Well, good morning. Good morning everybody here in person. I know some of you guys are here from the media retreat and so welcome here. I know some of you guys are just kind of first timers here. And so welcome a special welcome to you. And if you’re watching us online, I want to give you a big shout out. Hello. It’s awesome to see you and to to get to know you. And I know that our church as a family really does want to tie together people from all different places.
And so what I’d like to just share in terms of what I’ve been hearing is our media team has been sharing with me that there’s people from all over the world watching, which is so cool in some places right here in Florida and certainly all all over the United States. And and so I want to hear from you. So if you’re in the chat right now, if you could just drop where you’re from and maybe as a little icebreaker thing, you can also drop.
Would you have pineapple on pizza? Just yes or no? Just a simple yes or no question. And we’ll do a poll for everybody here. Pineapple on pizza. Yes. Yes. Hands. Wow. And then who? No chance. Wow, that’s that’s interesting. I am a pineapple on pizza fan. My wife is a pineapple on pizza fan. I don’t know if that messes with you if you think that I’m no longer qualified to preach.
But either way there will be a pizza party in heaven for all of us. As always, I’m thrilled to be back behind the pulpit. And I love this church. I love this community and I love all of you. And I know I just also want to acknowledge, you know, when when I’m not able to be on stage and we have other people come up to speak. It’s awesome to hear people that are just passionate and incredibly gifted and teaching God’s word and uplifting our souls.
And so I just want to acknowledge, Joe from last week and the week before did such a great job. It was it was great listening to his heart, his conviction, and certainly being inspired by his example and his life. And so, again, if you’re in the chat, show some love to Joe. Today, we’re starting a brand new five week series and we’re entitling the five week series. Who is the Lord? Who is the Lord?
Next week, we’re going to have a video. We’re trying to put it together this week. We’re unable to do it. But next week we’re going to have a video where we hit the streets, and ask different people from all over the spectrum, all over walks of life. To ask we ask them a simple question, who do you believe God to be? Who is God? Who is he? What is God like? Is he kind?
Is he compassionate? Is he mean? Is he violent? What do you believe God to be like? Because we understand that the spectrum of thought in our society is so wide. We thought it would be good to take a snapshot, to take a small sample size and just to spend a couple of hours on Fort Lauderdale and and on public college campuses and at the beach. And just to get a sense of who people believe God to be. And if you were to spend that time personally doing the same exercise that we do, you would find the same results that we found, which it turns out that a lot of people have a lot of issues with the Bible.
A lot of people affirm it, love it, are diligent towards it. But a lot of people just have issues with it. And maybe more importantly, a lot of people have issues with God. And so you and I understand that there’s kind of a vast spectrum of thought when it comes to people answering the question, who is God? For most of us, God is the creator of all things good, of all things beautiful and true. The God I read about in the Scriptures and I see in the person of Jesus Christ is overwhelmingly positive and also necessary for my own human existence and my soul.
But that’s not the only viewpoint in a world full of viewpoints, depending on what nation you’re from or what language you speak or religion you were brought up in, or your church experience, your background, your culture, even your perceived status in society. All of this affects the question who is the Lord or who is God? What is he like? Is he a he? Maybe he’s a she. Is he one, is he three, maybe as some of the Hindus believe, he’s like one hundred and seventy two.
Does he live in all of us and dwelling in us or does he just live in, like, the trees. Am I God? Are you God? Is God personal or just like an energy force? Is he a state of being or a state of mind? What is he like? Is he kind or cruel, involved or aloof or is he strict, uptight, or is he easy going? Would He vote Democrat or would he vote Republican? Maybe he’s a libertarian. I don’t know.
Is he still good for the world? If God, as atheists say, just, maybe he’s just an endless source of violence and hatred and bigotry and hypocrisy. Who is God? Who is the one that we love while others hate? Who is the one we worship while some blaspheme that we trust in, while others fear that we bow down to and some curse? Who is God? The 20th century writer A.W. Tozer made a powerful claim in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy.
He said this. I’m going to read the quote. It’s in several phases here. It says, What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
What we think when we think about God, this writer is saying, is primary is paramount, cardinal supreme and why? Well, he goes on to describe it this way, says The greatest question before the church is always God himself and the most portentious, which I didn’t even know was a word, fact, which is like warning or thing to be concerned about fact, about any any man is not what he at any given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.
