When was the last time you tried something for the first time and it altered the way you perceive the world? When was the last time you watched a movie or read a book that forever altered the way you perceive the world? Do you remember the first time you encountered God which lead to a personal relationship that was uniquely your own?
Mine happened on August 21, 2017. Oregon had a total solar eclipse which altered the way I see the world and launched me on my own unique personal relationship with God. I noticed that my solar glasses would block out all light for me to see the eclipse. Then I noticed that once I took the glasses off I could not see the eclipse due to all of the brightness around me. For the rest of the day, weeks, and months I was captivated by this experience, which leads to an idea.
Up till that point, 2017, my relationship with God had been primarily based on what my relatives had believed. God was the God of my Mother, Grandfather, Grandmother, etc.. But He was not my God. After 2017 I began discovering who He was according to my unique character.
In Genesis, there is a pattern in regards to encounters with God. Genesis 26:25 explains the first time Isaac encountered the personal God for himself. It specifically says that Isaac called on the name of the Lord. Before that moment God was always introduced as the God of Abraham. What I find fascinating is the fact that Isaac was over sixty years old when this encounter happened. That means for sixty years of his life, God was just the God of Abraham. This pattern pops up again with his son Jacob. Chapter 28 says that Jacob built a shrine for God and says, in verse 21, that Adonai will be his God. Earlier in verse 34, we find out that Jacob’s twin brother Esau is forty years old. So, it took at least forty years of Jacob’s life before he had a personal awakening.
The reason I didn’t include Abraham in this sequence is that he went from one religion to another which is not the same pattern as his descendants who had always been part of one religion. I will focus on Abraham in another post.
We have two specific encounters between God and the biblical characters. They go from a blurry understanding of who God is to a personal encounter with Him. Each encounter was unique in itself because each character is unique and not a carbon copy of the other. Before these moments happened, God would introduce himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac. I believe the reason God introduced himself specifically as the God of Abraham and Isaac is that both Abraham and Isaac had unique relationships with God and God wanted to establish his loyalty.
I believe that God is concerned about his loyalty primarily because God is relational to the core. Everyone knows that a loyal friend is a good thing to have around. Its even better to have loyal family members.
I find this comforting. God does not expect us to have the same type of relationship with him as our ancestors. It’s the same covenantal relationship with the same God, but each individual has a unique perspective. This makes sense logically since we are all different. I wouldn’t expect each of my family members to have the same relationship with me, nor do I expect each of my friends to have the same relationship. The differences do not change me, because I am still me. I believe the same is true with God. All it takes is for each of us to encounter him for ourselves.