2 Peter 1:19-21 – We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Once again the school year has begun. Football and field hockey have replaced free time and travel on the priority list! Course assignments are already backlogged. Everything about the campus is in full swing. Unfortunately, another characteristic of the fall season is a renewed attack on the Bible in the classroom. As the students turn on the brain power again, the Enemy is waiting to “plug in” any way he can. by means of ridicule (The Bible is a crutch for the gullible student!); or ignorant statements (The Bible is a bunch of old wives’ tales and full of mistakes!); or guilt-by-association techniques (The Bible is used by crackpots!); or deceptive questions (How do you explain the myths of the Bible in light of the facts of science?); and by many other approaches, the Miracle Book is attacked and torn apart in the classroom.
Against the attack stands the claim of the Bible to be a revelation in written human words from the one and only true God of the universe. What an audacious claim! How should a wavering Christian handle such a claim? Just the way we should handle any other claim: take a careful look at the claim and at the One making the claim, and then see if the Claimer lives up to His claim. For example, if I told you that I was the world’s greatest football quarterback, you could easily squash my claim by either looking up my “track record” (there isn’t any!), or by putting me to a simple backyard test! The Bible has an excellent “track record,” and when put to the test, the Bible consistently proves itself to be more than a human book. The problem with many “Bible demolition experts” is that they haven’t taken a close enough look at the Book making the claim, and they haven’t taken enough time to put this Book to the test. (How much of the Bible has the opposition even read?)
In 2 Peter 1:19-21 the Bible makes a few claims about itself. First of all, it claims to be the sure prophetic word from God Himself. Let’s take a closer look at this claim and see if this Book is living up to the claim. In verses 16-18 of this chapter, Peter discusses his “Mount of Transfiguration” experience (Matthew 17:1-8). There on the slopes of Mount Hermon in northern Israel the divine glory of the Lord Jesus was seen by three of His disciples. They also heard the approving voice of God the Father from heaven. What an experience! Then in verse 19 Peter says that “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.” What does this mean? There are two possibilities. It may mean that the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus, the Messiah, being the Son of God were confirmed (“made more sure”) by what the disciples saw and heard on the “holy mountain.” However, it may mean that although the disciples had been privileged to actually see the glorified Christ with their own eyes and hear the voice of God with their own ears, the written prophetic Scripture was even “more sure.” Maybe the vision-seekers and sign-seekers of today should read this verse! Notice that in either of the above cases prophetic Scripture is being proclaimed as sure word. It is firm and steadfast, trustworthy and reliable, certain and indisputable–it is sure! Has the Bible lived up to this claim? Just a cursory examination of the Dead Sea Scrolls should be enough to convince any hard-nosed skeptic that something supernatural is going on. The scrolls are manuscript copies of almost the entire Old Testament Scriptures (including specific messianic prophecies and other prophecies that have definitely been fulfilled), positively dated to over 100 years before Christ.
There are a number of reasons why this “sure word” claim should not be limited only to specific Old Testament prophecies. All of the Old Testament is “prophetic word” in that it lays the groundwork for the coming Christ. Furthermore, when Peter speaks of the “prophetic word” he is probably thinking not only of isolated prophetic texts in the Old Testament. Most likely he is thinking of all the words written by the prophets–namely, all of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Jews of Peter’s day considered all of the Old Testament writers as prophets to one degree or another–even the writers of the Psalms (see Matthew 13:35 and Psalm 78:2). What about the New Testament? Based on what Peter goes on to say in chapter 3, the “sure word” claim can be very reasonably applied to the New Testament Scriptures as well. Notice that in 2 Peter 3:2 the words of the New Testament apostles are given the same status and authority as the words of the Old Testament prophets. Notice further that in 2 Peter 3:15-16 the New Testament writings of Paul are already recognized by Christians as Scripture. They are given the same position and rank as the Old Testament (“the rest of Scripture”). The “sure word” claim applies to all of the Bible, and when put to the test, all of the Bible lives up to this claim. The Bible has proved itself to be reliable and trustworthy, not only in matters of “faith and practice” but in historical and geographical matters as well. Recent archaeological finds (Have you read about the Ebla tablets?) continue to confirm even the details of Scripture. The higher critic is forced, time and time again, to back down and alter his destructive theories about the Bible. Faced with mounting evidence, he finds it harder and harder to deny that there is something supernatural about the sure Word.
A second claim which the Bible makes about itself is found in verse 19. The Bible is a “lamp shining in a dark place.” The idea here is that this world is in spiritual darkness, but God has given His Word as a light so that people may see and understand things as they really are. Apart from the light of Scripture we grope in darkness. Without revelation from God, one person’s speculative philosophy is as valid as another’s. If it’s only guess-work, it doesn’t really make any difference whether your philosophy is reincarnation or “you only go around once.” “Whatever works for you” may feel like it brings “enlightenment,” but without the foundation of Scripture it’s only a leap in the darkness. Does the Bible live up to its claim of being a lamp shining in a dark place? If it doesn’t, it certainly puts up a perfect “front”! The Bible sheds light on all areas and “tells it like it is.” It gives the history of the material universe as well as knowledge of the immaterial world. It relates the origin of mankind as well as what life is all about. It tells us of the past, present and future. No wonder it’s called the “prophetic word.” Like no other book, the Bible gives us the what, where, when, why and Who! Specifically, the Bible ties it all together by giving us the focus of human history–Jesus Christ and His redemptive work.
Many disagree with the Bible’s world view, but everyone (including teachers and professors of every classroom) must agree that the Bible, consistently and without compromise, sheds light on everything–even the hard questions like miracles and the problem of evil. Its philosophy holds together and does not break down at some point, as do other philosophies. Where is judgment for ultimate evil in the philosophy of existentialism, for example? The main reason why unbelievers don’t want to accept the Bible’s philosophy is that they must then admit that they are guilty before a holy God! The skeptic must also agree that without the Judeo-Christian contribution (which is obviously based on the precepts and principles of the Bible) to mankind’s history of thought, the world would certainly be more “in the dark.” Wherever the light of the Bible has penetrated around the world, it has the effect of helping people to see and understand things as they really are. Those who have searched for the light in countless other ways finally “see” when they come to the Bible. Little wonder, then, that we are exhorted to “pay attention” to the light of Scripture (see Psalm 119:105) while it is still dark. When Christ returns in glory, the “day will dawn” and all will clearly see that the lamp of Scripture was “right on” in its revelation. At present, Scripture is the means by which we come to know the living presence of the Lord in our lives. He is the Morning Star–the Star which pledges daybreak! (See Revelation 22:16.)
In verses 20-21 we have a third claim which the Bible makes about itself: the Scriptures are one Book because their origin is the Spirit of God. The argument proceeds as follows. As the Christian pays attention to the lamp of Scripture, he must understand that no Scripture is of “one’s own interpretation.” This doesn’t mean that the Bible is so complicated that the individual Christian must rely on theologians for interpretation! No, the idea is that we can’t interpret any one Scripture without taking all Scripture into account. Every Christian should be aware, first of all, of the danger of pulling a Scripture out of the context of the whole Bible. No Scripture explains itself, but must be interpreted in the light of all Scripture. Why? Because the Bible is not just 66 different books by different authors, but one book written by one Author. You can’t get the full picture and interpret properly apart from the whole Book. The Bible is not like a patchwork of isolated “units of truth.” It is more like a tapestry designed and woven by God Himself. Yes, He used human weavers, but they were “moved by the Holy Spirit.” Has the Bible lived up to this claim of being one Book? Does mankind know of any other work of literature with the unity of Scriptures? The Bible was written over a period of (about) 1600 years by more than 40 different authors from all walks of life under all kinds of conditions on many controversial subjects–yet it is one Book in theme, purpose, structure and agreement. The Bible is uniquely unified–it is a Miracle Book!