I am inspired by a wide variety of things – Claude Monet’s Haystack paintings at the Art Institute, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, my grand-kids, the Golden Beach in Coronado, a good book, an anointed worship song, the distinct change of Midwestern seasons, and heartwarming stories of sacrifice or service to others. These are the kind of things that take my breath away, or cause me to tear up, or move me to thankfulness.
But that’s not the kind of inspiration we speak of when we say the Bible is “inspired.” The books of the Bible are not inspired because they give us an emotional response. Rather, inspiration literally means “God-breathed.” Regarding the scriptures, inspiration means they are an accurate and reliable record of God’s story.
But honestly, at times I struggle with the ramifications of inspiration, especially when I read the Old Testament (OT). In all of the different genres of books it contains – historical narrative, poetry, wisdom literature, proverbs (pithy sayings), and prophetic oracles, I wonder what parts I can take to the bank. Are the promises literal? Do they really extend a 1000 generations? Is God’s attitude towards certain things still the same? Is there a principle that still applies?
In a dialogue about these questions, one wise mentor once told me: Certain things in the OT come to the cross and stop. Certain things in the OT come to the cross and are fulfilled in Jesus. And other things in the OT pass through the cross and come into the New.
For example, I think that the Mosaic Law is fulfilled in Jesus and ceases to have any power or rule over the Christ-follower today. That frame of understanding helps me when I read this week’s daily reading in Numbers 11, Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp. I don’t think God is an angry and vengeful God because all of his wrath towards us was assuaged in Jesus (Romans 3:23-26 with 5:8-8-10). I don’t think he destroys his followers by sending down fire to rage among us (kitchen fires included:-) However, I can still see an eternal principle at work here – that is, grumbling and complaining is unbecoming of God’s children.
So I thanked the Holy Spirit for that gentle, inspired reminder in the midst of our chaotic, living-in-a-hotel-lives this last week. I asked Jesus to help me always find something for which to thank him and to move forward with an appreciation of his gift of each new day.