Here is another Study on who is God and can we know him. I know this is a long study, but I believe it came from and is important especially in these last days.
Who is God and can we Know Him
Over the course of this study we are going to be looking at the character and nature of God and this will lead us into a study on Jesus Christ. We will study who He is, His nature; His character; His personality; and His purpose. We will look at how this relates to mankind, and how it should influence our life and actions. This will in essence be a study on Knowing God. Can He be known by we who are mere mortals?
The answer is yes! We can know Him to the degree that we seek to know Him. That is a somewhat obscure statement, but it is an essentially correct one. Like anyone we seek to know in a personal way, we find that it takes a lifetime to really know someone, and at the end of that lifetime there are probably still some things that we do not know about that person. So it is with God. We may know Him to the degree that we seek to know Him. He is far vaster to comprehend then a mere person, but we all have the ability to seek to know Him and in that seeking; more and more cause that knowledge to grow, until we see Him face to face and then shall we know, even as we are known in a more complete sense. Until then, like a friend or a spouse we can seek to know Him as personally as we want, by simply spending time in seeking that knowledge through continued intimate relationship.
We will begin our study by looking at the defining characteristic that is absolutely predicated about God. God is Holy!
Ex 15: 11 Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you-- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
This passage comes from the song of Moses, we will come back to this song from time to time in this study but let’s look at what is being said here in this verse.
The question here in this verse is: Who among the gods is like you? The first thing predicated of God in this verse is that He is majestic in Holiness. The word Holiness in this passage is Quodesh. It means a most holy thing. It is used of the most innermost part. The temple was separated into three parts. The courtyard where all could enter who were of Israel. The Holy place into which only priests who were ceremonially clean could come, and the most Holy place into which only the High priest could enter once a year and for which he spent a week in ceremonial cleansing preparing to enter. It was a place of utter sanctity. It could not be entered until the priest was absolutely pure. It was Quodesh the innermost part which was absolutely pure. The Shekinah glory of God was so intense within the Most Holy place that the High priest would drop dead if he was not absolutely pure from sin at the time of his entry into that place. So as to be sure that no one else would enter a rope was attached to his ankle so that if he died in that place, he could be dragged out without anyone else entering into that place who was unclean.
In man our being is divided into three parts as well: the flesh which corresponds to the outer court; the soul which corresponds to the Holy place; and the Spirit the innermost part. That is the part which is to be absolutely quodesh, separated and holy unto God. We will see in this study that this is exactly what it means to be born again, that is born from above. Our spirits are to be wholly quodesh before God. Our minds should be pure and we cleanse our minds with the washing of the word, and our flesh should be pure and clean from the spots of sin. But our spirit is born from above and belongs to God who is Quodesh.
Just a note here, Holiness was never predicated about the other Gods with which Israel came in contact. Far from it the gods of Egypt and Canaan were often petty and fought amongst themselves. They were cruel and malicious each seeking to supplant the other gods. Holiness was a defining characteristic of the God of the Hebrews alone. He is the only God who has this distinctive.
In our next passage of scripture we will see this God as did Isaiah in His awesome state of holiness.
Is 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
The word used here is Quadosh. It has a slightly different meaning in that it implies that God is absolutely morally pure. It also signifies that God is the judge of what is pure. It is interesting to note the timing of this vision. Isaiah saw a vision of God in His holiness at the same time as the death of Uzziah, one of the most vile and evil kings of Israel. The implication is that Uzziah was judged by a holy God, and that the vision would not come until the evil was eradicated. His glory was based not on His good looks but on His quadosh, His utter purity. Three things we consistently see whenever we look upon the Holy God is His absolute glory, purity, and His awesome majesty.
Isaiah 57: 15 For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
This characteristic of God is so significant that here in this passage His name is identified as Quadosh. His name is Holy, and He lives in a high and holy place. Significantly He lives with a contrite and lowly spirit. That is one who is clean because of contriteness another word for the repentant. Repentance therefore leads to purity.
