FROM WHERE DID GOD COME?
T PIERCE BROWN
Some time ago when a student who was taking a correspondence Bible course asked a question, “Where did God come from?” The following is part of the answer I gave him and suggest that you may use any part of it for yourself or any student who may ask that question.
When one asks, “Where did God come from?” he may mean, “What is the origin of God?” or he may mean, “What is the meaning of Habakkuk 3:3?” The first part of the verse says, “God came from Teman and the Holy one fromMt.Paran”. Let me suggest first that you concern yourself primarily with the questions of how God wants you to respond to His gospel and worship Him rather than concern yourself with questions the answer to which have nothing to do with how you live your life. In other words, read Titus 3:9, and ask yourself about any question, “What change will it make in me, my life, and my destiny if I found out the answer?” and if it would not make any, study about more practical matters. However, it is not wrong to ask any question that may come to your mind if you really want to find what the Bible teaches about any subject.
The chapter (Habakkuk 3:3) is a prayer of thanksgiving from the prophet. The word “came” is from a Hebrew word “bo,” which literally means “comes,” or in this case, since it is in the future tense in the Hebrew language and in the Septuagint (haxei), it means “shall come”. It is prophetic language and refers prophetically, in a figure of speech, to the time when God will come in a spiritual way and set up a new kingdom as he once came to the children of Israel from Sinai (Teman) and Mt. Paran (Deuteronomy 33:2) and set up the Israelite kingdom. There is no way you can understand ONE VERSE from the middle of a prophetic book without understanding the whole purpose of the book, and the nature of prophetic language. I cannot at this time teach you the nature and use of prophetic language, which is full of figures of speech and allusions to various things with which you are not familiar. However, you need to know some simple things that may help you to understand prophetic language a little better.
Such expressions as “he had horns coming out of his hands” (v. 4) and “the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow” (v.6), “the mountains saw thee and they trembled; the overflowing of water passed by: the deep uttered his voice and lifted up his hands on high” (v. 10) are but a few of hundreds of examples of language which you could scarcely understand without an extensive knowledge of English and the use of prophetic language. The hills did not literally bow, nor did the mountains have any eyes to see, nor did the “deep” (the sea) have any voice or hands, but this is characteristic of the thousands of scripture references in poetry and prophecy.
All of the books of prophecy in the Old Testament are filled with such language, but it is similar to Deuteronomy 33:2 when Moses said, “The Lord came from Sinai,–etc.” referring to his coming from Sinai and Mount Paran to deliver the law to Moses, or as he puts it, “from his right hand went a fiery law for them,” for he wrote the law in tables of stone with his finger.
This may help you some. Let me urge you again to concern yourself first with what God wants of you in order to be saved from your sins and worship him properly, and by that time, when you have understood and obeyed that, you will have less trouble understanding the difficult figurative and prophetic language with which much of the Old Testament is filled.
If you are concerned with the question of “What is the origin of God?” you should realize that God did not originate anywhere. He always IS, was and will be. This is part of the meaning of the expression “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, where he said, “I AM.” Humans cannot understand the concept of an eternal God, for all that we know has a beginning and an end. However, we cannot understand any better the idea that God had a beginning, for then the question would be raised, “What caused Him to have a beginning?” So, from a logical standpoint, although we cannot understand either how God HAD a beginning, or did NOT have a beginning, we must conclude that there was a FIRST CAUSE of all that is, and that God is that First Cause. Just be aware that our nature is not God’s nature, and we cannot understand His nature except to the extent that He reveals it to us in His Word. It will be helpful to remember Isa 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” However, Paul says in 1 Cor2:10, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” So even the thoughts of God and deep things of God are sometimes revealed to us in His word, so it is good that you are continuing to study and ask questions.
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.