Getting to know the God of the Bible
Some people decide there is no God. This concept, propagated by the media, encourages some to go along with this idea. Others say their own particular view of God is the correct one, so in effect, create God in their own image. They like to think that God goes along with their ideas; a difficult concept to square with the many differing ‘ideologies’ people have come up with.
The word of God (the Bible) prophesies that the Jews would be taken from their homeland (e.g. Deuteronomy 28: 64-65) and this was fulfilled when the Assyrians took first the Jews from the northern kingdom of Israel in BC 858 (2 Kings 17:5-6) and then over a hundred years later the Babylonians took the southern kingdom captive (2 Chronicles 36:15-21). These people were returned to their homeland seventy years later, exactly as prophesied.
God is a jealous god, yet He is full of compassion. He is over all, everlasting, the creator. A God of peace, light and love, all-powerful. He has a name: JHWH, meaning ‘I will be who I will be’ (Exodus 3:14)
So, what will God be:
Let’s go a step further and come to know the God revealed in the Bible.
What do we mean by know? We all know the prime minister. But we don’t (I presume) know her personally.
The prophet Jeremiah (31:31) prophesied to Israel as a nation and showed there will be a time when people will truly know God. The word of God will be written indelibly in their hearts.
Hebrews 8:8 identifies two covenants: one made through Moses with Israel, the second covenant came through Jesus Christ to enable people to know God by knowing His son.
Jesus brought in a covenant that related to promises made to Abraham (who lived 2000 years before Christ, even before the Law of Moses) yet those promises were not ratified until Jesus came.
Hebrews 10 shows how the blood of bulls and goats that used to be offered under the old covenant of Moses could never take away people’s sins
…when Christcame into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
… then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
…This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,
(5-6, 9-10, 16).
This shows how the new covenant is about God forgiving sins. But this covenant did not require animal sacrifice. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross was once for all those who want be part of that new covenant.
You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:25-26,
The blessing that Abraham’s message carried was: you can have your sins forgiven. That is what the early apostles went out to preach.
Our biggest problem…
The biggest stumbling block to accepting the gospel is humility. Jesus encountered two kinds of people during his ministry:
Those who thought they had no need
Those who knew they had a need
Luke 18:9 talks of people who trusted in themselves: ‘[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt.’
Those who recognise they have a problem are half way there. Paul recognised the problem he himself had: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.’ 1 Timothy 1:15
We all have a problem: we’re all are heading towards death. Recognising this is half way to a solution.
Yes, our dilemma is that we are sinners. And a perfect God cannot be in a relationship with sinners. That’s why Adam and Eve had to leave their close relationship with Him and the delight of Eden.
And its solution…
By his nature, God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, rich in goodness and truth. That’s what God is and what he always will be. The Bible constantly refers to this. God only wants a relationship with those who want to have his character traits as shown in Jesus.
Yet sometimes we drag God down to our level, trying to turn Him into a God that fits in with the way we’d like to live. Yet, God knows what is right and best for his children. Just like a parent who sees their youngster approaching danger; that parent won’t stand back, saying, ‘Let him/her learn a lesson’. They will do something to save their child from harm. In the same way God offers an opportunity to everyone to be saved from the worst harm of all. Death.
People sometimes reject God because he stands for what they don’t like/want to believe. There are natural laws and moral laws. We can’t argue about natural laws; for instance, gravity is not just a good idea. It’s the law. Why should moral laws be any different?
More about what God is like …
He is abundant in goodness and truth:
The LORD, the LORD a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…Exodus 34:6,
‘…his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity.’ Deuteronomy 32:4
‘the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.’Psalm 19:9,
‘The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures for ever.’ Psalm 119:160
‘…he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth’ Isaiah 65:16
God’s purpose is to fill the earth with his character as shown in Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…’ (5:22-23)
God will always want to reach out to those who also seek for such qualities in themselves, even if they fail in completely doing so. If you want to know Him don’t try to justify your behaviour but humble yourself. Our finest example is Jesus who ‘lived God’ in his entire life.
‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’. Luke 2:49,
‘Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.’ John 14:10-11
‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done’ Luke 22:42
Jesus prayed that his disciples and all his followers may be at one with himself and God:
‘…that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one…’ John 17: 22-23
This unity of mind and purpose can only come between those whose characters are the same.
If you come to God through Jesus, eternal life is bound up in knowing Christ as Jesus said:
‘…this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ John 17:3
What can we do?
The Bible made it clear from the beginning that a perfect, sinless God cannot live with a sinful people. Just as Adam and Eve discovered when they had to leave the Garden of Eden when they sinned. We’re in the same position. The Bible tells us how ‘the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Romans 6:23
This is not blind faith. There is plenty of proof in the Bible if we take the trouble to read it. There we will discover that God is a rock on which to build. That way you will find your character is being built by God.