The sacred scriptures, the Bible, affirms that it is possible to know God personally.
‘Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty glory in his might, nor let the rich glory in his riches, but let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD (Jeremiah 9:23-24).’
In some faiths, gods are worshipped which are either unknowable, dualistic, or even capricious. The God revealed in the Bible, is entirely loving and equally righteous. Therefore it is possible to cultivate a personal, consistent, and meaningful relationship with Him.
Jeremiah the ancient prophet knew God. In his era, the Assyrian Empire had collapsed and the Babylonian one was rising. He was chosen by God to be a prophet to the nations before his birth. Significantly, more of his personal life was chronicled than any other prophet in the Bible. He was a forerunner of Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah, and was known as the ‘weeping prophet’, foreshadowing the Lord Jesus, the ‘Man of sorrows’. Like Jesus, he was imprisoned, falsely accused, and fled to Egypt and sadly not recognised by some of his own people.
In the same way that a physician identifies and pronounces the problem, before stating the intent and means of the cure, Jeremiah 9:23 exposes the problem, which is followed immediately with the solution, in verse 24. Wisdom, might, and riches were all inconsequential compared with understanding and knowing God. Furthermore, wisdom, might and riches are of no use when someone dies since they cannot take those items with them. Like Judah in Jeremiah’s times, our only hope lies in close fellowship with and depending upon God.
Knowledge of God
It is simply not possible to know someone, without acquiring a basic knowledge about them. Understanding a person involves deeper enquiry. If you want to know someone, effort is required to learn and understand as much about that particular person as one is able to. In the same way, the God of the Bible calls us to know and understand Him (Hosea 4:1, 6; 6:4). In the New Testament of the Bible, Paul prayed that the believers would be filled with wisdom, knowledge and understanding of God (Ephesians. 1:17; Colossians. 1:9; 3:10).
It is also possible to know much about someone, without knowing them personally. The Bible helps us to recognise how we can know, and be certain that we know Him.
The Test of Knowing God
The Bible teaches that God desires that we should know Him. But how can we be certain that we know Him? Some verses in the New Testament help explain this providing both clarity and assurance.
‘Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments’. (1 John 2:3).
We cannot understand and know God, and at the same time, do whatever we like, or take a pick and mix approach with the Bible to suit our conveniences. This also ties in perfectly with the greatest commandment that Jesus taught of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and loving our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew. 22: 37-39). If we love Jesus, we will obey His commandments (John 14:15). In other words, we come to know God by believing, trusting, and following Him.
What God wants us to Know about Him
God wants to know that because of His unchangeable and perfect character, He exercises loving kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the earth and in these things He delights. God is actively involved in human events on a grand scale yet simultaneously relates to the individual.
Contrary to the perceived conceptions of false gods, He is not remote and therefore too distant to be involved or concerned with our affairs. It is like the difference between the ‘armchair athlete’ and the sportsperson, or the law student and the practising lawyer, though in this case Jesus the Messiah is the Lawgiver and the Judge and fulfils the law. It is not the case that God has created the world, folded his arms, and left us to get on with it!
Consider for a moment – if God was loving, but not just, or perhaps a kind God, who overlooked wrongdoing? Wouldn’t our innate sense of justice scream from within us? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob exercises lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness throughout the earth.
How can we respond to this? Surely, we should not glory in our own strength, might or riches but in Him alone. That is why the first response of the shorter Westminster Catechism is this: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”