This living Word of God, this debar Yahweh, is the "Thus saith the Lord" of the prophetic tradition. The prophets were not really religious soothsayers or social critics or village cranks. They were ordinary people who encountered face-to-face the One who, as Amos puts it, "made the Pleiades and Orion" (5:8). Old Testament professor Howard Macy says that these "encounters were blind-siding, breath-sucking, gut-jarring; they were full of energy, creativity, and crazy surprise; they intermingled fear and attraction, tenderness and amazement." Abraham Heschel writes, "To the prophets, God was overwhelmingly real and shatteringly present. They never spoke of Him as from a distance. They lived as witnesses, struck by the words of God . . ." They fed off God's living word to them. God was shatteringly present to them; the debar Yahweh had come to them; and their entire lives became oriented around this stunning reality. As a result they received what Walter Brueggemann calls a "prophetic imagination," the capacity to see what is yet possible through the power of God, "It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God."
"And here is the really shocking news: all Christians are called, in some measure, to prophetic life and witness. Out of the humility and generosity of his great heart, Moses had wistfully exclaimed, "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!" (Num. 11:29). Well, with the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost God did exactly that. The prophet Joel had promised a day when the Spirit would enable all God's people to dream dreams, to have visions, and to prophesy, and on that Pentecost day Peter declared that Joel's promise had indeed come to pass. At Pentecost God initiated a universal, revolutionary community of prophets. In Inviting the Mystic, Supporting the Prophet Katherine Marie Kyckman and L. Patrick Carroll write, "All of us Christians, not just some `specially chosen' are called to be deeply united to God in prayer and to speak out of that prayer with some strand of prophetic voice. Everyone is called to be both mystic and prophet."
What we need to understand is that God is still speaking. The debar Yahweh is still active and alive, creating and recreating, forming and transforming. God is "our Communicating Cosmos," as Dallas Willard puts it. Now, I am fully aware that there are those who feel that with the full Scriptural canon we no longer need the living voice of God, the Kol Yahweh. And while I can appreciate such a position I will simply respond with the words of William Law, an 18th century Anglican writer, in his book The Power of the Spirit, "to say that because we now have all the writings of Scripture complete we no longer need the miraculous inspiration of the Spirit among men as in former days, is a degree of blindness as great as any that can be charged upon the scribes and Pharisees." My friends, God is a continuing, communing, speaking Presence with his people. Here. Now. The Word of God living.
Wow! Amen! (& stuff like that...)