As I Ponder God’s Eternal Nature

Well it is turning out to be a bit challenging to find time to write a blog post each week, nevertheless, I will continue trying! This weeks blog post is going to be a bit lengthy so I hope you have some time to spare.

In the past few months I have been pondering what it really means for God to be eternal and incomprehensible. In fact, the reason I first thought about creating a blog was because I knew that if I wrote a lengthy Facebook status detailing my reflections on this very topic, no one would take the time to read it lol. I want to take the time to analyze God’s eternal nature and ultimately end up discussing how His eternal nature literally makes Him indescribable and incomprehensible. I will also be touching on more Scripture in comparison to my first two blogs.

First I would like to discuss some uses of the word eternal. Is there a difference between God giving us eternal life and Him being eternal? Does that make us eternal too? But unlike God, we have a starting point to our existence, so how does that work? I did some studying on this and discovered that eternal can be used both to describe something without beginning and end (i.e. God) or to describe something without end but with a beginning (I.e. His eternal/everlasting  covenant). Another way to think of it is that when we receive eternal life, it is HIS life we are receiving, which is eternal. I know this probably seems obvious to some, but I just wanted to cover my bases because as I was personally meditating on God’s eternal nature, I was reminded of the fact that we are given eternal life and knew that there had to be a distinction between the two ideas.

Now I’d like to shift gears briefly to recall some of my favorite passages of scripture in which we find details of His majesty and glory.

“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.” -Ex. 19:16-18

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” -Isaiah 6:1-4

Those are just two short passages to illustrate my point but if anyone has the time I would encourage you to read Rev. 4 and my all time favorite, Ezekiel 1. It is clear from these passages, especially Ezekiel 1, that God’s glory is magnificent and personally has helped me to establish a reverent fear of God. It is usually after reading these passages that we begin to understand God’s indescribability. Yet, these verses still describe Him. So what does it mean that He is indescribable and incomprehensible? My ultimate goal in this blog post is to prove God being incomprehensible doesn’t just mean He is really hard to wrap your head around or even that there is an infinite amount of information to be known about Him but rather that He is literally unable to be fully described or comprehended even if given an eternity. I believe that the key to understanding this is directly connected to our understanding of God’s eternal nature.

Now, (that was all intro btw lol) some of you may have seen a video thats been circulating social media recently of a theologian responding to an atheists question of “Who made God?” Without getting into his full response, the part to his answer that got me thinking was when He said that when God created the universe He created time, space, and matter. His reasoning was Gen. 1:1 “In the beginning (time), God created the heavens(space) and the earth(matter).” 

So going back to God being eternal, part of what that means is that He not only has been here since the beginning and will be here till the end of time, but He also exists apart of time. So lets ask a question, did God exist before creation? It’s a trick question because the question is flawed. To say that there was anything before creation implies there being a timeline before creation, which there is not. Creation is when time began. He sees the universe and everything in it from beginning to end and yet for us who are limited by time both in this life and the one to come, the end of time will never come. And as tempting as it is to get into my thoughts on predestination vs freewill, I will save that for another blog post. 

Now going back to the passages of scripture that we say proves God is indescribable. Although we can admit that what these men of God saw was very difficult to describe and they sometimes failed to find the right words to describe what they saw, it was still describable. But the fact is that every physical manifestation of God, whether through visions or what we will experience in heaven or have experienced in the spiritual realm, is still only a portion of Himself that has transcended from His existence outside of time, space, and matter into the universe that He created. 

So what do I mean when I say He is literally incomprehensible? I mean that everything that we say, do, think about, and every idea that ever has been and ever will be, is thought of and described in terms of time, space, and matter. How do you describe or even begin to comprehend God when He exists outside of time, space, and matter? You literally can’t.

Anyone else feeling like Job at the end of the book when God rebukes him and he replies, “I am insignificant?” Perhaps this is part of why Solomon, in all his wisdom, insists that everything is meaningless all through Ecclesiastes. And yet as insignificant as we are and as incomprehensible as God is, He is still a personal God. He experiences emotion. He loves us deeply and sent His Son to be rejected and slain for us. Praise God that His love endures forever. This should compel us to fear Him all the more; to know the value He places on us despite our insignificance in comparison to who He is. Recently, a pastor friend of mine, while commenting on what it means to fear God, said, “ It isn’t an anticipatory ‘what if…?’ It isn’t a meditation over what God might do that you don’t like.  It’s just a recognition, in the moment, that He is awesome.” 

