October 23, 2015

God reveals Himself

Ezekiel 45:1–46:24, Revelation 22:1–21, Job 39:11–23, Hebrews 9:13–14

My devotional guide is called “Connect the Testaments” yet sometimes the connections are not obvious except in a general sense. The Bible reveals God to us. It is the written Word of God, just as Jesus is the Living Word of God who is the fuller revelation of God Himself.

With that in mind, I’m reading these passages today and playing ‘I spy God’ to see what they tell me about Him. The first one is a basic ‘natural revelation’ shouting out that the wisdom and power of God is sometimes sharply contrasted by His creation. I’m amused that He uses an ostrich to illustrate what He is not like!

“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider.” (Job 39:13–18)

This creature does not display the love of God. Instead of being like an ostrich, God does not abandon His children, nor is He cruel. In contrast, He is wise and understanding and never flees from anything. There are no powers greater than Him. Instead, He laughs, not because He is running faster than His enemies, but because they are ignorant of what He can do.

In the next reading, the words of Ezekiel describe the temple and sacrificial system, which are also a revelation of God. They point less toward His character and more toward His concern for mankind’s problem with sin.

“Thus says the Lord God: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a bull from the herd without blemish, and purify the sanctuary. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and the posts of the gate of the inner court. You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.” (Ezekiel 45:18–20)

Mention of atonement puts Jesus in my mind. During the OT era, God promised a Redeemer, but He was not yet on the scene. Instead, His people were to believe His promise and give evidence of their faith by making sacrifices for sin. This was an elaborate and detailed activity. These verses show only a tiny part of it.

I am grateful for the Lamb of God who ended the need for the OT sacrificial system. As the NT says, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:13–14)

This is the main connection between the Testaments. Before Christ came, the people offered lambs to atone for their sin. Then Jesus arrived; the Lamb of God without blemish who died for the sins of the world. He is the final and perfect sacrifice whose death and resurrection opens the gates of heaven for all who believe. He is the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for our redemption.

The last book of the Bible begins with these words: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.” (Revelation 1:1–2)

Revelation is not so much a revealing of future events but a revealing of God to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It also describes the outcome of my faith using delightful words of hope.

Revelation 22:1–5 says this:  “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

God reveals Himself in nature, in His history with His people, in His Word and in His Son. When I think God is missing or absent, I just am not paying attention! 

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