“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” 1 Samuel 3:1 ESV.
It was at time of transition for Israel. Moving from the era of the Judges, those that “ruled” or governed God’s people to the reign of a king. It wasn’t a well led nation, or collection of tribes, at this point. Over and over we read how the people did whats they wanted and what was evil. Let to ourselves, we are like that. Doing what we think is right and slipping further away from what we were meant for.
It was a time of lawlessness, and the word of the Lord, the prophetic voice of God, was rare in those days. Without that voice, there was no vision.
Here is my thought: this word of the lord and vision relationship holds true in our culture and in the church. In our day, the fullest prophetic voice has arrived in Scripture and we can shift this to “the Word of the Lord.”
This last week there is all kinds of comedic hull-a-ba-loo over Norm McDonald and another comedian’s interaction jokes about the Bible. Seems Norm didn’t like the way the other guys was dissing the Bible. And the rants ensued. “Work of fiction,” “book of hate,” “for the ignorant…” All made seemingly without an understanding of Scripture and what it truly says. This is where vision is lacking, in the cultural knowledge of biblical truth and why it says what it does. And more importantly, the grand story of redemption that it is telling, even for those apparently so far off. Without the Word of the Lord culture is just left spinning without destination or hope.
Now I don’t blame “culture.” We should expect that those doing what they think is right would oppose the Bible. They will oppose Christians, freedom of religion and any other number of things that will make us nervous or disheartened. But what an opportunity we have.
Last night, the attendant at the ice cream counter asked me what my tattoo on my forearm meant. I told her is was “it is finished” the words of Jesus on the cross. She asked, “what was finished?” Oh, that more would ask this. The saving of those that believe in him – striving to be perfect and get things right, that is finished because he was in our place.
Let’s share graciously the story of Scripture, the redemption of people.
For the church this happens when we get comfortable and move beyond the Word of the Lord. Now, no pastor or church will claim to have moved beyond the Bible, but we do it in practice when we are biblically illiterate and find it useful only for political points of argument or the casual verse taken out of context to match a sermon on trying harder. Churches that are deeply into Scripture are rare. More rare than Starbucks for sure. And when we have rare interaction with the Word of the Lord, we have no vision.
Without the Word of the Lord, we are left spinning without direction and purpose.
We need not live in the transition from Judges to Kings. We can live with vision and see lives transformed by the gospel revealed in the Bible. The good news of Jesus’ finished work for all who believe in him. The living Word of the Lord, Jesus. Let us frequent his story and the implications it unfolds. Let’s experience God-given vision and head true north just like we were meant to.