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Where God and Man Meet

Where God and Man Meet

We begin with this question: If God is above and beyond everything in the universe (transcendent), how is it that He can interact with finite and limited man?  In other words, if God and man are so far apart, how can the two meet?  

God’s “Wisdom” provided the bridge between God and creation

Jewish theologians had been thinking about how God and man could meet for a long time before Jesus ever showed up.  Part of the way they answered this question was with God’s Wisdom.  Passages like Proverbs 8.22-30 describe Wisdom as existing before creation as well as being God’s “master workman” in the act of creation.  

But, to these theologians, Wisdom meant more than simply “God created everything wisely.”  If you read the beginning of Proverbs 8, you will see Wisdom described as a woman who speaks to men and teaches them.  Wisdom was meant as more than an abstract concept (which is why scholars often use a capital "W").  By the time Jesus was born, Wisdom was thought of as a semi-personification of God.  

God’s Temple was the meeting place between God and man

Passages like Jeremiah 23.24 speak of God filling the heavens and the earth (the Jewish way of saying “the Universe").  Nevertheless, while God was present everywhere, He was present in a special way in the Temple (Ps 68.16).  

The reason there was so much focus on the Temple, what went on inside, and what was clean/unclean was because this was the one place where man could meet God.  

Both of these images point toward the same thing

The God described in the Bible is transcendent - He is beyond man’s grasp, and there is no possibility of us reaching up to Him.  To have any interaction with such a being, that being would have to decide to make a meeting possible.  We have to meet Him on His terms.  

Both of these images suggest that God has reached into creation.  Through Wisdom, God made creation.  In teaching man about God, Wisdom is revealing God to man.  With the Temple, God makes a place for man to be able to meet Him - somewhere special, where His fullness dwells.  

The New Testament applies both Wisdom and Temple to Jesus

Both of these categories are borrowed by NT authors, amplified, and then applied to Jesus.  God’s Son is described as being responsible for the act of creation (Wisdom) and then in the same breath is said to have been born as a man, been crucified, and then raised from the dead.  Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the one who completely reflects God to man (Wisdom).  

Jesus is also described as the place where the fullness of God dwells bodily (Temple).  He is the “place” in which God and man meet and where man can find forgiveness (Temple). 

The writers of the New Testament believed that if you want to know what God is like, you need to look to Jesus.  If you want to meet God, you have to meet Him in Jesus.  This is one of the reasons the early Christians were so insistent on Jesus being the only way to God.  Jesus is the way that God has chosen to reach down to man and the place where God and man meet.  

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