LIAM CULLINS

God’s Presence in Biblical Times vs. Modern Day

If you’ve read the literature on my home or music pages, you’ve probably noticed my mentions of God and Christ, and have figured out that I’m a Christian. These days, it seems that many Christians are seen as old-fashioned, weak-minded people who blindly go along with something because it gives them hope. This is actually to be expected, considering the Bible states numerous times that the children of God will be despised by man. My dad once said that the Gospel was as simple as it is because it makes it accessible to virtually anyone, regardless of their level of intelligence. This is not to say that everyone who believes the Bible is unintelligent, as that would be slander against my family and my church, as well as myself. In fact, the purpose of this post is to look at a passage and show how something seemingly completely disconnected from reality has an explanation.

Though I don’t go out of my way to read anti-Christian literature, I imagine one major method of someone who’s trying to discredit the Bible is to point out how outlandish some of the events in the Bible are, and how we’ve never observed such an event in recent history. For example, here’s Matthew 17:5, a verse from my devotions today:

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

If you look at Christian skeptics (or skeptics in any religion, rather), you’d probably come to the conclusion that at a fundamental level, the main cause for disbelief is because no one can see God in the way we currently comprehend sight. We don’t see a giant face peering down at us from the night sky. So, why would people believe in the legitimacy of a book that recounts the event of a voice calling down from the clouds? Furthermore, why would someone believe in the Bible when there’s seemingly no visual evidence of a Creator in this day and age?

Now, I could get into apologetics about the concept of Creationism versus modern scientific explanations, but that’s not where I’m going with this. Rather, the quest to find these answers actually doesn’t even need to outside the Bible itself in order to find its beginning. Even those who consider themselves to be the farthest thing from a Christian as possible most likely know the account of the Garden of Eden. God commanded Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but were deceived into doing so by Satan in the form of a serpent. For their disobedience, God banished them from His presence and from the Garden.

This is where we find the first inkling of an explanation. For Adam and Eve’s sins, they were banished from God’s presence, and every generation since, mankind has had an inherently sinful nature. Sin is disobeying God, to put it simply, and the Bible gives us other examples to further strengthen this justification by describing just how removed God is from sin. When speaking of the sacrifice of Christ in Psalm 103:12, Kind David wrote:

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Again, it’s an example of just how far removed we must be from our sin in order to be accepted in God’s eyes, which is why the only path to salvation isn’t through our own efforts, but through the Christ, God’s son that he sent down to earth to be a pure man and take on the Father’s wrath that was meant for the sons of the First Adam, the fallen Adam. Another example is in Luke 16:22-26, where Jesus tells the account of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus:

22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’”

At this point, I think you understand what I’m trying to illustrate, but there’s still another unanswered question I haven’t touch upon. God is so holy that he can’t be in the presence of man, but what about the other instances of supernatural events that occurred even before Christ was on Earth? Once again, we don’t have to go far to find the answer, but not from within the Bible, but from the existence of the Bible itself. Let me explain. In the very first verse of the book of John, it’s made indisputably clear that the Holy Bible is the essence of God himself:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In this day and age, we’re accustomed to having a wealth of different translations of God’s Word in hundreds of languages, but according to Biblica.com, the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation, wasn’t completed until roughly 95 A.D. (or C.E., to put it in more politically correct terms), and the contributions to what’s now known as the Old Testament were done throughout the span of a millennium. People within the times of recorded events such as Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babylon, Moses and the Burning Bush, and the trials of Job didn’t have the full picture that we do today. God was still using His people in order to carry out his plan of salvation, and while the Bible came to us through the divine inspiration of His prophets and disciples, in order to see that His work was done, God’s hand had to be more physically present than it is today. We have it much easier today, as we have the whole picture constructed into a book that’s still the most widely owned book in the world to date. In that sense, faith in God, dare I say it, was more faith-based than today because the people God used to carry out His work didn’t know how everything would turn out. They just trusted that He knew what he was doing. If you’re a member of a film crew, it’s like the difference between not knowing what the end result will be during the production and being able to rest easy after completion, knowing that the film was a critical and commercial success.

Now, before I move on, I want to address one thing that I know someone of the opposing viewpoint may point out as a flaw in my reasoning. In the last paragraph, I essentially said that God has changed His level of physical involvement on Earth, but an opposer may say I’m contradicting verses such as Malachi 3:6 or Hebrews 13:8:

For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 God’s motivations and character does not change. However, we as human beings constantly change, and if you feel the need to debate that statement, you clearly haven’t been alive for very long, which makes me wonder how you’re reading this in the first place. As Jeremiah 2:11 reads:

11 Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their glory for what does not profit.

In simple terms, it saying that people constantly change what they consider to be most important. I remember my youth group leader once telling me about the beliefs of some developing countries, how things like idolatry and evil spirits is a concept taken very seriously. If someone were to talk about this topic in this light in the States, people would think you’re nuts. Satan isn’t an idiot. He doesn’t use the same things to distract us from God or keep us fearful as he does on people from other cultures, but rather adapts his approach to fit the situation. Why shouldn’t we expect the superior Almighty God to do no less throughout the ages?

Header photo source: Tyler Neinhouse on Flickr | CC 2.0 | Cropped

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