the God who reveals

Recently I visited Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. My wife and I were celebrating our third anniversary walking among God’s creation. As amazed as I was by the Redwoods, all the people taking pictures of the trees equally amazed me. If you think about it, doesn’t it seem weird that people are flocking to take pictures of big trees? Why do people take pictures of trees? Why is my brother in awe of the open horizon of New Mexico? Why does our jaw drop at the Grand Canyon or Teton Mountains? Simply, creation wows us and fills us with wonder. It’s amazing.

In the 1998 film The Truman Show, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a generally cheerful insurance adjuster in a cozy island town whose days run like clockwork—until the day a stage light falls out of the heavens and crashes near his car. Little by little his world begins to give him clues that later help him discover the truth about the world (stage) in which he is really living. Likewise, your world is giving you clues that tell you something about God. He is not hiding.

1. God reveals He is through creation (Psalm 19:1-6)

People often wonder, “Where did all this come from? Why are we here?” What are some of the hints and clues you see in creation that point you to the existence of a Creator? And what are some of the aspects of creation that cause some people to believe that no Creator exists? Whether we understand creation or not it continually shouts out that God exists (1 Chronicles 16:31-34). Creation never presses pause on praise God. The picture you receive from this psalm is that the world acts as a loudspeaker, a stage, and an art gallery—all pointing to God’s glory.

However, man’s response to creation can be foiled (Psalm 19:3). First, people ignore the communication of creation (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:15). Second, people can miss or not hear God through creation because the communication of creation is not audible. In other words, general revelation (i.e. creation) is indirect communication unlike special revelation, which is written Scriptures or spoken through the God-Man Jesus Christ.

Think about the ways people attempt to guard themselves from God’s revelation. What are some of the most common ways we try to hide from God’s voice? What are some of the common ways we try to drown it out? God wants to be heard. General revelation goes further than just telling us that God exists. It also tells us what kind of God exists.

2. God reveals who He is through creation (Romans 1:19-20)

Suppose you came home one day to find a box at your door with a note attached: “These are the personal belongings of your twin brother.” Once you got over the initial shock of having a twin brother you never knew about, you’d open the box and look inside, hoping the contents might tell you something about him.  If the package contained keys to a Harley Davidson, a knife, and a tin of chewing tobacco, that wouldn’t tell you everything about your brother, but it would certainly give you an impression. But if the box contained a set of watercolor paints, a beret, and a tin of organic breath mints, that might give you an entirely different impression, wouldn’t it? The box’s existence would tell you that you had a brother, but the box’s contents would tell you a bit about him.

In the same way, the created world says you have a God, and what you see in the created world tells you some general things about Him. By seeing the general revelation of “the heavens” and the rest of the world, you can get a sense of God’s glory, the sum of His attributes. What knowledge of God’s attributes do you gain by looking at creation? The universe shows His eternality. The sun and rain show His goodness and grace. A volcano and hurricane show His power. When we look at His creation we see who He is and who we are too. Matt Chandler says, “Nobody stands at the base of the Rocky Mountains and says, ‘Remember that time I benched 300 pounds in high school?’”

Nor can anyone say, “I have never heard the gospel before. No one told me I am sinful and God is holy.” His attributes are seen in all humanity—sense of fairness, longing for justice, compulsion to create, etc. But what can and cannot God’s general revelation do? Romans 1:19-20 teaches about responsibility. General revelation is sufficient to hold us accountable for our sin, but not able to save us.

3. God reveals what His plans are through creation (Acts 14:11-18)

What did Barnabas and Paul want the people of Lystra to know? As the pagan demand for more sacrifices to a dead god continued, Barnabas and Paul desperately wanted these people to know the good news that Jesus has made the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and He did so to honor the will of a Heavenly Father who had been far better to the unsaved people of Lystra than Zeus had been. The missionaries pointed to the evidence: “You have a witness that this is true!” they cried. “He has given you rain and harvest and good food and happiness.”

Acts 14:17 gives you an aspect of the gospel story. When looking at the world around you it is easy to recognize that this place is broken but there are visible aspects of God’s grace. In Matthew 5:45: “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The benevolent heart of God is made visible through common grace, which is available to every man on this planet. God intends for the happiness you experience in marriage, parenting, and His other good gifts to point you back to Him. The gifts everyone enjoys lead to the Giver.

In Romans 8:22, Paul writes, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” The image is that of the earth giving birth, but the focus is on the pain as it gives way to newness. We look forward to the return of Christ and the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). The brokenness we see in “the whole creation,” is signaling to us that something is wrong and there is something better beyond this.

In conclusion, the world is a grand theater in which God showcases His glory. One thing we must say about this theater, of course, is that it is not itself the story but the stage for it. Like a good stage set, it tells us something of the story before the players even enter and begin reciting their lines. But it is the script (i.e. the Bible and Jesus) that really reveals. God is not hiding. He is in plain sight.

man is responsible to God

There are many different views about what God is like. He can be depicted as a nice old man upstairs or an ogre under the toll bridge. We often make God what we want Him to be like rather than who He really is. The God of the Bible is often different than the popular persona of Him. The way we—including many Christians—like to picture God is not the way God. What is God like to you? Here are some common views of God voiced by people today:

God is like a Grandpa. The grandpa-God is popular, forgiving, and a generous giver. Whenever we do something wrong he smiles and says, “It’s okay, I understand, don’t worry, I love you. Here’s some ice cream.” He is positive and reluctant to punish—sometimes forgetful. Grandpa God loves to spoil and send home his grandchildren satisfied.

