January 25, 2011

Describing The Indescribable God

In theophanies it is the same God. Yet each theophany gives a different description of the same God. Sometimes he has human attributes (anthropomorphisms) sometimes not. Why? Because God is a mystery. Because human language is too limited an falls short failing to describe the unlimited and omnipresent, omnipotent and omni-everything God. Because there are only approximate ways for us to visualize God's transcendence and transendant nature and none of them are adequate in themselves. If we reflect on the Bible as a whole, the assignment to reveal God is a big challange not because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit or God but because of the limitations of the human vessel. To reveal Him in a truly systematic way is literally impossible because God by His nature is to vast to be systematized. He is outside the system(s). Glimpses in many different settings and in extreme over-the-top terms come together in a montage of mystery, imagery to understand a transcendent diety. More often than not the Bible resorts to metaphor because God defies direct concrete descriptions because He is even beyond our langauge to describe. There is a seperation in words and His reality. The amazing thing is that He choses to bridge that gap.

...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters ~Genesis 1:2

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. ~Genesis 3:8

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. ~Genesis 15:17

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. ~Genesis 28:12-13

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. ~Exodus 3:2-3

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. ~Exodus 13:21

Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. ~Exodus 19:18

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. ~Revelations 1:12-16

...and of course my personal favorite:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16

The list goes on by I will not. My point is made.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Genesis 32:24-25


Robert Hagedorn said...

How could God literally "walk" in the cool of the day when He has no corporeal body? Do a search: The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Please.

Andy Pierson said...

One of two answers. Even if God did not enter the Garden in corporeal form then...(1) This is an anthropomorphism or (2) A theophany as God is able to do whatever He wants when He wants. To say He cannot is to limit God's omnipotence and sovereignty. How do you explain the other theophanies? Wrestling with God, The Burning Bush? What about the Angel of the Lord touching Elijah in 1 Kings 19:6 and 2 Sam 5:24's (Marching)?
The Hebrew word hâlak מתהלך in this narrative context could have been figurative. Truth is it probably is literal. Your argument is flawed and not Scriptural. You are limting what God is capable of. You've overlooked the obvious here. No corporeal body??? What was Jesus an apparition?

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