My husband and I are reading John Owen’s “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” and we were reading a bit in Chapter 12 today about how little mankind can really know God.
Owen writes, “We speak much of God, can talk of Him, His ways, His works, His counsels, all the day long; the truth is, we know very little of Him. Our thoughts, our meditations, our expressions of Him are low, many of them unworthy of His glory, none of them reaching His perfections.” *Owen, p. 111
Moses was said to have seen God, but only His “hind parts” for God said he could not see His glory and live (Exdous 34). What is this glory? God describes Himself as invisible, incomprehensible, immortal, infinite. “Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see.” (I Timothy 6:16).
His light is such as no creature can approach unto. He is not seen, not because He cannot be seen, but because we cannot bear the sight of Him. The light of God, in Whom is no darkness, forbids all access to Him by any creature whatsoever. We who cannot behold the sun in it glory are too weak to bear the beams of infinite brightness. On this consideration, as was said, the wise man professes himself “a very beast, and not to have the understanding of a man” (Prov 30:2)–that is , he knew nothing in comparison of God, so that he seemed to have lost all his understanding when once he came to the consideration of Him, His work, and His ways. *Owen, p.114.
As I read these words of this 17th century scholar, suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps this is how God is: with me all the time, yet I can’t see Him. He is right beside me, but He is on a spectrum of light outside my ability to see. God made me finite, and, as such, I have eyes that can only see a part of the visual field He created. There are many other wavelengths of light, I just cannot see them. Perhaps that is where He is: on a wavelength I cannot perceive. Why would this be? I can only guess that, once the fall happened, I became damaged goods and my sin nature could not bear the glory: the full spectrum of light where God has His being. He had to keep me from this light to save me. As He said to Moses, “…no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:20
Instead of coming to me as God, He came to me in a way I could understand. He took on flesh. He became Jesus. He walked on the earth. That I could understand. Love will do this: bend low to capture another. Jesus is now with the Father and both are spirit, but, because of Jesus, I can learn how to walk on this earth as He did. It is Christ in me, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27).
*Kapic, K & Taylor, J. Eds. (2006). Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.