Rev 15:1 I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues--last, because with them God's wrath is completed. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. 4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
The word holy used here in Revelation 15 is Hosios. This again is a defining characteristic in that it speaks about the actions of God being holy. He alone is holy in that all that He does is absolutely morally pure or righteous. Hosisos deals with the outcomes of actions, and all God’s actions are holy because He is holy. Here in this picture we see God surrounded by a host of people who are in His presence and thus they are holy as well. Made holy by their defeating evil and being made pure. They are cleansed by their victory over the three evil agencies (the beast, image and number) mentioned here. Let’s look at one more passage concerning the word holy.
1 Pet 1: 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
As He is Hagios so you be Hagios, for it is written: I am Hagios. This is a direct quote from Lev 11:44 which is word for word Be ye Holy for I am Holy. Hagios corresponds with Quodesh meaning sanctified or set apart, separated. Pure and unspotted, unblemished from the world. Peter says in 2 Peter something which we should be very cognizant of today.
2 Pet 3: 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
You ought to live holy and godly lives, and be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. God will purify with fire and destruction this earth, the very elements will melt, and a new earth will come from a planet which has been sanctified, cleansed. This is what we are looking for the appearing of our great and awesome God. God awesome in majesty, glorious in His sanctity, pure in His absolute righteousness. His wrath against all that is evil is horrifying to witness, His splendor will cause the people of the earth to beg the rocks and the mountains to fall down upon them and protect them from His visage. What more can be said He is God and all men will acknowledge that, whether on their faces in fear or standing before Him with songs of praises in their beings for the love that they bare Him.
Holiness can be defined by it’s three main attributes and each of these attributes can also be defined by the actions that are manifested through them. In looking at this let’s not get bogged down by saying that various other actions could also define these characteristics. In fact much more could be said about each of these attributes, but we are looking at the overlying main attributes and the activities that are the most defining of these attributes. Other defining activities might be used but we want to concentrate on these in particular as they have to do with the final result that is the perfecting of the image of God in man. * Note: by this I do not mean man being made into God. I mean the character of God being etched into man.
We have looked at Holiness as being defined as pure, unblemished, unspotted, or unsoiled by sin. But this purity has a defining action, which more than anything else defines just how God feels about purity. The action that exemplifies purity is God’s anger engendered by sin, corruption. We are going to look now at God’s wrath.
The best example of what something is, is often by demonstrating what it is in opposition to. An example is hot and cold. They are opposites and form the driving force for all weather on this planet. Where heat and cold mix, turbulence is derived, thunderstorms begin with this simple mechanism of mixing hot and cold and violent storms are made the more violent by increasing the contrast between hot and cold. True their are other factors involved but at it’s simplest these are the causatives which bring about all weather phenomena, including the most violent of phenomena. So it is with Purity. The contrast to purity is impurity. The demonstration of God’s purity is his absolute hatred or wrath towards all that is impure. Thus God’s purity is manifested most clearly in His wrath against iniquity or sin. Let’s examine.
Rom 1: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
In contrast to the laws of God which were defined in the ten commandments and spelled out as proper behavior and thus defined the characteristics of sin, these men spoken of in this passage delight in every form of breaking the law. Lust, theft, murder, anger, disobedience, men who hate God are here shown to be deserving the wrath of God and they will receive the wrath of God. They delight in every senseless, barbarous activity and they know that they are doing wrong and yet take great joy in continuing in it. Such men deserve death, and they will receive it. Ephesians tells us that for such things God’s wrath comes.
Eph 5: 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
It is inevitable God’s wrath will be poured out upon mankind, it is simply waiting for the time when God will say enough and then He will pour out His wrath upon a wicked and dying race. Yet there is something more which is a cause for God’s wrath.
John 3: 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
In rejecting the son they have rejected God himself, in essence they are as Romans says God haters. God’s wrath will be upon the one who rejects Christ. Christ is the embodiment of life, to reject Him is to reject the life which He manifested; the Zoe life of God. They have rejected eternal life which is in Christ Jesus and can only be obtained through Him. Rejecting the source of life means rejecting life itself.
