The book of Acts reports that when Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra, a man who had never walked was healed.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. (Acts 14:11-18, New International Version)
The apostle Paul clearly had little respect for the gods of the Greek pantheon. But I believe he was trying to say, “God has spoken again, and in a different way than He has ever spoken to you before.”
And yet He has not left Himself without witness
I feel that the author of the letter to the Hebrews was trying to say something similar in the opening verses of the letter.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2, New International Version)
God has spoken again in the person and demonstration of Jesus. God has spoken again, and in a different way than he has ever spoken to humanity before.
God promised to speak again at the right time
And yet He has not left Himself without witness. The author of the letter to the Hebrews quotes from the prophet Jeremiah to declare that God promises to speak and act again at the right time. But when God speaks, it will not be immediately obvious, because God will speak in a different way than he has ever spoken to humanity before. God is taking humanity’s progress into account.
“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.” (Jeremiah 31:33, New International Version)
God has kept His promise, more than once
And yet He has not left Himself without witness. Sometimes I feel a kinship with Paul at Lystra. Sometimes I experience an affinity with the author of the letter to the Hebrews. I feel this because I too, say “God has spoken again, and in a way He has never spoken to humanity before.” I say this as a student and advocate of the New Message from God. I saw this image in my mind’s eye a little over three years ago. People have asked me what it meant. Here is what I say:
God is watching over the world. God has not left himself without witness. Not just by giving rain and crops in their seasons, but by speaking to the world. God has promised to speak and act again when the time is right. God has fulfilled that promise, more than once, in the teachings and demonstrations of Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. God has spoken again in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The messenger is the man Marshall Vian Summers. In the future he will be known as Vian or the Vian, just as Siddhartha Gautama is now known as Buddha or the Buddha. The word “Vian” means “messenger” in a language that did not originate in this world.
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