We’ve considered how God reveals Himself through the physical and spiritual. This week, let’s look at how He reveals Himself through Scripture, with special attention to the Old Testament.
In years past, if you had suggested I spend any amount of time looking at the God of the Old Testament, I would have found the first opportunity to change the subject; fight or flight would kick in, and a little voice in the back of my mind would warn, “RUN!”
Although I still have much to learn about my Father, I no longer see Him as an angry god, ever waiting and watching to rain down His wrath upon me for my every blunder. No; quite the opposite. I see a glorious God who created a beautiful home for us to inhabit, who made provisions for our fall before He ever created us, so that we might not settle for depravity. He proclaimed His love for us; warning us, so that we might avoid the pitfalls of sin and self-destruction.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth. Genesis 1:1
Have you ever known an artist, who created a masterpiece of beauty, and sat back scowling at what He made? Well, maybe an insecure artist that doesn’t believe his work is good; or someone like myself, who has no talent on canvas. But, I cannot fathom a God who creates sheer beauty, only to glare at His creation, spout off rules and regulations, and wait in anticipation for man to fail, so He can cast Him to the far reaches of hell. By His creation, I know He is good.
After God created the first man and woman, He placed them in a lavish garden filled with every good plant for food. He gave them dominion over the land and sea and walked with them in the cool of the day. Yet, when they rebelled against God, and experienced shame, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
Smack dab in the middle of their rebellion, God made a promise to all creation; every single one of us. He promised the coming of Jesus, who would make all things right, who would bring us back to where He wanted us in the first place; in His presence, engaging in relationship with Him, living loved.
The Lord God said to the serpent, “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He (Jesus Christ, the Savior) will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” Genesis 3:15
In His wisdom and goodness, God repeated His promise over and over, throughout the Old Testament. In Exodus through Deuteronomy, He instructed the Israelites regarding animal sacrifices, the Tabernacle and all its content; revealing a foreshadow of the coming Savior; the same One who would crush the head of Satan, our real enemy and deceiver. In addition, there are over 350 prophecies throughout the Old Testament, where God faithfully promised the coming of Jesus. Here are just a couple of my favorites:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3a
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33
I believe with all my heart that God is good, and in His goodness, He repeatedly warns His children of the pain and despair that sin and rebellion brings. The book of Judges is filled with cycle after cycle of His people rejecting Him, doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes, and the resulting captivity, oppression and wounds that followed. Eventually, the people cried out to God, turned back to Him, and in His great love, He delivered them…until, they rejected Him again; and again; and again.
God reveals Himself throughout Scripture, as a loving and faithful God who longs to protect us from the traps of the enemy, sin and depravity. The world often sees this as harsh and intolerant. But truth is, He loves us far too much to remain complacently silent while we move ever closer to the cliff of self-destruction.
Fast forward to 2018. I cannot turn on the news without seeing reports of murder, mass shootings, rape, robberies and an epidemic of drug addiction running rampart across our country and around the world. I see hatred spewed from one journalist to the next and one political party to the next. I see an agenda to stir up resentment between races, religious beliefs and economic classes.
Countless people suffer every day at the hands of evil, and our culture wants to blame God for our pain and suffering. When we are not blaming God, we are blaming guns, the president, or the FBI. While we point fingers at the nearest scapegoat, we ignore the root of the problem; the heart.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
As a nation, we have turned our backs on God. We’ve removed prayer and the Bible from the classrooms. All manner of sexual depravity, death and violence is promoted in “music,” in movies and video games. Truth is seen as relative, twisted and distorted as each person sees fit. And as long as my little part of the globe appears safe, and my job funds my wants and desires, I can look the other way, hoping that somehow, no thanks to my own lack of action, people will wake up and turn back to God.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20
But, what can I do? What can you do?
That’s a very important question. Standing on the street with a picket sign condemning others is not the answer. Making obnoxious jokes about those whom I disagree with only adds to the cesspool of hate. Pointing fingers and criticizing doesn’t help either. So, what do we do?
I believe that everything Jesus ever did or said, even when He faced His accusers and persecutors, and even when He was angry, He did out of love for ALL mankind. Therefore, whatever I feel led to do, I must stop and ask myself, is this in line with the life of Christ, the One I follow?
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1
Friends, let’s pray about this. Let’s ask God to show us our part in His redemption story. Let’s open the eyes of our hearts and listen carefully for His reply. One more question, will we trust Him and respond to His promptings and convictions?