"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
One major idea that permeates the Bible is the reality of God. The Bible begins with God. When nothing else is, God is: “In the beginning God . . .” (Genesis 1:1). In the first verse of the Bible, God is revealed as Creator. If you flip to the very end of the Bible—the book of Revelation, the apostle John’s vision of heaven and eternity—God is revealed as King, Lord, and Judge of all the earth (Revelation 15:3; 20:12–13).
In between Genesis and Revelation, the words God and Lord are mentioned thousands of times. Clearly, from beginning to end, the reality of God is a dominating idea in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God is often perceived as invisible or hidden in dramatic displays of fire and smoke (Exodus 19:18). His power, wisdom, and holiness caused people to tremble with fear and awe at his presence (Exodus 20:18; Psalms 96:9; 119:120; Proverbs 28:14). But people who enjoyed a close relationship with God also experienced him and his love in extremely personal ways. Adam and Eve, for example, spent time with God in the garden; after their fateful choice to disobey him, they tried to physically hide from God’s presence (Genesis 3:8). The Bible describes Abraham as God’s “friend” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Moses is a great example of someone who experienced God’s presence, love, and friendship firsthand (Exodus 34:5–6). God himself “would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11).
In the New Testament, we are introduced to Jesus, the Son of God. Though this carpenter-turned-teacher from Nazareth claimed repeatedly to be God, he was visible and approachable (John 8:56–59; 10:30–33)! He came close enough to be seen, heard, and touched (1 John 1:1–3).
After his death, burial, resurrection, and return to heaven, Jesus sent the very Spirit of God to live in the hearts and souls of his followers (Acts 2). What a jaw-dropping reality! Think about it: The Gospels in the New Testament show God among us (John 1:14). Jesus was “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, emphasis added). The book of Acts in the New Testament shows that the Spirit is God in us.
WHY IS THIS BIBLICAL THEME SO IMPORTANT?
If the Bible is true (and, of course, we believe it is), then God is. God exists. We’re not alone in the universe. The world and the human race are not cosmic accidents, the result of eons of time + chance + nothing. We were designed. We were made for a purpose. The world is not random; it is going somewhere. We have meaning and significance.
This blog post has been adapted from my new book, Self-Guided Tour of the Bible. You can read more about it here.