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The Mere Edges of His Ways

We think we can know God. And we can, because God has revealed himself through the world he created, through the book he wrote, and through the Son he sent.

Even then, you have to wonder how much of God we really know. Certainly we know enough to understand what it takes to have a relationship with him now and forever. But if God really is who the Bible says he is, then we really know very little of him. At best we know “the mere edges of his ways.”

That’s the profound conclusion Job comes to in the ancient book that bears his name. After hearing his friends prattle on, offering advice in the wake of Job’s misery, the afflicted one reflects on the power and majesty of God in relationship to his creation. From the book of Job, chapter 26, here are some beautiful descriptions, not of some mythic god, but of the all-powerful, all-wise, eternal, immortal God of the universe:

He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.

He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it.

He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness.

The pillars of the heavens quake, aghast at his rebuke.

These aren’t mere metaphors meant to depict something like God. This is Job’s poetic attempt to describe just how great and powerful and all-encompassing God really is. And yet, as Job concludes in 26:14, “These are but the mere edges of his ways.”

As much as we think we know about God, Job tells us what we really know: “How small a whisper we hear of him.” Job continues. “Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”

What should be our response when we realize how much of God we don’t know? If we were relating to another mere mortal, we might be looking for ways to push past our ignorance. But with God, we should have a different approach, one articulated with great wisdom by the apostle Paul in this magnificent doxology found in chapter 11 of his letter to the Roman church:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

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Christianity 101 is a collection of books and digital resources by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz that talk about God in a way that encourages people to grow in their faith.