Knowledge of God

 Martyr Sergius in Syria

Martyr Sergius in Syria

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

by Archimandrite Sophrony

"O Thou Who art: O God the Father, Almighty Master: Who hast created us and brought us into this life: Vouchsafe that we may know Thee, The one True God."

The human spirit hungers for knowledge--for entire, integral knowledge. Nothing can destroy our longing to know and, naturally, our ultimate craving is for knowledge of Primordial Being, of Whom or What actually exists. All down the ages man has paid instinctively homage to this First Principle. Our fathers and forefathers reverenced Him in different ways because they did not know Him as He is, (I John 3:2). Some (surely they were among the wisest) set up 'an altar with this inscription, to the Unknown God' (Acts 17:23). Even in our day we are continually made aware that reason per se cannot advance us over the threshold to the "Unknown', God is our only means of access to this higher knowledge, if He will reveal Himself.

The problem of knowledge of God sends the mind searching back through the centuries for instances of God appearing to man through one or other of the Prophets. There can be no doubt that for us, for the whole Christian world, one of the most important happenings recorded in the chronicles of time was God's manifestation on Mount Sinai where Moses received new knowledge of Divine Being: 'I am that I am' (Exodus 3:14)--Jehovah. From that moment vast horizons opened out before mankind, and history took a new turn. A people's spiritual condition is the real cause of historical event: it is not the visible that is of primary importance but the invisible, the spiritual. Perceptions and ideas concerning being, and the meaning of life generally, seek expression and in so doing instigate the historical event. 

Moses, possessed of the supreme culture of Egypt, did not question that the revelation that he was so miraculously given came from Him Who had indeed created the whole universe. In the Name of this God, I am, he persuaded the Jewish people to follow him. Invested with extraordinary power from Above, he performed many wonders (miracles). To Moses belongs the undying glory of having brought mankind nearer to Eternal Truth. Convinced of the authenticity of his vision, he issued his injunctions as prescripts from on High. All things were effected in the Name and by Name of the I am Who has revealed Himself. Mighty is this Name in its strength and holiness--it is action proceeding from God. This Name was the first ingress into the living eternity; the dayspring of knowledge of the unoriginated Absolute as I am.

In the Name of Jehovah Moses led the still primitive Israelites out of the captivity of Egypt. During their wanderings in the desert, however, he discovered that his people were far from ready, despite the many miracles they had witnessed, to receive the sublime revelation of the Eternal. This became particularly clear as they approached the borders of the Promised Land. Their faintheartedness and lack of faith caused the Lord to declare that none of those impregnated with the spirit of Egypt should see the 'good land' (Deut. 1:32, 35, 38). They would leave their bones in the wilderness, and Moses would encourage and prepare a new generation more capable of apprehending God--Invisible but holding all things in the palm of His hand...

"...for us Christians the focal point of the universe and the ultimate meaning of the entire history of the world is the coming of Jesus Christ, Who did not repudiate the archetypes of the Old Testament but vindicated them, unfolding to us their real significance and bringing new dimensions to all things--infinite, eternal dimensions. Christ's new covenant announces the beginning of a fresh period in the history of mankind. Now the Divine sphere was reflected in the searchless grandeur of the love and humility of God, our Father. With the coming of Christ all was changed: the new revelation affected the destiny of the whole created world.

It was given to Moses to know that Absolute Primordial Being is not some general entity, some impersonal cosmic process or supra-personal, all-transcending 'Non-Being'. It was proved to him that this Being had a personal character and was a living and life-giving God. Moses, however, did not receive a clear vision: he did not see God in light as the Apostles saw Him on Mount Tabor--'Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was' (Exodus 20:21). This can be interpreted variously but the stress lies on the incognizable character of God, though in what sense and in what connection we cannot be certain. Was Moses concerned with the impossibility of knowing the Essence of the Divine Being? Did he think that if God is Person, then He cannot be eternally single in Himself, for how could there be eternal metaphysical solitude? Here was this God ready to lead them but lead them where and for what purpose? What sort of immortality did He offer? Having reached the frontier of the Promised Land, Moses died...

"...Our fathers in the Church and the Apostles who taught us to honor the True God were well aware that, though the life of the Divine Spirit excels all earthly institutions, this same Spirit still constructs for Himself a dwelling place of a tangible nature to serve as vessel for the preservation of His gifts. This habitation of the Holy Spirit is the Church, which through centuries of tempest and violence has watched over the precious treasure of Truth as revealed by God...

"...In Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit God gave us the full and final revelation of Himself. His Being now for us is the First Reality, incomparably more evident than all the transient phenomena of this world. We sense His Divine presence both within us and without: in the supreme majesty of the universe, in the human face, in the lightning flash of thought. He opens our eyes that we may behold and delight in the beauty of His creation. He fills our souls with love towards all mankind. His indescribably gentle touch pierces our heart. And in the hours when His imperishable Light illumines our heart we know that we shall not die. We know this with a knowledge impossible to prove in the ordinary way but which for us requires no proof, since the Spirit Himself bears witness within us.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George