Rabbi Schneider - What Is The Nature of God?
I'm talking about, listen, to begin with, how the Hebrew scriptures that we call the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah or the New Testament, fit together like a hand and a glove. I really want to encourage you to go get back and get the previous two episodes. I ended last week's episode by talking about what the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament tell us about God's nature. In other words, many times believers have a concept that the God of the Hebrew Bible, the God of what they call the Old Testament, is primarily a harsh law giver; that He kind of mercilessly punishes people for their sin. Whereas they view the God in the New Testament primarily as a God of grace and love. And it seems inconsistent, people are confused.
How could the God of the Old Testament, many think, be the same God that I see revealed in the New Testament? They don't look at the God of the Old Testament as a God of grace. They see Him as a God of law and justice and they look in the New Testament, they see a God of grace and it seems to many to be two different Gods. And so to dial it back, last week what I did was I showed how the most exalted attribute that we see revealed of who God is in the Hebrew Bible is His holiness. And we went to the book of Isaiah, chapter number 6, where Isaiah was permitted to see the Lord in heaven on His throne. And Isaiah describes what he saw in Isaiah 6 and Isaiah said, "I saw Him high and exalted, highly lifted up and there were these divine beings around Him, these Seraphim and they didn't cease crying out day and night," Isaiah said, "Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh," which is the Hebrew word for "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory".
So once again, Isaiah sees the Lord on the throne with these divine beings around the throne, that don't cease crying out day and night, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty". It's the only time in the entire Hebrew Bible, the entire Tanakh, where we find a threefold repetition of one of God's attributes. In other words, we know that God is all powerful, but nowhere in the Hebrew scriptures do we see Him referred to as all powerful, all powerful, all powerful or all righteous, all righteous, all righteous. Only once is there a threefold repetition and it's in reference, beloved ones, to His holiness. Now take that and let's take this to the New Testament. When we read through the New Testament, do we find that within the pages of the Brit Chadashah, which once again is the Hebrew way to say the new covenant scriptures, the New Testament? Is there an attribute of God that seems to be exalted more than any others?
To answer this question we went to the book of Revelation, because the book of Revelation is a book like no other books in the Hebrew scriptures. I am sorry, in the New Testament, the Brit Chadashah. Because in the book of Revelation John, he's on the island of Patmos, he had been exiled there because of his faith. He's all alone there. And on the Lord's day John says he, "Heard the Spirit of the Lord call to him, 'Come up here'". And "immediately" the scripture says, John was caught up in the spirit and was permitted to see the Lord on His throne in the heavens just like Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. This takes place once again in the book or Revelation chapter 4. John describes what he saw for us and John says he saw the Lord, once again, on the throne and there were these divine beings around the throne. And John said, "They did not cease crying out day or night," listen, "Holy, Holy, Holy".
So we find that the New Testament and the Old Testament are completely in sync in the sense that they exalt God's holiness above all His other attributes. This is the only time in the New Testament where any of God's attributes are repeated three times, just like it's the only attribute in the Old Testament where any of God's attributes are repeated three times, in both the Old and New, the threefold repetition is of God's holiness. Now what is God's holiness? We just learned that the Old and New Testaments are consistent, in that they show us that the most exalted attribute of the Creator is His holiness. But what is holiness? Holiness has to do with being completely other than, completely, listen, unique. In other words, holiness has many different forms. It speaks of God's morality, it speaks of many different colors of meaning are in the word holiness. But the primary meaning of kadosh or holy, listen, is to be completely unique and separate. In other words, God is not like any other.
