The spirit of every human being creates a yearning in him/her to be with and get close to God, either for developing a close relationship or for receiving some blessings. But then the problems of life overpower that desire and one gets busy with the chores of life. God as a loving Father keeps waiting for us to receive a call from us, His children, and many times this wait is never fulfilled or we call on Him at a much later stage in life only. Sometimes this happens only during the last breaths of the individual for till then we keep on trying to achieve everything with our own efforts. How blessed are those who turn to God early in life and keep growing in a close relationship with Him.
Getting closer to the unseen God – Moses was with Jethro, his father-in-laws sheep in the desert and saw ‘the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed’ (Exodus 3:2-6). He decided to turn to ‘see this great sight, why the bush does not burn’ and The Angel of the LORD had appeared to him in the bush. When Moses turned aside to look, ‘God called to him from the midst of the bush’ and then revealed Himself, ‘I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God’. The belief was that no one who has seen God will live. It is written that ‘The LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend’ (Exodus 33:11-23). But then Moses sought God ‘Please, show me Your glory’, to receive the answer from God, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me and live’. God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and told him, ‘you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen’.
Wherever in the Bible ‘The Angel of the LORD’ is mentioned, the reference is always to the Son of God. Apostle Paul identifies Lord Jesus as ‘the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation’ (Colossians 1:15-17). He then shows Him as the Creator, ‘For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things consist’. Apostle John identified Lord Jesus as the ‘Word’ that ‘was with God, and the Word was God’ and ‘in Him was life’ (John 1:1-4 & 14). –
Lucifer, was a covering cherub and was ‘cut down to the ground’ (Isaiah 14:12). The fall of the devil from heaven to the earth made the earth ‘without form, and void; and dark’. The Son of God is then first revealed in the creation process, when God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Lord Jesus prayed to God the Father, ‘O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was’ (John 17:5). It is the light of this glory that removed the evil darkness from the earth, thereby giving it shape by separating the waters and the earth and then removing the emptiness by filling it with trees and plants, birds and animals and creatures of the sea and finally mankind. The light of the sun, the moon and the stars were created only on the fourth day.
God visited Adam and Eve ‘during the cool of the day’ to be known by them and to guide them in their daily living on the earth (Genesis 3:8). Even after Cain had killed his brother Abel, God still visited him to tell him about the resultant effect of his evil deed (Genesis 4:9-10). Apostle Paul then confirms about God calling mankind, ‘into fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1:9). This call for fellowship is from the time of creation, all during the sinful separation and after redemption till His kingdom is fully established on the earth when the ‘throne of God and of the Lamb’ shall be exalted in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:3).
It is clear that God has never abandoned mankind despite our sin and has always desired to have a close relationship with man. His presence with the Israelites in the ‘Pillar of Cloud and the wall of fire’ in the wilderness as their Provider and Protector, setting up of the Tabernacle and the Temple are all proofs of this desire of God. Moses was sent by God to lead his people from the life of slavery to Egypt with the command to say to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me’ (Exodus 4:22-23). God is always ready to listen to the cry of His people and His eyes are on them, watching over them as a Father would on His children (Psalm 34:15).
Our role in developing a close relationship is to look unto God’s Son who was sent to reveal God to us, to know Him, worship Him and follow His Word and He takes the lead to draw us closer to Him. It is His grace and mercy and not our efforts, for we are not to create any tower of Babel to reach Him, for He Himself reveals the ladder to reach Him as He did to Jacob in Bethel.
Why can’t we see God – Man desires to see and feel the presence of God by bringing Him under the ambit of five senses on mankind, whereas God as Creator is above this. The Second Commandment prohibits this that ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth’ (Exodus 20:3). ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’ (Genesis 1:26-28). Since man is created in God’s image, he was given dominion rights over everything and tasked to ‘be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’.
The process of creation of man was a three step process; first, God formed man by giving a specific shape to the ‘dust of the ground’; second, ‘God breathed into his nostrils (into that formed thing) the breath of life’ and the third stage is about man becoming a living/speaking being (Genesis 2:7). Man was thus created to be head over everything and exercise control as a representative of God. Lord Jesus taught the Samaritan woman, ‘God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’ (John 4:24). He did not say God is a Spirit but that He is The Spirit and all other spirits, including the evil spirits can connect to Him but are subject to Him.
After sin entered the world, man has been separated from the spiritual realm and can only understand that which is controlled by time and space. God as Creator of the universe must be distinct from the world; His existence cannot depend on any of His created things; He is on a higher plane than all created things and is referred to as ‘The Supreme Being’. As Creator He is totally different from anything else that exists and since He is eternal, He is not bound by time and its effects like ageing etc. Though He is totally unknowable, we know Him by His attributes and various names were given to Him as per these. Abraham called Him ‘Yehowah Yireh’, God who provided a sacrificial ram in place of Isaac or ‘Yehowah Rapha’, God who heals.
