From what should we turn to God?

Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?

Malachi 3:7

When we talk about turning to God, usually the first thing we think of is sin, and we conjure up the image of a perverted and depraved person, living in the light of a life of pleasures. The reason for thinking this way is due to the religious concepts that constitute the religious self of our existence and of our societies.

But, as we will evaluate in the development of this material, such a conception is quite far from the scriptural truth.

The exhortation of the prophet Malachi is addressed to a people who know God, who have knowledge of God’s laws, who invoke His name and who celebrate ceremonial rituals in worship of Him.

The introduction of the book reads:

The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi. I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Malachi 1:1-3

How is it possible that such an exhortation is addressed to them then? In fact, it is precisely the question they ask Malachi: But you said, “What shall we return to?

Do these words have any relevance for us, should we study them, or are they simply references?

From the very moment that the apostle Paul wrote that if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you,[1] it means that Malachi’s exhortation is still valid for us, and we must answer the question. What shall we turn from?

We must turn to God from the concept that we have forged of him.

In the first ten prescriptions that God gave to Moses on Mount Horeb was the one I read,

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:3-6

For the practitioners of the Word of God at that time, the terms image, likeness, and even other gods, had to do with forms, carved or cast, in general, tangible elements of portrayed figures.

However, since we have as a teaching antecedent the, you have heard that it was said, but I say to you, of the doctrine of Jesus, we must understand that image, likeness, and even other gods, have to do with concepts that we forge of something. And here is the relevance for us.

What concept do we have of God? Unfortunately, due to the philosophy of our societies, to the multiple mentalities that we forge daily, and that permeate even the church, and to the syncretic tendency of our religions, we have developed a concept of a fire-quenching, problem-solving God, who is obliged to answer us and to grant us EVERYTHING we ask of Him. That concept-image-is not biblical, and we must turn to what the Bible teaches us about Him.

In the heading of the instruction of the first prescriptions of God, we read: I am the LORD your God. God is NOT presenting Himself, although most English translations and revisions of the Bible present Him as the imperative of, I am your God, without leaving Him any choice; it should be read and understood as: I, JEHOVAH am your God.[2] The concept that we have of Him is important.

The concept that we have of Him is important, and in this text, it is observed that the action does not fall on the ten commandments, as religion has inculcated in us, but on knowing the one who is giving them, that is: I, JEHOVAH. To know Him, to understand Him, is important, to avoid incurring in the error of forging false concepts.

Is God obliged to answer me, to give me everything I ask for, to alter my living conditions and environment so that I do not suffer? The answer is no, God is not obligated, but that is the concept that many of us have, and we get angry with Him when we do not get what we ask for. The apostle Paul wrote in the following terms:

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:19-21

Job found wisdom through the pain of seeing that his righteousness did not free him from the suffering of having lost everything, and expressed: If I call upon Him, and He answers me, I will not yet believe that He has heard my voice.[3] Job understood that God is not obliged to answer us, nor to change things around us to spare us from suffering. Later, God reproved even his complaint, and confronted him: Is it wisdom to contend with the Almighty? He who contends with God, let him answer this.[4] What shall we turn from?

From what shall we turn? From the inadequate concepts that we have formed of God. The absence of faith, of subjection, even the manner of worshipping Him, and the worship of His name depend on the concept that we have of Him.

In many of our meetings, apostasy, rebellion, profanation of the holy, and even contamination, develop precisely because we work around a malformed and erroneous concept of God.

God is Almighty (El-Shaday), was the first thing Abraham learned: I am God Almighty; walk before me and be perfect. What it meant for Abraham was to stop directing his life according to the customs of his time, and to let the Almighty establish the path and the way of his walk. These words came as a confrontation for the decision to have accepted and walked according to the advice to have a son through Hagar, seeking fulfillment of God’s promise to make him like the sand of the sea.

Having a clear, true concept was the first lesson of all those who served the Lord. On that depends that everything goes well in life.

Pastor Pedro Montoya

[1] Romanos 11.21

[2] The word “I am,” in Hebrew, does not exist. It is implicit in this phrase.

[3] Job 9:16

[4] Ídem 39:30