Who or what is God and what exactly does it mean to have a "personal relationship" with Him?
Every once in awhile, The Refiner's receives a sarcastic challenge to "define God" and/or to demonstrate how one can "get a personal relationship with Christ". Defining God is not an easy task, and the Bible tells us that most people won't ever find their way to God, let alone have a "relationship" with Him (Matthew 7:13-14), because they would rather take the easy path through the wide gate offered by "the world".
The most simple explanation we can think of is this: YHWH (God's Name which is most likely pronounced Yah-way, Exodus 3:13-15) is the Author; His Son (Yeshua/Jesus, the Arm of YAHWEH, Isaiah 53:1) is His "pen"; and with the "ink" (the Holy Spirit) He writes and creates the story of the world....
Whether or not you "believe" in God, the following article may be the most important thing you will ever read in your entire life....
Let's start with some basics:
Some people will argue to the death that Man evolved from monkeys. But hardly anybody ever says, "Okay, so where did the monkeys come from?" Evolutionists always want to start with a "warm little pond" someplace on Earth, as opposed to discussing such incidentals as the source of matter, space, time, planets, stars and operational laws such as laws of planetary motion, First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, gravity, inertia, etc. They never tell you that there is Evidence Against Evolutionism From Molecular Biology, or that some things that couldn't possibly have "evolved", such as the bombadier beetle.
There's so much about the universe, and our world in particular, that we take for granted because it all works together so well. For instance, the earth is placed "just the right" distance from the sun; any closer and we'd burn up; any farther away and we would freeze to death. Earth's orbit is nearly circular, this slightly elliptical shape means that we enjoy a quite narrow range of temperatures, which is important to life, and the speed of Earth's rotation on its axis is perfect for humans because it allows the sun to warm the planet evenly. Also, the earth's moon is the perfect size and distance away to affect our oceans and their tides. Without the moon's perfect gravitational pull, our oceans would become cesspools of stagnant water. Why do all other liquids in the world freeze from the bottom up, while water freezes from the top down? It's so that, in winter, ponds and rivers and lakes can freeze at the surface, but yet allow fish and other marine creatures to continue to live below....
Do you honestly believe these phenomena "just happened"? How could so many things working in perfect synchronization "just happen"? We could list dozens of "signs and wonders" in the universe, but the bottom line is, these facts are not just mere "coincidences"; they are evidence that it all was created by a loving God!
"Okay, suppose I believe in a Creator. Who is He and why should I believe in Him?"
The Bible is the ONLY holy Book in the world that is based on claimed historical facts which are subject to historical investigation and refutation. It is not based on myths, or mystery religions - or gnosticism which attempts to have special secret, or special knowledge known only to a few initiates to the "truth" - but on verifiable facts.
In Exodus 3:14, the Bible tells us that when Moshe (Moses) discovered that the voice in the burning bush came from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he asked Him to provide His Name - to which God replied (in Hebrew), "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I am/will be what I am/will be)". The English transliteration of God's Name is YHWH (or Yahweh). (In Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation or a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being or person named.) Throughout the Tanach (Old Testament), YHWH was known by many other names that depicted who He was, such as ELOHIM - God as Creator, Preserver, Transcendent, Mighty and Strong; ADONAI - "Lord" as used in our English Bibles; and EL SHADDAI - "God Almighty" or "God All Sufficient".
Although most people ignore the "Old Testament" which shows us WHO God is, HOW He expected to be worshiped, and which contains - in great detail - all His Divine rules for godly living, God has ALWAYS tried to reach mankind; He has constantly and consistently revealed His grace and mercy to those who both love and ignore Him. Case in point, He could have killed Adam and Eve for their blatant disobedience (He had commanded them to stay away from the tree in the Middle of the Garden - Genesis 2:16-17) and simply put a stop to mankind, but He didn't. Instead, He allowed them to live. He killed an innocent animal - one they had named, raised and played with, and then explained how they were to behave now since they now possessed the "knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:16-17) and were consequently out in the world to fend for themselves.
But He didn't completely let them fend for themselves; He gave them rules so to live by and to die by so that they could still gain eternal life, even though they had sinned. And so He explained to Adam and Eve how to deal with their new world and how to continue pleasing and worshiping Him "out there" - and they obviously passed that knowledge along to their children as evidenced by the fact that their children Cain and Abel knew they were to bring animal sacrifices (Genesis 4).
