Tag Archives: God

Picture This

Picture This
I have always wanted to see God. I am sure I am not alone in this desire. We know in the scriptures that Moses asked to see God, Exodus 33:18.  Actually, Moses entreated God with a craving that begged for a favorable response. When reading this account today it seems a brazen request, after all, Moses had quiet the amazing experience with God in the “burning bush,” and in meeting with God amidst thunder and lightning atop Mount Sinai, how could he imagine more.  Yet in Exodus 33:18 Moses puts forth this entreaty, “Please show me Your glory.” God does not think it vain or out of order. God actually draws close to Moses and answers that request. From the description in Exodus 33:17-23, God showed His glory to Moses.

Jesus Reveals God
Our deep yearning to see God with spiritual eyes, to plumb the depths of His character and nature is available through  word pictures God has scattered throughout scripture. Many of these word pictures are seen in Jesus.

In Hebrews 1:3, the scripture clearly states that Jesus “is the radiance of His (God’s) glory, the exact representation of His (God’s) nature.” So if I want to see God then I need to look more intently at Jesus.

A Place to Meet God
A very revealing image of Jesus starts back in the Old Testament in Exodus 25. God gave Israel specific instructions for building the Tabernacle which was a portable dwelling place for God and a house for worship which later would be replaced with the temple.  Within that “dwelling” was a specific place where sins would be atoned for and where God would meet with man.

This separated area of the tabernacle/temple is known as the “Holy of Holies.”  The Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies.  The “Ark of the Covenant was a gold covered chest that contained the rod of Aaron, the tablets of the Law, and a jar of manna. These items represented the covenant of God with Israel. Placed atop this chest was a covering, a seat made of gold with two golden cherubim (angels) on each end of the seat. This covering is referred to as “the mercy seat.”

In Exodus 25: 22 God states that this is the place where he will meet with Moses and speak to him from above the mercy seat. (“There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony; I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”)

Each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood of an animal for the atonement of the sins of God’s people (Lev 16:1-17).  Earlier it was noted that the mercy seat was the covering for the ark in which was the tablet of the Law, or the commandments.  The blood of a sacrificed animal was sprinkled on the mercy seat by the high priest before God as atonement for the sins of the people.  Therefore, the mercy seat, which covered the demands of the law, was the place of atonement where God and man could meet; they could be together in fellowship.

Jesus –Our Mercy Seat
In Hebrews 9:5, the writer talks about the Holy of Holies and the mercy seat. The Greek word hilasterion is translated mercy seat. Hilasterion was used in the Greek Old Testament as the equivalent of the Hebrew word (kapporet) for mercy seat. In Romans 3:25, this word hilasterion is translated propitiation or atonement, and it is used to describe Jesus.

“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a       gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25

A form of the word hilasmos, with the same meaning as hilasterion is used in reference to Jesus in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (Also see 1 John 2:2).

I believe the Holy Spirit specifically selected a word for the covering on the ark to identify what Jesus is to us. Jesus is the true, living – mercy seat. He is the mercy seat sprinkled with His own blood. You and I can come into the presence of the most Holy God in Jesus our mercy seat. Jesus is the place we can meet with God. Through our faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, He opens the door for us to come into the presence of God.

I don’t know about you, but this is good news to me, because ever since I was a young girl I had a longing to know God, to see Him, to be with Him. I used to sit in a sanctuary amidst candles and incense, staring at the statutes and pictures of God thinking if I just sit quiet enough and meditate enough maybe He will come and meet with me and talk to me. I did not understand much about a Holy God and sinful man back then, but this picture of the mercy seat and its fulfillment in Jesus opens the way for this to be true for me. I see myself standing with Jesus before the throne of God enjoying fellowship with Him. Picture that!

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

A Quest to Worship

I am on a quest to learn what it means to “worship” God. I can think back to several “worship” experiences. When I was young, I attended many worship services which consisted of rote and routine practice of words, and actions. It was meaningful to me because of what I believed.

Sometimes I would go to that building when few others were there. I would sit with sunlight streaming through the beautifully painted windows, the scent of candle wax and incense in the air and the sound of bird songs flowing in from outside. It was the quietness of the place that drew me to feeling of communing with God.

Later when I began reading the Bible I found this verse, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps.46:10)

When I read this I thought of those days sitting quietly communing with God. While the building provided an aura of communing with God it was the stillness and quietness that that allowed me to be calm in my soul and commune with God.  I am thinking that was the beginning of being drawn into knowing God.

Cease the Strivings of Self
To worship God, first requires a stilling of the heart. Various translations of Ps. 46:10 use the expression “cease striving” instead of still. To begin worshiping God I need to calm, still my heart and mind and cease striving with all the distractions of the world, and the inner turmoil. Above all, I have to cease striving to be first and foremost in my life. In other words I need to stop worshiping myself. Stop seeking honor, recognition, credit and approval for myself and give that first place and honor to God. (Wow, wouldn’t that make all our relationships go better).

