One of the problems Bible readers most often run into is hearing one part of Scripture, and ignoring the others. So often I talk to people who are in hurtful relationships. I counsel them to have some space, and they counter back, “But I am supposed to forgive everyone, right?” At other times I talk to someone who is frustrated with people complaining. They say, “If you do good, good things happen. People are just whining because they don’t want to work hard.” Believe it or not, both of these sentiments are in the Bible, both of these are parts of the Voices of Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 28, the Lord spells it out pretty clearly for His people – if you obey Me, you will be blessed; if not, you will be cursed and sent into exile. This is the Voice of “Deuteronomy”, and we hear it a lot in Joshua, 1-2 Kings, Proverbs, the Prophets, Hebrews, and James (these books talk a lot about justice and wisdom, too). The Prophets and James also talk about the injustice of the rich exploiting the poor, and how God will work through the lowly to do great things (also seen in Acts). In the book of Job a different Voice is sounded – saying that bad things happen to righteous people. This Voice is echoed in the Psalms, and Ecclesiastes, in the writings of Paul and Peter, and Revelation. The book of Genesis tells the story of God working with imperfect human beings, Ruth tells about accepting those from other nationalities as examples of faith, Habakkuk questions God, John sees the world in terms of light and darkness.
The Bible was written by human beings, and so we hear different emphases and focus points from the different Voices of Scripture. This does not diminish the unity or authority of the Word, but in fact shows us the power of God – because the message from all of these different Voices is the same: our God of love is calling us to Himself and wants to change us. There is one message through all of the different Voices of Scripture.
Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh, was able to live out all the different Voices together as one. He said, “Do not judge” (Matt 7:1), and also taught us to identify “wolves” by “their fruit (actions)” (Matt 7:15-16). He said that all who look back are not worthy of the Kingdom (Luke 9:62), but also reached out to a woman caught in adultery (John 8). He warned us not to deny Him (Luke 12:9), but also forgave Peter when he denied (John 21) – this forgiveness was not easy, though, and even hurt Peter. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but He got angry, and even made a whip to drive people out of the Temple. These are not contradictions, but the unification of the different Voices of Scripture in one Person – the Word made flesh (incarnate).
As human beings we have our own voices, and we most identify with the Voices of Scripture that are most like us. We need to allow the other Voices to challenge us and stretch us, too. We do not have the whole message of God’s Word until we can bring all the different Voices together in our thoughts, actions, and attitudes, as Jesus did. As you read Scripture, pay attention to the different Voices and different thinking that can challenge and grow you. Let these Voices stretch you. Most of all, hear the one VOICE above all – our God of love – calling you closer to Himself, changing you in love.