I’m midway through a study of the classic Christian book, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer. I’m studying it online with some friends in Asia. These are my notes from week 9. I hope they will bless you. If you would like to join us, please send me a message!
In the past two months, we have already discussed that God is eternal, unchanging, all-knowing, all-wise and omnipotent.
Today we will be studying chapters 13 and 14 of “The Knowledge of the Holy,” where A.W. Tozer teaches that God is transcendent and omnipresent. How wonderful to study God’s transcendence and omnipresence on the same day!
God is transcendent. The word “transcend” reminds me of the more common words “ascend” and “descend.” Ascend (a+scend) means to climb up, while descend (de+scend) means to go down. We can ascend and descend ladders or stairs or mountains.
In Genesis 28:12, Jacob saw a vision of angels ascending and descending on a ladder, and in John 1:51, Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see heaven opened and see angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
But transcend means “to rise above or go beyond, to exceed.” A man or a book or a movie might transcend other men or books or movies, yet there will always be a better man, or a better book, or a better movie.
- We might think of a goldfish as transcending a single cell amoeba.
- We might think of a dolphin as transcending a goldfish.
- We might think of young boy transcending a dolphin.
- And a grown man transcends a young boy.
- Surely the glory of an angel transcends the glory of a man.
But the gap between a single cell amoeba and an angel is small compared to the gap between angels and the Almighty God. Even the most wise, powerful, glorious angel is still a created being. God created the amoeba, the goldfish, the dolphin, the man, and the angel. God designed them in His own creative mind. God created each of them for His purposes. All of these created things are “that-which-is-not-God and can never be God.”
Tozer wrote, God is “exalted far above the created universe.” To exalt means to lift high, to praise, to glorify. In our modern world, people often praise and lift high worldly things.
Who are some people or what are some things that people today wrongly exalt?
God is the only one worthy to be exalted. God is the only one who is worthy of worship and praise. Before building a temple for the Lord, King Solomon said,
“The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods.
But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him?
Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?” (2 Chronicles 2:5-6 ESV)
能为他建造殿宇吗？不过在他面前烧香而已。” 历代志下 2:5-6
When Solomon had finished the temple, he worshipped the Lord before all the people of Israel, saying,
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven
cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV)
In our pride, we want God to fit into a little box. We want to live as if God is merely a man, limited in His power, limited in His knowledge, living far away and unconcerned with our lives.
Satan tempted Eve in the garden of Eden, telling her to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan told Eve that if ate the fruit, her “eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5) We, too, want to be “like God.” But none of us can truly be like God, because God is transcendent.
Only God is perfectly transcendent. God rises above everyone and everything. God transcends space and time. God transcends wisdom and knowledge. As His faithful children, we must humble ourselves and worship Him.
Think of this – this Almighty, Eternal, Unchanging, Self-existent, Self-sustaining God hears our prayers!
In Psalm 34, Solomon’s father, King David, worshipped God saying,
How can you praise and exalt God today? Let’s pause right now to praise and exalt God together!
This almighty, eternal, unchanging, self-existent, self-sufficient, transcendent God is also close and personal. God is omnipresent. Omni- means “all,” and “present” means “here, close to, next to.”
No matter where you go – in the middle of the greatest desert, at the top of the most remote mountain peak, at the deepest depth of the ocean, to the farthest reach of outer space – God is there. God is with me here in my little town in America and God is also with you in your big city on the other side the globe.
As Tozer writes, “there is no place in heaven or earth or hell where men may hide from His presence.”
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10 ESV)
‘我往哪里去躲避你的灵？ 我往哪里逃、躲避你的面？ 我若升到天上，你在那里；
我若在阴间下榻，你也在那里。 我若展开清晨的翅膀，飞 到海极居住，
就是在那里，你的手必引导我； 你的右手也必扶持我。” 诗篇 139:7-10
Let’s sing and pray together.