The Revealing God

If you asked many Bible believing Christians: 'What is the Revelation of God' most of them would state it is the last book of the Bible. Regrettably, many of them would then wince and state it was one of those books that were extremely contentious and difficult to understand. However, the fact is that the revelation or revealing of God is a feature of God's interactions with men in general and Scripture in particular throughout time. We must grasp this fact: that God's purpose and plan is to reveal Himself. If we do not grasp this then we will find ourselves fighting the Bible to extract its' meaning rather than working with it.

There are many old school Bible expositors that claim the first use of a word in the Bible defines its' meaning. That many or may not be true; but it is certainly the case that the first use of 'reveal' in the Bible is extremely 'revealing'. It occurs in De 29:29 in the middle of Moses' farewell speech. Having narrated most of the history of the Jewish people to that point Moses suddenly interjects:

'The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.'

This verse properly comprehended throws much of Western culture onto its head[1]. Note that the opposite of revelation is not non-existence; it is secrecy. This point may seem arcane but it is actually fundamental. Modern Western philosophy holds that in the absence of man's thought processes the world or universe is essentially devoid of knowledge. Then as man progresses we construct knowledge, building each piece one upon another. When one of our luminaries in the secular or religious realm produces something new then we say progress has been made.

The biblical picture does not support this. In the Biblical world view all true knowledge exists already and the progress we measure is simply an artifact of man getting clued in to what is already there. Worse from modern man's perspective this secret 'blue print' of all knowledge and wisdom belongs to God Himself. Further man is not able to wrest this knowledge from God. Man does not discover things. God chooses to reveal things from time to time.

The verse however has a beautiful twist too. Those things that are revealed are part of a permanent unchanging truth. Therefore they are available to us and to future generations. In fact they belong to us. It is not like some passing whim of science or theology; the truth of God once revealed in unsurpassable. We should note too that the revelation of God is also actionable. The revealing is not so that we would know it but so that we would do it.

Having defined 'revelation', Holy Writ then goes quiet upon the subject for another four hundred years until the time of Samuel. We are actually told that it was not just that record that went quiet but that the revelation of God Himself had ceased[2] at least in general. The Samuel account adds one extra piece of information however. Whereas the Deuteronomy reference could imply God reveals simply truth the Samuel references[3] show that God reveals Himself. We also learn that the Word of God, whilst already extant, still has to be revealed to an individual[4].

As Scripture progresses through time we find that new revelations are still being made[5]. In fact to Daniel the revealing of secrets was one of the defining characteristics of God[6]. Amos goes a stage further to state that it is characteristic of God that He does not work unless He has revealed this to His prophets[7]. This latter point is vital as it tells us that at any point in time God's revelation is sufficient. That is to say that God has chosen to limit Himself by the extent of His self revelation. Whilst there is still undoubtedly much that is still hidden it is not something that God will act upon without prior revelation.

Notwithstanding that God has revealed everything we need to know we are told that this revelation is essentially selective[8]. That is to say that whilst certain truth has been revealed to mankind the reality is that many people because of their own intellectual and spiritual predisposition will be unable to receive that which has been revealed. It is also essential to note that those that are able to receive the revelation are those that humbly seek; those that arrogantly aim to wrestle the truth from God will simply not find it.

The ultimate revelation of God we have received thus far is His son the Lord Jesus Christ[9]. In fact it is only through the Son that God Himself is revealed to us[10]. Also there have been certain mysteries[11] including the church that had been hidden from the start of time until the dispensation of Grace. We need to remember this when reading Scripture. Just because things have always been true doesn't mean they have always been visible and available on the pages of Scripture.

Finally Scripture makes clear that whilst the Bible is the complete revelation for this time[12] it is not the final revelation of God. There will come a time when all things are revealed[13]. For those in Christ the revelation to come will reveal the glory of Christ in us[14] although it will also reveal the quality of our workmanship[15] and the intent of our hearts[16]. However the Bible's final comment on revelation is to warn that those not in Christ will be revealed in their nakedness[17]. God has issued fair warning; His wrath against ungodliness has been revealed[18] and if this revelation is ignored and not acted upon by man then it will be acted upon by God.

We have now looked at the notion of revealing and revelation as contained in the Bible. We find it is almost a message within a message. The Bible states that God is revealing Himself and as we use the Bible to investigate the meaning of 'revealing' we find that the Bible reveals what revealing means! Whilst the last sentence may be confusing the premise of this paper is that the Bible should not be. The God of Heaven has chosen to reveal certain facts to mankind so that they can be owned and acted upon by us and our children. He has chosen to use the Bible as the mechanism of this revelation and we must assume that His divine decision was correct and that the Bible is an adequate mechanism to achieve His purposes. He has even informed us that we need humility and not brilliance to understand His Word. Let us therefore approach His Word in the proscribed manner and acquire the benefit thereof.


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