5A3

©  Jeff Stacey   |   Last updated:  22 March 2017

5A3.  God’s primary purpose in all of His creation:

To express His own glorious nature forever, beginning especially on Earth by making Himself known to and through people worldwide

5A3(title)    God’s primary purpose in all of His creation

It has already been shown [2A3(a), 3A3(b) and 4A3(c)] that God’s primary purpose in all of His creation had not changed.  In Era 4 God’s intention to express His own nature worldwide was declared specifically to Abraham Gen 12:3c [4A3(c)(i)].  

The great reality underlying God’s Covenantal commitment to Abraham was that His presence would always be with the Israelites Gen 26:3,  28:15,  31:3,42,  39:2-3.  This continued to be affirmed in Era 5 Ex 13:21,  33:14,   Deut 4:37.  Moses knew that this was vital Ex 33:3,15,16.  Repeatedly God would be making His presence and Himself known TO them and then THROUGH them Gen 21:22,  26:28.  This was His strategy.  It would involve a future series of events which actually fulfilled God’s declarations and promises to Abraham, although in diverse and often unexpected ways.  He would be accomplishing His primary purpose THROUGH the theologically defined history of the Israelites.

5A3(sub-title)    To express His own glorious nature forever, beginning especially on Earth by making Himself known to and through people worldwide

There are 23 occurrences in Era 5 of God saying either directly, or through Moses or Joshua, that His actions were in order to make Himself known TO and/or THROUGH the Israelites, the Egyptians or other peoples, as follows:  

#  TO the Israelites  Ex 6:7,  10:2,  16:6,8,12,  29:46,  31:13,   Num 14:34,   Deut 4:35,  7:9,  29:6,   Josh 3:10

#  TO and THROUGH the Israelites  Josh 3:7

# TO and THROUGH the Egyptians  Ex 8:10,  9:14,  14:4,18

#  TO the Egyptians THROUGH the Israelites  Ex 7:5,17,  8:22,  9:29,  11:7

# TO other peoples THROUGH the Israelites Joshua 4:24

Such frequent repetitions emphasised the main point of the whole historical narrative:  that everything God did was in order to accomplish His primary purpose.  By making Himself known TO and THROUGH various peoples, He was expressing His own nature in many ways.

5A3(a)    God explicitly stated His primary purpose

God made three specific statements of His primary purpose.  Surprisingly, the first was declared to the Egyptian Pharaoh after he had repeatedly refused to let the Israelites go from Egypt.  Before sending the 7th plague, God gave a severe warning TO Pharaoh THROUGH Moses Ex 9:14a,15,18 and explicitly stated His primary purpose:

“But I have raised you up FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (EX 9:16).

God was again clearly indicating that His primary purpose was to express His own nature worldwide.  This was going to include His acts of power that would make Himself known TO and THROUGH Pharaoh! Ex 9:14b,29b.

The second statement was made when, prior to invading Canaan, Moses had begun to formally “renew” God’s Covenant with the Israelites.  After summarising the amazing acts of God that they had seen in their 40 year exodus journey Deut 4:32,33,34 Moses told them what God’s primary purpose had been in all these experiences:

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.” (DEUT 4:35)

God had been expressing TO them the most essential aspect of His own nature:  that He is Yahweh, the only God.

The third statement was addressed TO the Israelites THROUGH Joshua, after God had miraculously enabled them to cross the flooded Jordan River Josh 4:21-22,23:

“He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”  (JOSH 4:24)

God was again indicating that His primary purpose was to express His own nature to all peoples worldwide.  This was intended to make Himself known TO them as powerful, and so that the Israelites would always solemnly revere Him.

5A3(b)    God’s nature was sometimes expressed visibly as His “glory” 

In Era 5 there are 25 occurrences (in the NIV) of the words “glory” (23) or “glorious” (2).  “Glory” was a wide-ranging word used in attempting to describe various spectacular displays of God’s awesome presence, power, holiness and love.  These were all visible demonstrations of God’s nature, being very direct ways that He was making Himself known TO the Israelites and Egyptians. 

