Adam and Eve attempted to cover their acquired sinful nature with leaves of trees but God in His love clothed them with ‘garments of skin’. We want to conceal the thoughts and desires of our heart from everyone so to be able to gaze into one’s heart is to know all about him and his character as also his expectations from us. How great it will be if we could somehow gaze into God’s heart and learn more about Him!
Knowing God’s heart – ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth’ (Genesis 1:1). But what was His compulsion to do so when He knew the sin and final decline of mankind? God is complete in every respect and does not need anything, yet He did so. In heaven God created the angels and surely He was well aware of Satan’s rebellion before He created him, and yet He did. It is written about the devil, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God (other angels); …. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’ (Isaiah 14:13-14). He not only wanted to be above all other angels in heaven, but be in a place of equality with God, the Father, the Most High God. Yet God did not destroy him but cast him out of His presence, though He is a just God. God knew about Adam’s disobedience, for He cannot be surprised by anything we think or do, yet He came looking for him in the Garden as before and called out, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9). The pronouncements about the consequences of their sin were not made in anger but in love to make them aware of what lay ahead in their life.
While God’s love for the world is expressed in His Son to give everlasting life to all believers but the reason behind His coming is further clarified (John 3:16-17). ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved’. First in creation and then in redemption of the fallen mankind, the most evident aspect is God’s love.
The quick decline in the moral standards of mankind for ‘every intent of the thought of his (man) heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart’ (Genesis 6:5-6). God still in His mercy did not destroy everything but commanded Noah to build an ark. It took Noah a total of 120 years to build the ark and the place was on solid ground and not on the seashore. Since no rain had fallen on the earth till then, it seemed absolute foolishness to all those who saw Noah building the ark. Yet God did this, for Noah to tell everyone to turn from their evil ways, though not one person listened to his message.
After the incident of the Golden Calf, which the Israelites made and worshipped, God’s wrath was aroused against them (Exodus 32:10-12). God then told Moses, ‘let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make you a great nation’. It was God’s love that Moses could say to God, ‘Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’. Moses could not have changed God’s mind with these words but it was God’s love that did.
In answer to Moses’ prayer to the LORD to show him His Divine glory, God ‘passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation’ (Exodus 34:6-7). All these traits of God as declared by Him to Moses reveal God in every aspect of His dealings with mankind. The first seven points are about His love and the next two about His justice system. This is also in line with His revealed nature in His Son, Lord Jesus Christ, who was born as a child, to undergo all the stages of a man’s life and be a part of humanity to be our Kinsman Redeemer. As per God’s law, given through Moses, to the Children of Israel, anyone who became poor and lost his land and family to someone, his nearest relative, called ‘goel’ in Hebrew and translated as ‘kinsman redeemer’, was responsible to pay the ransom money and get him and his family freedom. The Son of God became Man to be our ‘goel’ and pay the price of our redemption from slavery to sin and the devil through His sufferings and crucifiction.
This is the God who has chosen us to be part of His family (John 15:16) and citizens of heaven with a specific place earmarked and prepared for us by our Saviour Lord. God has declared, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11). God who is love (1 John 4:8) is concerned about all of His creation, even Cain, who had murdered his brother Abel, to put a mark on him to save him from being hunted down (Genesis 4:15). A believer has the special blessing of God, in the Holy Spirit being in us to be our ‘Comforter’ to teach us all things and remind us of the Words of Lord Jesus (John 15:26). He has revealed Himself in and through His Word and we have to just find Him in that and obey.
The most important thing in the heart of God – God is a loving God and He cares the most for His creation whom He had given dominion rights over the earth and all that is in it. After the Day of Pentecost, Apostles Peter and John were brought before the members of the Jewish Council, the Sanhedrin, and ‘when they (the Jewish leaders) saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men (not taught by a famous Rabbi), they marvelled. And they realized that they (the Apostles) had been with Jesus’ (Acts 4:13). Lord Jesus chose the twelve not because of their education or financial state but as per Scripture God searches the heart and tests the mind of everyone (Jeremiah 17:10). The disciples and all believers are chosen to fulfil the purpose of God, for our submission to His will to let His power work in us produce the results that He desires. When Lord Jesus looks at anyone to choose him/her, He feels this person and My power in him can make all things possible in and through him. All God’s dealings with mankind are based on mercy and grace for He is a God who gives multiple chances to all to turn back to Him and be blessed. This will be till the Lord’s second coming to judge the world.
God’s Word to the Israelites was, ‘I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me and I will return to you’ (Malachi 3:6-7). God desires a close relationship with mankind and being fully aware of their sinful nature He blessed them with His presence in His Tabernacle. The procedure of sacrifices was started to give them the opportunity to be in His holy presence. God instituted a number of festivals for the people of Israel to come to Jerusalem and fellowship with Him and with each other.