Thus we as spirit beings can know Him; and since He is invisible, we can know Him without using our five senses; He is not a material being and thus frees us from the bondage to material things for we are supposed to rule over what is part of creation. God breathed a part of Himself into man and how can He permit man, thus filled, to bow down before the replica or a carved image of that same created thing. Thus man would either start worshipping himself or his/her image or some painted or carved image of other things that are inferior to man in status. Man is a spiritual being and to know God he does not need to have a visible image but must discern Him spiritually.
Adam and Eve did not see but heard God’s voice and hid from Him (Genesis 3:8-9). The command to the Israelites is ‘Shema (listen), O Israel’ and not ‘See, O Israel’ (Deuteronomy 6:4). Lord Jesus was transfigured on the mountain in front of the disciples, and His whole being was changed into ‘light’ (Matthew 17:3-5). Command from God from within the cloud was, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him’. Before that the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, had also only heard the ‘still small voice of God’ and obeyed. The resurrected Lord appeared to the disciples but Apostle Thomas, not being present, refused to believe (John 20:21-31). ‘After eight days’, Lord Jesus again appeared and asked Thomas to touch His nails pierced hands and put his hand into His side, where the Roman soldier had pierced Him with the spear. Lord Jesus then said to Thomas (and to all others), ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’. Apostle John then clarifies that all that the Lord did is not written but only part of these are, ‘that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name’.
God never abandoned mankind and through prophets and other ways did continue to speak and finally His Son, ‘through whom also He made the world’ became the voice of God to reveal Him to us and as Redeemer led us back into a close relationship (Hebrews 1:1 -2). To ensure a better and continuous understanding of God, we are blessed with the indwelling Holy Spirit who teaches all things (John 14:26). To know God, we do not have to see Him but believe and draw near to Him in faith.
How close are you to God? The spiritual strength of Mary, the mother of our Lord, is not only revealed in her reply to angel Gabriel, ‘Let it be to me according to your word’ but also in her song of praise, ‘Mary’s Magnificat’ (Luke 1:38). Her real strength is revealed in the spirituality of her other sons, who being entrenched in Jewish belief initially did not believe in Lord Jesus as the Son of God. Hegesippus, who lived during the succession of the Apostles, accurately recorded the life details of Apostle James, who was called ‘The Just’. He is said to have developed camel-like calluses on his knees because of long hours of praying on his knees seeking forgiveness for his people and was accepted by all as the head of the first church in Jerusalem. His admonition to all believers is, ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:8-10). Lord Jesus revealed the same message to the church for He waits at the door for us to open our hearts to Him so that He can share food, ‘The Spiritual Manna’ with us to nourish and strengthen us (Revelation 3:20).
Moses saw the departing glory of the LORD God, a glory that was not coming to be with him and He could finally see the Lord in His Divine glory with Prophet Elijah during the transfiguration of Lord Jesus (Exodus 33:23). But for a believer, our Redeemer Lord has blessed us with the glory which he was given by the Father (John 17:22-23). We are then blessed with oneness in Him ‘For it is good for me to draw near to God’ (Psalm 73:28). Apostle Paul further defines our blessed state with ‘God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3).
Lord Jesus appointed twelve disciples at the start of His ministry, ‘that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons’ (Mark 3:14-15). The qualifying clause in this is ‘to be with Him’ and this we do by reading, meditating upon and living in obedience to His word. The LORD God sent Prophet Isaiah to inform King Hezekiah of his death due to sickness but the king ‘turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD’ (2 Kings 20:1-6). Before Isaiah could leave the palace, he was sent back by the LORD to tell Hezekiah about extension of his life by fifteen years and deliverance of the city from the king of Assyria. King David was called ‘a man after God’s heart’ and he could boldly face Goliath, the giant with the power of God working with him (1 Samuel 13:14).
King David was steadfast in his relationship with God and sang, ‘Awake, my glory! Awake lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn’ (Psalm 57:8). It was his closeness to God that when the Philistines came to attack him, he enquired of the LORD and was told, ‘when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the LORD will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines’ (2 Samuel 5:22-24).
Apostles Peter and John were fishermen with little or no education but while facing the High Priest Annas and other Jewish leaders, they were bold in their replies, refusing to give up preaching the Gospel (Acts 4:13). When the Jewish leaders ‘saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus’. The Apostles and since then believers, filled with the Holy Spirit, have performed great miraculous deeds, shaking the whole world with their message. This can only be because they were and are with Lord Jesus, in the Spirit and draw strength and guidance from Him. If you want to change someone’s life, you have to first get close to God and then move in His power. Do not wait for there may not be another chance.
Lord Jesus declared, ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ for the blessing to be children of God is available to all of mankind but not all turn to Him. God is always willing to have a close relationship with the chosen but many, like the Israelites, refuse to enter the cloud of His glory to be near Him. And then, like Moses, and the disciples, not many develop a close relationship with Him and some like Judas Iscariot not only reject but insult the offer. God is waiting but are you ready?