It took me a few pages to settle into this chapter – sometimes it seems like Tozer wants you to ‘intuit’ what he’s aiming at, rather than coming out right at the beginning with the chapters major theme.
Tozer is right in pointing out that there is a right and a wrong way to read the Bible. You would be amazed to know how many academics and scholars have written books about the Bible who haven’t begun to read it in the right way. They have read it as a history text, or as a thing to be analyzed and parsed up into the parts that matter and the parts that don’t. Amazingly, you don’t need a Master’s degree or a PhD in order to rightly read and benefit from the Bible – but you do need to approach it as a living and authoritative word.
I have had other ministry leaders criticize me for rejecting the writings of certain scholars based on the argument that they aren’t qualified to write anything about scripture because they prove by their opening premise that they don’t believe it is the Word of God. The moment a person, who doesn’t believe the Bible, takes it upon themselves to write about the Bible, everything they write will at best be without understanding, and at worst, will be reliant on human wisdom and divorced from every aspect of the fear of God.
Now, I especially appreciate how Tozer points out that God is speaking both in nature and in his word. Psalm 19 immediately came to mind as I read, The heaven’s declare the glory of God and the skies above proclaim his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard… Indeed, God makes himself known to any who are attentive to see Him and hear Him. But reveals himself fully through the scriptures.
Tozer also points out that the world is hard of hearing, for inspite of God’s continual proclamation of his reality, we stubbornly refuse to praise him, honour him or give him the worship he rightly deserves. However, I think I am willing to follow along on his suggestion that every act of goodness and beauty produced in the world has been “[a] result of [man’s] faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative Voice sounding over the earth.” Scripture makes the claim that: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…’ (James 1:17).
Tozer then writes of the universal sense of awe in the face of the universal vastness: ‘…a sudden sense of lonliness, or a feeling of wonder or awe in the face of the universal vastness. Or we have had a fleeting visitation of light like an illumination from some other sun, giving us in a quick flash an assurance that we are from another world, that our origins are divine.” These words reminded me of some of my favourite words from C.S. Lewis, from his sermon ‘Weight of Glory’ (you can find it online if you like). In it, he speculates on the open secret of the universe, that we were not made for this world. After explaining that what a man or woman desires, demonstrates that whether or not they ever obtain that thing, it is a sure sign they were made for it – he then states, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
I think that both Tozer and Lewis would suggest to us that human experience – these inexplicable, emotionally charged moments, are key aspects of our journey in life – but that many go astray at this point, because they try to self-interpret experience rather than setting experience within the contexts of divine revelation and asking God to anchor in scripture our experience. So I deeply appreciated the instruction Tozer offers, “It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts.”
That, my friends, is the vast difference between Eastern meditation that invites stillness and emptying of the mind (which will lead to the self being magnified, exalted and glorified – and great spiritual confusion) and Biblical meditation that invites stillness and the filling of the mind with the living word of God.
So to conclude this (slightly overlength) reflection on chapter 6; let me challenge you to take up the Word of God and read. Many of you already do this, but is it your daily practice? Begin with a simple prayer that God might impress the truth of His Word upon your heart – and then take up and read. Let me add one more aspect to this challenge 1) Read systematically, don’t just jump all over the place; 2) Read from at least two places at once, this not only gives breadth to your reading, it will reveal to your mind and heart the fact that behind every human writer is the divine author who has presented a complete text in 66 books, 3 original languages, 2 testaments, over the period of 2500 years.
May God meet you there.