Many people see the "Old Testament God as being mean; but the fact is, He wasn't being mean, but rather, merciful. Adam and Eve deserved to die after messing around with "behind the scenes DIVINE things" that man still has no real comprehension of....And the reality is, God only became "aggressive" with man after man deliberately rebelled against Him. You would do the same with your kids; if you tell your kid not to run into the street or touch a hot stove or hurt animals, or take drugs, you expect them to obey, not laugh at you and keep doing whatever they want! Disobedience always has dire consequences!
Anyway, to show Adam and Eve how terrible their disobedience was, He killed an innocent animal - one they had surely named and raised and played with, etc. - which had to hurt them tremendously (think how you would feel if God killed your dog or cat in order to atone for YOUR sin)! Although this seems "mean" on the surface, the bottom line was, God was trying to get through to them the seriousness of disobedience because disobedience to God leads to eternal DEATH!
YHWH allowed mankind, over and over, to continue to live in spite of our rebellion, and He kept trying to reach us in various ways - finally, out of LOVE for us, He brought His "Son" Yeshua into the world to personally show mankind face-to-face through His Messiah who God was and how to worship Him - and still mankind is rebelling to this day! Most people are atheists or agnostics, and the rest have come up with their own gods and their own religions and myriad "denominations"....
It was love for His Creation that caused YHWH to spare Adam and Even and later Noah and his family. He could have just wiped them out, but He didn't because Noah obeyed Him. He was the only person on Earth who obeyed Him, and so Noah was spared and used to repopulate the world! Noah's times, just like today, were full of disobedience, disrespect, greed, decadence, and total chaos. VERY FEW today, as in pre-Flood times, actually choose to obey YHWH. He has laid down some rules for us - including the SEVENTH DAY SABBATH and BIBLICAL FEASTS (which are to be "forever" for everyone who believes in Him) because they are His "mo'edim" - appointed times to meet with Him which, during our time on Earth, are to be practice sessions for the real thing when Yeshua returns and ALL will be doing them.
Yet Christians, who claim they believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, REFUSE to do this because they erroneously believe "that was just OT stuff for the Jews"....Little do they realize that there were NO Jews before Jacob's time - and yet everyone up until then was (or at least knew they were supposed to be) Torah observant!
YHWH tells us FOUR TIMES in Numbers 15:13-16 that anyone who chooses Him is to do exactly as His "chosen" people - and His chosen were TORAH OBSERVANT!
Numbers 15: 13 "'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'"
YHWH is the Creator, and an all-knowing, all-seeing entity. He created the universe and everything in it, including Man (Genesis 1). Nobody knows what He looks like, although He has manifested Himself to Man in various ways. The following are but a few examples:
- He personally walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8).
- He revealed Himself to Abraham via "three men" at the Oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-3), and spoke to Moshe through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5) and through a donkey (Numbers 22 and 23).
- He showed His Divine power when He put Egypt through ten plagues (beginning in Exodus 7:14) for refusing to let His People (the Israelites) go; and then later parted the Red Sea in order to help them escape (Exodus 14:21-22).
- He revealed Himself as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to the multitudes in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), while supernaturally feeding them for 40 years (Exodus 16:31).
- Best of all, He sent us his human Son who came to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH and do everything His Father commanded (Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Acts 28:23, Acts 24:14) - so that we could get to know God, face-to-face (Philippians 2:5-11 and John 10:22-39). This particular "aspect of God" was called Yeshua, which means "Salvation". Yeshua ("Jesus") was foreshadowed throughout the Tanach/"Old Testament" and He became our salvation by offering Himself as the FINAL, DIVINE, once-and for-all SIN Sacrifice. (More about "sin sacrifces" later.)
A little background
To show mankind who He was and what He expected of His Creation, YHWH gave the Torah (Divine Instructions) to His people (the Hebrews...and also to the Gentiles who accepted Him as their God). He chose the Hebrews (not "the Jews" who actually didn't come along until after Jacob's time), knowing full well that they would - despite having personally witnessed His miracles - repeatedly turn toward sin, because mankind is prone to sinning. He then USED this sinful nature to ultimately disperse His people throughout the world so they could reveal HIM to the world.
To "the Jews" (a blanket term for all 12 Tribes of Israel) it felt like punishment; but there was a reason for this: If YHWH had allowed His people to remain obscure in that tiny sliver of land called Israel, they could never have shared with anyone else their God - the Creator of the Universe! YHWH (and consequently, His Messiah, Yeshua) would have remained their secret and the rest of the world would have remained in paganism forever!
