Psalm 111: 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
Sometimes I envy the people of the past, particularly those in the Old Testament. I wonder what it must have felt like to escape from the clutches of Pharaoh and wander around in the wilderness for a whole generation, in the holy presence of God.
God seemed so immediate and near to them, probably because there was nothing else to distract them. They weren’t surrounded by the busy-ness of today’s urban communities. They weren’t inundated with the sounds of the city or urgency of our world. They were isolated in the desert, so perhaps they were more open to hearing God’s voice and seeing His wonders.
It must have been both amazing and terrifying to have God in their midst. They were given first hand experiences of God’s power, grace, and compassion. In the daytime, they followed a pillar of smoke and at night they looked to a pillar of fire. It must have daunted and comforted them at the same time.
Today, we mainly learn about knowing God through the scriptures. We read the Bible stories and study the events. We try to imagine what really happened and build upon theological teachings and archaeological findings to increase our understanding of God and His people. But we also look to other people in order to know what God is doing in the world today. We hear of personal experiences, answers to prayer, and other events which convey to us that the God of Old is still in control of what’s new today.
In the end, we remember God’s wonders from the Bible and we embrace personal stories of His work in the world today. We know God through what we read in the scriptures and in the faithful lives of other people. And through both of these channels, we begin to understand, embrace, and experience for ourselves that God is still gracious and compassionate.
Prayer: Lord God, we thank You for the stories of old that we have read and learned from the Bible and people of faith. We praise You that You continue to be known in the personal lives of so many people around the world. Thank You for Your gracious and compassionate interest in our planet. We are grateful for the opportunity to truly know who You are and how You continue to work in and bless the world. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s passage, please send him an email to email@example.com.