To many, sometimes even to believers, God seems to be a Being Who is far away, dwelling in some unknown and unknowable heaven. He lives somewhere in the immeasurable heavens above us, but beyond that we can say little. No map exists on which we can place a pin and mark the exact location of His residence; no GPS can track latitude and longitude of His abode. Though His Spirit indwells every believer, we do not always sense His presence so that in times of grief or distress, we may sometimes feel isolated. And without doubt, God is a transcendent Being, infinitely above the capacity of our human minds to comprehend. Yet the very figure that indicates His absolute separateness (His unreachable dwelling in the heavens), He uses to encourage our faith, confidence, and comfort in Him. Several examples from Scripture should suffice to illustrate this.
An image of inexorable judgment against and deliverance from our foes. Besieged by Saul and other enemies seeking his life, David said that he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord heard his cry.
Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry. Smoke went up out of His nostrils, and fire from His mouth devoured; coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode the cherub and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows, and scattered them, and lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them. Then the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at Your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of Your nostrils. He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. (Psa. 18:7-16)
An image of omnipotence. God exercises His power for the blessing of His people.
To Him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times; behold, He speaks forth with His voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe strength to God; His majesty is over Israel and His strength is in the skies. O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God! (Psa. 68:33-35).
An image of providence. Nature is not an ungoverned force; rather, it is directed and controlled by God for His glory and the provision of His people.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching our heaven like a tent curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers. (Psa. 104:1-4).
An image of swift help and absolute comfort and security. The heavens that would seem to separate finite man from an infinite God are depicted as a superhighway bringing Him immediately to us.
There is none like the God of Jeshurun [Israel], Who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty. The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deut. 33:26, 27a).
We must revere the God of heaven as transcendent in His Person, attributes, and works. But He invites us to trust and to love Him personally through Jesus Christ. And at any moment, the heavens may open, Christ will descend, and believers will be caught up in the heavens forever to be with the Lord.
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