GETTING TO KNOW GOD AS YOUR FATHER
The Bible is God’s Self-disclosure to mankind. It begins with the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). From this we know that God existed before the earth and the heavens (plural) existed. He was there before “the beginning.” He is the Creator of all that exists. The entire universe owes its existence to God. There is nothing that exists that does not originate in God. The world speculates as to the origin of the world, but the Bible tells us clearly of its origin in God and tells us amazing things about God. The Bible is our primary way to know Him.
THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
God is outside of time and space. He is eternal and unlimited. He pre-existed before anything created. God is everywhere all the time. We call this characteristic being omnipresent (all present), omni meaning all. He is not limited to “when” any more than He is limited by “where.” Because He is not limited by time, so what we see as unfolding, or ongoing, He sees in an eternal now, which is why He knows the beginning and the end. Being outside of space, size doesn’t matter to Him. Nothing is too small or too big for His equal attention. God knows everything (yes, everything!). This is called being omniscient (all-knowing, from which we get the word science). This means He knows your every thought and intention. There is nothing in all of creation of which He does not have intimate knowledge and complete understanding, nor is anything hidden from Him. It may take you a little while to get used to Him being there all the time and knowing all that’s going on in your life, you heart, your head and in your most intimate moments, but remember, He created you this way in order to bless you.
God is all powerful which is called omnipotent (all potent). One of the many names which describe God’s character and nature is “Almighty,” El Shaddai in Hebrew. Ultimately all power and all authority are God’s. This can only be fully appreciated in a nation with a king who is greatly revered and honored, but Yeshua is the King over all the kings and authority in the earth (See Revelation 9:6). Sounds pretty big, doesn’t it? Bigger than we can imagine. Yet, He is intimately and tenderly involved with each one of us, knowing our thoughts, anticipating our needs, being there with us, even when we aren’t aware of Him. You are never outside of His care or concern, even if you may not think so. Many of us, after we come to know Yeshua, look back on our lives and can see that God has been there all along, like a good Father, looking after us, bringing us through what might have been some very difficult situations.
ONE GOD OR THREE?
As we mentioned above, we do not worship two Gods as the Father and the Son, nor three with the Holy Spirit. (More on the Holy Spirit later.) These are all different manifestations of the same God. God makes Himself known to us in many ways. God, identified Himself as Yahweh (YHVH) to Israel. Yahweh is the Self-existing One, that part of God with whom we have a loving relationship. He also manifested Himself to us as the Father and as Creator. As the Son He also made Himself known as our Redeemer who paid the price (or redeemed us) to bring us back to God. And He is also with us as the Holy Spirit in regeneration, working in our lives to make us more like Yeshua in character, and to be with us in the daily thoughts and activities of our lives. The important thing for us to understand is that Yeshua’s Sonship is in His humanity, while in His Spirit He is One with the Eternal Father. Also there is only one Holy Spirit who is also identified in Scripture as both the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of Yeshua. While it’s a bit hard for us to understand, just as it’s hard for us to understand eternity which has no beginning or end, God in the various ways He has appeared to His people is in fact one God.
Not to belittle the majesty of God, but you could think of God as being like an egg. There is the white, the yolk and the shell of an egg. Each part is equally as much of an egg as the other, while each part has its unique quality. We can separate the parts of an egg but each part always maintains its “eggness.” So in God, the Father, the Son and the Spirit remain one and the same God. Here’s how John, one of Yeshua’s closest disciples phrased it, seeing in Yeshua the same creative Word as the Creator of all there is. “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us, what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Messiah Yeshua” (1 John 1:1-3) John is saying that He who was there at the very beginning and was responsible for bringing about all of creation and the life that was born with it, John saw, heard, and touched.
John also knew that the purpose of Yeshua coming to them was for a loving relationship with Him and His Father. God who created all things wants fellowship with you. Amazing, isn’t it? There are some places in Scripture in both the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testaments where all three, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are revealed together. This is the God of Israel validating Yeshua in His Sonship as a Man who was empowered by the Spirit of God to obey all the Father showed Him to do. One such incident took place when Yeshua was baptized and the Father spoke the words, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We do not presume to understand the fullness of who God is in His many attributes, but we do know that as we look to God in faith He is always to us our own Heavenly Father. He is looking out for us and providing for us far and beyond what our natural fathers were ever capable of. At the same time, Yeshua as Lord is our example of how to live our lives as He did by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit which He sent to us.
