Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can we see God?

I do not recall Exodus 24:9-11 jumping out at me the way it did this morning. I was confused by what it said about some men who, with Moses, 'saw God'. Elsewhere the Bible says that 'the soul who sees God will die', right? D.A. Carson explains this apparent contradiction...

To strengthen the allegiance of the covenantal community, God graciously discloses himself not only to Moses but to Aaron and his sons, and to seventy elders. Whenever Old Testament writers say that certain people “saw God” (24:10-11) or the like, inevitably there are qualifications, for as this book says elsewhere, no one can look on the face of God and live (33:20). Thus when we are told that the elders saw the God of Israel, the only description is “something like” a pavement “under his feet” (24:10). God remains distanced. Yet this is a glorious display, graciously given to deepen allegiance, while a special mediating role is preserved for Moses, who alone goes all the way up the mountain. (FTLG)

It is shocking to think about what Jesus said to those living in his time over a thousand years later. He said that in seeing Him they have seen God! He claimed to be God! John Blanchard, in my new favorite book (Right with God) discusses the 'I Am' passages in the Gospel of John (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:9; John 11:25-26; John 14:6; John 15:1).

In the plainest way, Jesus claimed that there had never been his equal in the history of the world, nor would such a person ever appear again. He was unique, and every other person in history would need to assess his life in the context of his person, life, work and teaching. (p. 66)

Quite arrogant for anyone other than God! Later Blanchard discusses my favorite passage dealing with the deity of Christ.

One one occasion, Jewish leaders, angry at the extravagant claims Jesus made, asked Him, ''Are you greater than our father Abraham? (John 8:53) and went on, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham!' (John 8:57). Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!' (John 8:58). The two words in capitals are most important. If Jesus was only claiming to have been older than Abraham - and that would have been amazing enough! - he would have said 'Before Abraham was, I was'. Instead, he deliberately used the words 'I AM'. To discover why, we must go back to the Old Testament. When called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses asked by what name he should identify God to the children of Israel. God's answer is recorded in Exodus 3:14, 'God said to Moses, "I am who I am." This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM has sent me to you."' To the devout Jew, this remained one of God's distinctive names, and to hear Jesus (who was also a Jew and knew its meaning perfectly well) using it as his own was too much. It was blasphemy, and demanded death by stoning, 'they picked up stones to stone him' (John 8:59). It is obvious from this that both Jesus and the Jews knew the implication - Jesus claimed the right to use God's Name as his own, as he did again in John 13:13 and John 18:5. (p 67-68)

Blanchard went on to say that Jesus often claimed to be equal with God (Mark 9:37; John 5:23; John 8:19; John 10:30; John 12:44; John 12:45; John 14:7,9,11; John 14:23), and that other Bible authors claimed the same thing of Him (John 1:1,14; Romans 9:5; Col 1:15, 2:9; 1 Tim 3:16; 1 Tim 6:14, 15).

The Bible says that God no longer reveals Himself through the terrifying smoke and fire of His manifestation on Mount Sinai. He no longer speaks to us merely through the words of His prophets. He has now revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3b)

So no one has seen God and lived to tell about it. Not even Moses when He went up to the Mountain to receive the Law, saw God in all his glory, but rather just a glimpse of the background of His glory (Exodus 33:18). Yet, Jesus Christ is God in human form, and we can see God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in the Scriptures! This verse sums it up so well.

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1:18)

While many claim that the God of the New Testament is a 'kindler/gentler' God who is passive and inept, please do not make the same mistake. Consider that Hell is discussed much more than Heaven in the New Testament, and the pages of Scripture are full of warnings to repent and fall on the mercy of Christ before it is too late. I invite you to bow to His authority and worship Him today!

There will come a day, described in 2 Thessalonians, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. (2 Thes 1:7b-10)"

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)

1 comment:

Mike said...

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. [4] From now on you do know him and have seen him.'

8 Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' 9 Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? 10 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. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.'" (John 14:6-11)

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike