“He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”” (Numbers 12:6–8, NASB95)
There is a sense in which all of the revelation found in the Prophets is God speaking through the dark sayings of riddles and parables. On one level the meaning is quite plain, but it is always partial. Through the prophets God is not speaking to us face to face as we might wish. We are given glimpses and whispers. Why? “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2, NASB95) God intentionally veils knowledge in order to expose the human heart.
Prophetic utterance was always intended to be a sword that divided between those who would humble themselves and seek the LORD, and those who would continue in their own paths and do what was wise in their own eyes. It is only in the process of seeking Him that understanding of the meaning truly comes. Correct interpretation always required discernment, even in the historical context when the words were first spoken.
This is why it is simply disastrous for the words of the prophets to relegated only to the interpretive prerogatives of the academic guild. The reason why no one believed what Jeremiah said about the events in his generation was not a wrong “hermeneutic”. Inventing such terms may be helpful for communication but it does not change the reason why people won’t believe what Jeremiah said about days still to come either. I am a thankful recipient for the benefits of thorough scholarship and an outspoken advocate of rigorous study. Yet in recognizing that rays of light do at times stream into the halls of the university, we must never fall into the error of thinking they originate there.
The light of revelation comes from on high, and there is no soundness in the wisdom of man. Oracles and utterances of men of old moved by the Spirit were always intended to be a stumbling block. They were meant to be problematic. And it is first and foremost in prayer that those problems may be resolved and riddles unraveled. The common sentiment that clarity concerning what the prophets describe about the latter days (i.e. eschatology) is for the erudite is deeply ironic. In biblical logic it is nearly the opposite that is actually the case.