To the consciousness of the prophet, the prophetic act is more than an experience; it is an objective event. This is its essential form. Whatever be the motive or content, and whatever be the mode in which inspiration is apprehended, there remains always its character as an event, not as a process. What is the difference between process and event? A process happens regularly, following a relatively permanent pattern; an event is extraordinary, irregular. A process may be continuous, steady, uniform; events happen suddenly, intermittently, occasionally. Processes are typical; events are unique.  A process follows a law, events create a precedent. The term "continuous revelation" is, therefore, as proper as a "square circle."

We must admit that revelation is remote from the "daily experience of modern man today"; even the thought of it is intellectually embarrassing. Yet, to identify it with our own intellectual preferences is to distort it before we explore it; is to abuse what we are supposed to understand. We must be ready to go beyond the categories of our own experience, even though such a procedure may upset our mental routine and ease.

Inspiration, then, is not a process that goes on all the time, but an event that lasts a moment. The term used in the Bible to describe general events in history, vayehi, "it happened," is employed to describe prophetic inspiration, vayehi  dvar Adonai eilai, particularly in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

God is not simply available once and for all, to be found whenever man so desires. There is an alternative to God's presence, namely, His absence.

 

 

from page 431, The Prophets