I think that is what we need in the Body of Christ today, to recognize that He is awesome and that He loves us. Then maybe we would straighten up and stop testing His patience, myself included. I want to conclude this post with one of my favorite verses that I have just recently decided to make my life verse.

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” -Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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As I Ponder What It Means To Seek His Face

Hello everyone! I apologize for taking two weeks between posts, it has been quite a busy time of year for me. In this post I would like to share my story as the Father has been teaching me what it means to seek His face and not His hand.

Several weeks ago, the song “Dance with Me” by Paul Wilbur was played during worship at my church. The song is all about how God, our Bridegroom, desires to dance with us, His bride. While I was singing, Abba brought me back to my wedding, specifically my first dance with my wife. During that dance it was as if there was no one else in that room. Our eyes were locked and we were looking straight into each other’s souls. There was no room to hide. If there was something I had kept from her, she would see it. I’m sure every married person can relate to this experience. The Lord then spoke to me saying that this was the dance He was looking for when we ask Him to dance with us and then He said I want you to seek my face and not my hand.

We all want that well paying job, that broken relationship to be restored, that sick person to be healed, that miraculous check in the mail and for all of our prayers to be answered yes, but that is not where He wants our eyes focused. He wants to dance with His bride with her eyes fixed on Him, His heart. I’ve realized that though there is nothing unscriptural with the idea of blessings and curses if you obey or disobey, He wants to take us deeper. The outward blessings we receive for living righteously are only to draw the unbeliever to jealousy. The true blessing of living righteously is being able to have unhindered intimacy with our Bridegroom. The one who seeks His hand and not His face will only have relationship with Him as deep as you would with one of your own friends that treats you the same way, only looking for favors or an ear to listen to their problems. The one who seeks His face knows His heart and never doubts His love for them and has no need to worry about the future because they know He will take care of His bride.

Personally, I have found that this is easier said than done because sometimes you want to see God’s hand move in a particular situation so badly that it is hard to know what your motives truly are in anything that you do. What was your true motive for forgiving that person? What about the homeless man that you helped the other day? What about your tithes and offerings? What about your daily prayer and devotion time? Are you simply just trying to put on a show of good works for Him waiting for His hand to move and bless you? Or are you truly seeking His face and making yourself available for Him to reveal His heart to you? The past few weeks or so I have been asking the Father what it really looks like to seek His face. This past week on Yom Kippur, as I was reading the psalms, two verses stood out as clear as day that I felt was the answer to my question.

Psalm 25:14 “The Lord confides in those who fear him;” Those who seek His face are those who fear Him, those who He can confide in and share His heart with. Take a moment and think about the times that someone has confided in you or vice versa. When something is weighing heavily on someone’s heart and they choose to trust you with it. When was the last time any of us felt like God had confided in us and shared something with us that was weighing heavily on His heart? If I’m being honest, I don’t know if He has ever confided in me which probably means He hasn’t. The verse says it is those who fear Him that He confides in. For that reason I believe that those who truly seek His face are also fearful of what they might find. Yes, God loves us and is for us, but you must understand that when you are seeking a deep level of intimacy with the infinite, incomprehensible, unseen God, there is absolutely a need to be fearful.

The 2nd verse He led me to was Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD, be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” The word here for wait is qavah and it means to wait, look for, hope, expect, collect, or bind together. I believe that when we wait, look for, hope, and expect Him, in that process He collects us(if done corporately) and binds us together with Himself. Those who seek His face wait on Him to speak, guide, and direct their paths before moving. Those who do not seek His face wander aimlessly looking for His hand. The greatest men of God I know or have read about, are the ones who have spent countless hours in prayer, usually without speaking. They spend hours waiting for Him to give them His heart, to confide in them, and guide there every step. Granted, 8 hrs of prayer each day is an extreme and not what I am advocating for everyone but I know He wants to take His people deeper.

Fear Him and wait on Him in prayer. These two things are what separate those who seek His hand from those who seek His face. In closing, we serve an all powerful God and right now He is looking for a Bride who is ready to dance with Him, she just has to be willing to lock eyes with Him and lose sight of everything else. I pray this resonates with you and blesses you, shalom.

