Monday, February 13, 2017

Knowing God

February 13, 2017

In Exodus 33:12-23 we have an intriguing interaction between God and Moses in which Moses tells God that he wants to know him. Here's what he said: "If I have found grace in your sight, show me now your way, that I may know you and that I may find grace in your sight." Moses wants to know God's ways, i.e., how he thinks, or in modern vernacular, what is his game plan. The conversation goes on a bit before God responds specifically to this request. When he does, it isn't what Moses probably expected.

God doesn't offer to reveal his ways, or even that Moses might know him. He does say that he will honor Moses' request to go with the children of Israel into the Promised Land, but strangely enough, he doesn't get all buddy-buddy with Moses, telling him that he will let Moses know him. Instead, he declares, "I know you," and adds for emphasis, "by name." In the process, grace is mentioned six times in a mere seven verses. The knowledge we need is always a gift of grace.

So which is more important, to know God or be known by God? The Psalmist sings, "O LORD, you have known me..." (Psalm 139:1), but even the great St. Paul speaks of his not having attained this mark of knowing God. That is his desire, that toward which he presses in Philippians 3:10. But he presses on to "lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (v.12). From beginning to end, it is God who initiates the relationship, and he does so because he knows us. He knows our weaknesses. Psalm 103:14 tells us that he "knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." He knows our hearts, our longings for him. He knows us. And he reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. We can know him, and through him, we can know the Father.

In Matthew 11:27, Jesus spells out how this knowledge works. "All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal him." Then Jesus adds these words: "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Way back in Exodus 33, we find that same promise: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." In Christ, the Promise finds fulfillment. We know God as much as is humanly possible when we know Christ. But even then, it is God who knows us, which is far better. My knowledge of God is inherently partial; his knowledge of me is complete, which means his grace is sufficient for all my shortcomings and failures, and for that, I am grateful tonight.

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