Whenever we want to learn about someone, we need their help. Whether in conversation or on social media, or in photos, we need them to disclose information about themselves.
Often, we begin with what they look like. For this to happen, we need to see them, or see a photo—both of which require the person to show themselves.
Then, we typically ask for a name. Names have degrees of significance, based on the meaning of the name (like “Grace”), the exclusivity of the name (like “Sweetheart”), or the status of the name (like “Dr. Jack Johnson, M.D.”).
Then, after we know someone’s name, we tend to find something by which to identify them. We may say things in conversation like, “Oh, Jack who loves exercising?” Or “Jenny who’s really funny?” Or “Kara who loves to bake?” We tend to associate people with information that they have given us about themselves.
Learning about God works the same way as learning about people. God knows how we think—he created us after all!
God has told us that we can’t see him, because he’s not quite like us—he’s Spirit (John 4:24). But did you know we do have a few things which serve as pictures, or images, of him?
First, you are a little—albeit very imperfect—snapshot of him.
In Genesis 1:26-27 God says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” So even though God doesn’t look like us, in some way we look like him. Our intellect, imagination, autonomy, and soul give some shape to the Unseen One who made us to be like himself.
Second, we see aspects of his image in creation. He’s made his invisible character discernible to us through what he has made: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:21).
Since God doesn’t have a body, he gave us visible representations of his invisible being.
He also gave us clear images of himself by painting his works and recording his word in the Bible. God gave us a gallery in the Bible, revealing his character through record of his many dealings in our world from beginning to end.
But God gave us one picture of himself that’s clearer than all the rest—the person of Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God...the exact imprint of his nature” (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). We will see the Unseen God most clearly if we look at Jesus, and we know Jesus by looking into the gallery of the Word of God.
Now what about God’s name? In the Bible we find tons of names of God, but there’s one that he specifically asked to be called by—Yahweh. In English, we translate this “The LORD.” God not only gave us his name, but also told us what it means (Exodus 3:15; Exodus 34:6-7).
The name God gave us also helps us know how he wants us to primarily identify him. His name means “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). God does not change, and his identity rests upon his own self-revelation, not by what anyone chooses to think about him. He means for us to understand that he is, above all, holy. Holy means set apart from anything else in all existence. God means for us to understand that he alone is God. When we refer to him it’s as if we ought to say, “Oh, the One True God?”
Is his marvelous kindness God did not stop with giving us physical representations of him, his name Yahweh, and the knowledge that he is holy.
He gave us his Word, his plans, his nicknames, his special intimate names, and has extended to us the hand of friendship, according to the Bible (Psalm 25:14). We can know God. But why don’t you start with exploring his name and his holiness? Ask him to make himself known to you, helping you believe his Word about himself.