He says what’s most important to a man is not actually what he or she does, instead, it’s what we believe got to be like because he closes off the conversation really beautifully. And so so just get the tension here. It’s not your gender. It’s not your ethnicity or your sexuality or your family origin or your race or your culture or your neighborhood or your tax bracket or your favorite sports team or the college you attended or the or all of that honestly rolled all into one means so much less than what you believe about God.
This is the reason, he says. Were we to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, what comes into your mind when you think about God, we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.
To put it another way, what you think when you think about God determines your fate. What you think when you think about God determines how you will live and how you will breathe and how you will act to people who are far away and people who are nearby, it will determine the way you relate to your family members. It will determine the way you relate to your husband or to your wife. It will determine the way you work in your workplace and the way you serve in the places where you serve and you see where we’re going here?
See, what’s interesting is that there is so much spectrum of thought about who God is. And it’s obvious then that there is so much spectrum in the way in which we live. See the ISIS terrorist who beheads the infidels and the prosperity gospel and the prosperity gospel preacher and the Westboro Baptist God who pickets outside a military funeral and the Hindus sacrificing a goat to Shiva and the witchdoctors throughout the Caribbean and the televangelist and the the peace activists and the musicians who get on stage who live nothing like God tells them to and says, I want to give glory to God and the Catholic nun giving up everything to live a life of poverty.
All of these men and women, all of them do what they do because the way they think about God.
The man who kills men does it because he believes certainly in Islamic countries does it because he believes that God is asking him to do such a thing. Christianity isn’t exempt from that chaos either. You look back at the history of Christianity, you see the Crusades, men and women who believe that God would have them go into nations and conquer and kill and pillage and destroy. See, if you think of God as racist, homophobic, mad at the world, that reality will shape you into a religious bigot.
If you think of him as an American worshiping military warmonger, you will be turned into that picture as well. If you think of God is kind of like a West Coast educated, LGBT affirming progressive, you become shaped into that stereotype of a person driving a Subaru with a coexist bumper sticker on the back of your car. If you think of God as a cosmic version of just the life coach and his whole agenda in life is to make you better, that will shape you into a self-help obsessed.
I am, David. I always slay the Goliath, the traffic as Goliath. My boss is Goliath and I’m going to swing them down and and you become this egocentric cultural Christian.
And I’m not saying that everything I just mentioned is totally, totally out of the question, but but here’s the problem. If what we think about God comes from what we think, we will always form God into the image of ourselves. If you think if what you think about God comes from what you think, you will always begin to form God into someone that looks just like you and sounds just like you and loves just like you and and challenges people just like you.
And you can find any verse in the scriptures to support anything that you’ve ever thought that you could do that you would be able to do or you would be able to think. And that’s the way that we all function. It would be our desires or our opinion or experiences. And all those things would become the model or the picture of God that is placed in our hearts. You ever wonder why there’s so many opinions about God? The reason there’s so many opinions about God is because there’s so many people forming him into their image.
There are seven billion, eight billion images of God. So what are we to do with all of this? What are we to do when what’s most important in our life is to know who God is? What are we to do when we look at ourselves and we go, OK, I don’t want to form God into the image of myself. I actually want to form a picture of God that’s true. And that’s trusted. Well, what we do is we go to the source.
See, this series is a hopefully for some of us is just a reset reset button.
You know, maybe there’s somebody watching today and you’re like, I’m watching online and maybe, you know, somebody maybe it’s yourself who’s like, I know there’s somebody in my sphere or maybe myself included, is just not sure about God anymore. And I want you to take a moment. You can just press the share button, find exactly who to send it to and just send it off right to them. You can share it certainly on your page, but send it to somebody individually if they’re trying to figure out who God is.
Maybe they were in the faith and they walked away from the faith. And maybe this is something to deal with. And certainly if you’re here and you’re thinking that this was good at the end of it, you can share it along as you after you get home. But but I want this to be a reset button, a moment for us to pause and to be changed by the truth of God displayed in the truth of God’s word. To leave behind what we think and to embrace what he’s like, as he describes it, it’s a time for us to wipe the slate clean and to start from the source, because the starting point of all theology is the realization that we actually don’t know God as well as we think we know God.
But that we can if we do the if we do the due diligence to make sure we’re in a position to learn from him and not from our own experiences, but to learn from him. And so all of us leads us to a discussion about this sermon series. And it brings us to the top of Mount Sinai with the prophet Moses and speaking to God himself in Exodus, chapter thirty four, verses six and seven. You have a Bible. You can go in and turn there.
