Exodus 20:4-5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God. . . “
Do you know God? If so, who do you think He is? What is He like? Have you ever heard the following words – or perhaps you’ve said them yourself: “To me, God is . . .” or “I think God is . . . “ followed by some description that is a picture in that person’s mind of what their concept of God is? I’ve heard people say “A loving God would never send anyone to Hell.” I’ve heard others say “To me God is an energy, or a force that is all around us.” Another description I’ve heard is some version of the following: “I see God in nature, for everything around me is God.” Of course, we’ve all heard the following statement “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”
So how do we know if any of this is true? What if my concept of God is different than yours? Does each person have the privilege of deciding who God is for themselves? Perhaps it’s up to us to decide if God even exists. Some have said “There is no God” or “God is dead” or “God is a fantasy in a person’s mind.” The truth, according to the Bible, is that a person’s concept of God should never begin with that (or any other) person. The one whom Jesus called “the only true God (John 17:3)” has told us that we are to make no images of Him. Those images can be physical, such as a statue of some type, or mental, such as a concept that has been dreamed up or fantasized by someone. God has made clear to us in His Word that the only way we will ever know Him is if He reveals Himself to us.
As an example of this, in Matthew 16 we read that one day Jesus asked His disciples the following question: “’Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’”
You see, man doesn’t get to make God in his own image. The clay doesn’t form the potter. The infinite and eternal Creator is higher than us, as high as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9), and any human view of Him that originates with a human is as flawed as that human is flawed.
So, do you want to really know God? He has described Himself very clearly for us in His Word – and He has promised us in this same Word that if we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He has so closely identified Himself with His Word that in John 1 we find these words: “The Word was with God and the Word was God” and “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” If we want to really know Him, the starting point must always be what He said about Himself and not what we might say about Him.