Quakers believe that God continues to speak to us, guide and direct us in a way that is available and discernible without an intermediary. I personally find that the Bible is often a vehicle for that revelation—for unexpected openings and experiences of Presence.
I have read the Bible enough that much of it is quite familiar. And yet there are times when I read a passage I know well and suddenly some new insight opens up. The insight is not just an interesting new idea. It is rather something that shifts me inwardly. I may or may not have words to describe what happened. I am drawn closer to the divine, I am guided, my condition is spoken to. I remember a time when I was reading one Psalm every day for a week. Almost every day a different part of the Psalm caught my attention and taught me.
Since before the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, I have been part of a group of blacks and whites eager to hear what the Bible has to say. Recently we have been studying the second half of the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 51 we had heard strong and powerful words, “Awake,awake; listen; rouse yourself!” I was preparing Isaiah 52. In the first two verses I heard the strong words again, “Awake, awake…; shake yourself from the dust…; loose the bonds…”
I put my pen to paper, and these words rolled out:
“Awake, awake, white people.
Take off your blinders.
Shake yourself out of your illusions.
Turn to God who loves us all equally and rejects injustice.
Loose the bonds of those you have oppressed that your bonds might also be
When I shared the words with the group, intending to have them listen for words for themselves, the group instead was silent and we were dropped deep.
I know my words are not the meaning of the text itself. God is speaking to the oppressed people of Israel exiled in Babylon, not to a powerful group. And yet I believe that the Bible passage was a vehicle for an experience of continuing revelation.
What do you believe about revelation? Does God continue to speak to us and guide us?
What is your relationship with the Bible?
Our Guide and our Hope, help us to hear your voice in the Scriptures, in each other, and in the signs of the times. [based on intercession in Give Us This Day, November 15, 2016, Evening]
For further reflection:
“Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18).
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching . . . so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (See 2 Timothy 3: 16-17.)