They occurred in both positive and negative contexts, as follows (they are outlined in more detail in later sections, as shown):

#  TO Moses  Ex 33:18,19,20-21,22-23  [see 5A6(b)(iv)]

#  THROUGH Moses  Deut  33:29 [see 5A4]

#  TO the Israelites

*  in the pillar of cloud  Ex 16:7,10  [see 5A4(d)]

*  at Mt Sinai Ex 24:15-16,17,  Deut 5:24  [see 5A5]

*  at the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle in the wilderness:-

–   when it was being consecrated, along with the altar and the priests Ex 29:42,43-44,45,  40:34-35,    Lev 9:6,23,24 [see 5A5]

–  in condemnation following the refusal of the Israelites to invade Canaan Num 14:10,11,12,21-22,23,24 [see 5A4]

–  in judgment when Korah and others rebelled against Moses Num 16:19,42 [see 5A4, 5A5]

–  in response to the intercession of Moses and Aaron when the Israelites again complained about lack of water Num 20:6 [see 5A4, 5A5]

#  THROUGH the Israelites

*  in their worship  Ex 15:11  [see 5A5]

*  when challenged to obey God’s Covenantal laws  Deut 28:58,59  [see 5A5]

*  when challenged to honour God  Josh 7:19-20  [see 5A5]

#  TO the Egyptians  Ex 14:4,17,18  [see 5A4(e)]

This word “glorious” seems to be the only adjective used in the Bible for describing God’s own nature. So it has been added to the definition of God’s Primary Purpose, as To express His own glorious nature forever . . .

5A3(c)  God made Himself known in many other ways

5A3(c)(i)   God repeatedly made Himself known directly TO Moses

Initially God made Himself known TO Moses by miraculously appearing and speaking TO him at Mt Horeb in a bush that appeared to be burning Ex 3:1-6.  He told Moses of His concern for the Israelites Ex 3:7 and outlined His plan to deliver them from the Egyptians Ex 3:8,19-20.

God commanded Moses to go back to Egypt, confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out  Ex 3:10,18.  When Moses asked questions Ex 3:11,13 God made known TO Moses His name “I AM WHO I AM” Ex 3:14-15.  God also predicted that Moses would lead the Israelites back to Mt Horeb (Sinai) to worship Him.  This would be a “sign” TO Moses that God had sent him and was with him Ex 3:12.

Moses raised a further question and objections Ex 4:1,10,13.  God then made Himself known TO Moses by means of miracles Ex 4:2-9 and by providing his brother Aaron to be his spokesman Ex 4:11-16.

God convinced Moses to go Ex 4:18,19-20.  As Moses set out for Egypt with his family, God again appeared TO him Ex 4:24-26a and spoke TO him several times Ex 4:21,22-23.

5A3(c)(ii)   God also made Himself known TO Aaron and the elders of the Israelites

God also spoke TO Aaron Ex 4:27a.  On arrival in Egypt, Moses and Aaron brought together the elders of the Israelites and told TO them all that God had said and done Ex 4:29-30a.  God then made Himself known TO them THROUGH miracles that Aaron performed, and they believed and worshipped God!  Ex 4:30b-31.

5A3(c)(iii)    God intended to make Himself known TO the Israelites by His name Yahweh THROUGH their deliverance from Egypt and possession of Canaan

God had already told Moses the meaning of His name Ex 3:13,14,15.  But He was now going to make Himself known TO the Israelites by His name Yahweh in a fuller way than previously Ex 6:2-3,7b.1   This would be by mightily freeing them from their bondage to the Egyptians Ex 6:6,7c then taking them to be His own people and becoming their God Ex 6:7a.

God emphasised His proclaimed intentions (using the form of a vow) by beginning, repeating and ending them with “I am the LORD” Ex 6:2,6a,8b.  This was not only a declaration of His supreme authority but also embodied the meaning of His name:  “I AM”.  So He was already beginning to make Himself known TO them by this name!

5A3(c)(iv)   God made Himself known TO the Israelites by events throughout the whole exodus saga

Throughout the exodus God made Himself known TO the Israelites in many extraordinary ways Ex 14:21,22b,  17:5,6,  19:16-17,18,19, etc.

5A3(d)   God intended to make Himself known THROUGH the Israelites TO other peoples

Throughout the exodus saga, God had made Himself known TO the Israelites Deut 7:9.  So they were to be wholeheartedly committed to Him only Deut 4:39, obey Him and enjoy His favour in Canaan Deut 4:1,2.

On this basis, God intended to make Himself known THROUGH them TO other peoples.  Those nations would be impressed by the outstanding characteristics of Israel’s national culture, as observed in the qualities of their community life Deut 4:6.  They would even perceive God’s presence amongst the Israelites! Deut 4:7.