Because of their disobedience His "Chosen" were handed over to "the world" - which is ruled by Satan - to allow the resulting chaos between the Jews and the goyim (Gentiles) to take place and to ultimately reveal YHWH to the world! (Isaiah 14:12-15 reveals the history of Satan, who was originally the chief angel known then as Lucifer, His "second in command" who attempted to take over heaven and was consequently cast him down to Earth. Satan is identified by Yeshua as God's enemy in Matthew 13:24-25,and Yeshua identifies the "enemy" in Matthew 13:39 as "the devil.")
Even though most Jews refuse to this day to believe in Messiah Yeshua (thanks to the fact that Catholicism came along to pervert the Scriptures and their idea of a Torahless Messiah - which was later picked up by the Protestants), YHWH's Word HAS gotten out into the world - thanks, ironically, to the Catholics and Christians whose respective religions brought the world's attention to "Jesus." Unfortunately, the Catholics and Christians felt the need to spread the Good News of "Jesus" via any means necessary, including by force through pogroms and the Inquisition. The result was and still is some friction between Torah observant Jews and Christians.
But, God has used this friction to His advantage. For instance, YHWH ultimately used Hitler's antics to bring about one of His biggest end time prophecies, which was this: Because the world briefly felt sorry for the Jews after the Holocaust in 1948, Israel was returned to them, thus fulfilling the Isaiah 66:7-8 prophecy that Israel would again become a nation - and it would happen in ONE DAY!!!
And, of course, He ultimately used His Son, Yeshua.... It was YHWH's plan for His Son to die on the stake as our Final Sin Sacrifice - thus forever eliminating the need for innocent animals to die for our sins. It is very important to remember this fact: Yeshua died BECAUSE of mankind's penchant to sin. If Yeshua had NOT died, the world would NOT have had a final sin sacrifice, and we would all be doomed to hell (eternity without God)!
The timing of Yeshua's life and death was at the perfect point in history, at the right place, without cameras or videos. Why? Because, with the growing racism and bigotry, many people would never have wanted a "God" who resembled a dark-haired Jew. (Even to this day, many Gentiles - such as the KKK and other White Supremacists - refuse to believe their Messiah was Jewish, even though the Bible says so!) They surely would have rejected Him for His nationality, His less-than-glorious birth in a sukkah (temporary dwelling), the fact that He was "only" a carpenter, or for His appearance.
Some would have viewed Him as to tall, too thin, too fat, too dark, too short, or too ugly - whatever. Man is vain and YHWH did not want to take the chance of His divine Son being rejected because of Man's own narrow-minded, bigoted ideas about who Messiah should be or what He should look like. God simply wanted us to accept His Messiah by FAITH.
God promised us a Messiah who would save the world, and He made good on that promise (Jeremiah 31:30-33 and Hebrews 8:8-13). Yeshua fulfilled more than 300 Tanach prophecies - each in their perfect time. Interestingly, the probability of even 48 of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person is the incredible number 10^157 power. According to mathematician and professor Peter Stoner, the probability of 300 being fulfilled by just one man cannot even be determined. Furthermore, Yeshua has so far fulfilled the first four of the seven Biblical feasts, with only three more to go!
So, God is....?
God is someone who is, with our limited human mindsets, very hard to comprehend. That is why, when attempting to to understand Him, we must first "let go" and be willing to believe by FAITH.
Consider this example: Imagine an ant running around at your feet. To that ant, you are so huge he can't even see you. He's in his own world, running to and fro searching for food and trying to survive. He doesn't know about YOU, but he does know that the world is full of danger and that he needs to do what his instincts tell him to do in order to avoid danger.
The only thing the ant sees is what is in his immediate environment. Even though he might feel "something" lurking above or around him, he has no clue that there is a human towering above who has the power of life and death over him! (Humans, on the other hand, have a clue about God because we've been told there is a God; and also because there is a longing in our souls for spirituality). Anyway, you have the power to crush the ant with your foot, or carefully avoid him so he can continue on his merry way. Or you can pick him up, put him in a jar and and add him to your "ant farm" collection in your living room....
Think about this for a moment: The ant can only see his immediate environment; you - being much taller and bigger - can see far beyond what the ant can see. For instance, if you were on top of Pikes Peak overlooking Colorado Springs, you could even see a couple of other states, while at the same time, peering down at that tiny little ant at your feet! In other words, to something as small as an ant, you are a type of god because your abilities in this particular scenario are so much greater. The only thing is, you didn't create the ant; someone a whole lot bigger, smarter, and greater than you did. That "someone" of course, is Yahweh; the one and ONLY God who not only created the universe and everything in it; but who ultimately sent us His divine Messiah named Yeshua who lived among us, in part, to explain God to us "ants"....
