Word for Wednesday

What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:1,2

In the pagan world, the word ‘oracle’ usually referred to someone who was presumed to speak for one of their deities. But the word is used 21 times in the Bible, four times in the New Testament as ‘oracles’, and 17 times in the Old Testament in the singular: ‘oracle’. We don’t use it much these days, so it might be profitable to see what it means.

In the Old Testament, ‘oracle’ almost always refers to the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, or the temple. It was the place from which God communicated to His people, the Israelites. In the New Testament, the word ‘oracles’ is translated from the Greek word ‘logion’. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, logion means ‘a divine response or utterance, an oracle’. There are three aspects of the word ‘oracles’: the person doing the speaking, the words that were uttered, and from the Old Testament, the place from which the utterance was made.

In the New Testament, the oracles refer to both the Word of God as received from the Holy Spirit and from the Old Testament, and to the person through whom the Word was received. Here we find the entirety of the New Testament, including the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation, as well as the godly men who God used to transmit His Word to us. So the oracles of God are very important to us. But the ‘oracles’ as we have them in the New Testament do not include the aspect of place that we have in the Old Testament. That also is very important to us.

To an Old Testament Jew, the sanctuary was a very special place, and he would travel there annually to receive a communication from God. We don’t do that today. We don’t need to. We have the Bible that we hold in our hands and from which the Holy Spirit can speak to us. ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works’ 2 Timothy 3:16,17.

There is another important aspect of ‘oracles’ that we can consider. In 1 Peter 4:11, Peter is speaking of the person who gives a word of ministry in the Assembly: ‘If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God’. Oh my! That places a huge responsibility on the brother who gets up to speak a word in ministry, doesn’t it? How important it is that such a brother does so knowing that the word he is giving is something he has received from the Lord, and that it is the Lord Who is prompting him to give it! But it is also important for those of us who listen to such ministry to recognize that it is from God Who is seeking to communicate with us.

We have access to the oracles of God every day. Do we hear? -Jim MacIntosh

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