How Many Writers?
Holy Spirit, today I surrender my will to Your guidance and I surrender today’s challenges to Your strength.
Read JEREMIAH 36:1-32
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Although the Bible is an absolutely crucial tool God uses in our spiritual growth, there are times when we can mistake reading it for responding to it” (Tony Hobbs).
How does the spoken word become Scripture? Once in 1950, after a somber family reading from one of the prophets, I asked my father how we knew the prophet had actually said that. He told me we must trust the Bible as God’s Word–and I do. I was a child, but my question was not childish. It still puzzles Biblical scholars. Did Nahum or Isaiah record their own words? Or did they have scribes? Or did later writers record the gist of what they said? Probably all three. Theirs are human documents, products of God’s people. God inspired people to write but God did not dictate to suspended minds. Of course we see God in prophetic words but we also glimpse the personality of the prophet.
Today’s reading shows that prophets could be led to record their own words–perhaps, like Jeremiah, decades after. We also see the hand of a later narrator. This is one of the Jeremiah stories written in the third person–“this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord” (1; 1:2; 7:1; 11:1). Other narratives in Jeremiah, however, are written in the first person–“the Lord said to me” (e.g. 1:4: 14:11; 15:1). Clearly, Jeremiah recorded part of his own story and equally clearly some was recorded later by someone else. A controversial question is whether a later editor collated it all. More on that another day!
We should be grateful to this unnamed godly author for enabling us to know, not just what the prophet said, but something of the prophet himself. Without this author we would not know how determined Jeremiah was to record his prophetic words, even after their destruction. We would not know of the willful king who thought the destruction of the scroll would annul its power. Nor would we know of the frightened but courageous bureaucrats who protected Jeremiah to prophesy another day.
How do people today show disdain for God’s Word? How do you honor God’s Word?
Grant me, Lord, the courage and persistence of Jeremiah to proclaim Your Word, even when I am faced with opposition.
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