The frail old man sets aside his walker and gradually places himself in the tub. But this is no ordinary bath. You see, he just returned from the store where he purchased seven gallons of yellow mustard. The old man has scooped, squirted, and squeezed this smelly condiment into his bathtub.
Why in the world has this man done such a thing?
“Is he senile?” you ask.
Nope. He’s just got arthritis and he watches Christian television. One day when he was watching his favorite show he had a strong impression that he couldn’t shake. As the polished reverend prayed over his global congregation, this delicate old man began praying his arthritis would be healed. Out of nowhere a voice told him to purchase seven gallons of yellow mustard and bathe in it.
As a logical guy he found this audible instruction a tad weird. But then he started reading over his Old Testament and realized that a bath in seven gallons of mustard wouldn’t be the strangest action the Lord has commanded. Convinced this was the Lord’s will, he dutifully waddled to his dusty mini-van, put his walker in the backseat, started the car, went to the store, and bought seven gallons of their best yellow mustard.
How can you argue with this fella’s logic? After all the Lord did ask people to do really strange things in the Old Testament. Our mustard-bather has nothing on the prophet Ezekiel. So, how could you convince this guy that the Lord isn’t telling him to bathe in yellow mustard?
Now in one sense you really cannot. It is theoretically possible that our living God would speak to an old man and tell him to bathe in a vat of zesty mustard. There’s really no Scripture passage that says, “Thou shalt not bathe with condiments”. So, in theory God could have spoken to him. But at the same time our now yellow friend has a gross misunderstanding of the nature of Scripture.
Yes, God once spoke to the people by having a prophet cook food over his own feces. And, yes, God spoke through burning bushes and clouds. That is what Hebrews 1 means when it says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets”. That “many ways” would include a guy laying naked on his side for a whole year. And it would include speaking to Gideon through the laying of a fleece as much as it includes speaking to Jeremiah through the Word that he put in his mouth.
But that has all changed. Notice the contrast in Hebrews 1:2. “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”
Something has drastically changed. As opposed to the unique ways that the Lord spoke to people of old, he now speaks to us clearly through His Son. And we see this speech plainly in His Word. This is what theologians call progressive revelation. The Lord’s communication with humanity has progressed–climaxing in the revelation of Jesus Christ. That’s why he’s not likely to communicate to us through yellow mustard. Progression. He speaks to us now quite clearly through Christ in His Word.
Thankfully, our mustard-covered friend doesn’t actually exist. At least I hope he doesn’t. But you hear weird stuff like this every day. Christians say that God spoke to them and told them to do something really weird. And when I hear that stuff I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical because the Lord has said that in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. And he’s done so clearly. And it doesn’t require mustard.