What does it mean when one states, God reveals himself to men? How does God reveal himself to mankind? As individuals pursue the Bible they gain insight and information about God. God’s revelation of himself can also be seen in nature, through history, in Jesus and through personal insights. These different avenues of revelation can help individuals gain an understanding of God, which can cause them to seek him for directions to their lives. For the individuals that have taken the step of acceptance of this God as head of their lives, it can help them grow in the understanding of God and his purpose for their daily walk.
How do we answer this question? Author Alister E. McGrath in his book, Christian Theology – An Introduction states, “How can God be known? For some, God is to be sought out within the complexities and ambiguities of the world. The ‘human quest for God’ involves the careful weighing of evidence drawn from the natural world, including human reason and conscience. For others, human nature is limited in its abilities, and is unable to discern the existence or nature of God in this way. Humanity needs to be told what God is like” (200). Who then is responsible for telling mankind about God? God took this task and revealed himself to men. It is through divine revelation that man comes to understand God.
The author, Carmelo Dotolo in the book, Christian Revelation states, “What is the meaning of the term revelation and why is it so important for theology? What is the secret of its appeal and, at the same time, of the difficulty that its use provokes in the familiar lexicon with which man tries to read the world? Without doubt, it is a strange word that seems to hint at a reality not controllable by man; or, in any event, a reality normally distant from his vision of things” (1). “The issue being debated is fundamentally that of revelation – the Christian notion that God chooses to be known, and makes this possible through self-disclosure in nature and human history” (McGrath, 200).
If one accepts that the knowledge of God is made available because God chooses to reveal himself, then one must look at the different ways that God accomplishes these events. The first way is through nature. “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set they glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:2). “The Earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness therefore, the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded in upon the seas, and established it upon the floods” (Psalm 24:1-2). These are only a few of the many verses of scripture written where men tell of their understanding of God through nature. “Might the study of the natural world lead to an increased appreciation of its creator?” (McGrath, 208). These biblical writers were able to gain greater appreciation of the creator through their understanding of what they saw in nature. “If God made the world, God’s ‘signature’ (so to speak) may be found within the created order” (McGrath, 209).
God reveals himself in nature to draw men to an understanding of his ownership of all. God shows himself to be a God of order. Seasons change at relatively the same time. The sun sets and rises each day. These all attest to a God of order. He also shows himself in nature to draw men. “God takes the initiative to provoke the search of man” (Dotolo, 19). This can also be understood when one reads Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” God revealed himself in times past as well as today, through nature to draw men to an understanding of his presence in the world. “In other words, the contemporary world itself invites us to take into account, even with all the different interpretative points of view, the reality of religious experience as the space for understanding the appeal and the mystery of existence. To look at such experience means to become aware of what the religious sciences agree to define as a structural, inalienable and conclusive dimension of human experience” (Dotolo, 8).
Another way that God reveals himself to men is through events or history. God’s people (the Israelites) were allowed to understand God as he revealed himself to them and as time progressed, they had their historical background to remind them of the attributes of God. The author, Andrew Moore in his book, Realism and Christian Faith: God, Grammar, and Meaning states, “the name revealed to Moses, YHWH, ehyeh asher ehyeh, and the narrative context in which it is given — that of the promise of the liberation of God’s people from slavery in Egypt — imply that God reveals himself, but that his self-revealing is a simultaneous self-veiling. God’s name reveals that he is unnamable, ungraspable, unencompassable. We may see God’s glory but not his essence. God remains veiled even in his self-unveiling:” (167).
The people of God were allowed to see the miracles of God, yet they knew that this God was above what they could see or think. Joseph Girzone in his book, Trinity remarks about one such miracle, “Those hundreds of thousands of people had to be fed miraculously during all those years. There was no food in the desert to satisfy the needs of that many people. The guidance and protection and comfort God gave his people during that time is also remarkable. The world has never known a god of such benevolence and care for his creatures” (15).
Dotolo, Carmelo (2006). Christian Revelation. Aurora, CO, USA: Davies Group Publishers.
Girzone, Joseph F. (2004). Trinity.Westminster, MD, USA: Doubleday Publishing.
McGrath, Alister E. (2001). Christian Theology – An Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Moore, Andrew. (2003). Realism and Christian Faith : God, Grammar, and Meaning. West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Samuelson, Norbert Max. (2002). Revelation and the God of Israel. West Nyack, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. (1988). The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc.