Foundations for a Christian Worldview: God (3)
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’” Exodus 3.14, 15
God beyond time
We’re looking into the Law of God, the five books of Moses, to discern the foundations of the Biblical and Christian worldview that begin to emerge there. We are focusing on the left leg of our worldview triangle, with the worldview vision God sets forth for us in these early chapters of Scripture. In this installment, we’re concentrating on the most prominent theme and presence of the Law – and of all Scripture – and that is God Himself. God is the ultimate end and objective of the Christian worldview. He is the joy and rejoicing of our heart, the lens through which we see the world, the One to Whom we devote ourselves in this world, and for Whose glory we do all that we do. God is One. He alone is God, and there is none other besides Him. All other deities, whether or not they are acknowledged as such, are false and futile. Only God is God.
And God is Three. The one God consists of three Persons: the Father, the Son or Word, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons constitute the one God and share in a fellowship of being, communion, collaboration, and complementarity in which human beings, as the image-bearers of God, find their fullest and most satisfying life.
And God is eternal. He is without beginning, and He has no end. It is impossible for us to grasp the true nature and full significance of this. The eternality of God is and must always remain a mystery. We can approach an understanding of God as eternal by thinking of Him as existing before all things and over all things, and thus forever, both backwards and forwards. But this does not quite get at the eternality of God as He is presented in His Word.
God does not exist in time, but over and beyond time. Time is the creation of God, Who is timeless; He sees all of time, and everything that transpires in time, in one comprehensive glance, since time is little more than the spatial and temporal realization of God’s eternal decrees. If there were no time, and none of the beings or events that fill time, God would still exist in a form of being that nothing else can fully share. Only God is eternal in the full sense of the word; human beings enter God’s eternal life and partake of Him there, but only in a limited, albeit true, sense.
The eternality of God has tremendous significance for our Christian worldview. God understood this as He spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and He specifically sent His servant to declare His eternality to His people.
What’s in a Name?
Moses was being charged with a great task, a risky task, given his past experiences in Egypt. It makes sense that he would have wanted to know what to tell the people of Israel about the God Who had commissioned him to this task. So he asked God what he should tell the people when, as would undoubtedly have been the case, they asked him, “Oh yeah? God Who?”
And God was happy to comply with Moses’ request. The formal Name of God – which is Yahweh and is usually translated, LORD – was known during the period of the patriarchs, throughout the book of Genesis. It was known, but it was not understood. The Hebrew word, Yahweh, appears to derive from a form of the verb, “to be”. God says that His name is “I AM”. Another possible translation of what God said to Moses in verse 14 is “I WILL BE WHO I AM”, since the form of the Hebrew verb, אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה, can carry both meanings.
The sense of this seems to be that God always is. He never was and never will be. He is eternally existing as He is in Himself, as He was before the beginning of all things, and as He was known to the fathers of Israel. He is unaffected in His being or purposes by any temporal things or situations, since He works all things according to the counsel of His will, which precedes all actions and things (Eph. 1.11).
God is thus eternal and unchanging. Nothing comes before Him. Nothing that exists or comes to pass affects Who He is or what He does. He will never come to an end. His purposes will never be altered, abandoned, or overcome by any other purposes or powers because He always exists to ensure that what He has purposed shall be fulfilled.
The One-in-Three God will always be.
Faithful, reliable, true
The people of Israel, long captive in Egypt, must have looked back through the stories of their fathers and longed for the God of their fathers to be with them, so that they might again hear His promises, know His presence, and realize His purpose for their lives. Now Moses was being sent to tell them that, in fact, this was exactly what had always been, but was now about to become more manifestly clear.
As for the worldview which the eternal God has promulgated, beginning in His Law, we can be certain that, because He is eternal and unchanging, He will not change His mind about His will, and nothing will be able to prevent Him from realizing what He has purposed forever in this covenant and worldview.
God does not change. Nothing precedes Him in being or power, and nothing can arise without Him or above Him. He is eternal, unchanging, and ever-present with His people, to accomplish for them all that He has promised, without fail. He is therefore altogether faithful, reliable, and true to His Word.
The eternally-present God of the covenant is with His people to give them rest (Ex. 33.14). This aspect of the divine worldview, first promised in the Law, but only partially fulfilled then and throughout the Old Testament, would realize its fullest expression in the coming of Him Who is Immanuel – God With Us, the incarnate Word – and in the outpoured Spirit of the Three-in-One God Who spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
The God Who created time and the world, Who spoke to Moses in the bush, Who delivered His people from the mightiest empire of the day, and Who gave His Law to His people forever, is the eternal and unchanging and unthwartable God. And this God is the end and substance of our Biblical and Christian worldview.
1. What do we mean when we say that God does not exist in time? How does this make Him altogether unique?
2. How would you explain “I AM WHO I AM” or “I WILL BE WHO I AM” to an unbelieving friend?
3. God is eternal, and He gives us eternal life. What are some differences between eternal life as we know it and eternal life as it exists in God?
Next steps – Transformation: How does the fact that God is eternal encourage you in your walk with and work for Him? Share your answer with a Christian friend.
The Christian worldview focuses on Jesus. Do you know Him? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer that question confidently, and equip you to tell others about Jesus as well. Order your copy by clicking here. For a handy compendium of the laws, statutes, and precepts contained in the Law of God, grouped according to the Ten Commandments, order our book, The Law of God, by clicking here.
At The Ailbe Seminary, all our courses are designed to help you grow in your Christian worldview. Watch this brief video (click here) to get an overview of our curriculum, and to see again the place of Jesus in the Christian worldview.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
The Three-in-One God is Eternal
- T.M. Moore
- May 1, 2019
God is beyond time and all its vicissitudes.
Foundations for a Christian Worldview: God (3)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.