What’s the difference? (Part five)

This is the last in a series of articles in which I have been enlarging on a response I gave to a question I was asked – Why do you think the God of Israel is different than the gods of the other ancient cultures?

What’s the difference? (Part five)

 If I dismissed these other deities as man-made, why did I not similarly dismiss Yahweh? I tried to explain to the questioner that the Bible presents the God of Israel in a way that puts Him in a completely different category to the deities of the surrounding nations. According to the Bible, Yahweh existed eternally, accounts for reality, is distinct culturally and has intervened historically. The fifth and final distinction is this:

The God of Israel can be known personally

The gods of the nations were to be feared, placated, obeyed and served, but there was never any thought that they were to be known in a personal / relational way, yet right from the beginning of the Bible that is how God is presented.

Because God is a trinity, He is, by nature, relational. When He created Adam and Eve, He created them to know Him. In the cool of the day, the Creator entered the garden of Eden to enjoy fellowship with His creatures. When sin entered the world, God didn’t step away and abandon us, but rather stepped in to rescue us – to remove the barrier sin had made and restore the relationship sin had broken. That’s the story of the Bible, But it isn’t just a story; it is a present reality for millions of people across the world and throughout history.

You probably know some genuine Christians and have found that they are sane, normal people you trust, yet they claim to be in relationship with the God of the Bible. This is worth thinking about. Their alleged relationship with God isn’t some peripheral matter – it is the biggest thing in their lives, and yet these people clearly aren’t mad. In fact, they would tell you that it is their relationship with God that has transformed them for the better and gives them peace, meaning and purpose. Testimony after testimony could be given of people who were marked by selfishness, immorality, cruelty, deceit, self-righteousness, hatred, etc., but they were radically changed in a moment and for a lifetime, and it was by the intervention of God in their lives.

And this encounter with God leads to an ongoing walk with Him. God answers their prayers and makes His presence a reality to them. He meets with them in His word – the Bible, so that the words on the page aren’t just words, they are windows into His heart and His glory shines through them. Scripture doesn’t only contain instructions, but it carries the power to live out those instructions, so that God continues to transform Christians as they welcome the truth of His word into their lives. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 Paul reminds the Thessalonians of this. He said: “…when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

Is there anything comparable to this? Do you know anyone who claims to have a relationship with Zeus or Baal? Do you know any other “deity” that has any track record of transforming lives? Do you not agree that this makes the God of Israel different?

I would urge you to investigate these claims that the God of the Bible is not a mere myth. He is living and loving, and He invites you into a relationship with Him through Christ.