You CANNOT put God in your Box

You CANNOT put God in your Box...

Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, “Ehyeh asher Ehyeh.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Ehyeh has sent me to you.’ ”
As a Judeo-Christian Pastor, I find that my understanding of God is constantly evolving … my theology is NOT static but it is always evolving to a different level. However, in my pastoral ministry I have found that some people interpret Scriptures through their personal worldview and tend to put God in their personal boxes. The problem with these boxes is that God is always outside the box!!! Just ask Abraham, Job, Noah, Peter, Paul, the early church fathers, or any of your local pastors who love and serve the Lord and their communities!!!
Precious one, our God cannot be predicted or controlled. He cannot be confined to categories or predicted in advance. However, this “un-confinable” God wants us to know Him (Eph.1:16-21). But how do we relate to an unpredictable yet faithful-relational God who cannot be confined to categories or predicted in advance? The answer lies in the "FUTURE TENSE" that is anchored in the Holy Spirit's who calls us to walk in faith in the hope of that which is “NOT-YET” (Hebrews 11:8).
Let me explain this statement with an example from the life of Moses…

When Moses encounters God at the burning bush, God calls Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but Moses is reluctant. ‘Who am I,’ he asks, ‘to be worthy of such a task?’ God reassures him, and then Moses asks, ‘Who are you? When the Israelites ask, who has sent you, what shall I say?’ God replies in a cryptic three-word Hebrew phrase, Ehyeh asher ehyeh (Exod. 3: 14).
Jewish Rabbis are surprised to see how Christian Bibles have mistranslated this clause. The King James Version reads Ehyeh asher ehyeh (Exod. 3: 14) as ‘I am that I am.’ Recent translations are variants of the same idea. Here are some examples:
I am who I am.
I am what I am.
I am— that is who I am.
These are all MISTRANSLATIONS, and the error is ancient.
In Greek, Ehyeh asher ehyeh became ego eimi ho on, and in Latin, ego sum qui sum: ‘I am he who is.’ Augustine in the Confessions writes: ‘Because he is Is, that is to say, God is being itself, ipsum esse, in its most absolute and full sense.’ Centuries later, Aquinas explains that it means God is ‘true being, that is being that is eternal, immutable, simple, self-sufficient, and the cause and principle of every creature’. And so it continued in German philosophy. God became Hegel’s ‘concrete universal’, Schelling’s ‘transcendental ego’, Gilson’s ‘God-is-Being’ and Heidegger’s ‘onto-theology’.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom points out that the mistake of all these translations is obvious to the merest beginner in Hebrew. The phrase means, ‘I will be what I will be.’ The verb does not use the present tense, but it uses the FUTURE TENSE.
Elsewhere, the Bible does use the present tense when it relates to God. In the Ten Commandments, for example, the first verse reads, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ Here the present tense (‘I am’) is used. But then, that verse does not speak of God’s name. It speaks of His deeds. However in Exodus 3:14, Moses asked God for His name. God could have replied, as did the angel who wrestled with Jacob, with a rhetorical question, ‘Why do you ask for my name?’ implying that the very question is out of order. There are things human beings cannot know, mysteries they cannot fathom, and matters that transcend the reach of human understanding. But that is not what God says. He does answer Moses’ question, but enigmatically, in a phrase that needs decoding. God tells Moses to say to the Israelites, ‘“I will be” sent me to you. It is as if God had said, ‘My name is the future tense. If you seek to understand me, first you will have to understand the nature and significance of the future tense.’
‘I am that I am’ is a translation that owes everything to the philosophical tradition of ancient Greece and nothing to the thought of ancient Israel. The God of pure being, first cause, prime mover, necessary existence, is the god of the philosophers, not the God of the prophets in the Bible.

What, then, is the meaning of ‘I will be what I will be’? The name itself never recurs in the Hebrew Bible, but there is a later echo, in the great scene in which God appears to Moses on the mountain after the sin of the Golden Calf, in which he says, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ (Exodus 33: 19). What this means is that God cannot be predicted or controlled. He cannot be confined to categories or known in advance. God is telling Moses, ‘You cannot know how I will appear until I appear; how I will act until I act. My mercy, my compassion, my strategic interventions into history, cannot be controlled or foretold. I will be what, when and how I choose to be. I am the God of the radically unknowable future, the God of surprises. You will know me when you see me, but not before.’
To be sure, in one sense, the future is connected to the past. God keeps His promises. That is an essential element of Judeo-Christian faith. God’s name tells us that He is not an entity knowable by philosophy or science, deducible from the past. God awaits us in the unknown and unknowable future: the God of Israel is the God of the future tense.  So just like Abraham our faith is the courage to live with uncertainty of the present world, and walk toward the unknowable future knowing that God will meet us in the place to which He has called us to go (Hebrews 11:8). This journey of faith depends upon hearing the Voice of God in-Christ (Deut.6:4; John 10:27) from the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit. The organ of faith is the ear, NOT the eye. So, we walk by faith and NOT by sight… therefore, lets not put Him in a Box that comes from the world we see and know (worldview)… we will NOT be able to figure Him out because He is much GREATER than our box…Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God waits for you in the unknown and unknowable future: ‘You cannot know how He will appear until He appears; how He will act until He acts. His mercy, His compassion, His strategic interventions into history, cannot be controlled or foretold. He will be what, when and how He chooses to be. He is the God of the radically unknowable future, the God of surprises. You will know Him when you see Him, but not before!’

So, please don't put God in your box...come out of your box and meet Him...He is there waiting for you :-)

Future Tense: Jews, Judaism, and Israel in the Twenty-first Century (p. 234). Random House, Inc. Jonathan Sacks



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