(“Doubting Thomas,” by Italian painter Caravaggio, 1601-02)

Christianity teaches that God shows himself to humans in two ways:

  • General Revelation, the evidence that can and should be seen by every person who looks at the natural world and thinks about where it all came from, what it means and how it impacts their life: “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament declares his handiwork” (Psalm 19).
  • Special Revelation, ways in which God steps into human history and tells people something more about himself and his purposes: as in his appearances to Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.; the giving of the Old Testament Law; messages through the Prophets, and especially, the coming of Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that both kinds of revelation are gifts from God that help us find our way through life and show us how to connect with him.

A friend recently put me in touch with a 1970 song that was new to me, written and sung by the Great Country singer Johnny Cash. It’s a love song called “Flesh and Blood”* (The lyrics may be found here; you can listen to Johnny Cash sing the song here). The lyrics alternate between romantic insights inspired by a mountain stream, the leaves of various beautiful trees, a flock of flying geese and the song of a cardinal, contrasted with the strong affirmation that what the author really wanted was the lady who was the object of his affection. The concluding lines tell the story:

Mother Nature’s quite a Lady,
But you’re the one I need;
Flesh and Blood need Flesh and Blood,
And you’re the one I need.

The human race has been immeasurably enriched through General Revelation: the great philosophers, artists, poets and scientists have been challenged and nourished by what they have observed over the centuries of thought and discovery, and many impressive religions have tried to express nature’s cosmic meaning. But there has always been a longing for something more, the key to it all, the ultimate connection between a human seeker and the Creative Meaning behind the grandeur of Nature. The Special Revelation God gave through his Old Testament People made them hungry for even more. It wasn’t until Jesus came into the world, God’s Son in Flesh and Blood, that they understood what their souls were really desiring. “Mother Nature (General Revelation) is quite a Lady,” but a person longing for a satisfying, intimate relationship with God needs the ultimate Special Revelation through the Flesh-and-Blood Savior God sent into the world to save us.

This week we learned about some members of ABC’s extended family who have been either diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. This is a time when we need to be reminded that we have a Flesh-and-Blood Savior who is “able to sympathize with our weakness” because he “in every respect has been tested as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).

– Pastor George Van Alstine