And as you turn there, I want to set up the context. The entire series is going to be built around this text. I’m super pumped about it. But what I want to set up the story a little bit. In Exodus, chapter 33, we get to eavesdrop on the conversation between God and Moses. Israel is a recently freed nation. They’ve been wandering in the wilderness waiting for God to lead them into the promised land. The land of Canaan or Canaan depends how you want to pronounce it.
But Canaan is this land that God has said, hey, I will give it to you. But the people of Israel just seem to be sabotaging their own success. And honestly, that could be its own sermon. Like, why do the people of God always sabotage our own success? But but anyway, they they complain. They rebel. And eventually Moses, sensing God’s attitude towards Moses, sensing God’s attitude towards Moses, began to sense that God’s attitude towards the people had begun to shift.
He was getting angry at the people, and rightly so. They were kind of living like the worst. So Moses begins to have this discussion with God and Moses starts asking God a really interesting question. He says. He says, hey, would you just agree to go with us? We don’t want to go if you’re not there. So God relents in his anger and just decides, yes, I will go with you. And then Moses asks this question.
This is Exodus chapter 33, verse 18, he says and Moses said, Now show me your glory. In Hebrew literature to speak of God’s glory is to speak of his presence. So basically, God says I will be with you, is what he told Moses, and Moses says, OK, well then show me who you are. You say you’re going to be with us, but then show me who you are and God replies and the Lord said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord,
in your presence. So the next morning, Moses gets up early, climbs up to the top of Mount Sinai, and then we read one of the most important paragraphs in the entire Bible. Remember, this is God showing Moses who he is.
This is not someone describing God. This is God describing God. Before I read it, the text we’re about to show is the whole premise of this entire series.
We’re going to pick it apart word for word. We’re going to strap it all the way down. We’re going to talk about it. I’m going to ask you to memorize it with me. So we’ll read it out loud every single Sunday. And so for the next for the next five Sundays and hopefully by the end of those five Sundays, you’ll have at least a decent memory of this verse because it’s so important. Here goes. The Bible says he passes in front of Moses proclaiming and this is what he proclaims, says the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. And if you get creeped out by this last couple of lines, don’t worry, we’re going to get to it eventually. Let’s try to read it all together if you’re at home, if you can do it with us. We’re going to do it slowly, right? Here we go. The Lord. The Lord.
OK, we’re gonna do this together, ready.? One, two, three. The Lord, the Lord. It’s like, what’s that music video thing? What was it called again?
I don’t remember. What was it? I don’t remember.
OK, here we go. All right, we’ll do it together. The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. This verse may not seem like it’s a big to you or mean a lot to you, but to the Jews even today, this verse is like, John, three 16.
Every single Jewish child knows this verse. This is one of the most important moments in all of biblical history when God declares his name because it’s actually the first time in the entire Bible where God describes himself. Moses says, Show me who you are and God says, this is who I am. It’s profound and it’s deep. And the writers of the Bible circle back to this passage over and over and over again dozens of times, from Moses to David to Jeremiah to Jonah.
It’s requoted. It’s alluded to, it’s prayed through. It’s sung about Jonah. Even complains about it. I know you were compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. This is ground zero for the theology of God. And it’s also the most quoted passage in the Bible by the Bible. So for the next five weeks, we’re going to work through every single word, we’re going to use it to build a steady, truthful event, eternally relevant theology about the God that we serve.
Before we do that, I want to put all my cards on the table. First thing is that much of what we’re going to talk about here is not original to me. It comes from books and and Bible teachers and preachers and the advice of some elders here and other ministers. And if you want some of those resources, I can give it to you afterwards, because really this is way too much material to share on any particular Sunday.
And the second thing that that’s important for me to mention is that preaching a series where I ask you to start from zero about your understanding of who God is is terrifying. Because who am I? Who am I to reveal the character of the almighty God? And so it’s certainly a daunting task. But it’s daunting because of what’s at stake. I believe that this issue is the most important issue in our time.
We have so there used to be a time when the idea of who God was was pretty clear to people and it was a choice whether or not we chose to follow him. But now what’s beginning to happen in our society is that people are deciding that God is like something that is actually not like. And this is so much more important than really anything that I could possibly be talking about, and so I feel like there’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I feel like I’m excited for this study.
