by Robert Berendt
As humans, we often think we have a great understanding of things, but we are very limited when it comes to the things of God.
we are limited by our vocabulary and grasp of the words that our mind contains and we are limited in our ability to grasp the majesty God must possess. No matter how hard we try to describe, explain or understand God the Almighty Creator of this universe and all that is in it, we just cannot accomplish it. That does not mean we should not try, it does mean that once we have established our own concept, we ought to realize that our concept falls woefully short of the truth. That should keep us very humble in His presence and His presence is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12).
John tried to express what he saw in a vision of Christ in His glory, but grew faint and “fell at His feet as dead” (Revelation 1:17). In that frame of mind, John could only state what he saw in terms his mind contained – and his description was far from what was reality. Another person who tried to describe a vision he had been given was Isaiah who also had a vision of God and felt “undone” because he knew he was not “clean”. He too was hampered by his inadequacy to explain, understand and comprehend the vision he was given (Isaiah 6:1-7). Isaiah talked about seraphim with six wings and his description leaves us somewhat bewildered, but with the realization that he was trying to describe something he had never seen before and for which he did not have a big enough vocabulary.
Ezekiel was another great prophet of God who begins his book with a description of what he saw. He said the heavens were opened and he saw visions of God (Ezekiel 1:1). Reading his words leaves us with an unclear concept and wondering what he was actually seeing. He was describing whirlwinds, bright lights and colours, and the appearance of four living creatures (Ezek.1:4-28). Ezekiel also fell on his face in a possible faint. In these descriptions, the one factor that is common is that the majesty, power, glory, and greatness of God is far above our ability to understand or explain. We humans are not capable of seeing God fully – no man can see God and live (Exodus 33:20). Thus it is through visions that glimpses of God were given. We are left to use our imaginations –as far as we can grasp. God intends humans to stand in awe of Him and He deserves all of our awe and respect.
There are a number of metaphors used to describe God. For example, we could say “he ran like the wind” or “fought like a tiger”. There are many such descriptions of God that help us grasp a little more of all that He is. God is called a rock and fortress (Psalm 18:2). Jesus Christ was called the “Rock” from which Israel drank (I Corinthians 10:4). And the “rock” upon which He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). Another descriptive word is “Light” (I John 1:7). When terms like that are used nobody thinks that Jesus travelled at the speed of light. Other metaphors used to describe God are words like Sun, Shield and more.
In trying to express the impact of God in his life, David concluded by saying “His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalms 145:1-3). Descriptive words for God, are Father, Lord, Husband, King, Creator. It is necessary to realize that we are only using words having meaning to us. I recall a lady I once met who could not pray to God as her Father because she had some very bad experiences with the orphanage and those she called “father.” In her mind, that term was not a term of praise. When we think of God as our Father, we realize that we are trying to describe God in terms of human relations – and that is always inadequate, but it does help.
We humans do not have the capacity of mind, to really understand what a spiritual being is like. Paul said he was carnal and sold unto sin (Romans 7:14). He also said that the carnal mind is enmity against God and we cannot please God as long as we stay in that mindset (Romans 8:6-8). Jesus Christ came to lead the way towards a spiritual life and to allow the “light” of God – understanding although somewhat limited – to become children of God (John 1:9-12). Since we think in terms of flesh and blood – limited thinking capacity, weariness and so on – it is not possible for us to completely grasp all that God is. He exists in a far different way than we can imagine. He is the source of everything that was. Is. Or will be.
We humans were created and are dependent upon everything in our body functioning as God designed, the mind to be able to think clearly, the sustenance we need and the roof over our head. We cannot grasp the ability to create from nothing all that we see in this incredible earth, let alone the universe. The United Church of God published a booklet with the title “Who is God?” This excellent booklet explains that the word God has a whole spectrum of meanings due to the way people perceive God.
Paul told the Corinthians that God did reveal the deep things when He dwells in us through His Spirit (I Corinthians 2:6,9-12). There are things that God has given for the faithful to know, but it would be an error to think that we can comprehend all of His majesty. Paul said converted people have the mind of Christ (V.16). After that statement, Paul pointed out that God’s servants could not speak to those church members as to spiritual people because they continually allowed their carnal nature to control their thoughts and actions (I Corinthians 3:1-3). Strife, divisions, and envy were present and all of these are like blinders to the eyes.
Other than the visions that have been mentioned, the only way in which God speaks to us is through the Holy Scriptures. Many people read the Bible and some study it deeply. However, there is one element to study that is imperative if we are to have a deep understanding of the Scriptures. That element is the fact that until God opens a person’s mind to understand, we remain with only a limited supply of knowledge. People often add their own thoughts and ideas to these concepts. The Bible notes the account of two men who knew Jesus and His followers and were aware of all that had happened, but were walking away from Jerusalem because they were disappointed that Jesus was not the Messiah they had hoped for (Luke 24:21). In their mind, the concept of a Messiah was not what God had in His mind. These men knew Jesus personally and had studied the Torah all of their lives, but it was not until Jesus opened their understanding, that a far greater ability to comprehend the Scriptures came to them (Luke 24:45). In another account a woman named Lydia heard the disciples speak, but God opened her heart to listen, understand and then act on what was being spoken by Paul (Acts. 16:14).
We need to accept the fact that our mind is limited and we need the help of God to understand the Scriptures which tell us of Him. God wants to reveal all, but humans are not yet ready for that. Whatever limitations a person has – like envy, pride, arrogance – all limit the degree of understanding that God in His mercy and wisdom allows. God works within the limitations of our minds. Much has been revealed, but there is much more that will be revealed when we are able to comprehend.
Robert Berendt is a pastor who lives in Canada and loves to write using personal experiences.