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Ed Jordan: Is God a Concept or a Living Being?

Posted: 9/7/18 at 1:15pm. Column by Ed Jordan.

Recent surveys reveal that a majority of American people believe that there is a God. That is the good news!

While many people believe in the concept of God, there are many views about what such a God is like. For some God is a simply a detached, philosophical concept and is merely an explanation for all the things humans can’t explain in our universe. For Christians, God is a living being who is alive and interacts with us in our lives each day.

What is your view of God? What does the Bible teach about the nature of the God described in the Bible? Let’s take a quick look at some characteristics of God as found in Exodus 3:5-12, a part of the story of Moses.

God gets Moses’ attention by manifesting himself to Moses in the burning bush. Moses turns aside to see how a bush can burn without being consumed. God is the great initiator, who reveals himself to us so that we will come to know him. When God saw that Moses turned aside to learn more, God spoke to Moses out of the fiery bush.

An interesting characteristic of the God of the Bible, depicted in verses 2-5, is that God can do what others cannot. At some point in his life, surely Moses had seen a bush be thrown onto a fire, burn, and turn to ash.

But he had never seen a bush burning without being consumed and still remain a bush. God sometimes reveals himself to us through unusual things; and God is a being who can do what no one else can do.

God is beyond us—superior to us.

God is eternal and eternally present; we are neither of those things.

God is eternal and eternally present; we are neither of those things. We are creatures, God is the Creator; we are prone to decay, God is not. God is holy, separate, distinct from us, and it is God’s presence manifested somewhere that makes places or things “holy.”

God is eternal, existing in the present tense over many centuries. In Exodus 3:6 (NLT) God tells Moses: “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.”

In order for God to be the God who is speaking to Moses, and also the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God was revealing to Moses that he is eternal. He is not just a God for our lifetime on earth, but also for our life after death.

In Exodus 3:14 Moses asks God what his name is, and whom should Moses say sent him to the people in Egypt. God responded: “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”  “I am who I am” is the present tense of the verb “to be.” Is God a concept, or a being? He tells us the answer to this question when he says, “I am who I am,” meaning an ever-present, eternal being.

God is a personal being. A concept has a life, but it cannot see, hear, speak, or develop a personal relationship with humans. Beings speak; lifeless concepts do not.

Look at what God does in relationship to his people in Egypt:  In 3:7 God says, surely he has seen the affliction, he has heard their cry, he knows (personal experience knowing) their sufferings, and in 3:8 he has come down to deliver them out of their oppression in Egypt. In 3:10, God says, “Come (with me), I will send you to deliver them…”

In these verses we understand that God knows what we are going through right now, and he will hear us when we cry out to him for help.

Since he thoroughly knows and cares about what happens to us, we can be confident that he will come to us in order to rescue us. He brings us into personal relationship with him, the kind of relationship we could never have with just a concept. It’s a new life—full of his presence, goodness, and new opportunities.

God wants a personal relationship with each of us. Why not initiate it today by praying: “Dear Jesus, I need you! I am at wit’s end, I and can’t rescue myself. Please forgive my self-absorption and my tendency to ignore you. Come into my life; lift me up to a new kind and quality of life. Lead me in the way I should go. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

ed-jordan2Award-winning columnist Dr. Ed Jordan is pastor of Gwynn’s Island Baptist Church, Gwynn, VA. You may also read his past columns.

He can be reached at szent.edward@gmail.com.