Encounters with God in the Bible
This week we take our inspiration from the Day by Day Bible notes which, earlier this year, focussed on some of the encounters with God in the Bible.
God is always at work. Sometimes, however, He breaks into our lives in a more obvious way than usual... although we may not have seen a burning bush or encountered an angel, we can still learn about how God meets with us today by looking at examples from scripture.
Here are 7 encounters with God, one for each day in the coming week…
Sought out by God
Genesis 3:1-13: “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” (read more)
Here we see humans sinning against God for the first time, after being tempted by the devil. The devil wanted to alienate Adam and Eve from God, and so made them doubt by twisting His words, leading them to disobey God’s rules. This event changed humanity’s relationship with God forever.
After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve felt guilt and shame when they realised they were naked and so hid from God. He, however, still searched for them, seeking to have a relationship with them. In verse 21 He even fashioned clothes for them to wear.
From this we see that God asks “Where are you?” even when we’re distant from Him. He wants to have a relationship with us and so we can be confident approaching and talking to Him.
God speaks in a dream
Genesis 28:10-22: There above it stood the Lord and He said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham” (read more)
This passage takes place as Jacob was fleeing from his family after cheating his twin brother, Esau, out of his inheritance. (Read more in Genesis 27). Despite perhaps feeling lonely, and probably guilty, Jacob met God in a dream and was shown tremendous promises for his future; including having as many descendants as the dust of the earth. God also promised that He would always be with Jacob.
From this, we can learn to tune in to what God is telling us, regardless of how far we may seem from Him, or what we have done to distance ourselves from Him and others. This may not necessarily be in dreams, but perhaps through prompts to read a Bible verse, advice from a friend, or even missing a bus home which leads to an exciting conversation! Also know from this that God will still be with you when you make mistakes; He will always have a plan for you.
A personal encounter with God
Exodus 3:1-15: God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!” (read more)
Here we see Moses being called personally by name while he was shepherding, at a moment when God knew he would be alone. This was an encounter made specifically for him – though he still had to see and follow the invitation God set out. Moses was willing to leave his daily tasks and listen to God, and what resulted was an amazing, intimate, conversation in which he heard the many plans for his life.
We perhaps need to open our eyes more to encounters with God, for example through conversations with others. There may also be moments when God will speak with you when you are alone, requiring you to see His invitation and step aside from what you had planned to do. He knows you, and knows which situations to speak with you in. How might he call you by name?
Being open to these personal encounters can lead to discovering the exciting opportunities that God has planned for us individually, as it did for Moses.
An encounter with God’s power
1 Kings 19:11-18: “Go and stand on the mountain… for the LORD is about to pass by” (read more)
Here we see only a small portion of God’s power, yet Elijah had to hide himself from it.
Elijah witnessed God’s ability to control the weather and even the very earth, but after these powerful events he hears God in a quiet, calm whisper. As mentioned in our article on how to pray, how much more will God be capable of if this is only a small part of his power?
It seems Elijah wasn’t fully aware of what He’d just witnessed, just as we may not always be aware of when God is appearing to us. We might also be looking for the wrong sign – we might be waiting for the fire or rushing wind. Sometimes His presence is not always obvious and we may have to listen closely to hear what He is saying, like listening to a quiet whisper.
A life changing encounter
Luke 1:26-38: the angel said to [Mary] “Do not be afraid…you have found favour with God” (read more)
When Gabriel first greeted Mary she was greatly troubled, as I imagine we all would be! Despite this, she was very rational in the conversation she had with the angel; she asked questions to help her understand what was happening.
Mary knew she could trust what Gabriel said, as he promised for no word from God will ever fail. This promise ultimately led to God’s Son breaking into our world in the biggest way imaginable, just as it had been promised throughout the Old Testament.
Let’s echo Mary’s words, may Your word to me be fulfilled and be willing to let God shape our lives, knowing that His word will never fail. How about the job He’s pushing you towards, the charity work He’s given you a passion for, or the person He’s prompting you to share your faith with?
Clarity from confusion
Luke 24:13-27: He explained to them all that was said in the Scriptures concerning Himself (read more)
In the Bible we read plenty of encounters during Jesus’ time on Earth, from His birth through to this passage, after His resurrection. Here we see the disciples oblivious to who they were talking with and even reluctant to recognise Jesus as the Messiah, despite the prophecies about Him. Jesus had to walk them through all that had been said and come true about Him to help clarify their confusion.
Sometimes we doubt and don’t see the bigger picture of how God is at work, and that’s ok. There are some fantastic ways to remind yourself of, or learn about, the basics of our faith, including attending an Alpha course https://alpha.org.uk/which Bristo are hoping to run very soon.
You may have an encounter with God that isn’t about showing you the next step of your own life, but rather revealing something about Him.
Reading the Bible in a regular and committed way can help with this; Jesus in this example was speaking to people who knew the scriptures intimately. He used their existing knowledge to enlighten them and show them the deeper truths behind their knowledge.
Encountering God through others
Acts 8:26-40: Then Philip…told him the good news about Jesus (read more)
In this passage we see how God both sends assistance in times of need and sends us to others facing difficult times. Philip and the Ethiopian were brought together because God knew that one was able to increase the understanding of the other – and through this human encounter, both men experienced God. For the Ethiopian this experience was very fleeting, and he was probably left a little bewildered when Philip vanished! However, we see how he was changed forever through being saved by Jesus: he went on his way rejoicing.
God will also find ways of helping us understand His word with the help of others, whether through shared Bible resources, study groups, and other encounters. Like Phillip we can help others understand His word too, through sharing blogs like this or chatting to those around us. God might want to use us to create an encounter between Him and someone else. Keep an eye out for opportunities from God to do this!
What other encounters with God in the Bible inspire you? What encounters have you had yourself with Him? Let us know!