Inspiration

For the week of February 26, 2022 / 25 Adar 5782

Vayakhel & Shekalim
Torah: Shemot/Exodus 35:1 – 38:20; 30:11-16
Haftarah: 2 Kings 12:1-17 (English: 11:21 – 12:16)

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And he has inspired him to teach (Shemot/Exodus 35:34)

One of the most important concepts in the Bible is inspiration. Inspiration is the foundation of the dependability of Scripture as an accurate record of God’s communication. The New Covenant Writings, primarily in reference to the Hebrew Scriptures, express this as follows:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (1 Peter 1:20-21)

The English word “inspiration” attempts to capture the idea that Scripture was breathed out by God or that the writers were carried along by God’s Spirit. Either way, the origins of the biblical writings are not found in the human authors but in God. There is no sense that God overrode the consciousness of the writers. Exceptions include, the Ten Commandments, which are particularly unique in that they were handwritten by God himself (see Shemot/Exodus 31:18; D’varim/Deuteronomy 9:10). There are some sections of Scripture that are dictated by God. Much of what Moses taught may have been like that. Also, when the prophets declare, “Thus says the Lord!”, they may have been repeating God’s word verbatim, though there are hints that God gave them something more akin to an impression that they then put into their own words. There are other large sections, such as the Psalms, which arise out of individuals’ own prayers and struggles with God and life but are no less inspired. Then, of course, much of Scripture is narration, describing situations or summarizing events, but are no less “breathed out by God.”

I find the dynamic of inspiration fascinating. That the origins of what Scripture teaches is expressed through a great variety of writing styles demonstrates a remarkable cooperation between God as the ultimate author and the people he chose to record his Word. We see this reflected in this week’s parsha (weekly Torah reading portion). Here, God chose lead craftsmen to equip others in the development of the Mishkan (English: Tabernacle), Israel’s beautiful and intricate, semi-portable, worship center. We read that God filled Bezalel “with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft” (Shemot/Exodus 35:30-33). In the following verse, the Hebrew reads, “he put in his heart to teach” (Shemot/Exodus 35:34). The English Standard Version represents this as “he has inspired him to teach.”

Inspiration is God putting his ideas into people’s hearts. While the inspiration of Scripture is unique in that Scripture is our only authority for faith and life, God continues to put into the hearts of people his influence, moving upon them to fulfil his will in the world. I don’t understand how he does it, but he does.

What has God put into your heart?

Scriptures taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated

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