Isn’t that what Ps. 46:10 says, “Be still, cease striving” to be at the top of the recognition consciousness, and know God.  Looking further in that verse, we see that exalting God above all is involved in being still and knowing Him.

God is God
In Ps. 95 there is a call to worship God, “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture…” Ps. 95:6-7.  “Bowing down and kneeling before the Lord our Maker” is exalting God. It is honoring Him because it is an attitude of the heart and a mindset that says, “Yes, God, You are God I am not. You are my Creator. You are to be honored above all.”  It is acknowledging His supremacy. We are the people who belong to Him, under His care, under His reign.

I have been an independent spirited person and at times I don’t like the idea of being “under someone’s reign or rule.” That is that part of me that is god in my own life. Yet I like the thought of being one of the “people of His pasture” and being comforted that the God who created the universe takes care of me.

God is the Ultimate Value
In Ps. 96:8, another call to worship, the psalmist says, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name…”  Ascribe means to give, to acknowledge, and to declare. We must acknowledge that God is God, and assign to Him that position in our life.

 “Glory” in this sense means weight, heaviness or value. In other words worshiping God is giving to Him the ultimate value in our life.  I can intellectually agree with this, and even have an emotional connection to this, but do I really live my life as though God was the most valuable being, the most valuable relationship in my life?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship him.”
Romans 12:1(NLT)

Bless the Name of God

Blessed be the name of God!
As I am reading and learning to pray the psalms, I came across the expression “blessed be the name of God.” That sounded so familiar to me. Slowly, my mind unraveled the mystery. As a young girl I remember kneeling down in a small church building and responded “blessed be the name of God,” over and over again. As the lector called out attributes and actions of God, we responded “blessed be the name of God”. Since most attendees were of Polish, or partial Polish descent, often this call and response was in Polish. My mind still remembers the response “Niech będzie błogosławione imię Boga”. It is only recently that I connected the Polish phrase to the English form of the call and response worship.

As I read through the Psalms (and other passages) I see this expression in various forms: blessed be the name of the Lord; let God’s name be blessed; bless the Lord and so on. Some examples :
– Psalm 113:2 “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time    forth and forever…”.
– Daniel 2:20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.
– Psalm 103:1,2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…”

There are many statements of this expression in the scriptures. (See other references to this expression: Ps. 41:13; 50:2; 72:18,19; 89:52; 106:48; 124:6; 144:1; Gen. 14:20; 1 Kings 1:48; 5:7;8:15,56;10:9;8:56; I Chron. 16:36;29:10-13; Job 1:21. It is an encouraging study to read these passages in context and learn who blessed God, what did they say in blessing God and why).

How does one  “bless” God?
I was a little stumped by the term bless in the expression “bless, the Lord.” I thought, how can I bless God, isn’t that something He does to me? Isn’t that something we say to one another,?” We write it in notes of encouragement, birthday cards, and so on, ” God bless you”, and so on.

In the context of Ps. 113:2, the term “blessed be” comes from the Hebrew term “barak” which means bow or kneel. Brown, Driver and Riggs provides the following meaning, in reference to its use in numerous psalms: “to bless God, to adore on bended knee.” This gives us the picture of  bowing before almighty God, surrendering our pride, our self, honoring, and praising him.

“Blessed be God, blessed be the Lord, blessed be the name of God” are all terms of praise, a praise to God that indicates His position as sovereign, Almighty God worthy of our honor and thanksgiving and crediting Him for all goodness and acts in our favor.

So when I, with purposed intent, take time to bow and worship God, praising His nature, His character and great deeds, I am “blessing the name of God.” So, “blessing” in this sense is a term indicating worshiping God, bowing before Him, honoring Him, and praising Him.

Blessing is Praising
The idea of blessing God, or blessing His name is closely related to praising Him. In the psalms we often see parallel type statements that mean the same thing with a slightly different tint or shade of meaning. In Psalm 145: 1-2  we see this parallel structure:
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

Another example of this is in Psalm 34:1 which states:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And, again, we read it in Ps. 634:  “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands (a stance indicating praising God) in Your name.”

In my way of thinking, when I bless God I am praising Him with a heart of good will and gratitude to God.  When I praise God I am praising Him from a heart of deep reverence, honor and adoration, with an understanding of His worthiness and my need for Him.

Blessing the name of God is worshiping Him and praising Him. We are ascribing to God the value and worth that He has. We, the creation, are honoring the Creator. We, the subjects are honoring the King. We, the children, are honoring our eternal Father.

Read through the book of psalms highlight all the verses on blessing the name of God.  When was the last time you thought about God and honored Him as God? Take time today to bow before God and bless His name.