We at times may have questions: Who, What and Where is God?
Understood. Faith is seeing the unseen in our hearts, knowing the unknown; for ALL we see (even in Science) came from the unseen!
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
We have asked…”Have you seen an atom? A molecule? An electron?” They are unseen! But in the great particle accelerator – The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider and the largest machine in the world.
We tend to the scientific; but ALL we know is summarized in the very phrase “The seen from the unseen.”
Is there a God? I have heard that so often. I am tempted to answer in response ” Are YOU here?”
Let us make it clear! For some reason you are here. Yes! We can get scientific; Sperm meets Ova – insternal or a petri dish! Is there a “brain” in that product? A mind? A decision?
I have come to realize the unimaginable! We ALL are here for a reason! We can unravel mysteries (slowly and that will take a while. But you are here!)
The HUGE question comes: “Handicapped?” Are they? Are YOU? ALL is for reason! Would you be the same if not for your offspring? Yes! One partner may flee, but you are left learning and attaining knowledge AND wisdom about yourself! Things you were unaware of become known! It is for you to focus on just what the lesson is to be learned from your situation.
Let’s begin with those who say “no.” Nicholas Clairmont entitled his post: “No, Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason. Thank God for that.” He wrote: “‘Everything happens for a reason’ is my very least favorite thing for someone to say. It is bad philosophy, bad theology, bad thinking, and bad advice. It manages to combine the maximum of ignorance with the maximum of arrogance.” Veronica Neffinger, writing from a Christian perspective, quotes John Pavlovitz, who “explains that while God certainly gives our lives meaning, the idea that everything we suffer, all the horrible experiences we’ve ever endured, have a purpose and meaning is actually harmful to our Christian walk.”
Chances are we have all heard the “yes” people who express the opinion that everything does happen for a reason, often hoping what they say will comfort and console those going through seemingly senseless suffering. The “got questions” blog asks: “Is it true that everything happens for a reason?” The answer: “There are several known factors that help us to answer this question: the law of cause and effect, the law of grace, and the doctrine of providence of God. These factors demonstrate that everything does happen for a reason, not just by happenstance or by random chance.”
How do we answer this question? First, from a literal standpoint, everything does happen for a reason. There is a cause and effect, clearly seen in natural law. The “reason” for happenings may be natural, willful, medical, accidental, or providential, though we must not jump to the conclusion that everything that happens has a providential reason orchestrated or micro-managed by God!
Sometimes it is pure chance, like when a person falls off a roof (accidental) or someone contracts an infectious disease (medical). While Islamic terrorists may claim beheading Christians is “willed by Allah,” we Christians do not believe God wills such atrocities. They arise out of evil impulses fed by such sins as out-of-control anger, arrogance, passion, pride, and prejudice.
To say “everything happens for a reason” is not Scriptural. It is not a quotation from the Bible, although some people think it is. Perhaps the closest text is Romans 8:28, where the Apostle Paul writes: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” This does not say or mean everything that happens to everyone has a reason planned or controlled by God. God works within His people and their circumstances to bring good out of even evil.
John Murray writes: “Many of the things comprised are evil in themselves and it is the marvel of God’s wisdom and grace that they, when taken in concert with the whole, are made [by God] to work for the whole.”
John MacArthur explains: “It is God’s providential power and will, not a natural synergism of circumstances and events in our lives, that causes them to work together for good.”
There are many things that do happen by random chance, real unforeseen, and unplanned accidents or incidents! Although there may have been no purpose behind what happened, no theological reason for what happened, God works within those often “unreasoned” tragic events or illnesses to bring His people through them.
As I’ve said before when tackling tough questions and concerns we must be ever so careful not to tread where angels fear to tread, not to let our own pride lead us into the missteps of Job and his friends! Job felt he had a right to know the “reason” for his overwhelming pain and suffering while his friends seemed utterly sure of the “reason” he was suffering. Both attitudes were prideful rather than faithful pursuits! We will discuss this point a little more in a follow-up article.
I have come to believe that humility is the doorway to God, while arrogance or excessive pride is a trap door through which we fall away from God! As is often visualized, Satan fell from Heaven to Hell because of his innate pride.
We can now focus on The Who and Why.
The Bible says that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
This is the only time God became flesh and lived with man. Previously God had assumed a temporary physical form. There are eight recorded appearances in the Old Testament where God took upon Himself a physical form for a short duration. Three times He appeared as a man, once in a burning bush that was not consumed, and four times as the Angel of the Lord. Each time that this occurred it was in an extraordinary situation.
He Appeared To Hagar (Genesis 16:9-13)
Hagar was Abraham’s mistress, the mother of his son Ishmael. Hagar and Ishmael were banished from Abraham into the desert. As they were dying of thirst the Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar to provide water for the survival of her and her young child. The Angel of the Lord that appeared to Hagar was God Himself:
Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-The-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen him who sees me?’ (Genesis 16:13).
God had a plan for Ishmael and his descendants. Therefore, He personally appeared to spare Ishmael.
God Appeared To Abraham And Sarah At Mamre (Genesis 18:1-33)
Three men appeared to Abraham and his wife Sarah at the plains of Mamre. They had come to inform Abraham and Sarah concerning two matters. The son that God had promised them would be born to Abraham and Sarah the next year, and the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed. One of the three visitors who gave them this information is designated as the Lord:
Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day (Genesis 18:1).
In this same passage this person is called the “Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25). This is a title that belongs to God alone.
