own personality from the message. God counts on the messenger to flavor the message he’s distributing. And remember: God likes your flavor.
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