Hello TTP fam!! It’s great to have you here again within us. In our first episode, Breathed by God, we explored the historicity of the Bible and the biblical concept of inspiration. We hope you thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it yet, you know what to do. Today we forge ahead in our journey. In today’s post we are going to explore the big question; WHY?. Why would God take the pains to inspire men to write down the scriptures? Why would God ensure that these texts are faithfully preserved for us and finally what is the overall purpose of scripture? Join us, as we explore these questions in the second episode of our Holy Writ series dubbed; God Behind The Curtain.
Creation: Heaven’s translucent Curtain
A cursory glance at different cultures and societies reveals an intuitive knowledge of an all powerful being who put this world together. This being has taken on different names and identities in these cultures but the general name we give to this being is God. This intuitive knowledge of God comes as no surprise to the biblical authors. In fact for them, God in creating the world, did so in a way that would point us in his direction. Creation is like a translucent curtain revealing His presence.
In Psalms 19:1-4 we read of this witness of creation to its creator.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour out speech;
night after night they communicate knowledge.
There is no speech; there are no words;
their voice is not heard.
Their message has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun.
Also in the book of Romans, when the apostle Paul begins making his argument for the collective sinfulness of humanity, he states that humanity is without excuse because of the testimony of creation to its creator. This testimony of God in creation – and sometimes conscience and culture – is what Theologians refer to as General Revelation.
since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
For the apostle creation reveals two things about God; His eternal Power and Godhead. But is this all that can be known about God? Are we left on our own to speculate? Can God truly be known? As the author of Job puts it;
Can you fathom the depths of God
or discover the limits of the Almighty?
Whoever or whatever God is, one thing is for sure. He is altogether beyond the grasps of our imaginations. The language the biblical authors use to describe this idea is the word Mystery. The word mystery sometimes gets misunderstood and misconstrued. The Greek word used here is the word Mysterion. It basically means a secret or cryptic symbol containing meaning. When the authors of the bible use the word Mystery they do not mean something that can never be known. What they are driving at is something that can only be known by outside help. For instance, in Matthew 13:11 we see Jesus use the same word when he said to the disciples; “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given”. In this scenario Jesus is not suggesting the secrets of the kingdom cannot be known but it first must be given.
Another word we must quickly look at in relation to this is the word revelation. The Greek word translated as revelation in our English bibles is the word apokalypsis. It means to unveil or to uncover. It also means to make known.
In that regard whatever can be known about the mystery that is God, must be made known to us by God.
Names and Stories
When we introduce ourselves to people we often do so by mentioning our names. Names are important because they usually separate us from the lot. But there are instances where a name is common, referring to more than one person or being. In such a situation we instinctively do one of two things and sometimes both. We mention a name unique to us and also tell our story or the story of the person we are trying to identify. The story may be one that links back to their family (genealogy) or some extraordinary feat they may have performed. The story together with the name distinguishes the person from the others who bear the same name. It’s no wonder the Bible is loaded with them.
The Bible is God’s way of unveiling himself to us by taking down the curtain of creation to reveal his name and tell his story. In a world where many ideas and concepts are competing for the title “God”, God must tell his own story.
God is the main character of the Bible. It is his story. We sometimes get caught up in the subplots of the story because they’re as insightful as they’re epic. In the opening pages of the Bible we are introduced to God as an all powerful, intelligent Spirit being who puts the world in order as a home for humanity. But then again is that all there is to God? Certainly not.
As we read further we see God’s relationship with humanity and how that relationship eventually becomes fractured. We further see how through the centuries God works with, in and through various individuals to accomplish his will and purposes. These individuals based on their experiences begin to attribute names to God. Some call him Jireh because he provided for them, some called him a mighty warrior because of the victories he won on their behalf and some also referred to him as El Roi because as the God who sees, He saw them even at their lowest points. But in one of the strange stories of the bible we have God actually revealing his name. In Exodus chapter 3 , when God is commissioning Moses for the task of redeeming the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, Moses asks God; “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” To which God replies “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.”
How God answers is very telling. He reveals his covenant name to Moses, all the while making reference to his relation with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God reveals his name as Yahweh which means “I will be who I will be”. God in his covenant name is inviting the nation of Israel into a relationship in which he will continually reveal himself to them. They have his relationship with their forefathers as a reference point, but they will experience him as he reveals himself. Just as the relation with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob served as reference points for the nation of Israel so also their checkered history in relation to Yahweh becomes our reference point. God instead of listing down precepts and commands about himself chose to reveal himself to the rest of humanity through various relationships. This is for two reasons. First humans are relational creatures. We are born into families and derive our highest fulfillment in relationships. Secondly, God desires relationships with us as well. He is not a distant God or an absentee landlord. He seeks to be closely woven into our story as well. We see this reality when God himself enters the human fray.
The last quarter of the Bible is the story of how God enters our world as a man in a bid to ultimately reveal himself and the way to salvation. In Jesus Christ the story of the Bible finds its fulfillment. This self revelation of God in the scriptures and ultimately in the person of Jesus is what theologians term “special revelation”.
The Bible with its narratives and instructions is inspired by God. The stories are beautiful and diverse. The lessons and principles are profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God (believer) may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:17-17). But ultimately the goal of scripture is to reveal to humanity the name, personality and character of the God behind creation and the way to salvation in Jesus Christ. In verse 15 of the aforementioned chapter of 2 Timothy the Apostle Paul puts it this way; “and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”.
As we at the Timothy project like to say the Bible is the unveiling of God behind the curtain of creation. In the Bible the mystery of God is revealed.
Our sincere hope and prayer for you reading today is that you will get to know Him and in believing loyalty, submit your life to his rule and authority. Until next time, see you and be blessed!!