I quoted on one of the earlier broadcasts in this series that in the book of Isaiah the Lord spoke to the prophet and said, "I am God and there is no other. I form light and I create darkness. I cause well being and I create calamity. I am the Lord who does all these things". God alone, listen now, is uncreated. God alone reigns. God is the uncreated, limitless one. He has no beginning. He has no end. He exists outside of time. He exists outside of space. He is the cause that has no cause. He's the ground of all being. He is and He is completely other than, totally unique. Everything else is created life. God is uncreated life, no beginning, no end. He is eternity. So once again beloved ones, as we look at how the Old and New Testaments, how the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah, the New Testament, fit together like a hand and a glove; we find that they both teach us that God's most exalted attribute is His otherness. He is completely unique and separate.
Let's continue on. Often times, once again, people get confused, because they see the God of the Hebrew scriptures, we're moving to the next page now. They view the God of the Hebrew scriptures, once again, as primarily a harsh law giver. Whereas they view the God of the New Testament as a God of grace, almost like, forgive me for saying this, but I'm just using a little humor, like God has two personalities; like He has a split personality disorder, like He was one person in the Old Testament and suddenly becomes a happy God in the New Testament. And it's like, what's going on? But the truth is beloved, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Now hear me, and He's always been a God, listen, of grace. Many believers don't understand that even as the New Testament teaches and portrays our God as a God that's full of grace, so too the pages of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, also reveal that God, listen, is a God of grace. David said in Psalm number 86, verse 15; "But you O Lord are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth". Once again, David, he was so close to God. The Lord said about David, that David was a man after God's own heart. David had a very tender relationship with God. He knew God. David said, "I love," this is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. David said to the Lord, he said, "Your gentleness has made me great". Remember beloved ones, this is an Old Testament word. David the King of Israel said to the Lord, "Your gentleness O God has made me great". He knew God as a God of grace and so what we're saying once again, is the nature of God revealed in the Hebrew Bible is the same as what we see revealed in the New Testament.
I think the most profound revelation that we have in the Hebrew Bible and specifically the Torah, which is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible; I think the most profound revelation that we have folks, in the Hebrew Bible, is found in the book of Exodus chapter number 34. The book of Shemot in Hebrew. Moses was described by the Lord, listen now, as the humblest man on the earth and as a man that knew Him, listen, face to face. Moses is referred to as the face to face prophet, because God said He knew Moses face to face. We know the story of Moses, most of us. God called Moses and raised him up to be the deliverer of Israel out of Egypt.
So I'm gonna take you now to the 34th chapter, the 34th chapter of the book of Exodus, the book of Shemot and I want to show you something that is truly incredible. Moses was kind of insecure, because remember even when God first called Moses and Moses met God at the burning bush and Moses said, "But Lord I stutter. How am I gonna do this"? Moses was very insecure about his calling. And so this insecurity had to be continually reassured by Father God. God had to continually tell Moses that he was adequate, because God was making him adequate. So Moses is still dialoguing with God, "How am I gonna do this, God? How can I lead them to the Promised Land? How are they gonna believe me"? And Moses keeps on looking for reassurances and finally Moses says to the Lord, "Lord if You don't go with me I'm not gonna go". And then Moses climaxes, he says this, he says listen, "Show me Your glory". And so God says to Moses, "Moses I'm gonna show you My glory"; to give Moses the confidence that was required.
With that in mind, I take you now to Exodus 33, verse 18. "Then Moses said, 'I pray You, show me Your glory!' And He said, 'I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you and will proclaim the name of Yahweh before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion to whom I will show compassion.' But He said, 'You cannot see My face, for no man can see My face and live.' Then the Lord said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.'"
And so we continue the story in Exodus 34. Moses has gone into the cleft of the rock now and he's calling upon the name of the Lord. He's calling upon the name Yahweh and as he's in the cleft of the rock beloved, calling upon the name of the Lord, we pick up. "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'Yahweh, Yahweh God'", which is translated, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet by no means leave the guilty go unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren, to the third and fourth generations". "Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship".
