My comments on the first four chapters of part two of J.I. Packer’s book Knowing God, have been on God as King, Absolute Monarch of the universe. Our topics have been God’s unchanging nature, God’s majesty, God’s wisdom and the difference between His wisdom and man’s.
Now it is time to turn to His Word. If you believe what Packer has written about above, you obviously believe that your God is King. A second and related fact that you may believe is He speaks in order that His will be done. “Just as God’s relations with His world have to be understood in terms of His sovereignty, so His sovereignty is to be understood in terms of what the Bible tells us about His Word” [Packer, 109].
Let’s use the framework of the ancient world, where absolute rulers were common. Absolute rulers most often spoke to their subjects on two levels for two purposes. One level was communication via laws established to determine the environment of their people [judicial, fiscal and cultural]. This type of communication can be seen as “distant” as laws are enacted and enforced by a ruler’s representatives. A wise absolute ruler would also make public speeches explaining new laws in order to connect with subjects and elicit their support and cooperation in what he was doing. Public speaking is the second level of speaking but it is necessary to engage the minds and hearts of subjects. A dictator can always rule by fiat but benevolent rulers would rather have some agreement among subjects about laws that are going to be enacted. Reasons for the law can be provided and people can accept the new rules and revolt can be minimized.
Most knowledgeable Christians probably believe that God is the most benevolent monarch that ever could be. He has established laws for all of us to live by, but He does not wish to be distant from us. The Hebrews called the Old Testament the Torah which means law and in the Torah, He does give us laws to live by. However, unlike earthly kings, He did not intend to be distant from us in the giving of these laws. God literally made man and woman with the intention that He would walk together with us throughout our lives. He intends for us to know Him and He certainly knows us. Read His Word in Psalms 139 for clear evidence. “You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely [Psalms 139: 1-4]. Since God so loves us, His Word is designed to instruct us but it is also designed to entice us into a relationship. His Word is not the word of a harsh absolute, dictatorial monarch; it is what Packer refers to as “personal communication with the loving Lord Himself.”
Does God speak to us through His Word? An actual living human monarch could take to the pulpit or podium and speak to his people but Christians believe God speaks to us through the Bible, His Word. Packer writes that one does not have to delve too far into His Word to hear Him speak. Take the Book of Genesis. In the process of creating the world, God spoke directly to Adam and Eve. The words “God said to them” confirms that. He commanded them [“be fruitful and multiply”]. He prohibited them from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and he made favorable and unfavorable promises to them [for example the seed of woman would bruise the head of the serpent but also woman would suffer in childbirth, man’s work would be hard and both would experience death. In the first three chapters of Genesis, it is clear that God planned to be very involved with all His creatures, especially the creatures he called man and woman. Many would argue that the whole Bible is the story of God’s attempt to reestablish a solid relationship with man.
Maybe it would be a “stretch” to claim that God has a public speaking role in the world today but maybe He has something better. He has a Book that records His efforts to speak directly to man and He intends that we pay attention to His Word. Jeremiah 13:10 says “these wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words.” Isaiah 66:2 says that the mark of a true, humble, godly person is they “tremble at my word.”
Instead of revolting against the Word of God, would it not be better to accept it, support it and cooperate with God to bring His will about. Our God is not a distant God; He is right beside us every day, urging us to live the best life we can live. He is a benevolent Monarch, loving us every step of the way as we live out our lives. He has “laid down the law” but it is a law that benefits us, makes our lives better. Instead of hampering our freedom, God’s law can give us freedom from sin.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish…so is My Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire” [Isaiah 55: 10-11].
God loves me.
God loves you.
Love Him back.
Respond favorably to His Word…