God is like Santa Claus. Some think God is like a Cosmic Easter Bunny, Mr. Rogers, or jolly old St. Nick. “He sees you when your sleeping, He knows when your awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” He likes to give lots of gifts; blessings to all good kids and coal to the bad kids. All we have to do is ask and He will give us whatever we desire, like a genie in a bottle. The problem with the Santa Claus God is that the older we get the harder it is to believe that He is real.

God is like my Buddy. Some think God is like a casual friend. We go together like milk and cookies or macaroni and cheese. We text and Facebook each other often, but it is nothing more than casual and fun conversation. We like to call on Him when we need a friend because he is non-judgmental and low-maintenance. He will look out for us, but doesn’t interfere with our personal business.

God is like an Unfair Judge. Some think God is commonly known as the overbearing, always anger judge. He wears a long flowing judicial robe and carries a gavel waiting to inflict punishment and pain on sinners. He keeps a list of our tardies and demerits. This God is overly involved in our daily lives and world events. He is angry at sin and rightfully punishes the unfaithful. Feeling guilty?

Is God like some of these characteristics? God is loving, forgiving, and blessing. He is a friend. He is just and angry at sin. God is very different—compared to you and than most popular concepts of Him. As we read through the Bible we see that God is not like us. We have already discussed that I believe the Bible is absolutely true, which includes what that Bible says about God. He is set apart. He is in a class of His own. He is not untouchable or unattainable; rather He is distinct in His divine attributes. Here is what the Bible says God is like and humanity’s responsibility to Him:

Man is responsible to God because He is an indefatigable Creator

In the first verse of the first book of the Bible it declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] Everything exists [i.e. mountains, mammals, microorganisms, Milky Way] because God is—including you and me [cf. Genesis 1:26-27]. God spoke and it was. The Bible says that the creation itself sings of it Creator, “The heavens declare Your glory” [Psalm 19:1; cf. Romans 1:19-20].

God is a beautiful Creator. As the Creator of the universe and everything He does not get tired, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.” [Isaiah 40:28] It is true God rested the seventh day of creation not because He was tired, but as a model for His creation who is not omnipotent. As Creator, there is not a job God cannot handle, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” [Jeremiah 32:17]. The affairs of seven billion people on this planet are not outside His job description either.

Now there are some people that argue, “So what if God made all that is and me? That doesn’t mean He is intimately involved in the affairs of His creation nor govern over it? Even if He is governing, He is not doing a very good job!” This is easily debunked when we look at the remainder of the Scripture that follows Genesis 1. From Genesis 2 through Revelation 22—even now—God is intimately involved in the lives of His people. God is alive and at work. Since He is my Creator and Originator, He owns me and expects me to obey.

Man is responsible to God because He is infinitely Holy

Not only is God a Creator—He is infinitely holy. In other words, God cannot sin. It is not that He doesn’t know the nature of sin; rather His holy character prevents Him from sinning. When getting a glimpse of God, Isaiah see angelic beings praising God saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” [6:3] God is holy, which means He is sinless. When Isaiah saw God for who He was [holy], he also saw himself for who he was [unholy].

Since God is sinless He cannot be prejudiced [Acts 10:34-35]. He cannot break a promise [Psalm 89:34]. Therefore, He does not know of a sin He cannot not forgive nor think of a better plan of salvation than His own [Exodus 34:6-7]. God is who He says He is—perfect and infinitely holy. Since God is holy, He expects holiness from His creation. There is no sin in His heaven. Those whose sin is not covered by the blood of Christ will not be in heaven either.

God is not a garbage man throwing out our sinful trash without a cost and delivering to the local dump never to be recovered again. Our sin does have a severe cost: death [Romans 3:23]. Sin must be judged. Yet in God’s grace He sent Jesus Christ to pay the ransom for my sin and He stands as my advocate before the throne. When I commit my life to Christ His blood declares me, “Not guilty!” He loves righteousness and justice.

In Summary, what is God like? He is not like us. He is Creator and Holy. He is perfect and without sin. Since God is my holy Creator I am responsible to Him. He owns me. I report to Him. He is the standard by which I live by and will be judged. If you want to know about what God is like look at Jesus [Read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John]. Is this your God? Do you know Him?

the sea horse

The sea horse declares the glories of God. This unique creation gallops slowly near the shore with its tail twisting forward gripping seaweed. The seahorse is an amazing creation that describes a lot about our amazing Creator

The sea horse is incredibly unique. Its protective bony armor cleverly protects it from imminent danger. Its armor is so strong that it is almost impossible to crush a dried dead sea horse in your hands. Its tough skeleton is not a yummy or crunchy for predators. 

The sea horse unlike all other fish in that its head is set at right angles to its body. It swims with its body held upright. It can bend its head down or up, but not from side to side. To most this would seem like a handicap, but the Creator in His amazing wisdom has designed the seahorse’s eyes to move independently, swiveling around in any direction to watch each side. 

The sea horse uses its fins to swim vertically, and rises or sinks by cleverly altering the volume of gas within its swim bladder [w/o the use of Beano!?]. If this bladder is damaged, and it loses even a tiny bit of gas, it sinks to the bottom, where it will lie helpless until death.

The most unique characteristic of the sea horse, compared to all other animals in God’s creation, is that the male gives births to its young. The male sea horse has a kangaroo like pouch built into its armor. The female lays the eggs directly into this pouch, where the male fertilizes them. She may lay as many as 600 eggs. Once impregnated the dad-to-be swims off as the baby incubator. One or two months later he gives birth to tiny replicas of their parents.

The sea horse is like the platypus. As far as evolution is concerned: it presents an enigma that baffles and frustrates all theories that seek to disprove a Creator. It is easy to see when one looks at the sea horse that there is a Divine Designer.