BIBLICAL IMAGES OF GOD--WHO IS THERE AND IS NOT SILENT!

 

1.   Models are only partial and conceivable representatives of reality (inadequate image).

2.   Authorized to use only Biblical Models of God. The primary source of knowledge of God is Scripture - His character. Cross-cultural meaning--communication

 

I. God as Creator - Genesis 1.1

 

II. God Speaks - He is there and He is not silent Exodus 20; Leviticus 1.1; Numbers 1.1; Deuteronomy 5; Josiah 1.1; II Chronicles 1.2; Nehemiah 1.1; Jeremiah 1 (words); Hosea 1.1; Joel 1;1, John 1.1; Acts 17.22; Romans 1.18; I Corinthians 1.1; Hebrews 1.1; Revelation 11.1

 

III. God as Shepherd in Psalm 23.1 (Old Testament--Psalm 80.1; Isaiah 40.1; Ezekiel 34.21; New Testament--Luke 15.3-7; John 10.11-16)

 

       A. Tells us of loving and caring

       B. Guidance

       C. Ourselves - Psalms 79.13; 95.7; 100.3-119.176; Isaiah 40.11; 53.6; I Peter 2.25        

       D. Nature of Relationship of believer to God

       E. Emmanuel, “God with us” - Matthew 1.23 - His name shall be called “Emmanuel”; life’s                     darkest hours guiding our eternal rest

 

IV. God is Love - John 3.16; I John 1.14

V. God as Spirit: John 4.24, God is Spirit; “rauch” - wind, truth, spirit

 

       A. Spirit Associated with Life - Genesis 2.7 (difference between the living and the dead--The                  Valley of Dry Bones - Ezekiel 37.1-14)

       B. Spirit - Power - wind blowing (papers, houses, hair, chill factor, starting a fire) Love its effect,           not its nature. God’s presence--effects are not visible.

       C. Ways His Activity is experienced--Judge, refreshing water; windsong - Israel - Mediterranean Sea west, the Great Desert east. Isaiah 40.7 - Scorching east wind like Arabian Sirocco (Ps. 103.15-18; Jeremiah 4.11ff. God alone is permanent; all else is in a state of flux, change. Western winds - in winter they blew west and south and brought rain from the sea; in summer west winds brought cooling refreshing breezes to cool the heat of the day. Hosea 6.3 - God - Rain

       D. God as Parent: used in both the Old and New Testaments. Patriarchal structure of society; emphasis on God as the father (Jeremiah 3.19, Matthew 6.9); the mother - Deut 32.18 (vs. Feminism of the 1960’s Pantheism.

      

VI. The One who calls us into being created us: (Dt. 32.18 forgot God who gave you birth; Isa. 44.2,24; 49.15)

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       1.    Natural Love for His People: Hosea; Dt. 7.7,8; Isa 49.15; I Jn 4.10,19; Ps. 51.1, Great Compassion; Isa. 66.12,13; compassion stems from the womb (eg. Hosea 11.1-4; Lk. 15.11-32--God called them into existence and yet they are virtual strangers); throughout the entire Bible God is trying to bring His people back to Himself.

 

       2.    Concerns Prayer - Sermon on the Mount; Believers asking the Father; Father wishes the best for His children (Matt. 7.7-11) The Presence of God is grace; His total love is dedication to us and is not called into question by our failure to meet all our requests.

 

       3.    God as Light: I John 1.5 - Christians as the Light of the World--God is Light (we can’t see light but we see through light). Light and Darkness imagery in both the OT/NT used 7 times: Watchmen waiting for the dawn (Ps. 130.6); warn of threats under cover of Darkness; Night is a time of potential danger; Dawn is associated with hope and security - Ps. 130.5,6; The Day of the Lord is the End of Misery - “Messianic Era”. Sun - analogy of God, Sun worship! Malachi 3.1-4 - 4.1,2 - coming of God compared to the Rising Sun (Mal. 4.2); eg. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!

 

               Isaiah 9.2 - People walk in Darkness, but then they saw a glimpse of God, a great light! Light espouses reality, shows things as they really are; darkness hides evil from sight. Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12) “I am the Light of the World” 12.46; 15.22. Light guides us through His grace toward the City of God. A Lighthouse navigates ships/men back to safety from the perils of the night (Matt. 5.14)

 

       4.    God as a Rock: Contextualization (“Rock of Ages”) Pss. 18.2, inanimate object?; 28.1, seems inappropriate; 42.9; 78.35, model for God; 89.26, Idolatry Dt. 32.37.

 

               Image of Security - foundational; Image of Reliability, not threatening/overwhelming or destroying (eg. Ps. 42.9 - a rock as a place of safety, firmness, immovable, survives storms (escaping from the forces of sin, evil, decay and death) “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” In Matthew 7.24-27, the man built his house on the rock, not the sand and it held firm in the storm; a strong foundation was needed for building the Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge. II Samuel 22.32-33, contextualizing Images for the Post Modern audience. Biblical images bring us back to our everyday concrete world. How is God present and active in other images? (King, Friend, Judge, Fire (we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1.26-27).

 

       We can have a Personal Relationship with God (eg. Leonardo da Vinci and the painting, The Mona Lisa; is a picture only a mixture of colors? The model who posed is not identical with that portrait but it corresponds to her; God is not some diffuse cosmic force echoing her and capturing her likeness; not post modern art; the interpreter creates his own meaning; God is personal and can enter personal relationships.

 

       Images and words - a collection of words have an image which these words combine - not identical with these verbal pictures but correspond to Him, echo Him, capture His likeness. John Robinson (Honest to God) declares that our image of a personal God must go, yet declares that our most profound experience of God is Love.

 

       Know about God, knowing God, being known by God (Jeremiah 31.33, personal commitment; Hosea 11.1-4, parallel between human love, a faithless wife, a broken heart and that of God for Israel.

 

       Philip tells Nathanael that Jesus is the long awaited one of whom Moses wrote about in the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth (John 1.45-49; Luke 24). “Come and you will see” “We have found the Messiah”

 

       Does knowing other people differ from knowing objects? Martin Buber’s I-Thou - human statistics, gallop polls, the Faceless Masses. The Incarnation is the supreme example of God as a Person (Philippians 2.5-11, “self emptying” - perhaps the greatest single passage in the New Testament of Incarnation. God as a person, three persons--never Pantheism, always Monotheism.

 

       Christmas is the supreme illustration of God as a Person. In the Incarnation we encounter none other than God in the embodiment of a human person and this lays the foundation for uniquely Christian insights into God safeguarded by the most enigmatic of Christian doctrines, the doctrine of The Trinity (see McGrath).

 

       Clark Pinnock’s “Wide Mercy Theory” and his “fairness” euphemism is hardly based in biblical exposition, but rather in his syncretistic assimilation of post modern hermeneutics, which has epistemologically fragmented men and trivialized God.

 

       The dominant themes in the 17th century was truth; in the 18th century it was nature; in the 19th century it was history; in the 20th century it was language and in the 21st century it is post modernism and multicultural diversity, which emphasizes every category of our culture.

 

 

Dr. James Strauss

Professor Emeritus

Lincoln Christian Seminary

Lincoln, IL 62656