When God Descends

mount-sinai-07God is the Creator, man a creature; and with that statement an infinite distance between the two is given. . . . Accordingly, if there is truly to be religion, if there is to be fellowship between God and man, . . . then God has to come down from his lofty position, condescend to his creatures, impart, reveal, and give himself away to human beings; then he who inhabits eternity and dwells in a high and lofty place must also dwell with those who are of a humble spirit (Isa. 57:15). But this set of conditions is nothing other than the description of a covenant. If religion is called a covenant, it is thereby described as the true and genuine religion. This is what no religion has ever understood; all peoples either pantheistically pull God down into what is creaturely, or deistically elevate him endlessly above it. In neither case does one arrive at true fellowship, at covenant, at genuine religion. But Scripture insists on both: God is infinitely great and condescendingly good; he is Sovereign but also Father; he is Creator but also Prototype. In a word, he is the God of the Covenant.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, pp. 569-570).

The first great theophany of the OT was at Sinai, where ‘God descended on it in fire’ and appeared in the midst of loud ‘voices and torches and thick cloud’ and ‘fire.’ Sinai was the model theophany for most later similar divine appearances in the OT, and to some degree God’s coming at Sinai stands in the background of the Spirit’s coming at Pentecost.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, pp. 594-595).

I use these quotes in the reflection for tomorrow morning’s message.



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