Our Thoughts of God
And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules. Daniel 4:26 ESV
Those who know God have great thoughts of God. Our thoughts about God measure how much, or how little, we know God. J.I. Packer writes “…God’s hand is on history at every point, that history, indeed, is no more than “His story,” the unfolding of His eternal plan, and that the kingdom which will triumph in the end is God’s.”
“These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself…” ~ Psalms 50:21 ESV
The LORD in this Psalm is rebuking the wicked men, who are members of the old covenant, in their abuse of God Himself; hence despises the privileges of the covenant that the Lord God made with them (v.16). What is the evidence of their wickedness? These can be easily seen from the preceding verses. They hated God’s discipline (v.7), they give hearty approval to robbers and adulterers (v.18), and they speak evil against each other (v.19-20). They all do these things because they think that God is just like them.
The ESV footnote states that it can be possibly translated as “you thought that [the] I [AM] was one like yourself”, echoing Exodus 3:14 which speaks of the divine Name, Yahweh. It is a blasphemous idea, even for a Jew, to think that the Self-Existent, Eternal Creator, and Covenant LORD is just like a filthy, finite, and wicked man. But God will not remain silent. They are without excuse for doing these wicked acts before the face of the Holy God. They must repent lest they be torn apart, without deliverance (v.22). Their actions are just a result of thinking lowly of God.
This is the danger of thinking of God just like us, for treating Him irreverently, and for despising His Holy Name. Instead of humbly recognizing that God is our Creator, that He created us in His Own image and as His creatures we must obey Him, we created God in our own image and we want God to be and act just like us. Truly, “incorrect thinking about God’s character breeds idolatry (Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart).
Martin Luther, in one of his letters to a roman scholar named Erasmus, during the height of the reformation, writes, “Your thoughts of God is too human”. And this is true to all of us, once we contemplate God not based upon His Words. The biblical data and the history of the church are replete with men who have a very low view of God. We see here that every form of idolatry begins with the mind, a mind that is not conformed to the mind of God as revealed in the Holy Scripture. It is a sin that corrupts not only our minds but also our actions.
The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 3
Despite man’s defying, and very low view of God, the Scriptures (especially in the book of Daniel) testify of men’s confession of who God is:
Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged it 4:34-35
He reminded Belshazzar in 5:22-23
Darius confessed it in 6:25-27
He decreed and knows all things and He has the last word, both in world history and —in the destiny of every man; his kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor angels shall be able to thwart him.
“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with al who love him and obey his commands. . . Lord, you are righteous. . . The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving. . . The LORD our God is righteous in everything he does” (9:4, 7, 9, 14).
These are the clear witness of the Word of God about God Himself. But J.I. Packer asks, “Is this how we think of God? Is this the view of God which our own praying expresses? Does this tremendous sense of his holy majesty, his moral perfection and his gracious faithfulness keep us humble and dependent, awed and obedient, as it did Daniel? By this test, too, we may measure how much, or how little, we know God.“
In the passage in Psalm 50 above, despite God’s sharp rebuke against the wicked men who belong to the old covenant people of God, He invites them to change their ways. In fact, the very next chapter (Psalm 51), which is probably the best known of the “Penitential Psalms” provides an example of true repentance. Likewise, those who fell into the sin of idolatry and are living their lives in constant hostility against God, still have hope through the mercy of God in Christ.
A high view of GOD leads to a humble view of self, a low view of God leads to a haughty view of self. Steven Lawson
Questions for meditation:
What do you think are the dangers of thinking of God just like us?
How can we have a high, reverent, and acceptable view of God? It all begins with a humble recognition of who we are before Him (v. 1-6).
J.I. Packer wrote that prayer is “always the best evidence for a man’s view of God.” Do you agree? Why? Why not?
Posted with permission from Bro Jeff Chavez, Deacon, Herald of Grace Covenant Bible Church - HGCBC Cavite and owner/writer of the blog TheologyCheck. Original blog post here.