God’s heart is fully exposed when He declared, ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me’ (Isaiah 49:15-16). There have been innumerable cases of a woman killing her child, but there has never been an instance when God would have abandoned His people. Even when we turned towards sinful living, God did not turn away but patiently waited for us to turn back towards Him. The blessing of the free will given to mankind, to decide to follow God or not, reveals the blessed perfection of God who needs nothing and does not desire forced submission and worship.
Lord Jesus likened Himself to ‘the True vine’ and God the Father as the Vinedresser (John 15:1-2). Then He addressed the issue of non fruit bearing branches, ‘Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (The Father) takes away’. The Greek word ‘airo’ translated as ‘takes away’ means ‘to lift up (to a higher place), pick up, raise up’ like the normal practice of vineyard care. The unproductive vine branch is lifted up off the ground, that it might get more sunlight and bear fruit. God desires all of His creation to be useful to one another for no vine or tree has ever eaten up its own fruit, but the fruit is for others to enjoy. On the other hand, ‘every branch that bears fruit He (God) prunes, that it may bear more fruit’. The Greek word ‘kathairo’ used for prune means ‘make clean by purging’ (removing undesirable elements or eliminating what is fruitless by purifying). This pruning is also termed as God permitting some trial or tribulation to come, to help us to move closer to Him through more prayer, worship and meditating on the Word of God.
The aim of God is never to punish but to bless. God does not deal with us ‘according to our sins, nor punished us according to our inequities’ (Psalm 103:10-11). His mercy towards us, who fear Him, is immeasurable, just like the sky is above us. Lord Jesus, on learning about the beheading of John the Baptist by Herod, withdrew to a deserted place but a great multitude followed Him and when He saw them, ‘He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick’ ((Matthew 14:13-14). Even His anger towards the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Jewish leaders was of compassion to help them and lead them to God the Father.
The Talmud and the Midrash, the two Jewish books of commentary on the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Holy Bible, mention a debate about the Bible verse that sums up the ultimate message of the Bible. One sage quoted (Genesis 1:27) ‘God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created man’. Another one quoted, (Deuteronomy 6:4) ‘Hear O Israel; The LORD our God, the LORD is one’. The third sage quoted, (Leviticus 19:18) ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. The fourth sage quoted, (Numbers 28:4) ‘The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening’. According to the commentary the fourth verse was accepted as the one defining the essence of the Pentateuch. The reason for this is cited from (Numbers 27:16-18) when Moses was denied permission by God to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land, he spoke to the LORD, ‘Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation’. God commanded Moses to lay hands on Joshua, son of Nun and anoint him to be the new leader. But immediately after that God told Moses, ‘Command the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire as a sweet aroma to Me, you shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time’ (Numbers 28:2). Surely God did not need the offerings for food but the message to Moses was an expression of God’s need for the people. God is infinite and so are His needs, His infinite need is for your goodness, holiness, beauty, commitment, sacrificial love, your prayers and above all for your whole being.
The coming of the Messiah has fulfilled the purpose of His incarnation, forgiveness of sins and restoration of our relationship with God. The most precious of His possessions, His only Begotten son God has sacrificed for us. God became man, became dependent on man, suffered under the hand of man and ‘Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief’ (Isaiah 53:10). This is the heart of God, His ‘agape’ love that is sacrificial in nature; transcends and persists despite the circumstances. No human being can ever deserve this love and it is received in God’s grace, mercy and compassion only.
What should be our life as God’s image? Lord Jesus has commanded, ‘You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you’ (John 15:3-4). God desires us to live as ones who are taught by and walk in the way of His Son to show to others that the path of faith and morality is the happy and successful way to live. When the Lord says abide in Me, He is talking about the will, the choices and the decisions that we make in life. To abide in Him is to do things that expose us to Him and keeps us in contact and submit to Him, His authority and power. It is not only about my abiding in Him only but it is also about His abiding in me. It is a mutual relationship that demands my life to be spiritually and practically in vital connection with Lord Jesus. Joshua was out to check the defences of Jericho and was met by a ‘Man with his sword drawn in His hand (Joshua 5:13-15). Joshua asked Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ to be told, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come’. And then he was commanded to take off his sandals off his feet for he was in Holy presence. This same promise is made to us by the Lord, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him and We will come and make Our home with him’ (John 14:23). Joshua was told to submit, for God does not come into our life to assist but to take charge.
Love for God in our life is manifested in our obedience to His Word and submission to Him. Then we are to live with this realization that He is in me reading every thought, hearing every word, witnessing every step that I take. It is then that I am cautious to walk in His ways and His life is then lived in me. David could then say, not claiming to be righteous in his own strength but living in obedience, ‘For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth’ (Psalms 26:3). Can I say this before I go to sleep every night for I may not wake up the next morning? This is living in His presence, in His power to bear fruit for His glory for His created beings and thus be a blessing for others.
What will happen if one day some technology is developed by which our thoughts during our presence in the Church be projected onto a screen? God is present in us and is able to read every thought and desire before we put it into action. Our life as the image of God should be such that we do not be a blot on His great and mighty name, for we are restored into His Divine image by oir Saviour Lord’s sacrifice.