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Our Personal Deity – concerning revelation

Che Dio ti accompagni…

William Blake, Job Confessing
“Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives to little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it…and then it’s gone.

But to surrender who you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying – even more terrible than dying young.” – Jeanne d’Arc

Revelation is God’s greatest gift for us, for it is the very presence of the world’s Creator within the world, His radiance descended upon the earth (as a pillar of flame cast from the heavens). In Christ we may see the peak of such glorious image, the revelation that restores our relationship to the revelation Giver, and that draws us into eternity’s revelatory life. Yet, truly every promise, every image and word, which comes before us, is a life giving ray of hope that warms our faces to the glory of God. It is as a flame upon our eyes and ears, upon these cold dead limbs, upon our hearts and minds, to which melts death and burns away unbelief.

“The word of the Lord came to”, reads Jeremiah 1, Ezekiel 1, Hosea 1, Joel 1, etc.; the revelation of our Lord is a word that comes to, a word that is given to, a word that is revealed to, and a word that is received. Never does one command it, never does one demand it, never does one control how it is given, when it is given, or for what it is, for what is spoken. The word of our Lord is a free gift to be received — independent from the receiver — a freely given self-disclosure of God. Revelation is dependent upon the giver, and can only be accepted, and never taken or created apart from libation.

“Michael couldn’t take his eyes off her. His heart beat faster and faster as she came near. He willed her to look at him, but she didn’t. He let out his breath after she passed him, not even aware that he had been holding it. This one, beloved.”- Francine River

The story of Hosea presents a problem for us; it presents us with the issue that God would reveal to us something besides the prophecy or direction of a mass of people. If “the word of the Lord came to” us, and directed us to “go to Africa”, then we would say fine, “go to the nations”. However, if “the word of the Lord came to” us and said, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman”*, then we have no answer. The moment God steps out of being transcendent and separate from the world, the moment He becomes a personal Deity that cares for the intimate and personal lives of an individual, even for who we marry and how we live, His word to us becomes uncomfortable and uneasy. We prefer God to be apart from us, lest He knows us for who we are, and lest we must face Him without control. If God can tell Hosea “marry a promiscuous woman”, then what’s to stop Him from telling us the same; and, if so, why?

Simply, God told Hosea for the mere sake of a metaphor, for a parable, for a teaching — for a book’s sake (a Book that changed the world, mind you). When God presents us with a revelation, He is inviting us to participate and become a part of His redeeming narrative, to become a part of His gospel to the world. If revelation is in love, then what’s to say it’s of Satan (for surely Satan does not “drive out Satan”) — if it is not, then what’s to say it’s of God. By inviting us to obey, He is inviting us to take on His character, to do as He does, to love, to be faithful, to act, and to never relent — for His sake. Revelation of and from God is for God. Revelation is an invitation to enter into His state of character, and in doing so, turn forth honor and praise before Him.

elohim creating adam - William BlakeYet still, this misses the mark. God does invite us to glorify Him and bring Him honor, but this does not necessarily mean we will walk through Sheol because “the word of the Lord came to”. The fact that God would ask such a personal thing, also means that God is aware of our heart’s deepest desires, fears, hopes, and needs. In the end, it seems, based off the character and nature of God, and His love for merely 12 tribes of people, and His faithfulness to a promise of a single son, Hosea needed his wife in a certain way, it was what was best for him and her, simply because it is for what God made them for, for those 14 chapters. God’s personal self-disclosure is just such, personal. The desires of God, His desires, His revelation to us, is the very thing that we need the most. Never would we deny the necessity of the Revelation of Christ — why would God present us with worthless words? The fact that revelation can be so very personal means that it is in love and care the revelation is given. “The word of the Lord came” and it was personal, purposeful, and redeeming. The mere fact that He would bother to tell us anything means that not only is it immensely important to Him, but that it is immensely important for us, for who we are and how we are created. Revelation reveals who we are and how we matter and fit into the vast of creation. We (as individual persons) matter just as much, if not more so, to Him, as do “the nations”.

“‘I have come,’ said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.” – C. S. Lewis

Even if God is personal and cares for our intimate details of life, what is to say we would recognize Him when He spoke, or that we would understand Him clear enough to know for certain what He spoke? How does personal revelation result in a recognizable and understandable Deity?

Christ simply stated that, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”*. Throughout Scripture there are numerous accounts of men (and women) hearing God’s voice, yet there is never an account of one mistaking God’s voice for another, or mistaking the unveiled God for another. Often, have there been instances of men and women and nations taking a mortal of this world for a god, but when God is present and unreserved, none is truly mistaken. Jacob awes at his persisting life, Isaiah cries out “Woe is me!”, and Zechariah falls silent and Paul falls blind before the presence of God’s glory — none mistake the full presence of the Lord. However, while His presence may be true and harrowing in belief, this does not mean His word will be easy, or that one can mistaken to realize His presence. Sarah laughed at the Lord because of the absurdity of what He spoke, Mary failed to recognize the risen Christ, and even Peter denied that Christ would rise again — yet never did they mistake Him for what He spoke, only mistook His shear extremity. The most difficult of the Lord’s word is not mistaken, yet only is it limited by our own unbelief, our own doubts and fears. The disciples did not understand Christ when He spoke to them, when He told that “this temple” will be rebuilt in three days, when He stood risen before them, because their hearts were not cast high enough to see. Revelation is of another state of existence, a higher and eternal reality, and therefore revelation draws us into such footing — yet, only if our faith allows us. Only can a man walk upon water when His faith is set firmly on the Stiller of the water. Only in unbelief is the shepherd mistaken for another, and only in doubt and loss of faith is His word mistaken for error.

The word of the Lord comes before us, and while we may forgo to understand or listen, while we may forgo to hearken to His ultimate power and seeming absurdity, God is still God and He still calls about the seemingly impossible, He still walks upon the waters and casts aside the mountains. And, it is in this harrowing glory that His revelation brings us to death (or life); for, just as class and differences bring about jealousy, rage, and fear, he who has not seen the unbridled glory of the Lord, cannot help but tear their clothes and cast lots for a crucified man in disbelief. To the faithless, revelation brings unbelief and demands death of all pride — the high are brought low; to the faithful, revelation brings belief, hope, and life in an eternal reality — the low are brought high.

The Conversion of Saul - William Blake

Stephen was stoned for speaking, Jeanne d’Arc was burned for hearing voices, and Christ was crucified for claiming I AM, so why should I or any other expect any less (to keep our friends, to be loved by any, to keep our lives). “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth”*. What lessons should be given and what can be said of such I do not know, yet let what Lewis has written so well be remembered, that, “No one who hears a god’s voice takes it for a mortal’s”*. I have never heard voices, nor dreamt dreams, nor seen visions; but for what God has told me by His glorious Spirit acting upon my heart and speaking to me in words before my eyes, He has been clear and has ensured that I understand without blemish. When God speaks, by whatever means it may be, to mistaken Him for another or to mistaken what He has spoken, would be a mistake none shall ever make. For only a mortal’s voice is mistaken for a god’s word, and never the contrary. Only in unbelief and belief is a personal deity mistaken or embraced.

Only a personal God would care to present Himself before His creation, only a personal God would be a God of revelation, yet only a personal God would present us with personal and intimate revelation. Before a God as such all fall as though dead; by the personal presence of a sovereign Image, the eternal meets the temporal, and the temporal is brought into the fold of a radiant Deity of eternity.

Without our personal God, all would be chance and none would be known. With our personal God, all is held in a sovereign and eternal hand and all may be known by the grace of the Giver.

  1. Cover Image: Job Confessing, William Blake
  2. Additional Image 1: Elohim Creates Adam, William Blake
  3. Additional Image 2: The Conversion of Paul, William Blake
  4. Block Quote 1: Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers,
  5. Block Quote 2: The Silver Chair, C. S. Lewis
  6. Additional Verse 1: Hosea 1:2
  7. Additional Verse 2: John 10:27
  8. Additional Verse 3: Luke 3:5, Isaiah 40:4
  9. Additional Quote: Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

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