1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…
It is a fact that the men of old who knew God did not recognize him in the miracles He performed, important as these were in announcing His presence and power. The clearest example of this is Elijah who, as we saw in 2 of my earlier posts (“Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ” and “We Are Dead Men!”), the wind, the earthquake and the fire came but he did not move from his position. No manifestation of God’s power would budge Elijah from seeking to know God for who He truly was. Praise God for that! That is the mark of a truly spiritual person.
When finally Elijah heard God’s “still small voice”, then it was that he went out to meet Him.
Remember many of these prophets were men through whom God worked many mighty miracles. But, apparently, in their spirits they saw something much, much bigger than the miracles they were performing!
What was it that these men saw that was a far greater wonder than the mighty miracles that God did in their day? They saw Jesus. But they did not see any Jesus. (Right here let me say that it is sad how today’s Christians seem not to know the Bible: the Apostle Paul warns us of “another Jesus”, “another spirit” and “another gospel” (2 Cor.11:4); and yet God’s children swallow anything as long as it has the name ‘Jesus’ attached to it. The church needs to be able to discern! There are ‘Jesus’s’ galore in the world today, and spirits and gospels, and they are deceiving God’s people).
But these men of old saw a suffering Jesus, and from this suffering Jesus they saw an indescribable glory that awed them in their visions and dreams. 1 Peter 1:10-11 says: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”
And for them, if the indescribable glory they had seen was in a suffering Christ, then that was where God was, too! In a hazy understanding of the glory that would be there in the New Covenant, they came to an understanding that God was not anywhere else except in His Son Jesus, whom He would give to suffer and die as a propitiation for the sins of the world.
We too – indeed, more so – cannot, and should not attempt know God except through a relationship with Christ “and him crucified”. The Apostle Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 2:2. That “him crucified” means identifying our lives with His suffering and death. Anything else is “another Jesus”.
In light of Hebrews 1:2, the voice that Elijah heard was the voice of Jesus. In other words, Elijah received a revelation of Jesus just as we too have received. And in waiting until he had heard God’s “still small voice” before he went out to meet Him, Elijah was not only displaying his maturity in his understanding of God, but he was also foreshadowing what would happen under the New Covenant: “God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son”.
Both what Elijah saw and what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of there are one and the same thing: it was a revelation of the crucified Christ.
Do you know that Jesus came to earth and spoke? Yes, He did, and He spoke many things. You can find His words, verbatim, in the gospels of Matthew through John. God made it is so much easier for us to know exactly what Jesus had spoken to the Old Testament prophets by writing Jesus’ words down right there in the Bible.
It wasn’t so easy for the Old Testament prophets. What a grace we have today, and are we aware of it?
God spoke through the apostles in the early church, men who had come to know Christ through identifying their lives with His sufferings and death; and He is still speaking today through the apostleship ministry of such men. These are the men whom God has given the responsibility to reveal Christ to the church. These are men who talk of the cross of Christ, because Jesus talked of the cross above everything else.
When we lack the revelation of what Jesus said, we run after the miracles and everything else!
Talking of miracles, you see, God is the God of the entire universe. He is Lord over all and He is capable of doing anything. We cannot therefore confine Him to miracles and signs and wonders. He can perform these all right, but He is beyond these. He is more than these – infinitely so.
And God is concerned that we should know Him as He IS, in His fullness. Shouldn’t we be grateful for that? I believe we should.
Just as the men (and women) of old saw God in the cross of Christ, so should we. The greatest miracle that can happen in any man’s life is for the cross to work in their lives, to change them and perfect them. All heaven eagerly anticipates the glory that will be found in such a life!
Knowing God is a work – a daily working of the cross in our lives. A daily crucifixion of our character, our carnal desires and our lives.
Knowing God is not a one-touch thing.
Some years back, someone excitedly came back from a meeting he had attended in a neighboring country and told me: “Something happened to me! When the preacher placed his hands on me I fell down!”
That’s all right, and I did not want to doubt that something had happened to him. God’s power could have been involved in whatever happened to him. But God is more than that. After the excitement is over we need to move on. Even after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still needed to take up his cross and follow Christ.
Do you want to know who God is? Don’t look for Him in the miracles, in the healings, nor in the provision. All these are of God all right, and they are for His children. But remember Jesus gave these to the Jews but when He began to show them where the real glory lay, “they forsook him”!
If you are serious about wanting to know God, look for Him where the men of old – the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament apostles – looked for Him. They sought and found God in identifying their lives with the sufferings of Christ.
Desire to catch the revelation of the cross in your life.
[Below: Birds on the shores of Lake Victoria, Mwanza]