Once you can conceive God as being an all-seeing, all-knowing "higher power" who created you and has the power of life and death over you - even though you have never personally laid eyes on Him - you have accepted Him "by faith" because you've studied the awesome universe and the world we live in, and you've realized the intricacies of the miraculous human mind and body and the environment that is so perfectly suited for human life ... and you've come to understand that these things didn't "just happen." What you also need to accept by faith, even though you weren't personally there to witness Yeshua's life and death (although there were approximately 500 witnesses who saw Him AFTER His death - 1 Corinthians 15:6), is that Yeshua was born to show us that God is real and that He IS in charge, and that it is ONLY because of Yeshua's atoning death as the Final Sin Sacrifice that you have been afforded life with Yahweh after your physical death on Earth.
John 14: 6 Yeshua said "I AM the Way - and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.
And what about the "Father-Son" concept?
The God/Son concept can be likened to a fiber-optic lamp in which we envision "God" is the base, and the million points of lights that emanate from that base are all connected and; consequently, part of God Himself. One of those "points of light" was Yeshua - who was a HUMAN BEING with a divine qnoma/nature! That human being ultimately chose to die for our sins, thus removing the need for animal sin sacrifices - which paved the way for us to gain eternal life with YHWH. And all we have to do to receive that eternal life, is to know and believe in our hearts that YHWH is our Creator and that Yeshua, His Son, is His divine Messiah.
Unlike Christianity which touts the trinity (which is false doctrine based on the fact that King James added a line to 1 John 5:7-8), Torah observant believers know that YHWH is one Entity with many aspects. As an "Echad" (compound unity/plural form of "one", such as "one dozen eggs, or one bunch of grapes) He has many aspects, but He is only ONE God!
Now - about the "sin sacrifice" - What is it and why do we need one?
Even though God can be in the presence of sinners He cannot look with favor upon sin and evil. This is proven by God's omnipresence, and the fact that He cared enough to give us His Son Yeshua so that we could gain eternal life by simply "believing" that Yeshua died on our behalf; and even God's continued - if temporary - interaction with some of the fallen angels, including Satan (Job 1-2, etc.). His interaction with evil/sin can be likened to the reaction of mold in the presence of bleach, or of anything combustible in the presence of fire: God's holiness is so consuming and so purifying that unless He restrains Himself, nothing impure and unholy can remain in His presence.
We must always keep in mind that, once Adam and Eve sinned, rather than to destroy them and start all over, God in His Mercy provided a "temporary covering" that would allow them to live in the world - but away from God, and with severe consequences.
The B'rit Chadasha (New Testament) tells us that, since the beginning when man sinned in the Garden, God always required the "temporary covering" of the blood sacrifices to atone for our sins. Blood is our life force; without it, there can be no life.
Leviticus 17: 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.
The first "sin sacrifice" was in the Garden of Eden when God Himself killed an animal in order to cover the sin and nakedness of Adam and Eve after they disobeyed the ONE command that God had given them (Genesis 2:17). The Bible says, "The person who sins will die," (Ezekiel 18:20); and "what one earns for sinning is death" (Romans 6:23). Scripture is not saying you will die immediately for sin. In fact, the original nature of man was that he would not die. God told man he would die only if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).
Adam and Eve disobeyed, sinned, and in Genesis 3:19, God tells them they will return to the earth from where they came. Thus you see that death for eating the forbidden fruit was not immediate death, but that where man was intended to live forever, "he will now die due to sin". Thus, in the moral government of God, He ordained that physical and eternal death be the just penalty for sin. People usually chafe against God's decree, thinking it is unfair or extreme, but these protests only reveal how sin has blinded them to sin's true nature. The fact that God requires such a drastic penalty reveals not that God is brutal, but that sin is heinous."
Eventually, out of sheer love and because people kept "falling short of the glory of God", He gave us a "FINAL sin sacrifice" via His "Son" Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Yeshua's death completely eliminated the need for anymore blood/sin sacrifices.
Ephesians 2: 8 For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God's gift. 9 You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast. 10 For we are God's making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do.
Quick, simple and relevant facts:
Isaiah 53 is all about Yeshua. He has fulfilled many of the prophecies contained in Isaiah 53.
Isaiah 53:1 says Yeshua is an "arm" of YHWH. It is, of course, just a metaphor. YHWH could have said Yeshua would be a foot or His finger or anything else. Bottom line, the BRAIN is in charge of the body. YHWH is the "brain". He is the CREATOR of the entire universe and everything in it.
