Our Psalm this morning gives us a wonderful and glorious image of our God. It speaks of Him as one who reigns – robed in majesty and armed with strength – mighty, holy and eternal. Paul writes in his first epistle to timothy that God is: the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
So, how is it that if God is so majestic, if God lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, how is it that we can have a relationship with Him this morning.
Well today is Trinity Sunday and we are going to look together at how it is we can not just know about, but have an intimate relationship with this majestic, holy and eternal God?.
The first thing we need to understand stand is that we are unable to know ANYTHING about God expect for that which God has revealed to us.
Without God directly revealing himself to us, we would know NOTHING about God. We may have known something OF God – through the magnificence of creation and the power of nature, but we are unable to discover anything ABOUT God without His direct intervention.
That was one of the major distinctions between Yahweh and the other ‘gods’ such as Baal. Ancient pagan worshippers had no idea what their ‘god’ wanted from them. They would pray for rain for crops but if their crops failed they would pray harder. And if that did not work they may have cut themselves. And if that did not work, they would have sacrificed something and if that would not work, then they may have killed a child. Their whole system was about trying to get their god to act, with no knowledge of how to appease their god.
Yahweh reveals himself to humanity and through the words he speaks shows the people EXACTLY what he wants and how to do it. We are left in no doubt about what God wants and how we are to approach him BECAUSE he has revealed himself to us.
Our God is a God who reveals himself. He is a God of revelation. Theologians speak of two types of revelation – General revelation – that which we discern from nature – from which we may conclude that their IS a God. But their is also special revelation – revelation which is given BY God so that we can know WHO he is.
Moses experiences Special Revelation in our Old Testament reading this morning. Moses, while going about his normal day, sees a sight which catches his curiosity. A bush on fire and yet not being consumed. As he approaches the bush God speaks to him: This is holy ground, he tells Moses. He then reveals himself to Moses: I am the God of abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Without this, Moses would never have found Yahweh – he would never have discovered his destiny – God HAD to reveal himself to Moses in order for Moses to know what to do.
Our God is a God who reveals himself to us – not just to show us who he is – but to also reveal to us our destinies and to show us why we are on earth. God’s revelation to us gives us purpose.
So why does God reveal himself to Moses in a burning bush? Well, Fire is a common theme in both exodus and the scriptures to describe God.
Ex. 13:21 By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.
Ex. 14:24 During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.
Ex. 19:18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountainb trembled violently.
Ex. 24:17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.
Lev. 10:2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Deut. 4:24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Also this fire is a cleansing fire – a purifying fire – Malachi says: Mal. 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
If God revealed himself in his full majesty we would be unable to take it – in fact we would probably be consumed. If God had revealed his full fire that day in the desert Moses would probably have been incinerated. God reveals himself in a way we can both understand AND endure.
God revealed some of His power and holiness to Moses to show Him who He was and that what He said was true.
Another way God reveals himself is in such a way as to invite us into a relationship with Him. God walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden – he was not a distant God, but one who showed Himself and wanted to be in relationship with us. After the fall that we were separated from God but God promised to restore that relationship and in the Old Testament he restores that divine presence with his people through the building of the Tabernacle. The tabernacle was the sign of God’s presence upon the earth with his people – he dwelt with his people and his glory rested on the Tabernacle (Ex 40).
Jesus is the ultimate expression of this. He came to earth and dwelt with his people. God reveals himself to his people this time by becoming a Human being and dwelling amongst his people in order to teach, bless and heal.
Paul describes this majestically in his epistle to the Colossians:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
For us today, God has continued to reveal himself, in and through the Holy Spirit. Last week we celebrated Pentecost which marked the beginning of the New Covenant – the fire falls on the disciples, who have seen the revealed son of God and now they are equipped to proclaim the message of the God who reveals himself to all people – a message which promises that everyone who believes will also receive the spirit and know the revelation of God intimately in their lives.
Paul says in our Epistle reading this morning that The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. The Spirit in us reveals to us that we are God’s children – children will all the rights and inheritances of a child. The Holy Spirit in us does many things – among them is the testimony to us of who we are in Christ. The HS in us is meant to witness to our Spirits that we are indeed God’s children – that we are His and His alone.
This is what Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to see. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water and the spirit (or wind) to be saved – in other words Nicodemus must KNOW this inward testimony of God’s revelation through the Holy Spirit and for Nicodemus to experience this he must be born of water and the spirit.
This basically means he must be cleansed and filled with the Spirit. As soon as Jesus mentioned water and the spirit Nicodemus woudl have almost certainly thought of two Old Testament passages:
Is. 44:3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.
Ezek. 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
The fact that God reveals himself, the fact that God shows people who he is, is in order that they may accept him and be cleansed and receive the Holy Spirit.
Why is it important to believe God is Trinitarian? Because ONLY THE Trinitarian God is able to reveal himself to humanity. Only a trinitarian God can reveal himself to humanity and remain Holy and unapproachable. Only a trinitarian God can come and live on earth as a full human being and die for the sins of the world and remain untainted by sin. Only a trinitarian God can promise to dwell inside every single believer by the Holy Spirit.
Unless you have a Trinitarian God, there can be no salvation; without a Trinitarian God there is no atonement for sins. How could God have been born as a human being, emptying himself of his divinity, and still remain sovereign over the universe? How could God know what love is and how to love if he has spent eternity alone before creating the world? Only a God who has been in a perfect eternal relationship in the trinity can know and then create in his image beings who can love.
God has to be Trinitarian to be the God who loves us and who has rescued us from sin. No other God is able to save.