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February 3, Day #34 – God is Both Transcendent and Immanent

As we come to Job 25-29, we encounter Bildad’s third oration. Although these “friends” of Job act counterproductively to their stated purpose of giving comfort to Job (cf., Job 2:11), nevertheless they hold and share quite lofty and true views of God. Bildad says, “Dominion and awe belong to God – He establishes order in the heights of heaven” (25:1). This is, of course, true – God holds complete sway over all creation. However, one of the lessons we need to learn here has to do with Job’s need in these circumstances and Bildad’s inability to meet that need. When people are hurting, we do not bring them any comfort or assurance by addressing exalted theological themes – especially those that Job himself already knows. Job responds sarcastically to Bildad – “What great insight you have!” (26:3). In chapter 26, Job also asserts great truths about God – He recognizes that God sees everything and made everything, and he says, “These are but the outer fringe of His works” (verse 14), but he cannot go along with the accusations of his friends. This is evidence that God has placed inherently within all of us an understanding of the moral law – we know the difference between right and wrong. A man who has sinned and violated God’s character knows that he has done wrong. Job’s three friends do not know for certain that he has sinned. Based on his knowledge and experience, Job says, “I will never admit you are in the right till I die; I will not deny my integrity” (cf., 27:5). Job continues to defend his position through the end of chapter 31. We know that Job did live a righteous life, but he does not understand that righteousness is no guarantee of a life free of trial, suffering, or grief.

In Psalm 18:7-15, we see similar exalted thoughts expressed by David regarding the creation. David considers the transcendence and immanence of God - especially important truths that believers must properly recognize and balance in their theology. Logically and philosophically, it is not possible to be both transcendent and immanent. Yet, this is perfectly true of God. He is wholly other than what we are. David says, “Darkness is His covering” and “brightness is His presence” (Psalm 18:11-12). We wonder how this can be true, but God dwells in inapproachable light. Because of His transcendence, He is fully incomprehensible to us - we cannot know Him. Yet, He is immanent; in the Person of His Son, God ‘s transcendence is no barrier to Him, and He is able to move beyond His inscrutability and make Himself known to us by revelation, which, to be understood, must first be believed (i.e., by faith). It seems contradictory, but things are not always what they appear to be. His transcendence speaks of His high and holy, majestic, inscrutable nature which makes Him worthy of our worship. His immanence testifies to His love for us, our need for Him, and His work to meet our need. This is all in view here in Psalm 18.

In Matthew 21:33 - Matthew 22:14, we read two parables – the parable of the tenants and the parable of the wedding banquet. In this parable, the owner is a picture of the Lord, and the vineyard is representative of Israel. The owner rented the vineyard to tenants (i.e., caretakers) who represent chief priests and the Pharisees (cf., 21:45). The son of the owner represents the Son of God, whom the tenants kill so they can take His inheritance. Earlier, when we read Matthew 21:4-11, we saw that Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem – making a valid offer of His kingdom to the people. Remember how the city crowds responded? They said, “Who is this?” (cf., Matthew 21:10). He was rejected. At this point, Jesus cites the messianic and prophetic Psalm 118, which states that “the builders rejected the stone that became the capstone,” speaking of Himself (verse 42; cf., Psalm 118:22 -23). As a result of their rejection of our Lord, He announces here that His kingdom will be postponed and opened to others: “Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (verse 43). In God’s program then, the Lord will now focus on a parenthetical entity – the church – and establish His means whereby Gentiles may also come into His sheepfold. The second parable – the wedding banquet – carries this theme further. The king’s subjects were invited to the banquet, but they refused to come, so the king told his servants to “go out into the streets and invite anyone you can find” (verse 9). What a joy is ours to be included in the eternal plan of God!

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