What gave me the idea, I do not know. But I do recall what spurred me to pursue it:
The cry of David in Psalm 25:4: “Show me your ways, Lord.”
The enigmatic statement in Psalm 103:7: “He [God] made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.”
Consider Moses and the Exodus generation of Israelites. They all saw God do the same things, from very subtle acts to stunning wonders. They never had to ask, “Did God do that?” He wrote his signature across each act in letters even the most stiff-necked among them could read. Yet, by and large, the people never moved beyond seeing God’s deeds to understanding his ways.
How tragic! To see God at work and completely miss what he’s showing you about himself.
Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). That’s as true the day you read this as it was when Jesus declared it. For our part, we can completely miss our Lord’s acts, attributing what he has done to someone or something else. Or, we can see and acknowledge that he has done it.
We who are Christians may see God at work more easily than others do. We tend to pat ourselves on the back for that. Yet if we stop there, we camp where the generation that exited Egypt ended up. The true stories in Exodus and Numbers make clear: It’s not a good idea to stop where they stopped.
Recognizing as much, I began to echo David’s prayer, “Show me your ways, Lord.” Then, at a moment I don’t recall, the Spirit of God began to highlight the “God who …” phrases in Scripture. And I began to see: Again and again, such phrases reveal God’s works. But as we respond to our Lord deep within, receiving what he communicates Spirit-to-spirit, those phrases also reveal his ways.
Searching concordances, I found and recorded page after page of “God who …” phrases, mostly from the New International and New American Standard translations. Some phrases are unique – appearing only once in Scripture. Some phrases appear again and again. Some offer to teach us in our inmost being what we already acknowledge with our heads. Some startle us with new insights.
A while after creating my “God Who” Scripture list, I filed it away. Recently, I ran across it, pulled it out and began reading through it. As I read, I felt deeply refreshed and revived, like a thirsty person taking a long drink from an ice-cold spring.
Ahhh. Want some?
Eager to experience this living water more fully, I’m launching the “God Who” series. Sip by sip, let’s explore together the riches of God’s ways revealed in the “God who …” passages in Scripture. Exploring together means you are welcome and invited to comment. In particular, as any of the Scriptures triggers a memory, would you share your story of a time God personally showed you his ways? It would encourage you and us.
Who is like you?
Before we start meandering through the “God who” phrases, let’s savor some of the “Who?” questions asked of our Lord.
“Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Ex. 15:11).
“My whole being will exclaim, ‘Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them’” (Ps. 35:10).
“Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God?” (Ps. 71:19).
“Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Ps. 89:8).
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (Mic. 7:18).
Who are you?
Fast forward to the New Testament, the day four men lowered a paralyzed man through the roof of the house where Jesus taught.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God (Luke 5:20-26).
Sometimes, those who knew Jesus best wondered whether they knew him at all. One evening, as Jesus and his disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee …
a furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:37-41).
Sometimes the questions came from Jesus himself:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13-16).
Meanwhile, the religious leaders continued to pose questions, interrogation-style:
“Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.” … At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! … Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me” (John 8:25, 52-54).
Even when Jesus healed a man born blind, the religious leaders did not see who had come among them:
They summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him (John 9:24-38).
Show us your ways
When Jesus walked the earth, the religious leaders – the very ones who should have seen most quickly what Jesus’ deeds revealed about who he was – would not even acknowledge that his works came from God. The crowd – like the Exodus generation of Israelites – saw the works of God, without recognizing what those deeds meant. But to his disciples – including the man born blind – our Lord revealed himself and his ways.
Lord, show us your ways!
© 2013 Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
Deborah also explores God’s ways in her books: