Isaiah 28:24-25 (NET) states;
“Does a farmer just keep on plowing at planting time? Does he keep breaking up and harrowing his ground? Once he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter the seed of the caraway plant, sow the seed of the cumin plant, and plant the wheat, barley, and grain in their designated places?”
God has used nature from the beginning of time to teach and show us new things, wisdom, and important information. We need to open our eyes to this. Edward Curtis asks in his book “Transformed Thinking” the following:
“Consider the farmer in Isaiah 28:23-29, whose God-given knowledge of farming techniques comes through general revelation. Have you ever experienced anything similar? Have you ever learned how to do something through tradition, observation, experimentation, but believe the lessons come ultimately from God?”
We see nature all the time. A beautiful horizon, powerful storms, leaves falling from the trees; this is God talking to us. We can learn from nature. Like the farmer who has learned from the land his farming techniques, techniques he learned from watching generations before him, we too can learn this way. Think about something you may have learned from tradition. Is it really tradition or God? Everything comes from God. He created our brains to think in a manner that scientists are still trying to figure out to this very day. We can learn from watching others, from experimentation, and from the product itself (in the case of the farmer; his land). This is general revelation. Curtis goes on to ask about general revelation and what is most important about it. The most important thing about general revelation is that we pay attention to it. We learn how to be who we are through general revelation. A baby learns to talk from watching and mimicking those around him or her. He or she learns to walk the same way. This is general revelation.
Curtis asks about the arts and the importance of them in our spiritual lives. As a musician, and a painter, the arts have played a significant role in my spiritual life; music especially. Even before I began to play contemporary Christian music and traditional church music, I felt a connection to God every time I played. This is general revelation. I learned most of my trade through experimentation with my instrument.
What about psychology and anthropology? This is also general revelation. People may not be as comfortable with this as they are with traditional learning or the arts; however these things are also gifts from God. People want to think that this is science. It is; however science came from God. General revelation is the key to all education. My own opinions on theology changed as I learned more about general revelation. I realized that God was giving me this information, this education, for reasons known only to Him. It was for ministry, which is a field you enter if you are called to do so. Science, theology, all education is general revelation from God. This information is being given to us by Him, channeled through different sources such as professors, traditions, and our own experimentations.
In the article “The Significance of General Revelation to Our Understanding of God”; author David Wead lists six arguments presented by Shirley Guthrie that are used by philosophers and theologians through the centuries on general revelation. They are; (1) the world is not self-explanatory, (2) the universe displays purpose, (3) world history and personal experience point to God's existence, (4) conscience bears witness to the existence of God, (5) we have spiritual awareness of a divine presence deep within, and (6) the world seems to function in a rational way (Guthrie, Christian Doctrine, Revised Edition, pages 41-42). These all point to general revelation and Gods communication with man. A general supposition of theologians is that our contact with nature is all communication with God.
Outside of theology and psychology, general revelation has been useful in many ways. Going back to the example of a baby; as the baby enters the toddler years, he or she begins to grow up, talking, walking, and feeding him or herself. This is from mimicking others (tradition) and general revelation (God communication with the toddler information on how to grow up based on the surroundings that the toddler is in). General revelation is also useful in our adult years as we learn new skills for new employment, or to handle situations that may come up in our surroundings (environmental learning or learning by survival). This is all needed in our lives.
General revelation is much different than special revelation. General revelation is how God communicates with all of us on the same level. Special revelation is a special form of communication catered towards a certain individual that God is trying to reach. The example of Moses and the burning bush is special revelation. General revelation may be how a farmer learns to tend to his crops (Isaiah) while special revelation is more direct communication from God (the burning bush).
These questions presented by Curtis and Wead had a personal impact on me. General revelation is something we take for granted. We need to realize that God is communicating with us. That is powerful. Outside of special revelation, what could be more powerful than a conversation with the Creator Himself?
In summary, God uses everything to communicate with us. This is general revelation. God uses nature, our environments, and the people around us to communicate what He needs to communicate to us. To explain it any other way would be going against The Word of God.