Andrew Scull, in his recent book “Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine,” suggests that many of the biblical prophets may have been mentally insane. He said, “If you look at the of the Old Testament prophets, the answer is hard to disentangle. Many parts of their lives are seen as mad or possibly possessed, and only over time do some of them get reinterpreted as inspired.”
Is it as Andrew Scull postulates? Were the Old Testament prophets hallucinating when they made their prophetic utterances? Was Paul describing a hallucination when he said, “2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” (2 Cor 12:2) When John received his revelation vision on the isle of Patmos and said, “10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea,” was he having a hallucination?
What about the church member who says, “God told me.” Did He? How do we know that this church member is not trying to manipulate the rest of the members with this secret “message” from God? What about the man who stands up during the church service and says, “I have a word from the Lord.” Does he, or is he an arrogant church member trying to impress the members with his super-spirituality? What about the woman who speaks up and says, “I have the gift of interpretation.” Does she, or does she make up her “interpretation” as she speaks?
It is important for us to know if and when we are hearing God speak to us. In this lesson we will endeavor to discover what God wants us to understand about this matter as we search His Word.