1 Thess 2: 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
The Jews attempted to keep the Gentiles from hearing the truth and in so doing they heaped upon themselves sin to the very limit and they were judged. They were dispersed to the various nations and Jerusalem was destroyed just a few years after this letter was written. They have become the most despised nation of people on earth and have remained so for some 2,000 years. That is great wrath indeed. We know that there are yet 7 years to be determined upon this nation, and many if not a majority of this nation will perish. Yet when we look at God’s mercy we will see that there is yet an opportunity for forgiveness even for this nation of stubborn and proud people. Note * This nation still has a part to play for God still loves them and He has a special part for this people to play, which will lead ultimately to their restoration as a nation Holy unto God.
There is yet another reason for God’s wrath. It is inseparable from sin and is at the same time a cause of sin.
Hos 4: 1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. 2 There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying. 4 But let no man bring a charge, let no man accuse another, for your people are like those who bring charges against a priest. 5 You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you. So I will destroy your mother-- 6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.
The rejection of the knowledge of God is a cause for sin and is the greatest sin of all. To reject all that is true is the most heinous of sins. Dhath is the word for knowledge used in verse 6 and means insight and intelligence. To reject what may be known of God, to ignore it; is to ask for the wrath of God. This is why we study to show ourselves approved, so that we might not fear His wrath but be recipients of His great mercy. As we continue this study we will see that like God’s wrath each characteristic of God contributes to the whole of His personality. And we will find great hope in that in contrast to His wrath we have been incorporated into His magnificent Love. We are not children of wrath but we are children of the light.
As our study progresses in knowing God we have looked at God’s Holiness as demonstrated through the meanings of Holiness. We also looked at His absolute purity which was clearly manifested by His wrath against all iniquity. This week we want to look at another manifestation of God’s holiness and it’s product.
We are now going to look at His Majesty. From His majesty we see His absolute authority to conduct the affairs of this universe. As a king He reigns in absolute dominion. There is an activity which we can always associate with the rule of a king. We will look closely at this as it impacts every man, women and child on this planet. The primary function of a king is the administration of justice. Before we look at this function let us now look at His awesome majesty.
1 Chronicles 29: 11 Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.
12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
This was a prayer of exultation spoken by King David. Here a king on earth gives praise to the most high God whose kingdom is over all. In His hand were power and might. He was majestic. The word here for majesty was Hod and is unique to Hebrew. It means simply, majestic, glorious, splendor, honor, and is used frequently of God in the Old Testament.
From the hand of God came riches and honor, He reigns over all and His power and might make men great and gives strength. These are all aspects of a King who reigns wisely and justly.
Job 38: 22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty. 23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress. 24 Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?
Elihu when speaking of God used a common aphorism for God’s majesty. He spoke of His awesome majesty, the KJV renders this terrible majesty. It meant fearful, awesome, terrible to behold. The God of the Universe is fearful, awesome and terrible to behold in His majesty. When He returns to this world men will run in fear, hide in caves, and will cry for rocks to fall upon them in order to escape that awesome splendor, His terrifying majesty. Men know in their hearts that He will judge them and fear of His wrath and majesty will cause men to quake with terrifying fear.
Is 2:10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground from dread of the LORD and the splendor of his majesty!
Hear God’s words to Job when He confronts him. It’s several chapters long so we will read a sampling of it in Chapter 38.
Job 38: 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8 Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11 when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'? 12 Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, 13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? 14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. 15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16 Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death? 18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. 19 What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? 20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? 21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years! 22 Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, 23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? 24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? 25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26 to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, 27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31 Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth? 34 Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?……
Well that is just a sampling of what God had to say. Notice though that He started out by saying, “who is this that darkens my counsel”. I will question you and you will answer me. God is not taking just Job here to task but all who were present. He was saying how dare you darken my counsel, with your insignificant wisdom. I am not going to answer to you, you are going to answer to me. Then He demonstrates His awesome majesty, His power over all the universe. In essence He is putting these men in their place. Let’s look at Job’s response.
