What you believe about God is the most important thing about you. -A.W. Tozer
In my last few blog posts I’ve been sharing about what different aspects of creation reveal about God. He has revealed himself to us most explicitly through creation, scripture and ultimately through the person of Christ. Why is “what comes into our mind when we think about God the most important thing about us?” Nathan Stone in his classic little book “Names of God” puts it this way: The first question in some of our catechisms is, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” But we will experience God in such fashion—we will glorify Him and enjoy Him—only in proportion as we know Him.
This is where the problem for many of us lies. Our knowledge about God is warped, skewed, incomplete, inaccurate, confused or misguided in many ways. Sin has blinded us and robbed us of perfect fellowship with God. Our experiences (or perceptions) can deceive us. Since very young I know I developed many wrong perceptions about the reality of God. Due to this, I started to grow bitter and not want anything to do with what I perceived as a “wimpy Christianity and Christ.” Many in fact turn away from a God that isn’t even the true God to begin with! In the book of Hosea, God states, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) and “a people without understanding will come to ruin” (Hosea 4:14).
Speaking of the book of Hosea, the whole book is an anguished glimpse into the broken heart of God. His people are not seeking him, are not being faithful to their covenant relationship with him and not acknowledging or seeing that He is the One behind all their blessings (Hosea 2:5-8, 5:4, 7:10-16, 8:1-4, 11:1-4). Because of this, God literally agonizes and is angry like a betrayed and wounded lover, even threatening judgment (Hosea 4, 5, 9,10). Yes, God has real and deep emotions!
To symbolize however His faithful love, despite his people’s unfaithfulness, he has the prophet Hosea marry a prostitute. They would enjoy each other’s company at first, even have children together, but she would be unfaithful to him and return to her old ways and old lovers. However, in chapter 3:1-2, God instructs Hosea to “Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…”
Hosea goes to find her and actually has to purchase (redeem) his own wife from the sex-slave market where she is bound (Hosea 3:2-3). This foreshadows God’s grace to us in Christ who would likewise purchase our redemption from slavery to sin through His death on the cross. It also reminds us that despite our unfaithfulness, God promises to “speak tenderly to us” (Hosea 2:14-20) and redeem, revive and restore us (Hosea 6:1-3).
The Song of Solomon, while literally about the relationship of two human lovers, is also considered by many scholars to be an allegorical picture of Christ’s love for his Church. In fact, Timothy Keller in his book “The Meaning of Marriage” points out the following: “The Christian teaching is that sex (in marriage) is primarily a way to know God and build community, and, if you use it for those things rather than for your own personal satisfaction, it will lead to greater fulfillment than you can imagine.” (pg255). Marriage and sex is after all God’s idea and gift!
This is in line with Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. In that passage, he constantly parallels and switches between the human marriage relationship and Christ’s relationship with His Church. In fact, in verse 32, to summarize his main point on marriage, he flat out says: “This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Marriage is meant to be one of the most profound and clear pictures of the kind of relationship God desires to have with us, and how it will be in eternity with him. Psalm 16:11 in fact says: “In your presence is fullness of joy and eternal pleasures forevermore.” Sex in marriage is a foretaste of even greater joy to come in the presence of God. There are eternal pleasures that supersede any earthly pleasures. God is not a cosmic kill-joy, but a life-giving joy giver! (This is why Satan hates and works to destroy marriages and steal our joy).
Jesus, in his intimate prayer in John 17:4, said “this is eternal life, that they may know you the One true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.” God is relational at the core (think of the very nature and reality of the Trinity) and wants us to know him and drink deeply of fellowship with him. Right knowledge about God is essential, but only if it leads into the knowledge of God (Philippians 3:7-14). Theology (the study of God) is a vital pursuit for all of us, but it is meant to lead us into the experience of God; to open our eyes to know Him, see him and acknowledge him behind every blessing and aspect of life.
There is nothing else in this world that truly and eternally satisfies. Our hearts tend to become attached to that which at best are just symbols of a greater reality or substance found in Christ. We make these things idols (little gods) that leave us ultimately empty and restless. These things may be “good” in and of themselves, even gifts to us from God. But the minute we detach them from relationship with God, we miss the purpose; to lead us into a more meaningful fellowship and richer understanding of God.
See beyond the visible to the invisible. See beyond the earthly to the eternal. Seek Him who is behind every good and perfect gift!
“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” -Hosea 10:12
***To listen to a fuller message I recorded on this, click here: Knowing God.