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KNOWING the True God #36

The Last Chapter ... but more...

                         KNOWING THE TRUE GOD #36


                             WHO ARE YOU, GOD?


by Dawn Yrene


     Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the
rest, they burned them.... Then the LORD turned from his fierce
anger" (Joshua 7:25,26). Now there's a verse I've never written
on a three-by-five card.
     What about you? Have you ever read the Bible and overlooked
information that didn't fit neatly into your personal theology?
Is it possible you do it without even noticing?

     We all enjoy meditating on life-giving scripture verses like
Philippians 4:6,7 or Psalm 23. But we may nervously skim past the
instructions God gave to the Israelites in Joshua or Judges to
kill this or that group of people.
     Even when I have not totally ignored uncomfortable verses, I
have been tempted to de-emphasize them. While it is not wrong to
emphasize passages that make sense or minister deeply to me,
there is a danger in ignoring aspects of God's character so that
He fits my personal image of Him.
     I was doing exactly that during a dry spell in my walk with
God. While reading the first chapter of Judges, I was disturbed
at practices such as cutting off people's thumbs and big toes,
pressing captives into forced labor, and offering daughters to
those who captured cities. Those things just seemed bad. I also
couldn't understand God. Often He blessed those who annihilated a
city, but rebuked those who left survivors.
     Instead of jumping over to the Psalms, I cried out, "Who are
You, God?" As always, the Spirit was ready with an answer. I
began to write down every piece of information the passage
offered about God.
     Some of it was basic, but I listed it anyway. I also wrote
down information that did not fit my preconceived notions about
God. As I wrote, my dry Old Testament time, which had seemed like
an obligation, transformed into a bold experience - more like
finding clues to a mystery than performing a daily ritual. I was
getting to know God. He was still the same kind Physician who had
healed my dog when I was eight, the same artistic Genius I could
not doubt when I viewed creation, and the same patient Father who
led and protected me even through my questioning and rebellious
college years. But He was so much more!

     Recently while in the book of 1 Chronicles, I skimmed over
name after genealogical name, then tried asking, "Who are You,
God?" Here's a step-by-step example of how I studied 1 Chronicles
13 using that simple question.


Start with prayer. 


     I express my desire to see God's character, what He loves,
what He hates, how He relates to people, why He included these
phrases in His Word, and anything else He desires to reveal to
me.


Read the passage. 

     After reading all of 1 Chronicles 13, I focused on verses
7-11. David and a group of men are moving the ark to the City of
David. They're celebrating and praising God with all their might.
An oxen stumbles; a man touches the ark to steady it. God becomes
angry, and the man dies on the spot. David then gets angry at
God. Out of fear, he leaves the ark with a local family.
     List what you can observe about God. I include things I've
heard before, as well as information I've never considered. Here
is my list:

* God gets angry.
* He considers certain objects holy - specifically, the ark.
* He sometimes strikes people dead.


List what you can deduce about God. 

     For instance, a passage may not say, "God loves." but God's
actions may demonstrate His love. I'm careful not to assume
things; I try to stick to facts. For this passage, I will add to
my list:

* When God gives an instruction, He expects it to be followed
precisely.
* Even when people are worshipping Him, He may choose to
discipline those who ignore or disobey His laws.


Look up the corresponding verses listed in your Bible's
cross-reference notes. 

     Do they explain why God reacted a certain way? Do they
clarify any uncertainties? In Numbers 4:15, for
example, God states, "They [the Kohathites] must not touch the
holy things or they will die." Now I add to my list:

* God gave a clear warning before striking a man dead.
* God does not react in strange and unpredictable ways with
people. He makes Himself clear, or at least He does in this case.
(I will have to study more to see if He always gives clear
instructions.)


Include what God does not do. 

     God does not do anything in verse 11. But can His inaction
teach me about His character? David is now angry at God and
doesn't understand why God reacted as He did. What God doesn't do
to David teaches me that He doesn't strike people dead or punish
them just for being angry at Him. I can add that to my list. He
also doesn't send an angel to explain to David why the man had to
die. On my list I write:

* God doesn't always explain Himself.
* However, in order not to box in God, David did not ask for an
explanation.


Allow His character qualities into your worship.

     After moving through a passage in this manner, I speak to
God about what I've discovered. Is He to be feared as well as
adored? Do I feel more thankful for the new covenant Jesus made
through His blood? I affirm that God is merciful but also that He
expects obedience. He is forgiving, but He is not lax. He heals,
but He also destroys.


Seeing God

     Even in the dustiest places in Scripture, we may find a
hidden gem about the God who created all we see, gave freedom for
all to choose, made Himself nothing so that all who would follow
Him could become something, and placed it all within our grasp in
His recorded Word.
     As we see God for who He really is, we'll be more prepared
to fit into His plans and live life His way, casting aside the
old boxes into which we may have tried to squeeze Him.

                              ...............

The BA staff regrets to report that Dawn Yrene passed away since
submitting this article. We offer our sympathies to her family
and wish them God's comfort.

From "The Bible Advocate" - December 2009 - a publication of the
Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO> USA.

NOTE:

I have come to the end of this study on KNOWING THE TRUE GOD.

You can learn about the wisdom of God towards you from the book
of Proverbs. You need to remember as you study Proverbs that a
most important key to Bible understanding is that God uses
"general statement" all over the Bible. In other words there are
often "exceptions" to the rule as the saying goes. You need to
have this "a key to understanding the Bible" very much in your
mind. I have given a full in-depth study on this "Bible Key" on
this Website called "An Important Key."

The book of Ecclesiastes will give you the mind of God on other
important matters. 

The "Song of Solomon" is fully expounded to you on this Website.
The mind of God on sexuality in marriage.

The "Prophets" (Isaiah to Malachi) for today are expounded for
you on this Website.

You can learn more about the true God from the life of Christ in
the Gospels. All expounded for you in "The New Testament Bible
Story."

And do not forget more about the true God is found in the
"general epistles" and "epistles of Paul" and "Revelation."

OUR  HEAVENLY  FATHER  HAS  REVEALED  MUCH  ABOUT  HIMSELF  IN
THE  PAGES  OF  THE  BIBLE. WHAT  HE  WANTS  YOU  TO  KNOW  ABOUT
HIM  IN  THIS  PHYSICAL  LIFE  OF  OURS  IS  RECORDED  AND
REVEALED  TO  US, AND  TO  OUR  CHILDREN. THE  SECRET  THINGS
BELONG  UNTO  THE  LORD (DEUT.29:29). WE  LOOK  THROUGH  A  GLASS
DARKLY  ON  SOME  THINGS  FOR  NOW, BUT  WE  SHALL  KNOW  ONE
DAY, EVEN  AS  WE  ARE  KNOWN (1 COR.13:12).

Keith Hunt


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