Job 42: 1 Then Job replied to the LORD: 2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."
Job recognizes the futility of even questioning God and takes a proper course of action. In response to God’s questions, he repents. This is a proper response and God who judges all men, meats out justice. He restores Job! God looks to see a humble response and He get’s it. We must always be careful to recognize that we are merely mortal beings who should be listening to here from their creator, not to bring a charge against Him. God also meats out justice to the three elder advisors to Job. He commands them to repent to Job because they had made the God of Heaven and Earth angry. I don’t think I would want to be in their places right then. God heard Job’s prayer and accepted it. But let us always, when approaching the throne of God, come as petitioners, not instructors or as wise men to counsel God; but as petitioners to the throne of Grace, where we may find forgiveness and mercy and that is something we all need.
This is a difficult subject to cover in a single lesson, but we need to see one more element here when dealing with majesty.
Ex 15: 6 Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. 7 In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. 8 By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.' 10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. 11 Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you-- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? 12 You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them. 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
In these verses Moses sings a song of victory, of triumph over Egypt by God’s right hand. The term your right hand is used three times in this passage, with a fourth reference to that same hand in verse 9. This is an allusion to Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament especially in the prophetic books the right hand of God speaks about Jesus Christ. It is His majesty that we are going to look at next.
Mic 5: 2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be their peace.
This prophecy is significant in many ways. It speaks of restoration for Israel and of a coming Messiah. We will concentrate on the Messiah aspect. He will come in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. His greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be their shiloh, their peace.
A future ruler, a future king who will reign over all the earth. He will reign in majesty and distribute justice to all men, his reign will be one of peace. Who is this Messiah?
Mk 16: 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
Luke 22: 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." 70 They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."
Eph 1: 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
Ph 2: 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We have looked at a number of verses of scripture which speak of Christ’s preeminence, and demonstrated that He is even now at the Right hand of the Father in Heaven. He will be the king over all that is in both heaven and on earth. A majestic king who reigns over all in the splendor of his majesty and who executes justice to all mankind. It is this aspect of His majesty that we want to look at next. Majesty executes justice, it can do nothing else. It is the purpose of a king to reign and rule and to do this, he must judge. A good king judges a righteous judgement which is based on rules of justice. Therefore majesty executes justice. Solomon, a king noted for his wisdom says this.
Prov 21: 1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. 2 All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart. 3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
To do what is right and just is more acceptable than sacrifice. Why? Simply put sacrifice was necessary because of sin. When a man performs that which is right and just he need not sacrifice. We do not sacrifice for the righteous things we do, but for the unrighteous. To do that which is right is pleasing to God let us never forget that, and let us make that our goal. God is the ultimate judge of all that is done on the earth and his standard is righteousness. We will look upon that standard more in a later study. Suffice it to say for now that justice is weighed against the standard of righteousness in the scales of judgement.
Zep 3: 5 The LORD within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame. 6 I have cut off nations; their strongholds are demolished. I have left their streets deserted, with no one passing through. Their cities are destroyed; no one will be left--no one at all. 7 I said to the city, 'Surely you will fear me and accept correction!' Then her dwelling would not be cut off, nor all my punishments come upon her. But they were still eager to act corruptly in all they did. 8 Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD, "for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out my wrath on them-- all my fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.
God will dispense ultimate justice but here we see he dispenses justice continuously and he does not fail and his standard is righteousness. Let us see how this applies to the person Jesus Christ.
John 5: 24 I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
Christ has authority to judge, it is given to him by his father. His authority to judge is based on justice because he seeks to please God the father.
Rom 2: 1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
I included this passage as it demonstrates how justice will be determined in the future judgement. But clearly justice is based upon truth, and truth and righteousness work together. This makes knowledge essential, don’t you think? I want to paint two more pictures before we close let’s look at Revelation. We are going to see Christ for who he is, the righteous king eternal.
Rev 1: 12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Jesus Christ the living one who has power over life and death, what a majestic and awesome and fearful vision. Let’s look at one more.
