How our human nature can put God in a box.
I think that as human beings we have a tendency to impose our own limitations, or at least our own logical implications of limitation, onto most things. It’s just what comes naturally to us. We can’t run as fast as a cheetah, so we think that it simply cannot be done. Nevermind people like Usain Bolt or other amazingly talented individuals; those are anomalies and we’ve internally accepted that on a subconscious level. But I find it really strange that we- as humans who understand and accept other such human anomalies- find it extremely difficult to accept YHVH without limiting Him. We don’t look at Him as simply an anomaly. We inadvertently limit His ability because we cannot really wrap our little minds around His innate abilities as the Sovereign God of the Universe. Let’s face it, maybe the concept is just too big. Maybe we have allowed other people who mean to misrepresent Him to shade our understanding somewhat. Maybe we just think that YHVH has limits because our own faith is small and we can’t admit it. Whatever the case, we have all done it at different stages in our walk; but it behooves us to rethink just how big our God is.
I want to cover just a few examples that we all hear about fairly often, and then share with you where my heart is at concerning them. Understand that I don’t claim to know everything. Let me just say at the outset that I firmly believe that most of us have no idea that we put YHVH in our own boxes and try our best to keep Him there. We ALL have theological viewpoints that are shaped by what we’ve been taught, not necessarily by what is actually true.
Take, for instance, the camp that relies very heavily on the “sacred name” ideology. It’s seemingly innocuous at first glance; however in the quintessential prayer for the family of YHVH- The LORD’s Prayer- as taught to us by Yeshua Himself, there is no use of names. The first line of it is: Abun dbašmayo and means literally, “Our Father” in Syriac, or simply “Abba” or “Dad” in Aramaic or Hebrew. My own earthly Dad used to tell us that any male can be a father, but that it takes a man to be a dad. He’s absolutely right. When we call on Abba, we are calling our Dad in Heaven. Not JUST a father, but a loving, personal Daddy. Who cares deeply for us. Who moves Heaven and Earth for us. Who is invincible. Just like we are designed to see our earthly dads when we are children. We are meant to see them as titans who are forever and wise and caring and perfect. The big difference is that our Heavenly Dad IS perfect, and He carries that amazing level of love for us in His heart. It doesn’t make sense then to believe that we HAVE to call upon the Lord using His “sacred” name. Yeshua didn’t. He called Him Dad. And He told us to call Him Dad, too. But we limit YHVH’s ability to reach others and we limit their ability to be heard of YHVH by believing in “sacred names” and touting the toxic doctrine that so often follows that ideology. It puts YHVH in a box that perhaps we weren’t even intending to put Him in.
Another good example is pagans. We so often believe that YHVH cannot reach pagans because they are so far outside of the scope of holiness that they are lost causes to both Him and to us. Not true. The three wise men were pagans. Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan. Pharaoh was a pagan. Ahasuerus was a pagan. YHVH used every one of them in a mighty way to accomplish His will. In fact, He used them in the exact same way that He uses His own faithful people who follow His laws. He sent angels to deliver messages, spoke to them in dreams, sent others to be witnesses to what YHVH was saying, sent prophets, etc. And the miraculous thing I see about these stories is that these dirty, unwashed pagans heeded the voice of the LORD quicker and with more conviction than God’s children do. They never once questioned WHO was talking to them like Gideon did. They didn’t doubt that The God of Israel meant business, like Jonah. They didn’t grumble heavily against Him like the entire nation of Israel in the wilderness. They simply understood who He was and were used as vessels to carry out His will. Amazing stuff, really. But we have such a bent on limiting YHVH that we may say things like, “YHVH won’t use me. I’m not good enough.” ABSOLUTELY FALSE! If YHVH can and does use even unbelieving pagans and heathens, He can and will certainly use you.
There are so many more examples like this as well. There are a good number of people who believe that YHVH cannot use women to preach, or that He doesn’t want to. Wrong. He chose Huldah to be a prophetess- at the same time as mighty prophets like Jeremiah. Do you think that He used Huldah because Jeremiah was derelict in his manly duties as a prophet? No! He used Huldah because HE WANTED TO. At the time of the resurrection, Yeshua had 11 (Judas was dead and Matthias had not yet replaced him) male disciples that He could have easily chosen to first preach the gospel. And they would have been readily believed because they were male and well educated. A woman’s testimony at that time was only worth half of a man’s. But still, He chose Mary. A woman. Why? Simply because He wanted to. YHVH chose a woman who had formerly been possessed by seven demons to be the first to preach the risen Christ, a woman with five husbands to be the first evangelist in history, a woman with a strong backbone to rule over all of Israel as a judge, and several other women to bring prophetically significant messages to a dying world. He even allowed one woman to sit at His feet while He taught. That alone is of great significance because to sit at the feet of a Rabbi was a place only reserved for disciples. The term disciple carrying amazing significance because it implied inheriting the Master’s authority and then going to teach. Women are just as useful and powerful in the kingdom as men, but we just have a way of limiting YHVH by believing that women aren’t called for places of authority within the church body or in ministry. It limits both the women who are called into this ministry and the God who created and called them, and it’s a shame on us as His people.
What about healing? If we believe any of the above things, we put ourselves in the terrible position of teaching ourselves accidentally that Yeshua’s miracles and healing might not have actually happened the way the scriptures tell us. Why do I say this? Think about this for a moment. We are used to seeing charlatan faith healers on TV. It’s tragic but true. These people are false teachers and while we should stand ready to call them out and expose them for what they are, we can instead fall into the trap of seeing a woman who posts a story online about being miraculously healed of stage four terminal cancer by prayer and fasting and not truly believe her. In our minds, we discount that YHVH would really heal that person or this infirmity, or move this mountain, or clear that path, because we are inadvertently limiting His ability based on what we have been conditioned to believe. We put YHVH in a box and the next time we need healing, or we know someone who does, we hesitate to take it to YHVH in earnest and we both miss our chance for a miracle, and we fail to allow space for YHVH’s glory to change others.
As I said, we don’t really mean to do it. These ideas come from pastors we have believed that have told us that women can’t preach or be in authority in the kingdom. They come from cessationists who, otherwise perhaps brilliant, have told us that YHVH no longer heals as He did in the bible. These ideas come from people who pervert the gospel, like Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland; who leave us with our spiritual shields up so much so that we accidentally accuse YHVH of being smaller than He is instead of learning how to separate the Good Shepherd from the wolves dressed as sheep. These ideas come from self-proclaimed Torah teachers who deny the very Christ that gave them a shot at eternal life and those who have fallen into the trap of sowing division but may have started out with good intentions.
Don’t believe the hype. Yeshua is all in all. YHVH will not be mocked. Our big “G” God is greater than anything we can imagine or comprehend. When we make the mistake of putting Him in a box from the very real and understandibly human place of our own limitations, our spiritual growth is stunted; but more importantly, someone else’s may be stunted because of how we witness when we have such little faith. Don’t limit YHVH. He has no limits.