Jonathan

As I Ponder Nahum and Jonah

As I was reading through some minor prophets the other day, I spent some time thinking about the book of Nahum. I’m sure I am not the only one that if asked what the book of Nahum was about, would be unable to answer the question to any capacity up until my study the other night. Nahum is a fairly short book detailing Gods anger toward Nineveh and a prophecy given to Nahum of their coming judgment and ultimate destruction.

Most likely we all know about Nineveh from the book of Jonah, but it wasn’t until the other night that I learned something new about Nineveh that changed my entire perception of Jonah. We know from Jonah 3:3 that Nineveh was a very large city and took 3 days to walk through but I have come to learn that Nineveh was also the capital of Assyria. Now, you might be thinking, “that’s great, why do I care about Assyria?”

Assyria was responsible for the captivity and dispersion of the northern kingdom of Israel, home to 10 out of the 12 tribes of Israel. Assyria was known for taking over cities swiftly and with force, many times torturing and mutilating the leaders of the subdued city before beheading them. They were the dominant world power at the time Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh. 

As I began to process all of this, I finally started to understand the prophet Jonah. I have heard many a sermon based out of Jonah where Jonah is depicted is silly, foolish, and petty. And though there may be some truth to it, I’ve never taken the time to try to identify with how Jonah was feeling at the time that God chose to have compassion on Nineveh. 

Imagine for a moment, that China invaded America and took control of everything west of the Mississippi River and was responsible for the death and torture of millions of your fellow Americans. God then calls you out of the remaining portion of America and tells you to go to Beijing and tell the people there to repent. Begrudgingly, you go and they repent and God turns away His wrath from the nation that is responsible for the swallowing up of 60-70% of yours. Anyone else beginning to understand why Jonah felt the way he did?

Please don’t misunderstand, I am not trying to justify Jonah’s anger or his bitterness toward God. I am just trying to pull out the depth of emotion in this very short book that I think gives much more weight and clarity to what was really going on.

The first thing that struck me was the level of Gods compassion and eagerness to turn away His wrath. This was not just a small city that stood on its own. This wasn’t even a massive city that stood on its own. This was the main hub of the only world superpower of its time but because of the repentance of Nineveh, God chose to delay His judgment on the nation of Assyria. We learn in Nahum that their repentance didn’t last long and that judgment still came to Nineveh. So why bother sending Jonah in the first place and not just execute judgment? In Jonah 4:11, God says, “and should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left-and also many animals?” Yes, He cares about the animals too but that’s not the focus. Even though Nineveh reverted back to its wickedness and idolatry after a couple generations, we don’t know how many of those 120,000 of that first generation actually kept the faith. That’s what God was after, the people who didn’t  know any better. We live in a world today full of people who don’t know any better except to live wickedly just like they have been taught to do by the generations before them and so on. Do we have the same compassion toward them as God had toward the Ninevites?

The second thing that struck me was something that I had to take some time to introspect and ponder. I believe that Jonah felt personally offended by the wickedness of Assyria and their responsibility for the captivity and dispersion of his own people and that is why he reacted so emotionally to Gods compassion toward the Ninevites. The Lord then asked me a question, “what do YOU do when someone who has hurt you, repents and finds me?” This could be anyone from an ex best friend, to someone who always rubbed you the wrong way, or even more fitting, someone who hurt someone you love? Do we meet their repentance with the same anger and skepticism Jonah did the Ninevites? Do we get frustrated when we start to see God blessing their life? Do we question the authenticity of their salvation because we don’t think they will keep the faith for long? Are we actually angry with God for accepting them? Shame on us for not rejoicing with them and offering prayer or encouragement if/when appropriate.

As we’ve seen, through a little bit of digging, there is much more to the story of Jonah than what is written. I find cultural context to be one of the best tools we can use to help us properly understand and interpret scripture. In closing, I want to ask the question, does your heart look more like Jonah’s or more like God’s? As you reflect, you may be shocked to realize just how much you can identify with Jonah. I know I did. 

Please feel free to comment any thoughts, questions, disagreements, or concerns. I love to dialogue. I pray you are blessed and brought into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father through this study. Shalom.

-Jonathan