So, what have we learned? We must take our God seriously, very seriously. Here are a few reminders.
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deuteronomy 10:17)
“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’.” (Leviticus 19:2)
“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” (Psalm 29:3)
This is our God, the God of Jews and Christians, of the Old Testament and New Testament. The same God then, now and forever. He doesn’t change, we don’t change, but what did change was the way that He communicates and deals with us. These verses in Jeremiah remind us of this.
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34)
These verses spoke of awesome things, the new way that God was going to communicate with His people. God was going to move from the Holy Places of the Jews to the holy place within each and every Jew who allows Him to, from the Temple in Jerusalem to the temple of the body. He is going to become a more personal God in this New Covenant, putting His law in their minds and writing it on their hearts.
So although our God is now a personal God, it doesn’t mean we can take liberties with Him. He is still the God of the Shema, the God known reverently and respectfully as G-d, whose name is never spoken of directly and who is just known as HaShem, The Name.
The Greek mind says that we should strive for knowledge about God, the Hebrew mind says that we should know God.
The Hebrew understanding of God is one of reverence and respect. It is of acceptance of His majesty and greatness and seeks to please Him, for no other reason than He is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. The Greek mind is not completely satisfied by this and wants to know how God ticks. It seeks to know the unknowable, understand the un-understandable (that’s a new word!). To the Greek mind, the intellect must be exercised, even if this exercise is futile. This is why there have been wars over doctrine. They haven’t been wars about God Himself, but about competing understandings of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Jews of the Old Testament fought their wars either as instructed by God or in defiance of Him. Victory depended on which of these options they took. If they acknowledged God and did what He asked, then He gave them victory in battle.
“For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)
Christians of the medieval Church era and onwards fought their wars not over God Himself, but over interpretations of their beliefs in God. They were doctrine wars, not holy wars.
Christians, it is time for us to get real with our God, our Creator and our Father.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve’s book How the Church Lost the Way: And How it Can Find it Again)