Posted: 3/6/17 at 2:45pm. Column by Ed Jordan.
The Christian faith was, and is, truly revolutionary. It represents a shift in the world, especially in regards to man understanding, and relating to, God. The world has now lived with the Christian faith for so long, that it rarely recognizes the quantum leap that occurred spiritually, and in world perspective, as God came to us in the person of Jesus.
Before the arrival of Jesus, Judaism was the most progressive and unique religion in the world. Before Judaism the majority of the gods worshipped by humanity were gods made up by humans. Most ancient cultures were polytheistic, i.e. having a myriad of gods which they worshipped. Many of their gods were little idols and statues carved out of stone or wood, then used in their worship.
Judaism was a breakthrough as the one true living God initiated communication with Abraham and promised to bless the world through him. God gave Israel the Ten Commandments, which was to be the ethical code for those who committed themselves to become the people of the one, true living God. Some of the commandments addressed the ethical codes to have in relating to God, while others addressed the ethics God’s people should demonstrate in their relationships with one another.
God revealed Himself to the people of Israel. He appeared to Moses via a burning bush that burned without being consumed. He spoke with Moses, and gave Moses His name, which in Hebrew is YHWH, normally pronounced Yahweh (Yah-way). The name is the Hebrew verb “to be.” So He is the real God, the existing God, who is always existing in the present tense. In English His name would be translated “I am who I am.”
God made a commitment to the people of Israel, to be their God and explained that their responsibility was to be His people who give allegiance to the one true living God. This was a huge shift in world thought and religion. Other cultures had many gods, whereas Judaism was monotheistic. Previously no one had ever seen their unknown gods. They saw storms, lightning, rain, but made those things gods rather than manifestations of the power of God. Their gods were always mysterious, far removed from humanity, and man could never reach or interact with such gods.
When Jesus was born, the one true living God became a human in the person of Jesus. God was no longer far removed from humans, He had taken on a human body to come live among us, reveal the values and reality of God to us, live a morally perfect life, and give Himself up to death on our behalf so that all of our sins would be paid in full.
Because Jesus did this, and resurrected from death, we who by faith receive the gift of forgiveness and new life in Jesus enter into a whole new type and quality of life. Now we can daily have a living relationship with the one true God, who is Himself eternal life. In John 3:16 (NASB95) we read: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
In John 1:48 we see Nathaniel’s first encounter with Jesus. Nathaniel asked how Jesus knew that Nathaniel was a person in whom there was no guile or deceit. How do you know me? Jesus responded in John 1:48b (NASB95): “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Jesus saw Philip talking with Nathaniel, who was under a fig tree dreaming of Jacob’s ladder. Jesus saw Nathaniel even though Jesus had not been physically present with Philip. He saw Philip invite Nathaniel to come away to meet Jesus, the Messiah. As we read on, we discover that not only did Jesus know where Nathaniel was when he was invited to come meet Jesus, but Jesus knew what Nathaniel was doing and dreaming about.
The Christian faith connects us to God through Jesus, who continually knows where we are, what we are doing, and even what our aspirations or dreams are. Christianity is a relationship with the one true God, who loves us, knows us, and wants to help God’s purposes for our life come true. Quite a change from chanting to a stone idol. God sees and knows you. Do you know the one true God through Jesus, whom He has sent?