The Review and Herald

959/1902

November 8, 1898

The Revelation of God

EGW

“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 1

Before the fall, not a cloud rested upon the minds of our first parents to obscure their clear perception of the character of God. They were perfectly conformed to the will of God. For a covering, a beautiful light, the light of God, surrounded them. The Lord visited the holy pair, and instructed them through the works of his hands. Nature was their lesson-book. In the garden of Eden the existence of God was demonstrated in the objects of nature that surrounded them. Every tree of the garden spoke to them. The invisible things of God were clearly seen, being understood by the things which were made, even his eternal power and Godhead. RH November 8, 1898, par. 2

But while it is true that God could thus be discerned in nature, this does not favor the assertion that after the fall a perfect knowledge of God was revealed in the natural world to Adam and his posterity. Nature could convey her lessons to man in his innocence; but transgression brought a blight upon nature, and intervened between nature and nature's God. Had Adam and Eve never disobeyed their Creator, had they remained in the path of perfect rectitude, they could have known and understood God. But when they listened to the voice of the tempter, and sinned against God, the light of the garments of heavenly innocence departed from them; and in parting with the garments of innocence, they drew about them the dark robes of ignorance of God. The clear and perfect light that had hitherto surrounded them had lightened everything they approached; but deprived of that heavenly light, the posterity of Adam could no longer trace the character of God in his created works. RH November 8, 1898, par. 3

The things of nature upon which we look today give us but a faint conception of Eden's beauty and glory; yet the natural world, with unmistakable voice, proclaims the glory of God. In the things of nature, marred as they are by the blight of sin, much that is beautiful remains. One omnipotent in power, great in goodness, in mercy, and love, has created the earth, and even in its blighted state it inculcates truths in regard to the skilful Master Artist. In this book of nature opened to us,—in the beautiful, scented flowers, with their varied and delicate coloring,—God gives to us an unmistakable expression of his love. After the transgression of Adam, God might have destroyed every opening bud and blooming flower, or he might have taken away their fragrance, so grateful to the senses. In the earth, seared and marred by the curse, in the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but in the delicate color and perfume of the flowers, we may learn that God still loves us, that his mercy is not wholly withdrawn from the earth. RH November 8, 1898, par. 4

Nature is filled with spiritual lessons for mankind. The flowers die only to spring forth into new life; and in this we are taught the lesson of the resurrection. All who love God will bloom again in the Eden above. But nature can not teach the lesson of the great and marvelous love of God. Therefore, after the fall, nature was not the only teacher of man. In order that the world might not remain in darkness, in eternal spiritual night, the God of nature met us in Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to the world as the revelation of the Father. He was that “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” We are to behold “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 5

In the person of his only begotten Son, the God of heaven has condescended to stoop to our human nature. To the question of Thomas, Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 6

The most difficult and humiliating lesson that man has to learn is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his own efforts to read nature correctly. Sin has obscured his vision, and of himself he can not interpret nature without placing it above God. He can not discern in it God, or Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. He is in the same position as were the Athenians, who erected their altars for the worship of nature. Standing in the midst of Mars Hill, Paul presented before the people of Athens the majesty of the living God in contrast with their idolatrous worship. RH November 8, 1898, par. 7

“Ye men of Athens,” he said, “I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 8

Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter or the operations of nature as to overlook, or refuse to acknowledge, the continual working of God in nature. Nature is not God, nor was it ever God. The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As his created work, it simply bears a testimony to God's power. Deity is the author of nature. The natural world has, in itself, no power but that which God supplies. There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son. And “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 9

The psalmist says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” Some may suppose that these grand things in the natural world are God. They are not God. All these wonders in the heavens are only doing the work appointed them. They are the Lord's agencies. God is the superintendent, as well as the Creator, of all things. The divine Being is engaged in upholding the things that he has created. The same hand that holds the mountains and balances them in position, guides the worlds in their mysterious march around the sun. RH November 8, 1898, par. 10

There is scarcely an operation of nature to which we may not find reference in the word of God. The word declares that “he maketh his sun to rise,” and “the rain to descend.” He “maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.... He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: ... he sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.” “He maketh lightnings for the rain; and bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 11

These words of Holy Writ say nothing of the independent laws of nature. God furnishes the matter and the properties with which to carry out his plans. He employs his agencies that vegetation may flourish. He sends the dew and the rain and the sunshine, that verdure may spring forth, and spread its carpet over the earth; that the shrubs and fruit-trees may bud and blossom and bring forth. It is not to be supposed that a law is set in motion for the seed to work itself, that the leaf appears because it must do so of itself. God has laws that he has instituted, but they are only the servants through which he effects results. It is through the immediate agency of God that every tiny seed breaks through the earth, and springs into life. Every leaf grows, every flower blooms, by the power of God. RH November 8, 1898, par. 12

The physical organism of man is under the supervision of God; but it is not like a clock, which is set in operation, and must go of itself. The heart beats, pulse succeeds pulse, breath succeeds breath, but the entire being is under the supervision of God. “Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” In God we live and move and have our being. Each heart-beat, each breath, is the inspiration of him who breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life,—the inspiration of the ever-present God, the great I AM. RH November 8, 1898, par. 13

The ancient philosophers prided themselves on their superior knowledge. Let us read the inspired apostle's understanding of the matter. “Professing themselves to be wise,” he says, “they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.” In its human wisdom the world can not know God. Its wise men gather an imperfect knowledge of God from his created works, and then in their foolishness they exalt nature and the laws of nature above nature's God. Those who have not a knowledge of God through an acceptance of the revelation he has made of himself in Christ, will obtain only an imperfect knowledge of him in nature; and this knowledge, so far from giving elevated conceptions of God, and bringing the whole being into conformity to his will, will make men idolaters. Professing themselves to be wise, they will become fools. RH November 8, 1898, par. 14

Those who think they can obtain a knowledge of God aside from his Representative, whom the Word declares is “the express image of his person,” will need to become fools in their own estimation before they can be wise. It is impossible to gain a perfect knowledge of God from nature alone; for nature itself is imperfect. In its imperfection it can not represent God, it can not reveal the character of God in its moral perfection. But Christ came as a personal Saviour to the world. He represented a personal God. As a personal Saviour, he ascended on high; and he will come again as he ascended to heaven,—a personal Saviour. He is the express image of the Father's person. “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” RH November 8, 1898, par. 15