GOD. WHO is He? WHAT is ‘God’? Foolish questions? Perhaps? Yet this is a FOOLISH generation, with ‘drowsing virgins’ in its midst. Wherefore, it becomes advisable to take a fresh look at BASIC FUNDAMENTALS – to the end that we may enter into the correct concept of that which is BASIC TO OUR BEING. For it is written:
No doubt we can love God in our crass ignorance, yet I believe it very helpful to KNOW more about Him through that which He has declared of Himself. Therefore, LET US LOOK!
Hence I propose FIRST to look to the meaning of the word “God”. Secondly to the identity of Jesus the Nazarene, and finally to the “Holy Spirit”, winding up in the “Godhead” – which takes us back to the “Elohim”.
If a foreigner with a very limited English vocabulary were to ask: WHAT do you mean by the term ‘God’? Would not the average Christian answer something like this? “God is A SPIRIT: He is the MAKER of Heaven and earth; He is the Creator of ALL – even of you and me”?
Although this general and common concept is largely a correct one, it is technically in error, and hence leads to many erroneous conclusions which get us entangled in the doctrines of man, and subject to the errors commonly committed in ignorance.
The ancient and original “Elohim” has been rendered “God”. And His manifestation to man has been by many names and expressions such as: “I AM; El (strength); Shaddai (the mighty God); Yahweh (Jehovah: the self-existent one); the Holy One; the Lord of Hosts; The KING of kings; the Living God; The Most High; Creator; Savior; the Father of Lights; The FATHER” as well as other expressions which convey A PORTION of the Truth of His UN-definable Being.
But let us get to the bottom of this mystery, which Theologians call ‘God’. So steel your nerves for the first shock! ‘GOD’ is not the name of a specific Being (even though thus commonly understood)! ‘God’ designates AN OFFICE! It is the term for a FUNCTION! It is designative rather than a proper noun! (Admittedly, Christendom uses it as a proper noun.)
Our English ‘God’ links with the Greek ‘Theos’ (from which springs theology, etc). Some have translated this word ‘The PLACER’. But words from out of ancient languages are today conditioned in their meaning by the lapse of centuries, and the evolution of man’s concept, and his ever changing – though gradual – amendment of the original thought (as conveyed by the inspired mouth pieces for Divine Revelation).
Wherefore, we must not place unlimited confidence in the definition of words, nor their modern usage, but rather DRAW OUR UNDERSTANDING FROM GOD’S OWN REPEATED USAGE OF THE TERM. Only in that way can we be sure that we are not blundering into error. So let us examine the word….
‘I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ God is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matt 22:32; see also Ex 3:6).
Let us try out the idea of Creator or Maker: Would God say “I am the Creator (or Maker) of a people who had been deceased for hundreds of years? IF creator be the meaning of GOD, He would more correctly have expressed Himself to Moses by saying: I was the Creator (God) of Abraham – -. IF we attribute to God the qualities of wisdom, truth and honesty, then we cannot evade the conclusion that at ALL times He does express Himself correctly and honestly. Hence we see by this KEY expression which our Lord chose to silence the Sadducees, that ‘creator’ is not the suitable meaning of the word ‘God’. The attributed meaning of creator may be not entirely amiss, yet it is not THE SPECIFIC meaning of the word.
Precisely the same must be said for the ‘PLACER’ concept. IF that were its fully correct connotation, then similarly must God has used the PAST tense, saying: I was the PLACER of Abraham etc.
The KEY to its true meaning was given us by the Christ in that He said: “God IS the God of THE LIVING, not of the dead!” We could not say: “John is the John of the living, not of the dead”! By which we clearly see that ‘God’ is not a proper noun? THAT is man’s usage!
And, whereas Jesus proclaimed Himself ONE with the Father (Whom we call God), we may reasonably look to some of His other declarations to KEY with the correct meaning of the term.
Only on two different occasions did He speak of Himself at length and that as in two different capacities. The first we find in John 10:1-16, where He is “the good SHEPHERD”. The second we find in John 15th chapter where He declared Himself to be “the VINE” – Although the latter has not sentient life, careful analysis reveals that the VINE in relationship to the BRANCHES (which He declared His disciples to be), is in harmony with the term ‘shepherd’. He defined the functions of the shepherd: he who calls his sheep by name who goes before – leading them to goodly pastures; he who tends to their daily needs and comfort, and who – if needs be – “lays down his life for the sheep”. HARMONIOUS to this thought do we find ‘the VINE’ as supplying the energizing sap which enables the BRANCHES to stay alive and bear fruit. Thus we see that the VINE is ‘the KEEPER’ of the BRANCHES, even as a good shepherd is of his sheep! ‘Shepherd’ is a very specific and limited term. So let us substitute its broader equivalent: ‘KEEPER’. Now let us try it:
“God is the KEEPER of the living, not of the dead”. We could change the wording slightly, making it even more lucid: “The KEEPER is the keeper of that which IS ALIVE, not of that which is dead”! With this understanding of the term GOD, we see clearly how He spoke volumes to Moses when He declared Himself in the PRESENT tense, as being the KEEPER of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Let us pursue the thought further:
“Fear not, Abram: I am thy SHIELD, and thy exceeding great reward,” (Gen 15:1). Herein we find the thought of KEEPER emphasized. “Behold, I am with thee, and WILL KEEP THEE in all places –” (Gen 28:15). “I am with thee to SAVE thee and DELIVER thee –“. (Jer 15:20) “Behold, I AM Yahweh the KEEPER (God) of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me?” (Jer 2:27). “And they shall be my people and I will be their KEEPER (God)” verse 38.
THINK particularly of this last expression: could He – in rationality – have said: “They shall be my people and I will be their CREATOR?” How ridiculous!
But we see how the thought of ‘placer’ is not foreign to the context. Only, it is too circumscribed. Indeed a good shepherd not only leads his sheep, but he PLACES in suitable
It is not for you or me; not for any Theologian nor any Pope to interpret the Word of God; God Himself has furnished the full elucidation of ALL His deeper expressions to man.
I can recall no passage of Scripture where ‘God’ is foreign to the thought of KEEPER. Neither do I know of any definition advanced by man, which answers ALL the contexts where ‘God’ is used.
We might attribute other thoughts, which are near approaches to Truth, yet fall short of the full and true impact as God has revealed it through His own expressions. We might say? THE BIG BOSS; THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, or THE DIRECTING INTELLIGENCE, yet we see that none of those necessarily implies the office of KEEPER.
THAT is the central theme of His declarations to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; yes, and to His people by the mouth of His prophets right down to the last of them. And THAT is the salient thought and the vital issue which Jesus emphasized and declared on numerous occasions: “Be not anxious for tomorrow —( He will KEEP you). The very hairs of your head are numbered, (HOW He looks after you!)… You are of more value than many sparrows. — Labor not for the meat, which perishes (leave all concern to your KEEPER). Worry not over what you shall answer, (TRUST your Keeper)!” We see in ALL these instances He stressed the CENTRAL THEME of God’s declaration to man that He is man’s KEEPER? And being a good KEEPER, He will NEVER forsake us, nor leave us to fend for ourselves. ‘God Almighty’ (the Almighty KEEPER) IS WITH YOU AND WILL KEEP YOU IN ALL PLACES! (Wherefore, RELAX and TRUST God!) “And Abram believed God (the KEEPER) and it was counted unto him for righteousness”.
Undoubtedly, many of Abram’s fellow men in Ur believed in a ‘creator’, but THAT was not accounted to them for righteousness. But Abram heard the Voice and accepted Him as his KEEPER; and, having confidence in his KEEPER, he left his friends and kindred and early environment to become a sojourner in a land of strangers: relying not on his own brawn nor intelligence but committed himself fully to his Divine KEEPER. THAT pleased God! (God wants to be TRUSTED; does not any father?) Wherefore, He chalked it up in Abram’s ledger, and underscored it as RIGHTEOUSNESS!
You see, when once we FULLY ACCEPT the Divine KEEPER as being our keeper, then we relax and cease to fret ourselves about tomorrow.
What is more, we cease from our devious ways and from our schemes and conniving, LOOKING WHOLLY TO OUR DIVINE KEEPER (God). If POWER UNLIMITED is for us and watches over us, WHY WORRY? Or why scheme and cheat? The Almighty KEEPER will provide! ….. It is THE BASIC CONCEPT – when once FULLY ACCEPTED – which ENGENDERS RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Later we shall see how this correct understanding of the word GOD, dispels dogma, clears up mysteries and elucidates Scripture. But for the moment let us turn our attention to the far more befuddled topic of ‘The Son’ (of God) and search out the Scripture as to the identity of JESUS THE NAZARENE.
By Mikkel Dahl