Knowing God

March 1, 1998 / No. 2878

What were you made for? To know God.

What must be the object of your life? The knowledge of God.

What alone can bring joy and peace to you? To know the living God.

The knowledge of God, or the lack thereof, exposes the spiritual deficiency of our age as nothing else does. If asked, “What makes our age of Christians deficient when placed by the side of other ages? How does this generation of Christianity fail to measure up to the stature of some in the past?” Then the answer must be this: There were many ages in the past which knew God, and our age does not.

One might assume that, with the explosion of knowledge, our age would outstrip others. But not so. There is less known of God today than ever before.

As we look at our own generation of Christians, and when we look for the signs of apostasy, do not look simply at the fact of the denial of creation, which was not prevalent one or two hundred years ago. Do not look simply at the denial of the authority of the Bible. Those are symptoms.

The great deficit is this: Men no longer know or care to know the God of the Bible as once men did. Jeremiah 2:13, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

The only power to preserve you as a youth or as an adult in this perverse and crooked generation is the living knowledge of the God of the Bible. This world is a bewildering, chaotic, and hopeless mess; a world which has cut itself loose from morals and truth; a world which is not interested in knowing the God of the Bible or submitting to Him and to His Word; and, thus, a world which is filled with vanity and ever more vanity. Men turn to liquor, to drugs, and to themselves. Men turn to pleasures and greed. They simply cannot find anything that satisfies. Psalm 63, “Apart from thee I long and thirst, and nought can satisfy.” Apart from God there is only emptiness.

The main business that you are on the earth to do is not to see how much money you can make. It is not to hang one on. It is not to tantalize your nerve endings by the lusts of your flesh. It is not simply to see how much you can feel and enjoy. The main business for which you are on the earth is to know God and to submit to the God of the Bible and to His Word. Only then can the problems of your life fall into place.

But we must know the majesty of God.

The word “majesty” is a word which means more than simply greatness. It is greatness, but “majesty” has the idea of honor and dignity that is due to one who has greatness. God is majestic. Psalm 93:1, “The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty.” Psalm 145:5, “I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty.” God is majestic! He is unlimited in greatness. He is filled with kingly power. Therefore all must honor and worship Him. He is the One to be adored above all others. This is what is so lacking today in the teachings of Christianity. And this is why the faith of so many Christians is feeble and the worship of so many is flabby. Modern men and women have great thoughts of men and women. But they have small thoughts of God. When we read of the lives of those Christians gone before us in ages of the past we will soon wonder whether we have any acquaintance at all of the mighty God that they knew so intimately. The Bible will never let us lose our sight of God’s majesty and God’s inherent glory.

We read of this also in Psalm 47:2, “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.” In this psalm we are exhorted to clap our hands and shout in triumph over the majesty and the unrivaled sovereignty of God. There is no one who competes with God. There is no one who competes with God for majesty, rule, and power.

God is sovereign. That means that God possesses by right the power to rule, and that He upholds all things by His hands, and that He directs all things to the purpose that He had planned for them. God is absolutely sovereign. Therefore He is majestic. He is to be honored for all of His greatness and majesty.

God reveals His majesty in a number of ways. He reveals it first of all in His names. The names of God tell us who God is. And we are told that He calls Himself “the LORD,” or “Jehovah.” The word “Jehovah” means “I AM THAT I AM,” or “I am all that I am.” For a very clear explanation of this name we turn to Exodus 3:14 and 15, where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and summoned Moses to approach in deepest reverence and tender humility-to take his shoes from off his feet for it was holy ground. There God is commissioning Moses to be His instrument to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Moses, who was very timid and unwilling to perform this task and brings excuses before God, asks God the question, “When the people ask me, ‘Who is it that sends me?’ what am I to tell them? What name is sufficient for the people to hear which will guarantee their obedience?” God responds: “I AM THAT I AM, or Jehovah is my name. Tell them Jehovah has sent you.”

That name, “I AM THAT I AM,” declares to us God’s self-existence. The God of the Bible is independent. He has no beginning and no end. He spans across time. There never was a moment that God was not God. Who made this God? When did He begin? To what does God owe His existence? The answers to these questions are: Nothing. God never began. He always is. “I AM.” God always is and ever shall be. He depends upon nothing. He has in Himself the source of His own existence.

Still more. That name “Jehovah” tell us of God’s unchangeableness. “I am all that I am,” or “I ever shall be what I am.” Moses, all that I am I ever will remain, and I shall never become anything other than what I am. James 1:17, “… with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” He is the unchangeable God. He is Jehovah.

Still more. His majesty is revealed in the words “most High.” He calls Himself “Jehovah, the most high God.” That name speaks of God’s exalted being. God is most high in the sense that He is far above us in glory. There is nothing that can be compared to God or likened unto Him. He is to be revered because His being is far above all that is of the creature; far above all that is of man; far above all that is evil. He is the most high, He is holy. He is above human knowledge. Man is but a little child in knowledge. God’s knowledge is most high. He knows all things and knows all things at the very same moment. He is above all needs and wants. He never longs and is never dissatisfied. He is never one who lacks. He is exalted and supreme and glorious in Himself. You see, the Word of God is telling us that He is the living and the true God. He truly is God and He declares that in His name. He is Jehovah, He is the most High. He is never disappointed, He is never dissatisfied. He is never defeated. He is the one, true, and eternal God.