And I hope as you’re listening, that you would be a Berean Bible says that Bereans were of noble character because they examined the scriptures to see if what the preacher said was true. Would you do that, would you make sure that what I’m saying is true? So let’s do this thing. We’re going to start this week, this week, the segment is just going to be focused on these four words The Lord, the Lord.
It’s interesting that when Moses asked God to show himself that God says, I will proclaim my name. It’s pretty cool that God has a name. I think that’s kind of awesome. And just to clarify, God’s name is not God in the original Hebrew, the word the Lord, which is where we all thought would have been Yahweh. And since we’re living in a time where names mean nothing, you know, like kids are named Apple or whatever. I saw one article of a child being named A, B, C, D, E, Absenee.
Anyway, it may seem unimportant, unimportant that God actually has a name, but in ancient times, your name was your identity. It was your destiny. It was the moniker and the truest thing about you. Michael P. Knowles, Hebrew scholar, writes this. He says, In the world of the Hebrew scriptures, a personal name was often thought to indicate something essential about the bearer’s identity, origins, birth, circumstances, or divine purpose that the bear was intended to fulfill.
And we see this throughout the scriptures. You see that people’s names are lined up to their identity or who they are. Isaac’s name was laughter, and the reason his name was laughter was because Sarah had waited so long for a child, you know, Jacob and Jacob’s name was Deceiver or heel grabber. You know, he was he was constantly a deceiver. We see that Joshua, his name is Salvation. He brings the people to salvation, which is where we get Jesus’s name from.
Israel means to struggle or to wrestle with God. And we see that throughout the history of Israel. And so Moses is on Mount Sinai and he’s asking hey, God, would you show me who you are? And God says, I’ll do you one better. I’ll tell you my name. I’ll tell you who I am. Yahweh! Yahweh! Let’s talk a little bit about that name for the next 10 minutes are about to get super nerdy, so just bear with me, I promise I’ll bring it all the way around.
There’ll be a payoff at the end. But could you just give me something like give me a clap or something that would encourage me. Thank you. People online do the same thing. Thank you. Look, this is like a lot of material, so just hang on. It’ll I promise there’ll be a payoff . In the first line in the Bible, what’s the first line in the Bible? Do you guys know? In the beginning, what happened, God in the beginning, God that were there in the Hebrew is is an interesting word.
We’ll get to it in just a second. But all we know in the very start of the Bible is that there’s this creator. We don’t exactly know much about him. He just creates things. He creates beautiful things then he sits on the seventh day and he rests. He’s a mysterious creator.
And that word, God there for us, God is translated all throughout the Bible. But but the fact is that God or rather the Bible is not written in English.
It’s written in Hebrew, is written in Greek. And so there’s all these different languages. And so that all these different words. But we’re trying to figure out how best to say it in English. But the first name for God ever in the Bible is actually not a name at all. It’s just Elohim, you’ve heard this before. It’s the title for God. And I don’t want to go too far off the rails, but there’s actually other characters in the Bible with this same title.
You may not know this, but this is Psalm chapter eighty two, it says God presides, that’s this is God, Yahweh, God. Presides in the great assembly. He renders judgment among the gods.
This word is Elohim. So if we were just using the word Elohim, it would say Elohim, this title presides in the great assembly. He renders judgments among the Elohim. So he’s saying, hey, hey, there is other gods, heavenly beings, this name is used throughout the Bible to refer to other heavenly beings. Elohim is a title, not a name. And that makes sense because, well, for us in America, when we say God, people instantly think God of the Bible, right?
Like if you’re walking around inviting someone, hey, do you know anything about God that would think he’s talking to me from a Judeo-Christian standpoint? But if we were in like India, where there are, as I mentioned before, a lot of gods, if I said God, they might say to me, which one? Because there’s so many and so in the time of the Bible, there were so many gods and so it was clear that God started with the title, but then he became very much more specific when he started getting more personal with people.
So so later on the Book of Genesis the creator, this Elohim comes to Abraham. And again, we don’t know a lot about him, except he’s a creator, sort of like destroyed people because of their sin. But he loves deeply and we don’t really know a lot about him. And so he calls Abraham to leave his homeland to go to a land he will later receive as an inheritance. The Bible says and Abraham is wondering, who are you?
