Have you ever asked yourself how Jesus developed his intimate relationship with his heavenly Father? I have, partly because the God with whom he was intimate is invisible (Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; and Heb. 11:27). The Gospel records make it clear that Jesus had learned the Hebrew Scriptures [Old Testament] flawlessly, and therein he saw who he was, what his mission was, and what he would receive from God if he carried it out. The Hebrew Scriptures were, in large part, written, for him to get to know his Father. They were written also “for our learning” [KJV] or “to teach us” [NIV] (Rom. 15:4). Today, we can read them in light of the revelation of the Christian Scriptures [New Testament], but all Jesus had was Genesis through Malachi.
Something we need to remember is that Jesus went through most of his life without something that each of us Christians has, the gift of holy spirit. He received it when John the Baptist immersed him in the river Jordan and it descended on him in the form like a dove (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32), and it remained on him throughout his relatively brief earthly ministry. Up until that point, he had no holy spirit to guide him or help him in any way.
Another thing Jesus had that many Christians didn’t was spiritually savvy parents who taught him God’s Word. None of us ever had a mother who trusted God to the point of allowing Him to impregnate her with His Son. What about his stepfather? He must have really trusted God to take on a wife carrying a child that wasn’t his. Their culture allowed him to stone her or divorce her, but he loved her, stood with her, and obeyed God. Joseph and Mary had their son circumcised on the right day, went to the feasts they were required to go to, and certainly followed this Bible verse as well: “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). Hey, what do you think Joseph and Mary did with the gold, frankincense and myrrh?
If they thought anything like we do, and were as spiritually sharp as they appeared, I am sure they made it a priority to teach Jesus the Truth. As the above verse says, the benefit of the truth is “…wisdom, discipline and understanding,” which Mary and Joseph would have wanted for Jesus as their child, and especially as the Son of God. The following verses show that they succeeded in instilling these qualities in Jesus, who was at this time only twelve years old:
Luke 2:46, 47, and 52 (NIV)1
46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
When we read anything Jesus says in the Gospels, we must remember that he learned it from the Hebrew Scriptures, because that is all he had. For example:
John 5:39 (KJV)
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
He was speaking of Genesis through Malachi, and his knowledge of that body of Scripture made it clear that his primary goal was to absorb everything therein. No doubt he focused on the goodness, faithfulness, and love of his Father, and how heroes of the faith, like Moses manifested intimacy with God. Jesus put this “head knowledge” into his heart, and manifested an even greater intimacy with his Father.
Dictionary.com has eight definitions for intimacy, and here’s the one that really blessed me: “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” That sounds like something anyone would want.
One thing Jesus saw in the Word was the unique and wonderful name that God had given Himself. “What, you say? ‘God’ is His name.” Actually, it’s not. Our heavenly Father’s name is Yahweh, and though it is used more than 6000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, only four English translations ever translate it that way, one being The New Jerusalem Bible, which shows it 6336 times. You can’t find it in most versions unless you know where to look. In the NIV, KJV, NASB, or NKJV, you will find the word “LORD” all over the Hebrew Scriptures, mostly “the LORD,” [though the article “the” is rarely, if ever, in the Hebrew Text], and it should be translated Yahweh in every case.
As recorded in Exodus, God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and in the course of that conversation, we find the following verses:
Exodus 3:13 and 14 (NIV)
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
You may have heard teachings on, “I am who I am” or “I will be what I will be” or “I am has sent me to you,” or ‘I will be has sent me to you.’ But how about what it goes on to say?
Exodus 3:15 (NIV)
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
Let’s look a little closer at this verse, First, “the LORD” should read “Yahweh.” So the verse should read: “…Yahweh, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.” So God’s name is Yahweh and He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the one who sent Moses to them. Note this dynamite statement at the end of the verse: “…This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
The word “forever” is the Hebrew עוֹלָם, of which the English transliteration is olam. “Forever, long duration, continual, eternal, everlasting,” are some of the ways this word is translated in the NASB. Needless to say this will be God’s name for a long time. The NASB reads: “…and this is My memorial-name to all generations,” the RSV reads: “…and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” In any case, it’s for a long, long time!
All this is interesting, but how does it relate to intimacy with God? From reading the record of God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would you say that He was intimate with them? Oh yeah! Especially Abraham, but I think He was more intimate with Moses than with all three of those wonderful men. Look at this section of Scripture:
Exodus 6:1–3 (NIV)
1 Then the LORD [Yahweh, no article the] said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” 2 God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD [should read: I am Yahweh]. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD [Yahweh, no article the] I did not make myself known to them.
God said: “…but by my name Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them.”As close as God was to the Abraham, who believed God and that was credited to him as righteousness, and to his son Isaac, and to Jacob, who became Israel, our heavenly Father never made Himself known to them by His name, Yahweh. Let’s read on:
Exodus 6:4–8 (NIV)
4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD [I am Yahweh], and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD [I am Yahweh] your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD [I am Yahweh].’”
God said, “I am Yahweh” four times in these first eight verses of Exodus 6. Look again at those verses, because I’d say the “I’s” have it. Say what? How many “I’s” did God use? In verse 1, “I will do,” in verse 2, “I am Yahweh,” in verse 3, “I appeared to,” and “…I did not make myself known to them,” verse 4, “I also established my covenant with them…,” verse 5, “…I have heard the groaning of the Israelites…,” and “…I have remembered my covenant,” verse 6, “I am Yahweh,” “I will bring you,” “I will free you,” and “I will redeem you,” verse 7, “I will take you as my own people…,” “…I will be your God…,” and “I am Yahweh,” and finally verse 8, “I will bring you,” “I swore,” “I will give,” and “I am Yahweh.”
Now count them, there are eighteen “I’s” in eight verses. That’s eighteen times God is saying, in essence, “I” want to be intimate with YOU, Moses (and My people Israel). Yahweh is going out on a limb, saying, “Hey, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make you my friend.” He’s saying who He is and what He will do, and all He asks of Moses is that he obeys. The one line that absolutely rocks for me is, “…but by my name Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them.” Moses had to be a special man for God to make this comment to him. Moses was the first believer to whom God revealed His name, Yahweh. Moses responded to God by leaving his home of forty years and going back to Egypt and carrying out every order of God in order to free the Israelites, and that allowed God to preserve the bloodline of the Redeemer. What a man!
Jesus knew that his name meant, “Yahweh who saves,” and that, in essence, he was “God, Jr.” From the Hebrew Scriptures he knew that the destiny of mankind was riding on his shoulders, and he realized that the only way he could accomplish his one-of-a-kind mission was by totally trusting his heavenly Father. In order to do that, Jesus had to be far more intimate with God than Moses was, and so he precisely followed God’s personal curriculum of spiritual growth for him, all the way through the Cross.
Do you think our Lord Jesus learned anything about intimacy with God from the record of Moses? I do. Take a look at his life and obedience to his heavenly Father, even to the point of dying on the Cross for you and me. You have to be intimate with someone in order to carry out that kind of commitment. Now we can follow his example, live like he did, and also be intimate with God—and with him! So come on, join us in getting intimate with God and His Son through obedience to the Truth, the Word of God!
1. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible New International Version®, NIV®, © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.