Did God Make Himself?

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A key feature of my booth at Missions Fest in Vancouver last month was a simple sign that read, “Ask me a Bible question!” This resulted in many interesting, sometimes challenging, discussions. My favorite question of the weekend was from a young girl, about ten years old, who asked me, “Did God Make Himself?” I was very touched by her sincerity and interest. I assumed that the inquiry stemmed from her correct understanding that God created everything that exists. Therefore, it is logical that since God exists, he must have created himself.

First, I told her that God simply exists. Since he wasn’t created, no one, included himself, created him. I referred her to the interaction between God and Moses at the burning bush, when Moses asked God what he should say to the people of Israel if they would ask him God’s name (see Exodus 3:13-15). God responded with “I am who I am” and that Moses should say, “’I am’ has sent me to you.” This use of the verb “to be” (Hebrew: “hayah”) is the basis of the most common name for God in the Bible, spelled out in Hebrew as, yod-hey-vav-hey (YHVH), and is represented in most English translations as LORD in all capitals. God’s name, therefore, establishes him as “The Being.” I like how French translations use, “L’Eternel” (the Eternal One), emphasizing the idea of “he who has and always will exist.”

This is all to say that God is self-existing, the only being in the universe who is uncreated, self-sustaining, and self-dependent. Our problem with biblical God concepts such as this is that they are so utterly different from our own experience of life. But it’s this vast difference between the nature of God and ours that is key to understanding the God of the Bible. We need to remember that he is not like us. This is central to what his holiness means. Proclaiming God as holy is to acknowledge he is so very different from ourselves. We must constantly guard against reducing him to our level of existence and explaining him on our terms. While he has graciously made himself accessible to us, he is nevertheless completely different from us. Although it is impossible for dependent creatures such as ourselves to fully comprehend such a being as the God of Israel, we do have the ability to accept his self-existence as valid, as I sensed this young girl was doing.

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