KNOWING GOD (5) God With Us

Scenery - 02032_enlightenment_1280x1024As long as man has existed there has been the evident conviction that there is a Being – a Nature – Someoneabove the visible creation. With earliest man, that conviction was based on the experience of God firsthand. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and man walked with God as did Enoch. God spoke to men as He did with Noah, Abraham and the prophets. Abraham, in fact, was called the “friend” of God (2 Chronicles 20:7).

There is among many people a belief that such a relationship does not exist today – that God doesn’t intend that it exist as it did then. People who hold this view have much in common with the Deists.

Deism is … a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it.

Deism originated in the Ages of Reason and Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, many more people became interested in scientific explanations about the world and became more skeptical of magic and miracles (About.com/deism).

As people became more learned – and skeptical there also arose doubt about a “close-up” relationship with God. In these ages it was thought that by logic, reason and “scientific” investigation man could answer all questions, provide all his own needs and therefore did not need God. Some people turned to atheism (the belief that there is no God) or skepticism (doubt about the existence of God) or to Deism (belief in a distant God). Among those who remained religious, this thinking about man’s sufficiency made inroads and God was pushed further and further away.

But man was made for relationship with his Creator. That is evident from the first chapters of Genesis. Oh, there came to be a distance between man and God, but the distance was put there by man. “Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16). “Nod” means “wandering.” Following Cain, mankind continued to go away from the presence of God. They built societies and empires and towers into the heavens without God. In the process of doing so they began to oppress and abuse one another with violence, repression and slavery.

Cain began wandering and man has, as a whole, continued wandering away from God to this day. It seems as though most people either do not believe it is possible or, more especially, do not want to have a close relationship with the Creator.

God not only made man for relationship with Himself, but has actively pursued such a relationship through the ages. When the children of Israel were delivered from Egyptian bondage, God came to live among them as a visible presence in and above the tabernacle (the pillar of fire/cloud) and Moses talked with God, consulting Him about questions of leadership over the Israelites.

While God pursued a relationship with Israel, time after time they, like Cain, went away from God. Like a faithless wife flirting with men to whom she is not married, Israel, whom God compared to His bride, turned away from their sacred relationship.

But throughout the Old Testament period, the prophets of God were foretelling of a time when God would “be with” man in a special way. Isaiah speaks of a time when Immanuel would come (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8). “Immanuel” means “God with us.” This was a promise that He would come to be with His people in a special way. The angel who appeared to Joseph to reassure him that Mary’s pregnancy was of God said that the child who was named Jesus would also be called “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23).

When He began His personal ministry Jesus called men to walk with Him, to live with Him, to learn of Him and to go and bring others into the same kind of relationship they had had with him – that of discipleship. Discipleship is a unique relationship in which a person commits himself to learn not only the lessons a rabbi (teacher) teaches, but to model their lives after his life. That required closeness – an intimate “being with” the teacher. He spoke of his disciples in even more intimate terms. He called them his friends (John 15:14, 15) and told them that if they were His friends they would do what He said.

The proof of His friendship is seen in the fact that He laid His life down for His friends (John 15:13). He – God – came among us to be a part of us. He partook of flesh and blood, was rejected by those He came to save, was crucified, forsaken even by the Father, in order that He might experience our loneliness, alienation and desperation that had resulted from separation from God because of sin. He did this as a friend – the greatest friend the human race has ever had. In response to His friendship we are to lay down our lives for others as a demonstration of our love – and friendship – for them. We are to be to others what He is to us.

When Jesus was telling His disciples that He was going away He promised to send them the Holy Spirit. He said …

“…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17).

This coming of the Spirit He equates in the next verse with Himself coming and being with the disciples. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18).

All this amounts to the most awesome truth imaginable. That man, as small, weak, sinful and limited as he is is thought so much of by the Creator of the universe that He would want to live with us – and us with Him. The idea of “God with us” is stupendous! How can we comprehend it?

And to top it all off, God has made it possible for Him to live with us forever. In the scene of the realized purpose of God, John said …

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place [tabernacle] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

This song, God With Us” by Mercyme speaks volumes to this subject:

God With Us

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

Like hinges straining from the weight,
My heart no longer can keep from singing

[Chorus]
All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel God with us
My heart sings a brand new song
The debt is paid
These chains are gone
Emmanuel God with us

Lord You know
Our hearts don’t deserve Your glory
Still You show
A love we cannot afford

Like hinges straining from the weight,
My heart no longer can keep from singing

[Chorus]
All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel God with us
My heart sings a brand new song
The debt is paid
These chains are gone
Emmanuel God with us

Such a tiny offering
Compared to Calvary
But nevertheless
We lay it at your feet. [x2]

[Chorus]
All that is within me cries
For You alone be glorified
Emmanuel God with us
My heart sings a brand new song
My debt is paid
These chains are gone
Emmanuel God with us

“God With Us” by Mercyme

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One Response to KNOWING GOD (5) God With Us

  1. Pingback: KNOWING GOD (7) The God of Grace – Responses to Grace | To Proclaim Wondrous Deeds

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