And God uses a new name, El Shaddai. You’ve heard this before. Also, El is a Canaanite God. He’s actually the king of the Canaanite gods. Shaddai means almighty or most high. And so to relate to Abraham Abraham is like, who are you? And Gods like, you know, El? you know who that is? Yeah? I’m better than him. Cool, I’ll follow you. Right, that’s that’s kind of the way this works.
And so for much of the Bible, these are the two names we get until the patriarchs start coming around, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the rest. And then all of a sudden they stop calling, they stop using that, instead, they just start describing God as the God of Abraham. It’s the God of Abraham. So which God are you talking about? It’s the God that Abraham worships. Oh, the God of Abraham. Are you still with me so far?
All right, awesome. OK, good. This is great. I’m excited. All right. But all of this changes.
All of this changes when we get to Moses. Who is this guy? He’s a creator, he’s mysterious, he’s better than the other gods. OK, got that. He’s the God of that guy, Abraham. OK, cool. But what is he like? What is it what is he like? All of it changes with Moses. Moses is you know story of Moses. He flees in a basket whatever he raised in Pharaoh’s court and eventually kills somebody, get sent off to Midian and is kind of wandering in the desert and one day
God’s like in a bush. And he’s like Moses. And it’s burning, but it doesn’t engulf in flames. And so God walked or rather Moses walks over to God and and he’s in a bush and all of a sudden, like, God’s like, hey, look, there’s people in slavery in Egypt and I want to set them free. I seen the pain of your people. I’m with you and and and the way that God refers to himself. He says this.
Then he said, I am the God of your father. Look, I’m the one your dad worshiped. OK, cool. The God of Abraham on that. And so Moses and God have this interaction. You know the story already. But Moses in the middle of it asked this really interesting question. Suppose Moses said to God, suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you and asks me, what is his name?
Remember the value of names, right? It means something. Then what shall I? What shall I say? This is a fascinating question. This also could be this question could also be translated as what is the meaning of your name? Who are you?
Look, I know that you’re the God of my father’s. But but life is really challenging. I’m living in Midian, I don’t know, you promised the homeland, I know the stories, but but tell me who you are. Tell me who you are. What are you like? For the first time in the whole Bible. God says his name. God said to Moses, I am who I am. The English translation here is I am who I am, but the Jewish the favorite Jewish version is I will be,
That I will be. Or I’ll be what I will be. But either way God is saying, I have always been who I am. Sure, you’re wandering in the desert and you’re not sure or rather you’re in the desert and you know you’re not happy to be there, but you know the promises, you know, those old promises that gave to Abraham, those are still intact for you.
I am who I am, and I will be what I am consistent and present unshifting. I’m a staple, I’m stable, I’m forever. I am who I am. I will always be who I always am. Meaning if he’s compassionate and gracious, he will always be compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, always gracious, always unchanging, steady, constant. Undeterred, he is rock solid and nothing can change him.
But how, unlike the world we live in, is that? Have you ever thought you knew somebody or thought you really trusted somebody deeply and it turns out that that’s not the person you thought they were? You get an email, you get a phone call, you get a knock on the door, you discover that all that basically they’ve been living a double life. When I was a kid, I was like, I don’t know, I must have been like nine or 10 years old.
It was the first time I’d ever really experienced that. I had a baseball coach and the baseball coach son was one of my best friends. And and so I was connected with him. I love that baseball coach. I love that baseball team. My best friend and I used to play all the time. He would coach us. He would throw a ball, throw us batting practice. And there was this great connection.
It turns out that he had a whole other family. This is not a rare story, but when I was 10, I thought, what? He was not who he was. He was somebody he pretended to be, but you’ve experienced this right? You thought you knew somebody and actually your friend was wanted by the police. Well, that stinks.
You know you know, you you hear a story, all you find out they’re a cheater. This is so common in human nature, but God is like, you know, that the quality of people, I’m nothing like that. I’m not faking, I’m not lying, there is no double life. Immoveable, safe, constant. So God tells Moses his name and then tells him to go back to Egypt and conveys this to the Hebrews, he says this is says tell this God also said to Moses, say to the Israelites, the Lord, that’s that’s Yahweh we’ll get to this in a
second, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.
Then he says this.
This is my name forever. The name you shall call me from generation to generation. Now, some of you may be confused, may have a whole bunch of different words here we have Yahweh, where did that come from? I am who I am and then the LORD, all caps. So you were stuck with me now we’re getting technical, here we go, you ready? I’m going to make learning fun, OK?