5A3(d)(i)  God made known positively to other peoples THROUGH the Israelites

Some examples of other people acknowledging and greatly honoring or fearing God because He was making Himself known TO them THROUGH the Israelites, were as follows:

# Jethro, after he heard Moses’ account of all that God had done in delivering the Israelites from Egypt Ex 18:8,9,10-11,12

# Balaam, when he observed God’s blessing of the Israelites, turned away from using divination Num 24:1.  The Spirit of God then came upon him Num 24:2 making God known TO him Num 24:3-4,15,16 and THROUGH his prophetic utterances Num 24:17,18-19,20,21-22,23-24

# Rahab, knowing about the exodus Josh 2:10 and fearfully expecting Jericho to be destroyed by God Josh 2:8-9,11a humbly acknowledged Him Josh 2:11b

5A3(d)(ii)  God made known negatively to other peoples THROUGH the Israelites

The Israelites had been slow to know God and have full confidence in Him in all situations.  They had often complained to Moses and against God and disobeyed Him Ex 14:11,12,  15:24,  16:2,3,19-20,  32:1, etc.  Eventually God told Moses He was going to destroy them! Ex 32:10,  Num 14:11,12.  But Moses earnestly prayed for God to relent.  Otherwise He would be made known wrongly TO the Egyptians and other nations, who would discredit and scorn His nature! Ex 32:12,  Num 14:13,14,15,16.

5A3(e)   God intended to make Himself known TO and THROUGH future generations of the Israelites

God had stated before the Israelites’ miraculous deliverance from Egypt that He would make Himself known TO their future descendants Ex 10:1,2.

But 40 years later Moses bemoaned the Israelites’ lack of progress in knowing God despite their amazing experiences of Him Deut 29:4.  He again told them to remember God’s mighty acts and that these be diligently taught to later generations Deut 4:9,10.  He was also concerned that God’s Covenantal Law code could easily be unknown or rejected by future generations Deut 31:13,27.  That would result in the whole nation losing its intended distinctive God-centred culture!  So God would no longer be made known positively THROUGH them TO other peoples.

God told Moses to write down all His laws Ex 34:27a and Moses had obeyed Ex 24:3-4a,  Deut 31:9a,24-25,26.  Moses then repeated his warning that these must be remembered by the Israelites and again commanded they be taught thoroughly TO their children Deut 31:12,  32:46,47.

5A3(f)  Worship:  God’s primary purpose being accomplished THROUGH those TO whom He had made Himself known

5A3(f)(i)   As the Israelites journeyed from the Red Sea to Mt Sinai

 After their deliverance by God at the Red Sea, Moses and the Israelites had responded in appropriate ways Ex 14:31.  They broke into a wonderful heartfelt song of worshipping God! Ex 15:1-21.  This contained a number of statements praising aspects of God’s nature Ex 15:1b,3,13.  God had powerfully made Himself known TO them and they were joyfully acknowledging this!  They emphasised His majestic power, holiness and awesome glory, and His everlasting reign as King Ex 15:6a,7a,11b,18.  

The song also prophesied how God was going to guide and protect them in their ongoing exodus journey Ex 15:13.  This would make Him known powerfully THROUGH them TO neighbouring peoples  Ex 15:14-15,16.

5A3(f)(ii)  At Mt Sinai

5A3(f)(ii.i)  Moses’ personal worship

At Mt Sinai Moses had expressed his own desire for God to make Himself known TO him Ex 33:13.  God gloriously granted his request Ex 33:19-23.  He proclaimed His name and even specifically stated some of His own attributes! Ex 34:5-6,7.  Moses responded by worshipping God Ex 34:8.

5A3(f)(ii.ii)  Worship formalised to become the central focus of the whole nation, its legal code and culture 

At Mt Sinai God gave to Moses the vast legal code that was to be the foundation of the Israelite nation Ex 20:22-23,  21:1.  At the centre of this Covenantal Law were the detailed requirements for worship of God [see 5A10(a)].  These included the place of worship and its equipment, the priests and their garments and ritual functions, the various sacred offerings and feasts to be observed, and who and what was forbidden.  

Underlying the whole Law for worship were the principles of God’s uniqueness and holiness Ex 20:1-11 [see 5A5].  Without His requirements being strictly observed, all the rituals would become offensive to God because they would NOT be expressing His own nature.  For this reason there were drastic punishments for violations of the requirements [see 5A12].  

This system of the rule of Law for worship then became also the foundation for the Law code for all other aspects of national life [see 5A10(b)].  The Law of Israel primarily applied principles of purity, justice, compassion, gratitude and generosity to the relationships and social issues between people.  In other words, God’s own nature would be expressed THROUGH the application of these laws!

On this basis a whole God-honoring national culture was intended to emerge.  God was setting up a total framework for making Himself known TO and THROUGH the nation of Israel.  He would be expressing His own nature TO them, THROUGH them TO each other, and TO surrounding peoples Ex 19:4-5,6.

Arrow 5A1 -> 5A3

This arrow indicates that God’s primary purpose in all of His creation flowed directly from His own nature.  It was in fact the expression of that nature.

Continue to 5A4

FOOTNOTES

1. Along with Ex 33:17b and Deut 28:58,59 this was another indication of the profound significance to God of names and their meanings.  It was the ultimate example of a name representing the whole person including their inner motives and desires.  Moses was also aware of the significance of names Ex 3:13,14.(Return to reading).

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