TODAY’S READING: 2 CHRONICLES 21-24
Jesus defines God’s character. Period. End of story.
John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
John 6:43 says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.”
These two scriptures declare that no one but Jesus has ever seen God. That means everyone in the Bible from Adam to John the baptist – Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, etc. – never truly saw God. And, if you never saw someone, never truly knew someone, then your description of that person would be lacking, deficient.
But, Jesus, because he was at the Father’s side and came from the Father, truly saw and knew the Father. Therefore, Jesus can perfectly reveal the Father. Indeed, the Bible says that Jesus did just this.
Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God.”
2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “Christ, who is the image of God.”
Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.”
Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature.
This is critical!
We must get this firmly in our minds.
Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature.
Jesus is like God. But, more importantly, and clearly more difficult for most people to understand, God is exactly like Jesus.
Jesus must define God’s character. In fact, Jesus is our only definition of God’s character. Therefore, if it is not like Jesus, if Jesus would not say it or do it, then it is not God.
To paraphrase my friend Richard Murray, we must let Jesus, not the Bible, define God’s character. For, if we let the Bible define God’s character, then we end up confused and crediting God with things he would never say or do.
I cannot stress how important this is.
Let’s look at a passage of today’s reading to see why this is so important.
“And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father, “Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father’s house, who were better than you, behold, the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.”‘”
Now, most people would read “Thus says the Lord” and say, “See, right there it says God said it. You cannot deny this. God said it. God said he would bring a plague on the people of Jehoshaphat.”
Here is where we must have Jesus define God’s character.
Did Jesus ever put a plague on someone? Did he ever give someone a severe sickness? Did Jesus ever cause someone’s bowels to come out of them?
Of course not.
Jesus always did exactly the opposite of this. Everywhere Jesus went he healed people of all sorts of sickness, disease, and demonic oppression.
Therefore, while Elijah may have thought God gave him this word, God most definitely did not say this to Elijah. Remember, Elijah never saw God. Only Jesus saw God. And, only Jesus could perfectly reveal God.
This statement by Elijah, which wrongly attributes a plague brought on the people to an act of God, is exactly why Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain so they could see him transfigured.
While they were on that mountain and Jesus was transfigured, Moses and Elijah appeared. Peter wanted to exalt Jesus to the level of Moses and Elijah. So, Peter suggested he, James, and John build three tabernacles, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.
But, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him…’ And when they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Matthew 17:5, 8)
The brightness of Jesus overshadowed, or eclipsed, Moses and Elijah. So much so that Peter, James, and John could no longer see anyone but Jesus. Moses and Elijah completely disappeared.
On top of that, God said Peter, James, and John that they were to listen to Jesus and Jesus only. “Listen to him.”
God was making the point that Moses and Elijah did not perfectly reveal who he was. Therefore, if we want to know who God truly is, then we should listen only to Jesus.
So, when we read the Old Testament we need to listen to Jesus only. If it doesn’t sound like Jesus, then we know it is not God saying it, no matter what the authors of the Old Testament believed or wrote.
Let Jesus define God’s character and the you find the truth, Jesus, in all the scripture.