Rev 19: 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
The king of kings and Lord of Lords need anything else be said. He wages war with Justice! And the price for judgement based on a lack of justice is the wrath of God almighty. God in His full majesty revealed will execute absolute and awful justice. Let’s take one last snapshot of God’s justice.
Is 57: 15 For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. 16 I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me-- the breath of man that I have created. 17 I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his willful ways. 18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, 19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near," says the LORD. "And I will heal them." 20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. 21 There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked."
God will not always punish, but he dwells with the contrite and lowly spirit. He will restore mankind. There is great hope in that, but for the wicked says my God there is no peace. But we are of the contrite, another word for repentant. There is mercy in justice and that is what we hope for, God’s mercy. Next week we will see just what is the source of God’s mercy which tempers the judgment of God.
Knowing God Part III - Glory
As we look at God’s Holiness as demonstrated through the various meanings of the word Holiness. We see that God is absolutely pure and this produced a fearsome wrath against all that was impure. We also looked at His Majesty demonstrated through His absolute authority over all kingdoms, powers and principalities. As the absolute center of all authority throughout all the heavens God judges and is the source of all final justice. He is the administrator of justice. Awesome in majesty He reigns as King over all there is. We see Him pictured all through the scriptures as worthy of this awesome responsibility. Today we are going to look at another aspect of this mighty and awesome king. We are going to look at His Glory, and further at how that glory is personified.
Let’s look at just what glory is. I think it is often misunderstood.
John 17: 1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
"Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
The first word we will examine is “Doxazo”. It means to glorify, to recognize; honor; praise; to bring to honor. It means to bring recognition to or to make manifest glory.
The second word we need to look at is the root word “Doxa”. Meaning reputation, recognition; honor, etc. In other words simply put Doxa means to recognize someone and Doxazo further expands that thought through bringing recognition forward into the limelight. Doxa has a someone interesting concept built into it, in that it comes from the verb “dokeo” to think. In other words recognition comes from or through the process of considering the actions of the one who is being recognized. So we today in this lesson are going to examine and think about Christ. In the process we are going to glorify Him by recognizing just who He is and what He has done for us.
In our opening text Christ is basically saying, Father recognize me as even I have brought recognition to you. I have glorified you on this earth, and now Father as I prepare to perform this final act bring honor or glory to me by recognizing me yourself and once again restore me to that place that I had with you before the world was.
Throughout Christ’s time on earth He refused to act upon His own authority but would only act upon the directions He received from God the Father. He was absolutely selfless, desiring only to confirm the Father’s will through his obedience to Him. Let’s look.
John 5: 19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.
John 6: 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
I want to look at one more verse of scripture along this vein of thought. It is going to introduce us to our purpose in this lesson.
John 8: 25 Who are you?" they asked.
"Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26 I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world."
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
There is so much in these few verses but we need to focus on what was going to bring final recognition to Jesus. That recognition would bring everlasting glory to the one to whom all glory is do. But in what an ignominious way that goal would be accomplished. It would be accomplished by the most cruel and gruesome death that one can imagine.
Christ claimed that when they lifted him up then that they recognize him. Some would honor him and bring glory to his name. His name and His fame would be spread across the world and because of His selflessness many would come to believe in Him. Christ was preparing to embark upon that final deed which would forever decide the fate of all mankind. Because of His great love for mankind He would suffer the cruelties of the cross and He would die for mankind. But let’s not leave it there.
You see they couldn’t keep Him in the grave and Christ arose, it is His arising from the dead and providing the hope of redemption that brought Him such great glory and honor. He is alive and no one who puts their trust in Him will be ashamed. Christ is alive and that is the most glorious thing to believers throughout the last 2000 years of mankind. It provides hope to a dying civilization, for if He is indeed alive then He will come for those who believe in Him and make them alive with that Zoe life, that is alone his right to provide to those who follow Him.
