The Presence of God
Long before the Christian era
Many people may wonder about how humans were able to connect with God, the creator of all things. Jesus was not born till about 8 BC and was only on earth for 33 short years. After that, his disciples and their converts helped people connect with God.
People, since the time of Christ, have been to know God and see his presence since that time with ease. The church, in its feeble ways , has been able to make God known throughout the world.
But what about the time before Christ? How did the ancient people connect with God?
The time of the people of Israel
In the OT we see the rise of the Hebrews. God has lead them out of Egypt and established his convenant with them at Sinai. He made them his people and he was their God.
Yet how were the Israelites demonstrating the presence of God. We find the answer to that question in Deut. Chapter 4. Those passages read:
5 “See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. 6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? (NASB)
God showed the world his presence by making his promise with the ancient Hebrews and giving them his righteous statutes and judgments. The rest of the ancient world could see God through the Hebrews. If they followed and practiced his ways.
The Time of Abraham
There had to be a knowledge of God prior to the establishment of the people of Israel. One situation that tells us that the ancient people had knowledge of God comes when God called Abram to follow him.
Genesis 12 records that call and as we notice throughout that Chapter, Abram had no trouble recognizing the God who called was God. There had to be some sort of witness that help bring the presence of God to the ancient people of Abraham’s time so that they could tell that they were not being deceived when God talked to them.
In Genesis 14 we find these words:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High (Verse 18, NASB)
God made sure that his presence was known. While Melchizedek may not have been the only priest of God at that time, he is the only one who is mentioned. God makes sure his presence is known to his creation.
The time before Abram
This time period is not difficult to find out who was the person who brought the presence of God to the one world civilization that existed prior to Abram’s time. In Genesis 9 we read the following:
Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood (Verse 28, NASB)
Noah was a righteous man and there is no indication he ceased being righteous, despite his one drunken episode, after the flood. With his knowledge of God and his experience through the flood, it is not wrong to conclude that he taught his descendants throughout those 350 years about the God he followed, the God who created all things.
Then we have Shem. He was 98 years old when he entered the ark. In Genesis 11:11 we read that he lived 500 years after the flood. That gives us an additional 150 years after the death of Noah for God to have a presence in the world he created and made his ways known unto man.
What this means is that when God scattered the people from Babel, each group took with them the knowledge of him. In what form, we do not know but God made sure he had a presence in all the people no matter where they were sent to.
We see evidence of this through a variety of ancient records which can be found in the book After the Flood by Bill Cooper starting in chapter one page 16 following. Man has had a knowledge of God and God had a presence in this world from the floor on up to Abram’s time.
The time of the pre-flood world
Besides Adam and Eve God has other people who helped show that God who created all things existed and had a presence in this world. There are 2 key passages that give us this information.
The first is:
To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call [s]upon the name of the Lord (Verse 26, NASB)
We see that there were men who knew God and sought him and his ways long before the pre-flood world turned completely to evil. The second passage is:
22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Gen. 5 NASB)
Enoch’s walk with God brought the presence of God to the world at that time. What Enoch did we are not told but the world prior to Noah was not void of God’s presence. Enoch died just before Noah was born but by this time the pre-flood world was straying from God and pursuing evil.
There may have been other men who brought the presence of god to the world before Noah but we are not told who they are. We know they existed because Noah learned to follow God and his ways. He had to get those lessons from someone and made the decision to be righteous.
Some final words
As you can see God has always had a presence in this world. He did not abandon his creation like the Deists claim. Throughout history God has made himself known to his creation and left them his instructions, his statutes and his commands to follow.
Today those words are found in the Bible and the modern true church continues to bring God’s existence and presence to this sinful world. God is here and he has not left us void of his ways.
The verses from Deut. 4 quoted above can also apply to the true believer of today. I repeat them here so everyone can remember them:
6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
© 2019 David Thiessen