In ancient Hebrew writing, there are no vowels.
Well, there are some vowels, but let’s imagine there are no vowels. Why would there be no vowels? Because if you’re chiseling things on a stone, it’d be hard to add all the vowels like there’s a lot of vowels. So so they just cut off the vowels, much of the word. So so words would look like this. What is this? Where do you guys think boom worship. Right? It would look something like this. How about this?
Yes, all right, now we’re going to get a little more modern, how would this one football and how about this one? Go bucs. That’s right, you this is what reading ancient Hebrew was kind of like, kind of like. And so when when God says I am has. Say, say I am has sent me no, you don’t have to say this, I’m sorry. When God says to Moses, say to the people I am has sent me, I should have clarified.
It would be like this, something like this Yahweh has sent me. It’s what scholars call the tetragrammaton. There will be a quiz just kidding. Yahweh is from the extract and actually from the exact same route as I am who I am. But it’s actually in the third person. Don’t want to talk about that. We could talk about that another day. But but you can’t process this word with no vowels. And so this YHWH is pronounced Yahweh!
We think, at least because we don’t actually know what vowels fit in there. Most people agree that it’s Yahweh! But the reason we don’t know is because those vowels were never written down. And then Hebrews stopped saying, God’s name.
Why do you think, oh, because of the Ten Commandments do not use the name of the Lord in vain. And so they’re like, I’m not even going to say it. I’m not even going to say it. And so over the years, as people grew afraid to say it, they began to change it. And so what eventually happened is they changed it to this thing. Husham So Hashem has sent me Husham means the name the name has sent me.
And eventually, Hebrew people began to change and began to give God a brand new title, which is Adonai, which means the Lord.
The Lord has sent me and basically English has continued to translate that from that point on, it’s the Lord. So whenever you see all caps in the Bible, you’re seeing some version of either Jehovah, which I’ll explain in a second or Yahweh. Now, really quick about Jehova and your way. Jehovah is is the vowels from Adonai, which is Lord and the consonants from Yahweh’s squished together. Jehova And now people say Jehova, which is kind of funny, but whatever.
All right, I said, did you stick with me, everyone gets a prize, yay, the prize is accolades from your fellow classmates. Well done. All right. So every time you read an all caps Yahweh, it’s naming the reading the name of God. But here are some of these passages are staggering. Ready Exodus chapter 15, first three. The Lord is a warrior.
The Lord is his name. Yahweh is a warrior. Yahweh is his name. I am who I am. That is my name and I and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. Then they will know that my name is Yahweh. I am who I am. This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord has formed it and established it, the Lord is his name. Why is this important?
Well, because as I mentioned before, a name means something. And thus telling us his name, God is also introducing something about himself. Yahweh is a reminder to us that God is never going to change. That he’s always present. That if he says something, he actually means it. He will be who he has always been, his compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, but he does not leave the guilty unpunished.
So let’s conclude this with a discussion about Jesus, because as the conversation about God’s character became to be, to be clear in my mind, I just felt like it was clear in the scriptures is that Jesus is the fulfillment of this character.
Really, the narrative arc of the Bible leads us. It’s not a straight line. It’s all the bends and turns, but it leads us exactly to Jesus.
Remember when Moses asked for what he was asked? I want to see your glory. I want to see your glory and look at what Jesus says. This is John, Chapter 17. I actually want to encourage you to turn there because there’s a little footnote that I want you to read. This is John, Chapter 17. Listen to what Jesus says, John 17, verse six, that says, if you read the footnote, you’re going to read the word.
It says, I have revealed you.
If you look at the footnote, you probably have a little a there and you go to the bottom. The footnote says your name.
What is what is Jesus saying, oh, I have shown those people what you’re like. I have revealed you to these to those whom you’ve given me verse twenty six, I have made your name known to them and will continue to make your name known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. He said, I came and I showed everybody what you’re like. You want a human version of the creator,
God, well it’s really easy? It’s Jesus. You want to live, you want to act like the creator God? Oh yeah, easy, live like Jesus. In Jesus, we get a clear, not a new, but a clear glimpse of what God is actually like. Hebrews chapter one verse three says, The son is the radiance of the glory of God or God’s glory, the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word that the answer to Moses’ prayer, show me your glory is found in the person of Jesus.
