Saturday, December 25, 2010

Made Known

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Do you ever feel like you’re nothing but a face in the crowd; just a spectator? All the college bowl games are fast approaching with the super bowl coming not too far behind and it always amazes me when you’re watching those games on TV and see you see these walls of people encircling the field. My brother recently went to a Vikings game and he was describing what he was wearing and said, “I’ll try and wave if the camera comes on me!” HA! You can imagine how difficult that would have been to see him in such a large crowd of purple-clothed people with the chance of a camera never coming even remotely close to his seating section.

In life, we may feel like just a spectator amongst the mass universe we live in. Louie Giglio is well known for his amazing sermons pointing out how our sun is just one among millions of other stars that are brighter, bigger and even more spectacular. With that being said, It’s easy to associate a feeling of insignificance, and rightfully so! We are but mere humans created to roam the earth for 80-90 years (if that); working and toiling at whatever jobs are available for us to do and matches our giftings, forming relationships with other humans and living for but a breath of span in time—right? To a degree yes! We’re nothing special—depending on what we are compared to: in comparison to a rock, we are complex and magnificently-made creatures but in comparison to God we are the lowest of lows, not worthy

Throughout all of the Old Testament God revealed and made himself known to various people in a variety of different ways. I thought it would be neat to give a highlight of each book in the Old Testament relating to God’s revelation to people. I hope you get the point by the end that God did not just show up in the New Testament but that he most certainly revealed himself to many different people throughout all scripture. If you don’t see it, I’m sorry—come see me because not going to lie, this is a tedious feat to pull off going through each Book---yet absolutely fascinating! I also ask for patience and grace as I attempt to do this because I am most certainly not an Old Testament scholar: there are several, ok many books that I just have a brief understanding but hopefully this is will help me review them and spur me (us) onto further studies! Enjoy:

In Genesis, God obviously made himself known to Adam and Eve as well as all creation when he formed the earth from “formless, empty, darkness.” In Exodus, God made himself known particularly to Moses as well as the Israelites by delivering them from captivity: he spoke to Moses in a burning bush, parted the red sea and performed many significant miracles. In Leviticus, God continued to make himself known to the Israelites as they were in route to the Promise Land. He also created several laws and regulations for different offerings. The Book of Numbers describes how God made himself known still to Moses and Aaron and at one point, through a consuming fire that removes part of the outskirts of their camp (Num.11). In Deuteronomy, God continues to reveal himself to Moses, Aaron and other leaders of the Israelites. Even in their disobedience, the Israelites are fully aware of God’s presence whether in the form of discipline or in deliverance from His anger. God reveals to Moses the Ten Commandments and makes promises to the Israelites of victory over the inhabitants of the Promise Land. Moses passes on and Joshua takes the position as leader of the Israelites. Joshua describes God being made known through the victory over many Kings. In Judges, God makes himself known through continual deliverance in battles with other tribes. God reveals himself in the book of Ruth by taking a widowed, godly-woman, Ruth (go figure!) and Boaz, an upright man of God and together in marriage established the beginning genealogies of David (Obed, was the son of Jesse). First and Second Samuel God makes himself known to people such as Hannah, Samuel, and eventually, David. We all know that David was known to be a “man after God’s own heart.” We read countless passages of David interacting with God throughout this book as well as the main author of the book of Psalm. First and Second Kings share stories of remarkable encounters people, particularly Kings have with God whether they recognize Him or not—He makes himself known. The story of the Prophet Elijah outrunning a chariot in 1 Kings 18 is one of my favorite passages of scripture: how do you suppose he managed to do that? The verse says that “the power of the Lord came upon Elijah,” so he just tucked his cloak and off he went! Just think how much damage I could have done running for SDSU if I would have had the Lord come upon me during track! HA! Ok—bringing it back.

Moving into the First and Second Chronicles; 1 Chronicles is loaded with names upon names of individuals with specific lineages: It’s somewhat overwhelming to look at these lists of people and realize that each of them had a role, big or small, in accomplishing God’s purpose and will. After the genealogies, we get into the story of King David’s reign—again, his story is well-known and saturated with stories of God’s revelations to David personally or regarding Him as a King of Israel. Solomon’s story begins at the tailend of 1 Chronicles and into 2 Chronicles. As David’s son, Solomon was said to be “highly exalted by the Lord” above any other king Israel had up to this point in time. We also are aware that Solomon was blessed immensely with immeasurable wisdom from the Lord: He also wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes describing how even though wisdom is a wonderful gift to possess, that it is meaningless!

A highlight in the Book of Ezra is a passage that describes the priest’s desire and his leading role in having the Exiles confess of their unfaithfulness to the Lord by marrying women from other tribes. In a prayer he describes how the Lord has been gracious to them by not punishing more than what they had been because of the wrongful act. Much of Nehemiah deals with the rebuilding of a wall in Jerusalem. The wall has opposition but eventually is built and it says that people surrounding the area were astounded and realized that no one would be able to complete such a task without the help of the LORD. The story of Queen Esther is described in none other than the book of Esther. She along with Mordecai end up being true heroes for their people by saving them from being destroyed by Haman. God chose to use and reveal his power through Esther by giving her such a highly esteemed position.