And He is the God who rules over the earth. “For the Lord most high,” we read, “is terrible. He is a great King over all the earth.” Now that is a declaration of the truth that God rules over the affairs and the interests of this earth. A king is a ruler. He has been given dominion, authority, and power. God is the King over all the earth. He rules over all that pertains to the earth: the physical earth from the point of view of seasons and storms, rain, sun and moon, forest, fields, and crops. All these things come of His hand. But He is also the Lord of the earth from the social and political point of view: the affairs of men in business and in government. This, too, is not of itself, but of God. “The way of a man,” we read in Jeremiah 10:23, “is not in himself.” It is not of man to direct his own steps. Man is not autonomous. He is not self-ruling. The most high, Jehovah, rules over all the earth.

And He rules in and by His Son, Jesus Christ. When Christ ascended up into heaven God entrusted to Him rule over heaven and earth. He was seated at the right hand of God. And Ephesians 1 tells us that everything was then placed under His feet and He rules over them all for the benefit, for the good, of His church. There are some who teach that Jesus Christ is to be pitied. There are some who say that He entered the world to become a king and He offered to rule over the Jews but He was rejected and left the earth in defeat and is driven off and exiled. But one day He is going to come back and take up a throne in Jerusalem. That is not true. Not true at all. The living God who rules over the earth from the very beginning to the end now rules over all things through Jesus Christ, who has been given absolute power to rule over all things in the name of God. Therefore, it is not the business of a preacher, and it is not my business, to beg people to make Jesus Lord as if that is in doubt. But I must proclaim to you that God, by an irresistible decree, has placed Jesus in complete command of our world and that you must submit and bow before Him. You exist under the government of King Jesus, whom God has placed upon His throne. You are not independent. You do not hold God in your hand. He holds you in His hand. And you must bow and confess and yield and submit to His Word. Rebellion against this God and King can only bring you everlasting judgment and fury in hell.

For the Lord most high is terrible. He is a great King over all the earth.

The word “terrible” has the idea of reverence. Not dread terror, but when one knows this God of the Bible, then there must also be a profound and wondering reverence revealed in submission and trust and worship.

You see, the issue in your life is not: am I pretty? am I popular? how much money do I make? can I pay my bills? what will I wear? what class will I be in? who will be my teacher? what about the stock market? That is not the issue. The issue is this: Do you bow before this one God and King? Do you worship at His footstool? Do you honor Him with deepest, tenderest fears? Do you repent of your sin in tears? If you do not, you are a rebel before this King. And you can only face certain and eternal judgment.

The word “terrible” then means “to stand in awe and in reverence before the living God; to know God in all of His wonderful majesty, and to adore Him and to love Him as the God who is great and glorious.” When the shadow of the almighty God falls over your heart, and you have been given personal dealings with God through Jesus Christ and are brought to know Him as your Father and Savior in Jesus Christ, then you will be shattered, you will be broken. Your sins will be shattered, and your proud heart will be broken. You will not simply brush God aside out of your own rebellion. You will not simply say, “Well, it is up to me to decide what I will do with God, whether I will give God a place or not, whether I will reverence His Word or not.” But, by His grace, you will bow down in worship. You will abandon yourself. You will submit entirely to this God.

The response to this truth must be either the terror which will fill the heart of the unbelieving and proud sinner, or the humble and sincere love of the child of God, out of a heart softened by the grace of God.

When God stands before man, and the eyes of His holiness bore into the heart of a man, all excuses are gone and all defenses are destroyed and man stands exposed in all of his horrible enmity against God. Then, apart from faith, men will call upon the mountains to cover them and to hide them from the face of Him who sits upon the throne ( Rev. 6). There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is reality. The most holy God has made you and He will judge you. The only response must be: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish when His anger is risen but a little.” Or the response will be, by God’s grace in the heart of the believer, humble, reverent love. Job said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes have seen thee. I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Isaiah, when he saw the vision of the holy God, cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips.” John says that when he saw the ascended Christ he fell at His feet as one that was dead. And Peter came to Christ upon his knees and cried out, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

Is that your experience? Do you bow in a humble heart before God, confessing your sin and your pride and your rebellion and your stubbornness? Has there been a vision of God that pierces through the darkness of your heart so that you see the majestic, holy God, the God who has given His Son to wash away your sins so that you are shattered in your sin and you are lifted up in faith before God and you feel compelled to worship Him and you want to abide in His courts awaiting His will?

Then, rejoice! “Clap your hands, all ye people. Shout aloud to God with the voice of triumph. For the Lord most high is terrible. He is a great King over all the earth.” The clapping of hands is a universal gesture of joy and triumph. That is, if you know this true God; if He, by His grace, has made Himself known to you in His Word; then you must express that in the most triumphant and liberating joy. Be filled with joy, the joy of absolute victory and assurance. And your joy will rest in who God is, who He is in Jesus Christ to you. You will rejoice in all of the majesty and glory of His grace shown to you through His Son who now sits at His right hand. A joy which will never pass away.

Why, so often, do we lack joy? Why, so often, do we look upon our days with weariness? Why does darkness as a thick veil often fall upon our souls? The answer is this: It is due to our slowness to believe in God’s majesty. It is due to wrong and limited thoughts about God. It is due to the fact that we become all wound up in ourselves, even before the light of the glory of this great King, this everlasting God. What is our trouble? Has it never been told to you, the truth about the living God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard? Do you think that God is like yourself? Do you think that He is limited and weak? Put it right in your soul. Learn to acknowledge the full majesty of the incomparable God and Savior. How slow we are to believe in God as God. How little we make of His majesty, how dull our perceptions, and how flabby becomes our service.

We need to meditate upon Him all the day long. The thoughts of His majesty and glory must flood into our souls. This will be our strength, and this will be our joy: This God, who is God, will be our God forever and ever. He will be our guide, even unto death.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee once again for Thy Word. Give us that grace whereby we bow before Thee in all of Thy majesty, beauty, and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.