« continued from previous page
God in the Bible
If you want to know what a new acquaintance is like, it is wise to pay attention to what he or she tells you and to observe that person’s actions. This is what we have in the Bible: God’s self-revelation in which He speaks about Himself and provides a record over generations and ages about how He acts.
The first five books of the Bible are attributed to Moses. Often called the Pentateuch (Greek for “Five Scrolls”) or the Torah (Hebrew for “Law”), they are the foundation for the entire Bible. Hebrew by birth, Egyptian by culture, royal by training, and desert shepherd by necessity, Moses was providentially shaped to be an agent of revelation, a prophet.
Imagine Moses’ first impression of God as he meets God in the flames of a burning bush. Light, heat, energy, power! God is more than a concept or an idea; God is a person, a shining presence who speaks as we meet Him in the fabric of creation.
In the account of Exodus 3, the very first action required of Moses is that he must take his sandals off because he is standing on “holy ground” (v. 5). The holiness of God is a central thread woven throughout the Bible, exemplified again in Moses’ encounter with God on Mount Sinai, the vision of the prophet Isaiah some seven hundred years later (Isa. 6:3), and the apostle John’s vision of heaven (Rev. 4:8).
Holiness is a mysterious concept that is hard to nail down. Words associated with it include unmixed, unpolluted, uncorrupted, separate, unique, just, righteous, sacred, precious, and honored. Holiness was not just for the Old Testament. Jesus makes the holiness of God central, as the prayer He teaches us begins, “Our Father in heaven, holy is your name” (Matt. 6:9).
Meeting with God as the holy God, for Moses and for all ever since, is a life-changing experience. R.C. Sproul describes his first encounter with God. As a college student, he was awakened and summoned from his bed in the middle of the night. At first he was overwhelmed with fear by a “foreboding presence.” As the fright subsided, he sensed a different “wave.”
It flooded my soul with unspeakable peace, a peace that brought instant rest and repose to my troubled spirit. At once I wanted to linger there. To say nothing. To do nothing. Simply to bask in the presence of God.
That moment was life transforming. Something deep in my spirit was being settled once for all. From this moment there could be no turning back; there could be no erasure of the indelible imprint of its power. I was alone with God. A holy God. An awesome God. A God who could fill me with terror in one second and with peace the next.4
It might be helpful to reflect on how God first got your attention. God is a God who steps into our world, interrupts us, and calls us to Himself and His purposes. Clearly this is what we see in the ministry of Jesus as Jesus walks into the fishing sites of Peter, James, John, and Andrew by the sea of Galilee and says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Mark 1:17 NRSV).
Immediately after declaring His holiness to Moses at the burning bush, God identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exod. 3:6). Look closely at this self-description of God. Growing up as a Hebrew in an Egyptian household, among people who worshiped many different gods, Moses’ view of God up to this point would have been influenced by a variety of sources. Unlike today, when the common question for many is “do I believe in God?” the question for Moses would have been “which god do I worship?”
Next page »