The book of Job is one that makes your heart sink: it starts out great but by the end your heart just aches for the relief of trials that Job encounters. The book however, is a crucial story describing God’s sovereignty amidst great adversity in a man’s life and how God gave Job the ability to remain faithful even when everything was taken away from him! Are you still with me? We are getting there! Is it not great though to just take a few moments and go through these great passages of scripture? As described earlier, much of the book of Psalms is written by David and his passionate pursuit for His own heart! David writes very beautifully and extensively about God’s character throughout the Psalms. God reveals himself in Proverbs through very simple and basic commands of everyday living. It gives guidance on how to walk upright before the Lord and how to recognize folly when you see it. Touching just briefly on Ecclesiasties, as described earlier in relation to King Solomon, this book truly proves the point that so much of our humanly lives are littered with obtaining vanities. God revealed to Solomon that there is more to life than all that this earthly life has to offer.

Song of Solomon, to me, is considered nothing shy of a glimpse into the love God has for his people. Although the entire book is basically poems written back and forth between a man and a women, you cannot help but see God’s unbelievable passion for those he loves and his desire to be a part of their lives. The book of Isaiah has quickly become a book that I reference quite often because it is FULL of passages of scripture describing God’s faithfulness to his people as well as the foundational promises of the coming of Christ. Similarly, God uses the prophet Jeremiah to proclaim the need of Israel’s repentance and glimpses of the coming Messiah. Lamentations is a lot like Job; your heart somewhat drops to the floor after reading it because it is a book about great sorrow. However, amidst the sorrow, God uses the author to proclaim his mercy and faithfulness: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness!” (3:22-23)

God used the book of Ezekiel to describe how the prophet Ezekiel worked with people in the middle of a crisis; spurring them onto pursuing holiness even in trial. Daniel is a remarkable book in the sense that God reveals himself BIG time through Daniel. Whether Daniel is in the Lions den, refusing to eat the King’s meat or discerning dreams, God revealed himself greatly through such a simple man. I feel like Hosea is somewhat of a sequal to Song of Solomon in the sense that it reveals greatly God’s concern and love for his bride even though she is incredibly unfaithful. God chooses to reveal himself through Hosea by giving him the ability to love an unfaithful woman. Joel is another book involving a prophet that lives during difficult times in leading people to repentance and endurance of waiting for an “outpouring of the spirit,” (2:28-32). In Amos, the Israelites are really looking for some relief from their eniemies and are waiting for the day of the Lord to bring justice. Amos describes judgment that will come to much of the disobedient people of Israel but also the hope of restoration of those who have ‘fallen.’ Obadiah, although brief describes what is to come with judgment as well as his future reign after restoring his people. Oh Jonah! ( Can you tell I am starting to get a little loopy—just a few more books left, pace yourself!) The book of Jonah is a remarkable story of a man who is disobedient yet God shows remarkable mercy in the most unusual way possible! It is truly a story of the revealation of God’s compassion on people even when they are disobedient. Micah is a book that cannot describe the coming of Christ any better as a “Shepherd-King,” Nahum relates to Jonah in describing the destruction of Nineveh which could easily represent God’s immense power and judgement that has, is currently and even more so, will take place in the future. God and Habakkuk (either said Hab-a-cook, or Habab-kuk—whatever most easily rolls of your tongue) dialogue throughout the entire book. God confirms his sovereignty to him and his desire for the righteousness to live by faith. Zephaniah deals greatly with the coming of the Day of the Lord. The ESV commentary on the theme of Haggai describes the theme of “The restoration of the Lord’s house by the people of God will meditate God’s presence.” Zechariah is a book revealing more prophecy of what is to come and God continues to give snapshots into the coming of the good shepherd. DRUMROLL PLEASE! Malachi is a book on a “wake-up call to renew the covenant of fidelity” (ESV commentary) and is indeed the last book in the Old Testament (not necessarily chronologically leading up to Christ but a conclusion to the books of prophecy).

HA, now what? Well, the entire purpose behind this ginormous review of the Old Testament was to build the crescendo of the coming of Christ. As you can see, God made himself known throughout all of scripture but it wasn’t until He revealed Himself through Christ that WE could be made known because of the opportunity to “hide our lives with Christ.” God knew that although he had revealed himself very plainly and deliberately throughout Old Testament times, with many of those people he described obtaining righteousness through faith (they had faith and hope in the coming Messiah). However God knew that he needed to make himself known by being made into flesh; dwelling among people to form a much deeper relationship than ever before. John 1:18 describes this : No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” And later on in John 15:15, Christ says this about being made known: “15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” And even more so, Christ describes how he will make US KNOWN to his Father through him in John 17:25- 26

“25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[a] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Isn’t that a beautiful piece of scripture? It’s a portion of scripture when Jesus is praying for various groups of believers. Passages in Ephesians touch on this as well in explaining how the Law and prophetic word of the Old Testament maybe mysterious at first but is finally made known through the coming of Christ, his death and resurrection.

Lastly, 1 John 3 describes what is to come in Christ’s second coming:

“1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”

Cling to the truth that those of us who have surrendered our lives to Christ and claim him to be both Lord and Savior, are currently known as children of God---however, when Christ returns we will be known as something else—something like Christ because we will see him as he truly is! How wonderful it is to be made known! We are not just faces in the crowd, rather distinctly made known by our God through our faith in Jesus Christ. Live in the light of being made known!

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