The more I have to do with God, the more I am confronted with who I am. As someone once said, “It takes God to know man.” Our view of ourselves is drastically changed the moment He shows up. Like Isaiah we say, “Woe is me, for I am a man with unclean lips”. Why did the Spirit lead him to write, “I am a man”? It is not as if he did not know this. But the moment He came into God’s presence, he was confronted with the fact that he is a man, standing in God’s Holy presence.
Apparently it is hard pressed on the Father’s heart for me to bring this post. I have not been able to get it out of my mind ever since I wrote it, and the confirmations I have received that He would like me to post it has been overwhelming. Considering the subject matter I can only think that it has eternal consequences and that it is not only for now, but for what is to come. It lays heavy on my own heart as well, as I see that this world is even now increasingly being confronted with this very same question. Can we truly define God? Yes, I suppose we can quote some scripture about how He is Spirit, He is love, holy and more. But in itself if we are to define Him, that would be making Him less than what He is, which is God. And because as man, who cannot define God, He has forever been showing us exactly who He is. But have we heard Him? Have we seen? And can we be the same once we have heard and seen?
One of those occasions in history that He has clearly spoken is during the holocaust. We have been inundated with literature and documentaries and interviews about it. After all these years it has in fact never stopped. And somehow the overall focus has been the struggle, agony and extreme loss in the face of death at the hands of a dictator and his people. It is always heartbreaking to listen to this. When the Jews came out of the camps, there is one creed that they have said and have ever been holding on to. “Never Again!” This was their solemn proclamation over themselves as a nation after the devastation of the holocaust. And not only “Never Again!”, but it seems through all the years it is also “Never Forget!” And so I have to wonder why the question that may or may not have been on their minds were never answered. A question they did not dare to consider, because it would ultimately devastate all their categories and who they are, even now up to this point.
And this question is, “Why was God silent?” or in other words, “How come God allowed this? It is said that even their babies were thrown into the air to be caught on the baronets of the soldiers as their entertainment. How their scientists and scholars were made to lay in the middle of the street so that a tank could drive over them, crushing them whilst still alive. And there are so many more accounts with the same level of cruel and violent rage. And to answer this question of “Why was God silent and why did God allow this?” was maybe addressed by secular and religious scholars, but not by the Jews. How does one consolidate the heartache of this world with a loving God, who calls Himself our Father? Many were disillusioned and many an atheist was born as their view of God changed during this horrific time. They did not understand the “why?”
And in the same way this question has to be raised about the greatest holocaust ever, the holocaust of the Son of Man. We are in danger of answering this question from a doctrinal view and not from the reality that it was. A slaughtering of a son by His own Father. It is easier to put a religious ring to it and hold the type and shadow of the Passover Lamb right next to it, and ascribe to the doctrinal truth, yet be devoid of the reality of it. And yet it behooves us to sit with this question and to take it apart. To meditate on it and ask ourselves what this says about God. To allow Him to undo our romanticizing of the cross and ask the pertinent questions of “What does this say of God?” or more importantly, the question He wishes to bring to you…”Who do you say I am?”
As I said at the beginning quoting Isaiah, that it takes God to know man. Because when you know God as He truly is, the same cry will come from your innermost being…”woe is me, I am a man…” The holocaust of the cross is the statement of my sin in the same way that the holocaust of the Jews were the statement of their sin. The magnitude of the suffering on the cross is relative to the magnitude of my sin. Our presumption upon God, deciding what we think He will allow or not allow is the issue of our pride, and therefore the holocaust. The fact that we have made Him in our image, to the point that He has to say…
Psalm 50: 21
21 These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.
And so to disillusion us from this image we have made of Him, He devastates us in judgment, of which the Cross is the supreme expression. And in His wisdom by this demonstration we may both know His judgment and mercy. But we refuse to want to see God like that. Maybe on sinners and those who deserve it, but surely not His children. Surely not those who love Him, who has given all and forsaken all? Surely not those who live in holiness? The issue is not whether we have done something wrong and now deserve the discipline as His children. There is a time for this. What He is addressing is His judgment on our image we have made of Him.
We refuse to consider Job. We want to take that account apart and bring a cause and consequence to the table. After all, is that not how this world works? But God is not like us. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than ours. We would like His wisdom to comfort us as our Father. However, there is also the wisdom of God that exceeds our understanding that even devastates our view of Him. And that is the intention of His judgment, also the one to come upon this world.
The failure to receive the statement of God in the death and resurrection of Jesus and every subsequent suffering in my life, lies at the heart of why we do not know Him as He is, and therefore it must happen again and again in our lives. Every issue of suffering raises the issue of God. Your divorce, the illness that racks your body, suicide, murder, child abuse, poverty and rape. They all ask ‘Why?” And “Where was God?” How can a God who is just, righteous, all seeing and all powerful allow these things to happen? And in order to settle our distaste and disappointment in God for not intervening, we revert back to cause and consequence. I or they did that, so therefore this must happen. Linear thinking. But God is all together other! As my close friend said after her husband died in her arms of a heart attack, leaving her with her broken hearted teenage girls that adored there father, “And He calls Himself loving! He could have stopped it, but He chose not to!” And for her at that moment it defined Him and not her. Because she did not consider that as God, by definition He can do so without her ever understanding why. In fact in that very moment when she cried out to Him to revive her husband’s lifeless body lying in her arms, whilst bargaining and making promises of doing whatever He asks as long as He gave her husband back, the answer came. “You may not know why now, but one day you will understand”. And anybody who have gone through such trauma knows that, that answer will just not “cut it”. We want answers. We want an explanation. And so we fail to see what is said the loudest in what has happened – BECAUSE I AM GOD.
