I was disappointed in an old blog post of Pastor Rick Warren’s. He makes a parallel between the prophet Habakkuk and us—basically conveying that since Habakkuk wrote down messages from God, God will speak to us in the same way he spoke to Habakkuk, and we should write down the messages we receive.
In fairness, an even older Habakkuk-mentioning post of Warren’s indicates that we look for answers in God’s Word. That’s good. But this newer post goes for direct revelation.
The phenomenon of the Jesus Calling books has increased our expectation that God is supposed to routinely speak to us (face-to-face, as it were) and answer our direct questions (and probably during small group on Thursdays at 7:30 when it’s convenient for us?). We need to be careful not to read things into the Scripture that aren’t there. So let’s back up.
Habakkuk was a God-appointed prophet. We’re not. God himself set in place his way of communicating with the prophets (direct revelation). The prophets’ messages for the nation were typically somber warnings, calls to repentance. Sometimes God’s message was for the individual prophet (like in Ezekiel 24 when Ezekiel was told that his wife would die but that he shouldn’t mourn. Note that Ezekiel hadn’t asked that question). The prophets’ talking to God about his messages included shock, grief, confusion, pushback.
These encounters were alarming. See Habakkuk 3:16, 17. Daniel was exhausted and ill (Daniel 8:27). Ezekiel objected to a message (Ezekiel 11:13) and sat down for a week, troubled, at another (3:14, 15). Similar God-initiated encounters (sometimes via an angel) with people who were not prophets were traumatic too: look at Job 40:4, 5; Paul in Acts 9:1-9; Zechariah in Luke 1:11, 12. Gideon feared he’d die (Judges 6:22, 23).
Those scenarios bear little resemblance to our asking God personal questions like, “Lord, shall I take the job offer at the library, or the one at the café?” Momentarily, we’re pretty sure God is saying, “The café is your best bet.” Then we write that down as God’s answer.
What we’re trying to make happen these days is not the same thing that happened in the lives of Habakkuk and other Bible individuals, and we should be cautious about equating them. God can do whatever he wants, of course, and he might choose to answer a direct question if it suits his plan. But routinely trying to receive direct revelation carries the danger of being subjective—we “hear” our own imagination/wishful thinking/fears. And most of us are naïve about the dangerous occult implications. How fortunate that God gave us his objective—and flawless—written Word (Proverbs 30:5, 6; Psalm 119:99-101, 169).