Yeshua was "an arm"...sent to earth by YHWH to act on His behalf. As "an arm" Yeshua is PART OF YHWH's BODY, and therefore He is YHWH (see Philippians 2:6-11 and John 10:22-39). Just like your arm is part of your body. Nobody can tell you that your arm (which is run by your brain) is NOT part of YOU, the whole person. If you want to pick up a cup with your hand, your brain "engages" and tells the arm and hand to pick up the cup....
Yeshua acted on behalf of YHWH, because He was the "arm" (metaphorically speaking) with an invisible umbilical cord tying Him to to His Father in Heaven. He was YHWH's representative in human form. Yes, He had a human body, but His Nature was from YHWH. YHWH caused His Son to be born of a virgin (someone who had never experienced sex), and when Yeshua was born, Mary's hymen broke from the INSIDE (not the outside which is what would have to happen in order for her to have sex and become pregnant). His birth was miraculous and supernatural, something that could not have happened under normal circumstances.
YHWH supernaturally impregnated Mary and, consequently, Yeshua was born. He is separate from YHWH in that He had His own human body and will (and He even had the choice to obey His Father or not - because YHWH has given all humans the choice!); but because of His DIVINE Nature (which could ONLY have come from YHWH, which is what MAKES Yeshua ONE with God!), He of course knew who He was and chose to BE that "representative" for His Father.
That is how Yeshua was able to be the PERFECT human, without sin, and someone who could act as the Final SIN Sacrifice and offer His Life for us, thus abolishing the need for mankind to have to kill innocent animals to atone for our sins.
So what, exactly, is a "personal relationship with God" and how does one obtain it?
If you Google "personal relationship with God," you will discover that people from many religions use this same, or similar, language. Muslims, Baha'i, Hindus, and Mormons all claim personal relationships with their gods. The reality of it is, the language fits in with the secular world. It's "nicer" to speak of a personal relationship, than to discuss the plain facts that God gave us only two choices: To either do it His way, or Satan's; to believe in Him, or not. YHWH is a just God, and even though we deserve death, He loved us enough to give us another chance by sending us Yeshua, His Son, the Final Sin Sacrifice who made it easy for us to gain eternal life. It is through Yeshua that we really CAN have that "personal relationship" with God because he died for each and every one of us.
So, how can you have that "personal relationship" with God? First, you must understand and believe that YHWH is the Creator who created everything in the universe, including Man. You must also realize that Man has a limited "human mindset"; that he only has an "ant's perspective", whereas God has a "satellite perspective" that allows Him to see across the entire universe into the past and the future. We cannot truly understand God with our human minds and, therefore, it is imperative for us to accept Him by faith alone.
Next, you must have a real desire to know God and to be willing to do everything in your power earnestly seek Him. This means:
- You must lay aside your human rationale and mindset. In other words, you must try not to "intellectualize" God and the Bible. In order to "get" God, you must have come to the final conclusion that He IS your Creator, and then approach Him as an innocent child who is ready to trust Him completely for He is someone who not only knows you intimately, but He also has your best interests at heart.
- You must realize you are a limited human being who was born into sin, due to the choices of Adam and Eve who deliberately sinned by disobeying God in the Garden of Eden. Because of this, you are doomed to eternal separation from God. (Many people say it isn't fair for God to judge us for the sins of others, but the bottom line is: YHWH is God and as someone who created the universe and everything in it, He can do whatever He wants. The good news is, He loved His creation enough to give us a way out via Yeshua, who died on the cross/stake as the "Final Sin Sacrifice".
- You must ask the Holy Spirit to come full-force and help you understand the things of God.
- You must repent and ask God to forgive you. Ask Him to put the Holy Spirit into your heart and soul, and open your "spiritual eyes" so that you can understand what the Bible really says. The Bible tells us that, unless we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we cannot understand God:
1 Corinthians 2:13-15: But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
We all need God because He fills that little hole deep in our souls; the emptiness we all experience from time to time which longs for that seemingly elusive "completion".
Atheists believe that our bodies will be nothing but "worm fodder" when we die, but this isn't true. While our earthly bodies will eventually cease to function, the Bible tells us, after physical death, we will receive new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:39-49, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, and Romans 8:23) that will allow us to experience eternal LIFE - the resurrection of our physical bodies unified with our souls for eternity. Depending on whether or not we've accepted Yeshua as our Personal Savior, we will be resurrected either to "Heaven" or "Hell".
God has offered us eternal life with Him in Heaven. Why not accept it?