Our pride riles against this. We cry foul and search for answers, but refuse to believe this. Refuse to accept this because when there is a wrong, there has to be accountability. But God is God! How many people turned their back on God because they were unable to console there view of God with who He is in the time of the holocaust? Unable to accept that God can do as He wants, answers to nobody and is sovereign in all He does. And does this not actually shed the light on whether we truly believe and know that our lives are not our own?
Let’s go back to Job. When all was said and done, when he lost house, family, friends, possessions and was scraping scabs of his body, racked with sickness too terrible to look at, and cursing the day he was born, he came to an ultimate conclusion, written in chapter 42.
Job 42: 5 – 6
5 I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.
At the heart of the book of Job is who Job is and who God is. And this is the heart of all God’s dealing with you. Nominal religion, which is God in our own image, constitute the rejection of God whilst at the same time seemingly celebrating Him as God. This is why He has to shatter our illusions. This is why He judge. And this is also why some Christians fall apart at the seams at ordinary times, but cannot stand in the face of calamity. Their house is built on the sandy false perceptions of God and fall the moment the storm comes, like my friend who lost her husband. We want God to make nice. We want Him to fit into our paradigm, our box. And in just whose box of all the Christians out there, should He fit into?
The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I serving God as He truly is, or in the image that I have made of Him?” “Have I swept this question under the rug of religious normalcy as all others, or have I wrestled as Jacob with God? Has He won and confronted me with my name. The Angel asked Jacob what his name is. It is not that God did not know what Jacob’s name was, it was that Jacob had to acknowledge his name and the meaning of it. Evidently it took him wrestling right through the night with God. And what does Jacob mean? Deceiver or surplanter. In another chapter in Isaiah, God says, Oh Jacob, thou worm.
We hear the following spoken over Jacob.
Genesis 32: 28
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
As a prince he has power with God. It took him wrestling with God to have as a prince power with God, which speaks of favor and authority. But what did it take? And so Jacob left with a new name. Israel, meaning “he has prevailed with God” or “He shall rule as God”. Have you wrestled with God? Do you have the limp as He touched your side, your side that resembles your strength? Has he crippled you? That limp in Jacob’s walk will forever remind him that there is One greater who spared his life. He is not His equal, but a worm. And God, is God. Make no mistake about this. This is the issue of the last days.
God is fitting us now and building our characters to be able to stand in the coming holocaust of this world. That when the hour comes, and it is very soon, our view of Him will not collapse, because we have allowed Him to be God as He in fact is in our lives, and not in our own image. Now is the time to devastate us. We need to anticipate what is soon coming. Just because we know what is coming does not constitute that we are ready for what is coming. We will either find ourselves in apostolicity or in apostasy. Either in our faith or more and more compromising. And how we view God lies at the heart of it. And it is at this time that we ought to be in our inner chamber allowing Him to search our heart and willingly allow Him to confront us with this issue. As He asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” And once Peter told Him, He replied, “Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but the Spirit”. Is your image of God based only on your correct doctrine or does it include His dealings with you? And equally important, have you set the limit to those dealings? Willing subconsciously that He may take your husband, but not your child. Willing subconsciously that He may take your job, but not your house? Willing to lose and forsake your friends, but not rack your body with sickness? Please do not think I am saying we never have a say or part in our sufferings. Sin opens doors and Father disciplines as well. But what if it is not discipline, but a demonstration of who He is? As is all His dealings with us. Can God be God as He in fact is in your life or have you subconsciously determined the boundaries of His full expression of who He is, in your life? Look at the cross. The cross is the full expression of who He is – judgment and mercy.
Are you celebrating your security and peace in the Lord, how your marriage is good and all is going relative well? I think that is exactly where Job was. And still God had an issue with how Job saw himself and God. He had security with the hedge of protection around his life, but when that security was taken away, he was instantly confronted with who he is, and who God is. Do we know Him as that?
God does not see as we see. Our whole view of justice and responsibility is very different from His. As my mentor Art Katz says, “Suffering reveals and ultimate suffering reveals ultimately”. This is the place Job was brought to. And how tragic it is to have suffered ultimately, like the Jews, and have not seen ultimately, which is the failure to understand the intention of God in His dealings. How much more for us in our consideration of the cross and His dealings with us? We attribute these dealings and suffering coming from man or even the enemy, when we should understand that it is coming from the hand of God. To say it was Hitler is much easier than to say it was God.
Nothing of this will make sense if we do not see this in the way that God sees it, which is an eternal perspective. Art also says, “If the fire of the gas chambers will save us from the eternal fires of judgment, it has an eternal perspective”. In the context of time itself it will not have its full meaning. And God is eternal. And so, in His dealings with us, eternity is at stake. It will be an eternal loss if we do not get it in the here and now.
God has an issue with our perception and view of Him. At the heart of it lies that we want a God of our choosing. At the heart is our pride. Like Job, Jacob and many more, He has to bring us to nothing, to ashes, so that we may as a prince have power with God. We serve an ultimate God that cannot be defined on the basis of our own understanding, but only on His terms. To be dealt with by God in this manner is know Him as He is, as He intended, and central to this is the holocaust of the Son of Man on the cross.
Hebrews 12: 25 - 29
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.