Biblical authors are theologians. They sought to know God and to make his will known. Their words are not only artifacts of historically-conditioned ancient peoples. They are also words from those who ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink as we do, namely, Christ (1 Cor 10). And from God’s revelatory word, they by the Spirit sought God and spoke on behalf of God. As David says, “The Spirit of the LORD speaks by me” (2 Sam 23:2).
What is God?
The first theologian to write Scripture is Moses, and he speaks with the authority of one who communed in God’s presence for forty days. Here is what he says about God:
- God creates (Deut 4:32)
- God speaks (Deut 4:33)
- God elects (Deut 4:34)
- God has no equal (Deut 4:35)
- God disciplines (Deut 4:36)
- God speaks invisibly from heaven and uses visible signs on earth (Deut 4:36, 39)
- God loves (Deut 4:37)
- God saves (Deut 4:37-39)
- God gives life (Deut 4:40)
God is the creator and has no equal. He sets his love on Israel. He gives them signs to know him, he saves, and gives life. So says Moses. But he also says more than what God is. He contemplates who God is.
Who is God?
The invisible God becomes visible through signs on earth. As Moses explains, “Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire” (Deut 4:36). Yet the heavenly reality and earthly signs paradigm reveals more than only than a biblical metaphysic.
It also informs our confession of “YHWH is one” (Deut 6:4). Moses writes that Israel heard “the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire” (Deut 4:33) and “Out of heaven he let you hear his voice” (Deut 4:36). And he afterwards speaks of a divine dyad on earth and in heaven: “the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath” (Deut 4:39) and yet states “there is no other” (Deut 4:39).
This is not so unusual as Moses has already said, “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven (מֵאֵ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה מִן־הַשָּׁמָֽיִם)” (Gen 19:24) Here also Moses speaks of YHWH on earth and in heaven.
As a theologian who spent forty days with Jesus at Sinai and in the cloud of YHWH’s glory, Moses had contemplated God.
He knew that YHWH is one and that YHWH is somehow more than one.
We call this the doctrine of the Trinty.
Brothers and sisters, let’s be confident in our faith
In light of Moses our theological forebearer, we should have confidence in our faith today. But sadly, we have bought into unsavoury ideas about the Bible, the world, and God.
First, we are so deep into historicism that we fear affirming what the Bible clearly teaches: God has always been Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Bible points to the reality that God the Father created by his Word (“Let there be light”) and his Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). Be Christian. Be bold. Be Trinitarian.
Second, the invisible God reveals himself through visible signs. Today, we call know these as preaching, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. They visible reminders do not merely bring something to mind. They bring us into the presence of God. As Paul says, we have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). We participate in heaven when we worship God. So take these signs seriously because God does.
Third, be confident in God. He holds all things together by his power. He created. He makes alive. There is no one like him. If God is for us, who can be against us? Let’s renew our confidence in the one in whom all destiny and all reality rest. He would not have left us an errant or insufficient witness. When Scripture speaks, God speaks. The Old Testament and the New Testament together comprise one holy, inspired message from God to us. We know him because he speaks.
Moses spoke from God about God for our sake. Let’s not forget and let’s not lose confidence in the triune God.