Show me what you’re like, God. I’ll do one better, I’ll come down. I’ll live life and you’ll be able to pick apart every single thing that I’m like, and you’ll find me in the life of my own son. In the early Christians were so quick to pick this up that the gravity of the God was that Jesus was God’s embodiment. And there’s a really interesting statement.
There was a slogan that the early Christians used to say, and it’s actually a statement that we still say today in this church. We say it all the time. When people are being baptized, people are asked, what’s a good confession? And we say something. What do we say? Jesus is Lord. And our ancestors, brothers and sisters, would literally die over this statement, Christians were burned alive, thrown into the mouths of wild beast, nailed to crosses.
Because of this one phrase, this phrase has some gravitas to it and why? Well, one, because the Latin word for for Lord is chiros or I’m sorry, the Greek word for Lord is Kyra. So it would be and there was already a chiros. It would have been the Caesar. The Caesar would have been the one himself that made all the people mad. But there was actually something more important.
More importantly for the Jews, this was the Greek word Lord chiros was the Greek word that the Hebrews translated Yahweh.
So when so when the Greeks talked about God, the father. They said he was the Lord. And so for the first century Christians, it did not it would not have stepped, it would not have been oversight to realize that they were actually saying Jesus is Yahweh. See, Jesus is not a newcomer to the story, that’s a wrong and dangerous belief. And actually leads to a bunch of twisted theologies. The father was not a grumpy old man in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, he didn’t become a Christian.
Reformed, that’s not what happened at all. Remember what he says, I am who I am, and here’s why this is so important, church. No culture changes God’s character. No culture changes God’s character, it does not alter God’s word, no new movement can change God’s way. What Jesus was for and against is still what Jesus is for and against.
Do you get this God is still who he’s always been? It doesn’t matter how much pressure is put on him to change, he ain’t changing. Culture can change fine, but God’s word stays the same forever, don’t you for a moment believe that culture is changing what God says?
It’s a gross misreading of the story of the Bible. See, Jesus is the long awaited human coming of Yahweh. He is the glory of God and the top of Mount Sinai. Jesus is the answer to the question, what is God like? Jesus is is the answer to Moses request to see the glory of God because Jesus is the glory of the father.
Now, let me tell you how this relates to you and then we’ll end. There is so much pressure in our culture, so much pressure in our culture to alter the picture of God from the scriptures into a new kind of like whatever other picture of God.
And that’s both on the right and on the left. To create him into something that he’s never been. But do you want to God the changes with the culture anyway, like what a terrible God to worship? So when he came on the scene, he says, look, my name is clear, I’m the same, I am who I am. He is, will be and is to come yesterday, today and tomorrow, what broke God’s heart in Egypt breaks God’s heart in America.
And what makes God angry two millennia ago makes God angry today. We cannot reimagine God into our image. We must not. It’s a dangerous practice and it will lead to our own personal and spiritual destruction. I know this is heavy, but stay with this series over the next four weeks, I’m going to try to pick apart the beauty of who God is and hopefully by the end of it, you at least have a framework to build a new theology or at least support an existing theology about the character and the presence of a beautiful God.
Who is the Lord. I have an answer for you.
The compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, it it does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation. We cannot construct God into a twenty first century America. We must take him at his word. At this time we’re going to pray for our communion, Father, we come before you
and we’re grateful for the opportunities to be able to pray to you, to know that you’re an eternal God, that you didn’t just come yesterday. You’re not a new fad. There is no there is nothing new about you, father. You are who you’ve always been, lord. We love that about you. We embrace that about you, Lord, because often we don’t even know it’s true. We have no standard for what’s right and what’s wrong or any of those things.
We’re often just trying to figure those things out. But God, I do pray, Lord, that that as we consider who we think you are, that we will take you at your word, that will think about who you are, your name, that you’re personal, you care about us individually and Lord, that at the end of life you redeem those, but you also do not leave the guilty, unpunished. Father,
We thank you for Jesus who on who hung on a tree on Calvary to show the world what you were like, that you would be willing to die for your people so that we could have life. Father, you are gracious God. Thank you for Jesus, Father. We pray that as we eat the bread that represents your body and the juice that represents your blood, that we’ll be reminded of the great power there is. And knowing that you in fact are clear in the Scriptures.
We love you, Lord. Praise you, Jesus name. Amen.