THE UNSEEN WORLD... GOD
Biblical Research Monthly, February 1943
By Dr. David L. Cooper
IN THE FIRST installment of this series, we learned something of the existence of God back in eternity of the past, of His creating the universe, and of His triune nature. Furthermore, we learned that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Of course, in a short article we could only take up the major points. In this present installment let us look at some other phases of the study concerning the Almighty, who is invisible to mortal eyes but whose presence nevertheless is just as real.<<<< previous next >>>>
The original faith of man was monotheistic. This word means that there is but one true and living God. It is opposed to polytheism, which term connotes the belief in many gods. The psalmist David asserted that the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen by the things which are made, even His everlasting power and divinity, so that man is without excuse. Atheism is indeed one of the most unreasonable positions that an intelligent person can assume. In Genesis 1:1-2:3 the word "Elohim" appears about thirty four times. In each instance it refers to the Holy Trinity; but, as we have already seen, the three divine Personalities constitute the one Supreme Being. In this Genesis passage appears the account of the creation of the material universe, of the earth's being destroyed by some catastrophe, and of the Lord's labor during six days in repairing the wreckage, which was wrought, in order that the earth might be a fit dwelling place for man, whom God created on the sixth day. The psalmist David, in speaking of the heavens--sun, moon, and stars--said that they are "the work of thy [God's] fingers ..." (Ps. 8:3). From these and many other passages we see that the faith of primitive man was indeed monotheistic.
This biblical position is corroborated by discoveries of the late Dr. Langdon of Oxford, England, who did archaeological work at Kish in old Babylonia about one hundred and fifty miles northeast of the ancient site of Babylon. From the facts which he brought to light, he came to the absolute and unequivocal position that the primitive faith of man was monotheistic. This light, thrown by scientific investigation, is indeed welcome, since it is given to us by a scholar of the first magnitude. We always delight to learn of evidence that corroborates the biblical account. We accept it gladly, not because we doubt the scriptural narrative, but because we receive additional confirmation of its accuracy from indisputable facts.
Although the evidence was crystal clear to primitive man that there was but one Supreme God--the Holy Trinity--man soon became a polytheist, worshiping gods of his own creation. The Apostle Paul in Romans 1 asserts this fact. As we have already seen from Romans 1:20, the evidence for the existence of the Supreme God is overwhelmingly convincing to the honest heart. Man is therefore without excuse. According to verse 21, primitive man recognized God and had a definite knowledge of Him. For some reason, not given by the Apostle, he took the first step from His Maker, which was a refusal to glorify Him as God. In other words, he disavowed God and declined to render to Him the praise and adoration which were due Him as the Creator and as the Sustainer of life. This attitude was nothing but the pitting of his will against that of the Almighty.
The second step which man took in departing from his God was his refusal to give thanks to the Lord for life, breath, and all things. Ingratitude is indeed base and sordid. It has the most unwholesome reaction upon the one who thus assumes it. This is what is stated of man originally and is what we see of him at the present time.
As a result of refusing to glorify God and to return thanks, man became vain in his reasoning, and his heart and conscience became seared--senseless. His spiritual eyes became dim, his ears grew heavy, and his heart was hardened. Naturally he became conceited and, professing to be wise, he became a fool (Rom. 1:22). This was the third step which he took in departing from the Almighty.
The fourth and final step was changing the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of corruptible man, and of birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things (Rom. 1:23).
In the way just described by the Apostle Paul, the human family departed from God originally, and then polytheism developed. Man is, as we have always heard, incurably religious. After he refused to worship the true and living God, his instinct toward the one in whom he lived and moved and had his being found expression in creating gods of his own design to worship and serve.
Many of the scientists, ignoring the biblical account of the origin of things and accepting the unproven theory of the evolution of man, assert that polytheism was the original religion. According to this view, men saw that they were dependent, from the human standpoint, upon so-called nature for their food, water, and sustenance. In their vain manner of thinking, they imagined that there were spirits residing in and controlling the fountains, trees, fields, groves, and all material objects. In fact, all nature by them was thought of as being animated by various spirits. From this conception there rose the idea of different gods who were later made into the form of creatures. Thus arose polytheism.
In the days of Enosh, the grandson of Adam and son of Seth, "began men to call upon the name of Jehovah" (Gen. 4:26). By an examination of this statement in the light of what has already been said, one logically concludes that God revealed a name of Himself to this patriarch in order to differentiate Him from the false gods which were arising in the minds of the people. As time developed, names were given to these various idols.
God therefore had to reveal a name in the primitive language by which His faithful servants could call upon Him, and which differentiated Him from the various pagan deities.
In the days of Abraham and Melchizedek, the Supreme God was known by these patriarchs as "God Most High" (Gen. 14:18). Soon after this time, the Lord revealed Himself to Abraham as "God Almighty" or "El Shaddai." This title signifies God as the one who nourishes or sustains His people. He became known therefore by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as "God Almighty." When God called Moses to go to Egypt in order to deliver the Hebrews from the slavery of that country, He revealed Himself to the great lawgiver as "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex. 3:14). Since God was the speaker who was making the revelation, He naturally used the first person, I AM. Moses in giving the historical account of the revelation declared in Exodus 6:2-3, "And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them."
From this quotation we learn that God did not reveal Himself to the patriarchs as "Jehovah." Notwithstanding this clear testimony, we see the name "Jehovah" appearing in the record from Genesis 2 onward. Thus in the historical account of events from Creation to Moses, we observe the word "Jehovah", although it was never revealed to anyone until it was given to Moses at the time of his call and commission to deliver the Children of Israel.
What is the harmony between these facts? It seems to be this: In the primitive language which was in use in those early centuries, God chose the word by which He wished to be worshiped.
When Moses gave us the record which we have, he substituted for this word in the original language the term "Jehovah" in the Hebrew--the natural thing to do.
This hypothesis fully accounts for the appearance of this name in the early narratives of the Scriptures.
As stated before, polytheism swept over the world. Israel was the only monotheistic nation. Constantly idolatry invaded the ranks of the Chosen People, and many of them turned and worshiped pagan gods. At times the worship of the true God among them was eclipsed by heathenism. Prophets arose and denounced every phase of idolatry. One of the great champions of the truth, who fought idolatry as few men have ever done, was Isaiah the prophet. His majestic sermons and denunciations of paganism are especially found in the second half of Isaiah chapters 40-66. One should read the discourse found in 40; 43:8-13; and 44:6-8, as well as chapter 46. Idolatry with all its attendant evils finally made the captivity in Babylon a stark reality. Israel as a nation, however, was cured of idolatry by her servitude in Babylonia to a pagan power. After the restoration under Zerubbabel, though at times she lapsed into sin, she never went into gross idolatry any more.
Finally, the one true and living God revealed Himself to the world in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word become flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth ... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son [God only begotten], who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:1-18). When Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father and said that such a revelation would satisfy him, the Lord Jesus responded, "Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?" (John 14:9). God is seeking man. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself ..." (II Cor. 5:19). In worshiping Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we are worshiping the only true and living God. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
If the gospel of Christ is veiled to anyone, it is thus hidden to those who have been blinded by Satan; for in the face of Jesus Christ is to be seen the glory of the one true and living God. O sinner, repent and accept Him today!