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The opening chapters of Genesis paint a beautiful picture of Adam and Eve enjoying a personal relationship with God. The story of God and Abraham does the same. But Moses and David open a window into their hunger to know God more intimately. On Mount Sinai, Moses cried out to God, “If I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you,” and God responded with an extraordinary revelation of Himself (Exod. 33:13; 34:7–9). Though he was by no means perfect, King David’s life (1 & 2 Samuel) and his many psalms reveal a deeply personal relationship with God and a longing for Him: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). Their hunger for God is an example given to encourage our desire for God (Rom. 15:4).
Knowing God more deeply was not the privilege of only a few luminaries in the Old Testament. God called all of His people to know Him personally and love Him supremely with heartfelt devotion. He called Israel to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). And through Jeremiah we hear,
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jer. 9:23–24)
God delights when His people truly know Him, love Him, and enjoy the blessings of His faithful love, justice, and righteousness.
A notable New Testament example of hunger for God is the apostle Paul. Near the end of his life, Paul said that his greatest passion was “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). Paul had had a dramatic encounter with Christ thirty years earlier on the road to Damascus, and he had had several other experiences with Him afterward, but he longed to know Him more deeply. His example shows us that no matter how long or how well we have known the Lord, there is always more.
Paul’s longing to know Christ points the way for us as we seek to know God today. We see God most clearly and know Him most nearly through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), and Paul says, “He is the image of the invisible God,” and “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15, 19).