Friday, 6 July 2012

God's Self-Revelations

Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? Job 11:7–8 KJV. It is a question from one of Job's unhelpful helpers. But it is a profound question none the less. How can feeble men and women ever discover truth about God? We can't reach high enough or low enough. God is beyond us. The human mind and man's ability to reason is a powerful tool but is inadequate for this task. How can the finite fathom the infinite? How can we ever know anything about God, it is all beyond our reach.

It is true that genuine truth about God IS beyond our reach but it is also true that man is not beyond God's reach. And this is where it must all begin, not with mankind discovering God but with God revealing himself. We could know nothing of eternal truth if God had not revealed himself.

Have you ever been asked to introduce yourself at a meeting of any kind. "Just say a few words about yourself" says the host and we hardly know where to start. Just suppose we were in a smaller meeting with God, how would you introduce yourself, and how would God introduce himself? It's likely that you would be begin with the words "I am…". Where you go from there depends on what aspect of your character you want the meeting to know. These 'self-revelations' are fascinating things. We usually hide more than we reveal. The version of ourselves that we want to portray will be finely tuned to the event and to the hearers.

That is why the times that God says "I am…" are so fascinating too. The words that follow this simple formula are what God wanted men and women to know about him. 'By searching' they could never really discover God and an infinite God would overwhelm us if he revealed himself in all his unrestrained god-ness. God's self-revelations then are occasions of his condescension. That's a word that has fallen on hard times. It now means talking down to someone in a patronising manner. It wasn't always so. The word originally meant 'to come down' not in a patronising way but in mercy. One of the Hebrew words translated as 'mercy' (chanon) actually means to 'stoop down to someone'. God has condescended, stooped down, to reveal himself to mankind. Those revelations of who is he is are true but not complete; there will always be 'more' for God to reveal of himself, even eternity will be too short. So when God says "I am…" it is never the whole story but it is that part of the story that God intends to bring into focus. That's why it is valuable to take note not just of what God says about himself but why, and to whom and when.

John Wycliffe (1320 – December 31, 1384) advised his followers that in reading the scriptures to observe the context is as important as to observe the words.

It will greatly help you, for understanding scripture:

If you pay attention not only to...

WHAT is spoken or written,

But also OF WHOM it was spoken or written,



At what TIME, WHERE ,

For what PURPOSE,


Considering also WHAT IS SAID BEFORE

Those questions cannot be bettered and especially when we consider those times when God says "I am…". Revelation always has context.

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