Knowing God Through the Glory

Prophet Elisee Yao / 29 Sep 2019

Why does God manifest Himself externally? So that we can know him. One of the primary purposes of the glory is to know God, because if He doesn’t reveal Himself to us, we will not know Him. So when He reveals Himself through the glory, it is an opportunity for us to get to know Him.

Knowing God Sets You Apart

In the Bible, those who knew God were clearly distinguishable from those who didn’t. Now, Belshazzar came into power in Babylon after the death of his father. In Daniel 5 (v4-12) King Belshazzar and his nobles start mocking God at a royal banquet when suddenly hands (without a body) appear and started writing on the wall – it was a judgement concerning the king. Belshazzar was afraid. Consider that kings in those days were equated with gods: nothing could scare them, yet Belshazzar became fearful. The king’s wisemen could not interpret the writing on the wall because it was inscribed in the language of the kingdom of God. Those at the banquet were not familiar with the protocol of God’s kingdom since they belonged to another kingdom, therefore, the writing was a mystery to them as their understanding of God was limited. Ultimately, the queen suggested Daniel, and it was Daniel’s knowledge of God that enabled him to decipher the writing on the wall. Daniel knew God: this was why he was different! What sets you apart from those around you, is your knowledge of God. When God reveals Himself to you, people notice.

Psalm 103:7, New International Version
He made known His
ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel.

Moses knew God’s ways, while the Israelites knew God’s acts. The church is similar to the children of Israel in that most of the time we know the deeds of God, while very few know His ways. This explains the turmoil people experience when circumstances are difficult. If we don’t know God or His ways, we don’t understand what He’s doing, and we become troubled. The Israelites knew His acts (they saw God parting the water, bringing manna to them in the desert, and water coming from a rock) but that did not mean that they knew His ways.

Moses asked God to teach him His ways. He saw the parting of the Red Sea, but he wanted to know God’s ways so that he could understand His intentions. Many know and perceive the miracle, but how many question the purpose behind it? If we don’t know God’s ways, we tend to celebrate His acts instead of celebrating Him for who He is. The church has sadly come to this place. The reason why the Israelites were confused and discontent even though they had seen and experienced many miracles, was because they didn’t understand God’s ways. And this is also why they couldn’t trust Him. 

Isaiah 55:8-9, New International Version
8“For my
thoughts are not your thoughts, either are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

What Does it Mean to Know God?

The Greek word for ‘knowing God’ is ginosko which means to be aware, to understand, to feel, to perceive, and to apprehend. You cannot apprehend something that you do not comprehend. To know God is to understand Him. Not only that, but it is possible to physically perceive and feel His glory. When you understand God, you know how and why He does what He does. You start to know the ‘back story’; your receive secret intel. This is the difference between knowing about God and truly knowing Him. Theology allows you to know about God, but truly knowing someone can only come with knowledge obtained by revelation and fellowship. Similar to the ways we get to know other people, you get to know God through relationship and fellowship with Him. When He allows you into His inner circle, then you really know Him. 

You cannot apprehend something that you do not comprehend

When God reveals Himself to you, it’s a privilege. In a human relationship, if one person tells the other what they don’t like, it means that that person likes and respects the other. Sharing your personal preferences with someone else is an act of trust and love because the intention is to avoid conflict by communicating what could cause a rift in the relationship. Likewise, God revealed Himself through the law to the people of Israel. The Israelites were given the law by grace and favour not because they deserved it. The law was God’s way of sharing His likes and dislikes with them, so that by following His law, they could be different from every other nation. In the Old Testament, the law was not a burden but grace, because to have the law was to know God. God singled out the Jews by revealing Himself through the law to Israel alone, refusing to make Himself known to any other nation. To know God, He needs to reveal Himself to you, but He won’t[1] do this without a relationship.

In the Old Testament, to have the law was to know God.

The reason why our worship is empty is because we don’t worship from a position of knowledge. Jesus told the woman of Samaria that, “ worship what you do not know” (John 4:21-22, NIV). But we worship what we know! Effective worship that touches heaven, is worship from a place of relationship. You can’t worship God the way that you want to; you need to worship the way He wants you to. Because the way you worship may not be pleasing to Him. When you really know someone, you know what they like and enjoy, and what gifts would be best suited to them. If you have to buy a gift for someone you don’t know, you call someone who knows them well because that person knows what they want. Similarly, you cannot truly please God unless you know Him. God is specific and has His own ‘taste’. When the tabernacle was constructed, for example, it was built precisely the way God wanted it to be built. God had a specific design in mind: the tabernacle was to have three sections with precise instructions on the colours, building materials, decorations, and furniture used (Ex 25-40). Similarly, worship is not about you! God looks directly at the heart of your worship, so to worship in Spirit and truth, you need to lay your ideals down, and ask God how to worship Him and Him alone.

You can’t worship God the way that you want to; you need to worship the way He wants you to.

