Humanity's Relationship With God

Chapter 6 of God Is...

What do humans want to know about God? Perhaps the best initial question is, “Who are you?”

To such a question, God replied, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God declares himself to us in creation (Psalm 19:1). He has interacted with the human family ever since he made us. Sometimes he speaks through thunder, quaking or fire, and sometimes he speaks in a whisper (Exodus 20:18; 1 Kings 19:11-12).

In the biblical record, God reveals information about himself and inspired reports of how people responded to him. God also reveals himself through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

But we want to know more than who God is, don’t we? We want to know why he made us. We want to know what he wants us to do. We want to know how he affects us. We want to know what he has in store for us. We want to know not just about him — we want to know him. What is our relationship with God now? What should it be? And what will our relationship be in the future?

Where we find ourselves now

God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). The Bible reveals a far more profound future than we can now imagine. Hebrews 2:6-11 tells us that we are made “a little lower than the angels.” Yet God has crowned us with “glory and honor” and put everything under our rule. His future intent for humanity is to leave “nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.”

God has prepared an infinitely glorious and joyous future for us. But something stands in the way. We find ourselves in a state of sin, feeling cut off from God. But the breach has been healed. Jesus tasted death for us so that he might bring “many children to glory” (Hebrews 2:9-10).

Revelation 21:7 says that God wants to unite us with him in a family relationship. Because of God’s love for us and what he has done for us, and what he is doing for us now as the Author of our salvation, Jesus is “not ashamed to call [us] brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:10-11).

So what should we be doing now?

Acts 2:38 tells us to repent and to be baptized – to figuratively bury the old self. Those who believe that Jesus Christ is their Savior, Lord and King are led by the Spirit (Galatians 3:2-5). As he opens our minds to understand the gospel, we repent – turning to God from the selfish ways we followed in the past. In faith, we enter a new relationship with him. We are reborn (John 3:3), given a new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit, through God’s grace and mercy and the work of Jesus Christ.

What happens then? We “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) for the remainder of our lives, and then we will take part in the first resurrection, after which we will “be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Awesome inheritance

[God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)

In the resurrection, we will be given immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54) and a “spiritual body” (verse 44). “As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man [Adam],” says verse 49, “so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven [Jesus].” As “children of the resurrection,” we will no longer be subject to death (Luke 20:36).

Could anything be more wonderful than what the Bible says about God and our future relationship with him, a relationship that can begin right now? We will “be like him [Jesus], for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Revelation 21:3 says that, in the time of the new heaven and new earth, “the dwelling of God is with humans, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

We will be one with God in holiness, love, perfection, righteousness and spirit. As his immortal children, we will be the family of God in its fullest sense, sharing complete fellowship with him in perfect and everlasting joy. What a marvelous and inspiring message of hope and eternal salvation God has for us!

The Name of God — YHWH

When God called to Moses out of the burning bush, telling him to free the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, Moses asked: “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13).

God answered Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (verse 14). The Hebrew word for “I AM” is ehyeh, which comes from the verb “to be.” It can also be translated as “I SHALL BE.”

God further told Moses: “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers…has sent me to you’” (verse 15). Although the Hebrew word for “Lord” is adon, the word translated “Lord” in verse 15 is different. It is spelled with the four Hebrew consonants YHWH – “the tetra­grammaton” (Greek for “four letters”). The word is related to ehyeh and also comes from the verb “to be.” Both words have the sense of “being actively present.”

Although most scholars pronounce the tetragrammaton as Yahweh, the correct pronunciation is not known for certain. The Hebrews avoided saying God’s name because they believed that doing so might take God’s name in vain. When reading a passage of the Hebrew Bible that contained it, they referred to God by one of his titles – adonai or “my Lord.” The oldest known manuscript fragments of the Septuagint leave the tetragrammaton untrans­lated. Later manuscripts, probably reflecting Christian editing, render the tetragrammaton as kyrios, Greek for “Lord.” Later, English versions rendered the personal name YHWH as the impersonal “the Lord.” They used all capital letters for “Lord” to indicate they were translating YHWH, rather than adon or adonai.

The text of the Hebrew Bible originally had only consonants. When vowels were added in the 10th century A.D., the vowels of adonai were also used for the tetragrammaton, reminding the readers to pronounce the word as adonai. In the 16th century, Latin translators combined the vowel points of adonai with the consonants of the tetragrammaton to produce the artificial form Iehoua. In 1530, Tyndale rendered the tetragrammaton as Iehouah in his translation of Exodus 6:3. Subsequently, the letter I became J, and the u became v, and Jehovah became the standard spelling. The King James Version uses this spelling (Psalm 83:18 is one example), but the KJV usually translates YHWH as “the Lord” and adonai as “the Lord.”

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