Now once again I want you to take a step back and listen very carefully. This is the most profound and full revelation of God's nature to anybody in the Hebrew Bible. As Moses is in the cleft of the rock, calling upon the name of his God, the Lord Himself comes to Moshe, to Moses and breathes into him and fills him, beloved one, with revelation, light and knowledge. So when the Lord began to proclaim His name over Moses and speak into Moses who He was, Moses didn't just hear words. Moses was filled with the depth and understanding of what those words meant. Let me give you an example of what I'm explaining by this. Years ago I went through a real dilemma in my life, because I saw a lot of failure happening in the lives of God's people. In other words, I saw so many people that you know talked about the Lord and talked about Jesus and yet it seemed like there were just so many failures happening in their life.
I'm not talking about you know one here or one there, but it just seemed like, their life was a continual life of defeat and it didn't make sense to me, because the scriptures tell us that we should have victory in our lives in Jesus, that we should have a supernatural joy, that we should be able to live above our circumstances, that we're more than conquerors through all these things. But I got to the place where I just said, "Lord it's not making sense. These people that I'm seeing, they're all saying that they believe in You and yet they seem to have one problem, after another problem, after another problem and I don't understand how they can be living in almost perpetual defeat and yet believe in You. And unless You show me what's going on Lord, I don't know how I'm gonna be able to trust You for myself, because if they say they believe in You and it appears like You're not fulfilling Your purpose in their life and that they're failing and falling, how can I trust that You're gonna give me victory and fulfill Your purpose in my life". So I said, "Lord I just got to, I just got to stop and just wait for You to answer me, because I can't go on until I understand this dilemma".
So I was really at a crisis in my faith. I was at a standstill. It was like, "Lord I can't go on until You answer this question for me". And so I was in this place of just waiting on God for several days. There was a sadness in my heart, because I needed an answer, but I also had faith that He was gonna answer. So in the midst of this, after several days just being sad and waiting on God, the Lord spoke to me. And He said, "The reason you're seeing what you're seeing is because My people are not," listen, and I heard Him specifically say, "are not trusting Me". But when He said the word trust to me, He said it to me in a way that the word trust was filled with revelation, knowledge and what was in the word trust was the word cling. He said the word trust, but the word trust was filled with the meaning of the word cling.
So when He was saying to me, "My people are falling, because they're not clinging to Me. They're leading lives apart from Me". But He used the word trust. The reason I'm sharing that story beloved, is that when Moses heard the Lord proclaim who He was, Moses didn't just hear the words, he knew what the meaning of the words were. He was filled with revelation, light of the meaning of the words. God is revealing Himself to Moses. So listen what happens. Moses once again is in the cleft of the rock. The Lord comes. Verse number 6, Exodus 34, "The Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, Yahweh, God,'" listen, "'compassionate and gracious'".
The first thing that the Lord reveals to Moses concerning His nature is that He's compassionate and gracious. God doesn't tell Moses, "Well Moses I'm a harsh law giver. Moses, I am a moral God and if someone doesn't live up to My moral nature I'm gonna strike them down instantly for their sin". No, when Moses encounters Hashem, when he encounters the Lord beloved one, the God he encounters is above all else, listen now, compassionate and gracious. Now I know I said God's chief attribute is His holiness and that's true. He is separate, unique, uncreated life. He's like no other. But the nature of this God is first of all, listen, compassionate and gracious.
Now isn't this what the New Testament reveals? Do you see what I'm saying church? The Old and New Testaments are consistent in what they teach us concerning who God is. They're not two inconsistent portions of the Bible, rather they fit together like a hand in a glove. God wants you to know beloved ones, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He's a compassionate and a gracious God. He loves you and I. He loves you the same today as He did yesterday and as He will tomorrow. And He knows we're but dust and beloved as long as we look to Him humbly, He's always gonna have compassion on us. He's always gonna help us and He's always gonna place His favor upon us, which comes from the word grace. He's a gracious God, meaning He shows us favor and blesses us even if we don't deserve it. I want you to continue to join me on this series beloved and God is gonna bring peace to your heart as you understand once again, how the Old and New Testaments fit together for you like a hand in a glove.