Thursday, July 05, 2007

God

When the Ten Commandments were first given, that is, before the first set of stone tablets (and certainly before the second set), they were not given in pageantry. They were given in terrifying, first-person reality. These events are described in Exodus 19, three months after the Israelites left Egypt. Thirty-nine years later Moses recalls these events that surrounded the oral declaration of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 4 and 5); again in Hebrews 12:18-28 the events are described in contrast to something far more wonderful.

Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. (Deuteronomy 4:12 NIV)

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully… (Deuteronomy 4:15 NIV)

You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:35 NIV)

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39 NIV)

The reasons that no image was to be made of God, no likeness, were two:

1. He isn’t like any of His physical creation, so no creation could be like Him physically: “No form.”

2. He isn’t like any other god, because there is no other God.
God is not like anything or anyone. When He is described, it is not as a likeness. He is described in character:

· Holy; as the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7, where His clothing and hair are described gloriously
· where He dwells— “Heaven is my throne” (Isaiah 66:1)
· what He does—“the God of Heaven who made the sea and the land” (Jonah 1:9), “Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things, let this be known to all the world” (Isaiah 12:5).

But these were visions of glory. They were described in such a way as to establish that there is no other.

We today do not make physical images, but we do make mental ones: mental images of form and not of glory. These mental images are of very nature less than God. When we think of God, let us think of Jesus Christ (and not physically):

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. (2 Corinthians 5:16 NIV)

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. (Hebrews 1:3 NIV)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15 NIV)

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 NIV)


They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” … Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:21, 23 NIV)

This is how He wants to be seen, “glorified.”

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:5 NIV)

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

5 comments:

Matthew N. Petersen said...

You said "When we think of God, let us think of Jesus Christ (and not physically)." I'm not sure I can understand this statement. Jesus is a man.

Does it make sense to say "Let us think of Jim Wilson (and not physically)." It is not intuitive that it does.

And the verse from Corinthians does not seem to support thinking of Christ "non-physically". He says we do not think of anyone from a worldly point of view. That means we don't think of Jim Wilson from a worldly point of view. But I cannot think of Jim Wilson without thinking of Jim Wilson the physical person.

weswise said...

I think this is a good reminder or exhortation of how we view Jesus. Indeed, many times I tend to think of Jesus as he was on earth, and this is a presentation of God's character (washing of other's feet, leaving an example to remember, etc.) but it is limited to his relationship as a man to the Father- which is good for our devotion to the father, but in the book of John it seems that much more is revealed about Jesus and understanding who Jesus is including, yet beyond, the incarnation (regarding his limitedness as a man). I think the comment by 'matthew n. peterson' may be perceptive in the sense that Jesus is indeed physical- and we regard that, but we don't regard his "physicalness" as the likeness of God but his character and being, which I think was Jim's point. I don't think there's a dichotomy here, I think that what Jim is saying is that Jesus has a physical body as we ourselves do (unbelievers alike) yet he's regarded as the likeness of the father- but are we?? (No- except in some ways of reflecting God in our being made in His image, but not the way that Jesus is- "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.") So what makes Jesus the image of God isn't his image (as a man) but rather his character- otherwise that verse would apply to us if it was regarding physicalness as equality with God; but it isn't because we are born of (fallen) flesh and Jesus is born of Spirit (through virgin birth). Just as when a believer becomes born-again (from death in flesh, to life in spirit) he is more like Christ (although his appearance is the same) because his nature is new. I'm not implying that you ('matthew n. peterson' ) would disagree with what I said, but just that Jesus is indeed physical and it's good to know and think of that and what that means (that God would take on flesh to dwell among us) but regarding His likeness to God- then we stop thinking physical and start thinking character.

Thanks for the encouragement, in Christ- Wes

Matthew N. Petersen said...

Wes,

I'm not sure I understand you, but if I do:

no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

:-)

Christ isn't merely a expression of God, a reflection of God, He IS God. You are a particular person. You live in Boise. You have a particular body. If I knew you, I would think of how you look etc. when I think of you. If I had only talked with you on the phone, I would think of your voice when thinking of you. But in Christ's case that physical person not only looks like God, but is God. When Mary brought forth her first born, a son, she gave birth to God. When she was pregnant, she was bearing God. He for whom the heavens are small, found the womb of a virgin big. He who contains heaven and earth was contained in the womb of a woman. "In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger. than our whole world". The man Jesus Christ is God. In Him all the fullness dwells bodily. We have access to the holy of holies through the veil of his flesh. His physical blood saves the world. Before Abraham was born, Jesus IS.

I worship the man Jesus Christ. The physical person. Yes through his actions he manifests the Father, but that is because He, in his person, in his body, is God. If I shall see Christ, I shall see God--with my eyes. "The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us." "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."

James I Wilson said...

Dear Matt,
That is one of our problems we think of Jesus as a man. Jim Wilson is only a man. Jesus was not only a man. I have asked Christians over the years what they think of Jesus emotionally (not doctrinally) and what they think of God the Father emotionally (not doctinally). With very few exceptions their emotional views were much different from their doctrinal views. And their emotional view of Jesus was much better than their emotional view of the Father. A follow-up question was, "Do you think of Jesus more as man than as deity." The answers were overwhelmingly more as man.

My answer, "Jesus has a better character than the Father because he is a man?"

The worldy point of view is the emotional view not the biblical view.

Thanks for the question.

Respectfully,

Jim Wilson

weswise said...

Hmm, I think I can see how I may have sounded as if I was making Jesus out to be a mere man- he is 100% man and 100% God. I do believe that Jesus is God, that He existed co-eternally and co-equally with the father, and with the Holy Spirit these three are One God. The only point I was trying to make is that it isn't by looking at Jesus' flesh that we say, "hey, you must be God!" (because without the flesh, namely Jesus before the incarnation- He is still God) but rather that you see who Jesus IS- His being, and you say, "you are God!" But I am not also saying that His physical body doesn't mean anything- Jesus, in His body and being, is God; but the image and exact representation of God that the scripture talks about I think is referring to who Jesus is in His nature and being- not because of his body, but I'm also not disregarding His body. The only point I'm making is that if I said I wanted to be more like Jesus, because Jesus is God, I wouldn't try to LOOK more like Jesus but BE more like Jesus- does that make more sense than what I said before? Because that's all I was trying to say. Thank you though for catching me in that and trying to show me the correct view of Jesus, but I think that I just may not have used the right words to explain what I was saying. But I do agree with you- Jesus is God, and when I think of Jesus I think of His body, but the only distinction (which I doubt you deny) is that when I think of Jesus being the expression of God (because He is God) I don't think of a body I think of His being or attributes and maybe what he did with his body- rather than the body itself. but if I still sound unclear then correct me, because it makes sense to me.

for His Glory,

Wes