Some years back I had an amazing revelation when I was reading Psalm 115 related to the existence of God—not whether He exists but how to digest the arguments against His existence by those who do not recognize Him. In Psalm 115, the writer includes a section about idols:
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak;
They have eyes, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear;
They have noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
They have feet, but they cannot walk;
They cannot make a sound with their throat. (vv 4-7)
The thing is, this is written in juxtaposition to “But our God is in the heavens.” In other words, by implication, the psalmist is saying, God is all that these idols are not.
My thought was, how did the psalmist know? Did he see a vision of God? Or accept that God had spoken through the Torah? Did he believe the stories passed down from father to son about God in the midst of Israel’s camp for forty straight years—or was he one of those older children who witnessed God’s presence? Was he, perhaps, a high priest who had seen the tablets written by the finger of God? Or had he heard a prophet and witnessed the fulfillment of his words?
Interestingly, this statement that God is in the heavens seems to be unquestioned, not the introduction of a topic to debate.
Years later, Jeremiah said something very similar, but the fact that he was a prophet would indicate to me that he had first hand knowledge of the fact that God lives.
First, reciting what God said, he describes the inanimate idols of the nations, ending with:
“Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they,
And they cannot speak;
They must be carried,
Because they cannot walk!
Do not fear them,
For they can do no harm,
Nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:5)
The next verse, and this would appear to be Jeremiah’s conclusion, says “There is none like You, O LORD;/You are great, and great is Your name in might.”
All this to say, it doesn’t appear that the Israelites had any question about God’s existence. Their problem was His identity.
Moses’s question was this: When the people ask me for Your name, what should I tell them?
I used to have trouble with the answer: I AM WHO I AM. What did that even mean?
Now I realize it is most profound. God is and always has been. He is before anything else was and He will continue to be, without end. He is the creator and sustainer of the world. All things find their being in Him and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him is life and breath. And He has no end.
So my revelation? Questioning the existence of God seems to be a very modern thing. The psalmist and Jeremiah had no problem identifying false gods as nothing, but they knew quite well that God lives.
This article, minus some minor editorial changes, first appeared here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction in December 2007.