Knowing God is one of the privileges of sonship. You are not born a son; you are trained to be a son. It was only after Jesus had gone through all that He had to, that Jesus was declared Son of God. Jesus was born and raised as a normal Jewish child. When He arrived at the shores of the Jordan to be baptized, Jesus arrived as the son of Joseph, but He came up out of the waters as the Son of God. It was only after Jesus had obeyed the principles of righteousness that God declared Him Son. Knowing about God, is the privilege of a child, but knowing God is the privilege of a son. Children beg for what already belongs to them. Sons, in comparison, simply take what is rightfully theirs because the Father and son are co-sharers and participators in their divine inheritance. When you know God, you know what belongs to you. Jesus said that “all that belongs to the Father is mine” (John 16:15), because He knew His Father. The prodigal son knew who he was, and took what belonged to him, but he made the mistake of leaving home. If he had stayed under his Father’s roof he would have learned the principle of multiplying his inheritance. This means that even when you are a proclaimed son, you still need to maintain an ongoing, close relationship with the Father.

When you know God, you know what belongs to you.

Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). If you claim to have eternal life, then, according to the Word, you are implying that you know Him. And why do we endeavor to know God? To walk according to His ways. All things in this world that we think we’ve acquired (e.g degrees, reputation, fame) is counted as loss for “the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus [our] Lord” (Phil 3:8-10, NKJV). That means there is knowledge and then there is excellent knowledge. In the New Testament, we are called to be excellent in the knowledge of His ways. We must be better than Moses. His face was glowing because he had been exposed to God (Ex 34:29, NIV), but Paul said that that is nothing compared to the glory within us (2 Cor 3:7-11, NIV)! Furthermore, if there is surpassing glory (v10), then what about permanent glory (v11)? God expects the glory in us to be greater than that which Moses had. So perhaps the glory will not only shine from our faces, but our whole being (body, soul, and Spirit).

Knowing Him Requires a Response: Obedience

"Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8, NKJV).

The Hebrew word for Lord, Adonai, (Kyrios in Greek) means “Owner”. Jesus is not just our Savior but our Lord: we must know Him as both. Our Lord is the one who owns us, the one who directs our path, the one who tells us what to be engaged in and what not to, the one who decrees times of worship, and times of rest. God is meticulous in His ways, and can direct us in every aspect of our lives, but this depth of 'knowing' depends on us.

There are going to be times when God stirs such an urgency in your heart, calling you away to spend time with Him no matter what you are engaged with at that point in time. But we often neglect Him by not responding to that pull in our heart because we don’t want to appear rude to other people. God tells us to move or act abruptly when He wants us to avoid repentance (such as leaving a conversation that could lead to gossip and disunity). We need to remain sensitive and responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Knowing and respecting God as Lord of our lives involves listening and obeying even when it is uncomfortable or socially inappropriate. To know what to do, how, and when, we must ask God to teach us His ways, and fellowship with Him intnetionally to discern His voice.

We Know Him by His Word

We can’t get to know God without spending time with Him, reading His Word. Similar to all things that are healthy (e.g. water), the Bible may at first appear tasteless. What we don’t realise is that whatever is good for the Spirit, is death to the flesh. Once you have developed the habit of ‘feasting’ on the Word daily, it will satisfy you like nothing else.

The Spirit of God dwells in the scriptures, just like the spirit of a man dwells in his writings. When someone writes a letter, that letter carries that person’s spirit, so much so that when you read that letter, you can hear that person’s voice. It is the same with the Bible. If you read the letters of God, the Spirit of God is in the chapters, as you hear the voice of God reading His letters to you. This is also why we need to keep on reading, so that we may recognise the tone of His voice.

Whatever is good for the Spirit, is death to the flesh.

Be encouraged today to spend time with Him, and when His glory shows up, worship Him in spirit and in truth. He longs to reveal Himself to each of us personally, to show us that He is real! There is a place in God called ‘there’: go ‘there’ with God. Even if at first you do not fully comprehend His Word or what He is trying to tell you, He is faithful, and will reveal Himself to you step by step.

Pursue an intimate knowledge of God in your daily walk with Him. When you know the ways of God, a peace that 'transcends all understanding’ (Phil 4:7, NIV) enters your life. The Bible tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5-6, NIV). We must trust Him with our whole heart and this takes faith. Faith is to act on what we believe, so if we don’t, we cannot call it faith.

God is calling us into a genuine relationship with Him, and with that call comes an invitation to know His ways. When you know God in the glory, you begin to understand His heart, and the peace that comes from understanding His ways will keep your feet steady upon the Rock no matter what storms you face.


Credit to Christian painter, Yongsung Kim, for the article image.

[1] The only exception whereby God reveals Himself to someone who is not in relationship with Him, is when they are crying out to Him. To cry out is the beginning of the relationship, so that you may KNOW Him later.

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