For the next few days let’s look at the story of Rahab the harlot. She lived in a doomed civilization. God told Abraham, “I give to you and your descendants…all thelandofCanaan” (Ge 17:8 NKJV). Since Rahab lived on the “wall” ofJericho, in a sense she lived on the “brink of doom.” So do we. Today leaders are scrambling to stop the spread of nuclear weapons because in the wrong hands they have the power to destroy the world. The Bible speaks of a rider on a red horse with a weapon of such destructive potential, it could remove peace from the earth (See Rev 6:4). Could that be a nuclear device? Peter writes: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2Pe 3:10-12 NKJV). Should we be frightened? No, the death throes of this old order are just the birth pangs of a new one. “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found in Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (vv. 13-14 NKJV). What God has in store for His redeemed people—is awesome!
Archive for December 27, 2011
How do we know God? How can we know God, not just theologically, but relationally? Let’s keep these questions in mind as we turn to John 1:15-18.
After celebrating the Incarnation of the Word of God, who became human and revealed his divine glory (1:14), the Gospel of John underscores the Jewish context of these events. The Word Incarnate was the one about whom John the Baptizer testified (1:15). The law was given through Moses, “but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” Thus, the Word Incarnate fulfills Jewish hopes for the Messiah and completes God’s revelation that began with the Mosaic covenant.
This brings us to verse 18, which is one of the most astounding verses in all of Scripture. It is also a tricky verse to translate and interpret. Yet its basic meaning is clear…and stunning. “No one has ever seen God” underscores God’s distance and difference from human beings. Unlike the pagan gods who showed up on earth periodically, the one true God has never been directly seen with human eyes. Thus, we cannot know God truly through our own powers of observation and discernment. We need God to reveal himself to us in a way we can understand.
This is exactly what happened in the Incarnation: “[T]he one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” The Word of God is also the Son of God. He has seen God and is thus able to reveal God to us. But, more strikingly, the Son is God (see John 1:1). Therefore he reveals God to us, not only in words and deeds, but also in his very person.
When we gaze upon Jesus, we peer into the face of God. Through Jesus, we can know God, truly, intimately, personally. Yes, our knowledge of God is not complete (1 Cor. 13:12). But insofar as we know God through the Word Incarnate, our knowledge is genuine and trustworthy. Thus, we keep Christmas well when our relationship with God is shaped by his self-revelation in Jesus, the fully divine and fully human one who was born in a stable and laid in a manger. We honor Christmas when we allow Jesus to show us who God is and what it means to walk in fellowship with him each day.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How has Jesus shaped your understanding of God? How has God’s self-revelation in Jesus impacted your relationship with God?
PRAYER: Gracious God, apart from your help, we would never know you. Oh, we’d know something about you from observing your creation, and our hearts would yearn for you, but we’d never know you truly unless you chose to make yourself known to us.
So, today we thank you for revealing yourself to us. You have made yourself known through the Law and the Prophets, through calling Abraham and forming a covenant with Moses. But most wonderfully, you have revealed yourself to us by becoming one of us. In Jesus, the Word Incarnate, you have made yourself known to us. Thus, you invite us to have a truthful, intimate, vital relationship with you.
All praise be to you, Gracious God, for revealing yourself to us in the Word Incarnate. Amen.
Standing for Truth
We have developed in recent times a peace-loving, soft-spoken, tame and harmless brand of Christian of whom the world has no fear and for whom it has little respect. We are careful, for instance, never to speak in public against any of the false cults lest we be thought intolerant. We fear to talk against the destructive sins of modern civilization for fear someone will brand us as bigoted and narrow. Little by little we have been forced off the hard earth into a religious cloud-land where we are permitted to wing our harmless way around, like swallows at sundown, saying nothing that might stir the ire of the sons of this world. That Neo-Christianity, which seems for the time to be the most popular (and is certainly the most aggressive), is very careful not to oppose sin. It wins its crowds by amusing them and its converts by hiding from them the full implications of the Christian message. It carries on its projects after the ballyhoo methods of American business. Well might we paraphrase Wordsworth and cry, “Elijah, thou shouldst be living at this hour; America has need of thee.” We stand in desperate need of a few men like Elijah who will dare to face up to the brazen sinners who dictate our every way of life. Sin in the full proportions of a revolution or a plague has all but destroyed our civilization while church people have played like children in the marketplace. What has happened to the spirit of the American Christian? Has our gold become dim? Have we lost the spirit of discernment till we can no longer recognize our captors? How much longer will we hide in caves while Ahab and Jezebel continue to pollute the temple and ravage the land? Surely we should give this some serious thought and prayer before it is too late–if indeed it is not too late already.