FATHER, SON & SPIRIT AS CREATOR
As was mentioned before, the Bible does give us pictures of pre-incarnate Yeshua present at creation. We can see further in several places in Scripture where even in creation the varied attributes of God were at work. As was mentioned earlier, the Bible tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Genesis 1:1). Then in the New Testament it speaks again of “the beginning” (John 1:1) and tells us, speaking about Yeshua, “All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). The Book of Hebrews tell us, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1,2).
THE MAJESTY & AUTHORITY OF GOD This letter written to Hebrew believers in Yeshua by another Hebrew (before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD) goes on to say, “And when He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3). The expression “right hand” is used by the Hebrews to mean the authority of the one at whose right hand they stood. Sitting indicates that the work was done and accomplished. The majesty of God on high is authority and power above all other in the universe. Yeshua entered into what is far beyond our imagination – the glory and majesty of God and His unchallengeable authority! Hebrews being a letter written to Jews by a Jew (and why the letter is called Hebrews), these people knew the authority and calling God had put upon the priests, who were to act as intermediators between Israel and God. It was the priests whose chief responsibility was to administer the sacrifices as atonement for sin before their God. That is exactly what Yeshua accomplished. Being the willing sacrifice, He atoned for the people as both priest and as the sacrifice. So the writer of Hebrews says, “Now the main point in what has been said is this: We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1). He could sit at the right hand of God on the throne of the Most High God because He is God!
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1. Read John 17:1-5. This is Yeshua’s prayer to His Father just before He would be arrested and crucified. What does Yeshua see as His relationship with God? What is He asking God to do? (Note: Glory has to do with honor, praise, (worthy of) worship, and dignity.) Knowing He was about to be brutally beaten and then crucified, what glory is He talking about? How could the cross bring glory to Him?
2. Regarding verse :2. When talking about God’s authority, how far does it extend? (Clue: Think Omnipotence.) What is Yeshua saying about God’s authority here? Would God entrust His authority to anyone lower than Himself? Why or why not? What (who) has the Father given to Yeshua? What does His authority enable Him to provide for mankind?
3. Regarding verse :3. What is eternal life? (Note: The term “know” is an intimate, personal knowing, likened to the intimate union between a husband and wife.) Who are you to “know”? How do you get to know someone? How would you apply that to this relationship Yeshua is talking about here? What does this have to do with time? Are we able to enter into eternal life now without having to wait until we die?
4. Read John 20:21, 22. How did Yeshua say He glorified God on the earth? Who is involved in this encounter? What takes place? Read Genesis 2:7. God formed man, then what did He do so that man came alive? Do you see a correlation taking place between what God did in Genesis 2:7 and what Yeshua did in John 20:22? (Note: Breath and spirit are the same word in Hebrew: Ruach.) When God breathed on the first man, Adam, he came alive and since he was created without sin, he became alive spiritually as well as physically. When Yeshua breathed on the disciples, they became alive with the Spirit of God. How significant was it that Yeshua breathed on them?
5. Read John 14:16, 27. What does this have to do with Yeshua breathing the Spirit into them? How is the Spirit identified here? How do you relate to the world not having (the Spirit of) truth? In what way(s) would believers in Yeshua be able to see truth that the world can’t? Can you give examples? Read John 3:3. How does this relate to being able to perceive truth?
6. Read Isaiah 42:8. What does God say about sharing His glory? Read John 17:5. What is He saying about His own existence? What does that say then about Yeshua’s eternal nature? That would make Him….. what? Who? Do you see this as confirming Yeshua’s divinity?
7. Read John 17:20-23. Yeshua is praying here. Who is He praying for (:20)? Does that include you? The Hebrew concept of “one” here is united, alike, unified, of the same mind, in the same way Yeshua was united with His Father. In :21-23 what is Yeshua saying about being one? In :22, what amazing thing has He given to those who are His? What is the goal? How important is unity of the believers to reveal Yeshua to the world?
8. We see in Scripture the unity between the Father, Son and Spirit of God to save the world from sin and its eternal consequences. Yeshua brings us into that unity of purpose. We find that our concerns extend beyond our own well-being and that of those we love to others. We even find that Luke 6:35 becomes a reality in our lives. What does Luke 6:35 mean to you?
9. Read Matthew 16:12-16. Do you see why how others perceive God and what you now think about Him based on the Scriptures, may be very different and critical in your thinking? 10. If you have doubted in the past that Yeshua could possibly be God, what do these passages say to you now? Has this study caused you to think of Him differently than you had in the past? In what way? Would you take a few moments and pray and thank Him for showing you Who He is?