Knowing the Lord Part 1

One of the blessings I am thankful for are the wonderful friends that the Lord has placed in my life. These men and women are a great source of fun, encouragement, and support, and I thank God for the relationships we share.

We are relational creatures and thus have an innate desire to be known by others. Not known in a factual sense, as in someone having information about another, but known in an intimate sense. This can only happen when individuals spend consistent time with each other and grow in understanding each other’s personality, desires, experiences, and plans.

Knowledge is key to relationships

If the relationship is mutually enjoyable, both people will grow in trust and familiarity. This is necessary in all healthy relationships, whether romantic, familial, professional, and friendships. One must be known, and must know the other for the relationship to develop.

In Jeremiah 9, the prophet Jeremiah laments over Israel’s sin, corruption, and impending judgement. In anguish, he proclaims that the Lord will “refine”, or purify Israel by having their enemies defeat and consume them (Jeremiah 9:7-22). Israel had grown prideful and failed to obey God due to their prosperity and rebellion. Toward the end of the chapter, the Lord gives an admonition to mankind. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, He says,

“Let not that wise man boast in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man boast in his might,
Nor let the rich man boast in his riches,
But let him who boasts, boast in this,
That he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord
Who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these things I delight, says the Lord.”

Our ultimate pursuit

This passage gives us insight into the heart of God by showing us what He deems worthy for humanity to ultimately pursue. God reveals that people shouldn’t boast, or take supreme confidence in, their intellect, power, or riches, but that we should take pride in having an intimate knowledge of our Creator.

If God wants us to understand and know Him, He must have provided a way to achieve this. The Lord’s proclamation also raises the question, “What is boast-worthy about having an intimate knowledge of God?” In answering this, we can glean two important relational aspects about God that are related to His nature, intentions, and purposes for mankind. 

God is transcendent, yet immanent

A survey of the Bible will show that God is utterly distinct in nature and power from His creation. God possesses attributes that are unique to Him since He is the divine Creator and Ruler of the universe. A few of these attributes are that God is …

  • self-existent (has always existed and is uncaused; John 5:26)
  • eternal (is beyond time, existing infinitely in the past, present and future; Psalm 90:2)
  • all-powerful (able to do anything in accordance with His nature and character; Jeremiah 32:17)
  • all-knowing (Psalms 147:5, Romans 11:33)
  • all-present (not limited by space, but His presence is universal; Psalms 139:7-10)
  • self-sufficient (has no needs; Acts 17:24-25)
  • perfectly holy (righteous, pure, and distinct from creation; 1 Samuel 2:2 )
  • perfectly just (1 Peter 1:17)
  • perfectly good (Psalms 25:8, James 1:17)
  • perfect love (1 John 4:8, 16).

These, and several other absolute attributes show us that God is infinitely above His creation, or that God is transcendent. (Isaiah 55:9, Psalms 113:5-6).

How can we know God?

One may wonder, “If God is transcendent, how can anyone know Him, far less understand Him? Wouldn’t He be unknowable?” Thankfully, if God chooses to reveal Himself in a manner that we can relate to, He can be known. Scripture shows that God’s power and creativity is clearly shown in creation. Design is evident in our world, and points to a Divine Designer (Romans 1:18-20).

In addition, God sustains and fills His creation, while being distinct from it (God is not His creation). This closeness is known as His immanence. Colossians 1:17 says that “in Him all things hold together.” Acts 17:25,28 notes that “in Him we live and move and have our being”.

Hebrews 1:3 notes that the Lord “sustains all things by His powerful word,” and Jeremiah 23:24 says that God “fills the heaven and the earth.” It is clear that God is far above His creation, or transcendent, yet He is close to His creation in care and relationship, or immanent.

Robert Richardson
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