John 1: 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Do you recognize Him? He came so that we might be made children of the everlasting God. We have recognized him and what we have seen is glorious. Won’t you bring honor and recognition to him. How? By making him known to this generation of lost and dying men. You see Glory is something that is inherent in God but it comes from the recognition that He receives from those who honor Him. When we Praise Him we are bringing glory, honor and recognition to Him. When we tell others about Him we are doing the same. Christ brought honor, recognition and praise to his father by telling others about Him and by being obedient to him and giving Him the Father all the renown for the works performed by the son. I do nothing of myself but what the Father tells me, that do I.
Are you doing what the Lord is telling you to do? Are you performing the work that has been given to you the believer, this is another way we bring glory to God.
Let me share a passage with you from one of my favorite authors. Our study has seen this passage before but I think it is truly a challenging one which needs to often be considered.
1 Peter 1: 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.
Just as Christ imitated the Father we are to imitate Christ. He was revealed to us so that we might have an example. His example sprung from an immense well spring of Love for a lost race. Peter tells us just as Christ loved us see to it that we love one another deeply from the heart with sincerity. Love produces a special fruit and it is this fruit that makes it possible for man to be saved. That fruit is mercy. Mercy means that you and I have hope for the future. Let’s look.
1 Peter 2: 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Mercy stems from God’s Love for you and me. Christ became the sacrifice which satisfies the demands of an absolutely pure and holy God for retribution against all that is impure. Christ’s blood was sufficient to provide purification for all sin ever committed and provide a source for mercy to be extended to all of mankind.
Heb 1: 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but 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. 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Heb 2: 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." 13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."
Let’s now look at my favorite book in the Bible, 1 John.
1 John 3: 1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
This study began with the premise of Knowing God. John tells us here in this passage that if you want to know Him that we have a promise that one day we will know him. This is ginosko knowledge, eperiential knowledge, or knowledge that is gained through actual experiencing His presence, His power, and His love. He says that everyone who has this hope purifies himself, just as He is pure.
There is evidence that we know Christ as Lord and Savior. It is simply that, the character of God that provided hope for mankind, is now developing in you the believer because you now have a relationship with him.
1 John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
1 John 3: 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
1 John 4: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
My purpose in starting this journey of examining the nature and character of God was to know him whom to know is eternal life. In Hosea chapter 4 God told the children of Israel that they were destroyed by Him because they didn’t know him. Now John addresses this issue of knowing Him and offers us hope, let’s examine that.
1 John 5: 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him. 16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
We know that we are children of God. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him… Do you have that kind of confidence, I do. I find hope in the assurances that are found in the Word of God. Are we perfect yet? No, of course not. But we are in the one who is perfect and we have within us all that is necessary to live a life that is pleasing to God. I want to close with a strange passage but I think it should stimulate some thought.
Heb 10: 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
So my friends we come full circle. God is absolutely Holy and yet if we know Him we can have full confidence and approach the throne of mercy. In the temple the ark was called the mercy seat. It represented the throne of God and was approached only through great fear and trepidation, but Paul tells us we can approach with confidence, if we draw near through with a sincere heart. But as we have studied, God is the judge and He will judge his people and it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. One of the most awesome things that I have discovered over the years is that it is possible to come to know this personage.
To experience His love to see His care for those He loves to witness his majesty in the heavens and in the miracle of life that comes only from Him. It has been my joy to discover greater and greater truths in His word and to discover the little hidden truths which bring sudden insights into our God, and yes the warnings that are also abundant as well. I have witnessed what happens when those truths are discarded or ignored and it saddens me to say I have seen those who have drawn back possibly to the damnation of their souls. We have all that we need to come to know this great and awesome God, His son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit which comes from God. This triune being is calling out to His people, Know me for I would be known of you. That is how you bring me glory and honor by knowing Me whom to know is life eternal. Think about it. Doxa Glory comes from a person who is thoughtful and considers the one to whom honor is being given.
In closing let us consider this:
Col 3: 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Set your mind or as the KJV says your affections on things above. The word here used is Phroneo, meaning to think and implies both thought and affections. Set your mind, your thought and your affections upon Christ, be renewed in knowledge epignosis a clear and exact knowledge which will in turn will cause you to be transformed into the image of your creator. Amen.