God Again Appeared To Abraham On Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:11-14)
God told Abraham to bring his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to be sacrificed. Abraham obeyed and was about to take Isaac’s life when God intervened. The Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham saying:
Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me (Genesis 22:12).
He called a second time to Abraham:
By Myself I have sworn says the Lord (Genesis 22:15).
In this instance the Angel of the Lord, who called out to Abraham, was God.
The Lord Appeared To Jacob At Peniel (Genesis 32:24-43)
This account has the patriarch Jacob wrestling all night with a man who finally disabled him. The next morning Jacob realized that it was God Himself whom he had wrestled:
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:30).
He Appeared To Moses In The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2-4:17)
When Moses received his call from the Lord to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage he saw a bush that was burning but not being consumed. A voice came from the bush identifying God’s presence:
God called to him from the midst of the bush and said . . . I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Exodus 3:4,6).
Because of the magnitude of the task Moses was about to undertake, God personally appeared to him by means of the burning bush. There is, however, no indication, one way or the other, whether the Lord assumed some type of physical form in the burn.
God Appeared To Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)
Gideon was a man who was called by God to raise an army to defeat the innumerable Midianites. Because Gideon was a timid person God paid him a visit to assure him that all would go well. After the encounter Gideon realized who had visited him:
Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face’ (Judges 6:22).
He Appeared To Samson’s Parents (Judges 13:2-23)
The angel of the Lord appeared to a Jewish woman to announce the birth of a son who would deliver the people of Israel. Because of the importance of the mission God personally appeared to her.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that he was the Angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, we shall surely die, because we have seen God (Judges 13:21,22).
The Lord Was In The Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3:23-29)
The last recorded Old Testament appearance of God in a physical form was to the three young Hebrews in the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar threw the three young men into the furnace because they refused to worship his golden image. God miraculously spared their lives. Nebuchadnezzar was astonished.
Look! he answered, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God (Daniel 3:25).
Scripture records that on eight different occasions during the Old Testament period God took on a human-like form. Some of these appearances were as the Angel of the Lord. They include an appearance to Hagar – the mistress of Abraham. The Lord also appeared to Abraham and Sarah at Mamre. There was also an appearance to Abraham at Mount Moriah. Scripture also records an appearance to Jacob at Peniel. The Lord made a special appearance to Moses in a burning bush. On this particular occasion Scripture does not speak of any physical form – merely that the Lord appeared. The Lord did appear in a human-like form to Gideon. We also find him appearing to the parents of Samson. Finally, the Lord appeared with the three young Hebrews in the fiery furnace.
These eight brief appearances of God in a physical form teach us several things: When an extraordinary situation occurs God is willing to personally appear. These occurrences set a precedent. Since God appeared on these occasions for a short duration during the Old Testament period it set the stage for Him coming in the person of Jesus Christ to live upon the Earth.
Complex, I agree! But even the above argument is shreddable! Did God truly appear? Or was it The Essence of God? Yes! Abraham was old (99+ years – viable sperm gone!) Yet God asked him to sacrifice Isaac.
“How did he ‘hear’ God?” So many ‘answers’ or ‘possibilities’.
Thought…I should go give thanks for my son! Oh! Being old and not as nimble I should go with Isaac AND hired help.
We may ask “Why didn’t Abraham take a Bullock along?” Perhaps he did.
Getting to a point on the journey…”These works men have come far enough, I should ask them to stay put…” There goes the sacrifice!
“I came up to give thanks to God for my son who is my support. I had best go and do what I came to do – thank God…”
Reaching the point, I had best make an altar here! I can always return with the sacrifice at a later time…
Thought interrupted by Isaac. “Dad, I know we are building an alter. But where is the sacrifice?” Thinking “we left all the goods behind.”
Abraham responding “God will provide!”
Alter erected, ready to go back down. Another ‘thought’. “The altar is built. What will you do now?”
Abraham “This is incredible! I am following my ‘intuition’! I felt Isaac should be with me to help, he is! I build an altar to utilize to give thanks to God! Isaac asks me “Where is the sacrifice, to which I respond “God will provide!” I am ready to go back down and head for home…”
Another thought “Why build it and not use it?”
The biggest dare EVER! I guess I should… “My son!” No way! “No, no, no, NO!!!”
Thought, but you came here to thank God for the existence of an improbability..”
If you notice, no voices heard. Just loud thoughts… A discussion? In his heart!
Again NO voices!
Abraham: “Now, I ‘feel’ that I should use the altar?”
God gave him to me! I can give him back?!
“Would be fitting!” Plus I do have ‘another son’ perhaps I can send for Haggai to return.”
“Sarah will never forgive me! This will kill her!”
“Daddy, are you ok? You totally blanked out for a minute there.”
So much! “Isaach, let me see how heavy a sacrifice we can put on this heap of stones. Wait! I will blindfold you first!”
“The sacrifices are not aware what we are going to do to them. We want everything just right!”
The rest, I need say no more! We can read and figure it out! But then, a sound! “Stop!” When my hand is on the lad (in Love) while the knife is raised! I look around!
Issac “Dad! What is that?”
“It is alright son!”
So much is going on in his heart!
A scrambling sound behind him in the bushes. Isaac! Taking off the blindfold (after putting the knife well away.) I told you that The Lord would provide! You go one way, let me go the other and wrestle this to the ground and place it on the alter you tested for me!
They then both capture the sacrifice and offer it up for SO many reasons!