What’s the truth about God? Can it be known? Does it matter?
Here are three ways to answer.
Answer one: Give up before you start. Just assume there’s no way to really know. Why waste your time answering big questions when you could be playing X-Box instead? This is the easy answer.
Answer two: Reason your way to the truth about God. Start with what you know and build a bridge to what you don’t know. Use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Examine the wonder and power of creation and, from there, speculate about the nature of the creator. Or, start with human experience and project from there to build an image of the divine. This is the cultural answer. This is “God imagined.” Somehow this approach leads to a God who looks strangely like ourselves.
Answer three: God shows up and tells us who he truly is. This is “God revealed.” This is the Biblical answer; it’s the gospel and it’s awesome.
Moses didn’t have a clue. He didn’t reason his way to faith in God. He didn’t spin a groundbreaking new view of God using the power of his imagination. Fact is – Moses didn’t find God at all; God found Moses. There’s only one reason Moses had anything to say about God: God showed up one day.
Having checked out on the whole “religion thing” long before, Moses was killing time by prodding sheep in a desert wasteland. If he’d been living in our times, he could easily have been locked in his bedroom playing video games. Then, unexpectedly, God showed up. GOD SHOWED UP. Check it out in The Book of Exodus, chapter 3.
Still, there was no visual on God – no image. Here’s how God made himself known to Moses: he revealed the essence of his character. “God revealed” means: God explained (vs. God imagined). Later, Moses begged to see the glory of God. God graciously answered that prayer. But the way God “showed” his glory seems less like“showing,” and a lot more like “telling.”
“The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.” (Exo 34:5-8 )
This is God revealed; God explained.
We cannot know everything there is to know about God. But we can know true things about God. We can know the truth about his character. Not only that, we can know the truth about his purposes, his promises, his saving acts in history, and his gift of salvation through Christ. We didn’t dream this stuff up, nor did we start from ourselves and reason our way to these conclusions. God revealed it; he explained it. All of this leads us in a straight line directly to Jesus Christ – God revealed.
Next post: Jesus – Image of the Invisible God.