Book Review The Jesus Who Surprises

How Distant is Your God?

My God is Not Distant… Ever

In today’s society, many would want you to believe that God is distant or uninterested in our lives. That’s is if He exists at all. But I find Him very near to my heart. Ever watching and directing my life.

book cover, The Jesus who surprises
My God is Not Distant.
Recently released book by Dee Brestin

Today, I’d like to show you how God strives to be near us. I recently read Dee Brestin’s new book study, The Jesus Who Surprises. In the past, I have seen Jesus throughout history but this book study brought new excitement about how much Jesus (and God) has been involved with us since before the creation of the world.

Thou has formed us for Thyself,

and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.

Augustine, The Confessions

God has always desired to be near us.

He created us for the very purpose of having a relationship. In the very beginning, God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit existed together as one. They were (and are) the epitome of LOVE. That love grew to the point of desiring more fellowship. So They, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, together created the universe.

Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost were happy in themselves and enjoyed one another before they created the world but that this kind of love cannot help but spread. He spoke of the living God as a life-giving, warming sun who delights “to spread his beams and his influence in inferrior things, to make all things fruitful.

Dee Bristen, The Jesus Who Surprises, chapter 2

His spirit hovered over the darkness waiting for someone with whom to be relational. God created the earth, the waters, the mountains, the skies. He said, “It is good.” (Genesis 1)

Then finally, He reached down with His hands and took the dust from the earth and created Adam in His own image. He bent low to the earth and breathed breath into Adam’s lungs. [Genesis 2:7] [He was not distant.] Because He didn’t want the man to be alone, He took a rib from the man and created a woman for him to love. Then He said, “It is very good.”

God Maintained Fellowship with Adam

Every evening God came down to earth to fellowship with Adam and Eve. God loved Adam so much; He did not want to force Him to return His love like a robot. So He gave man the opportunity to choose for himself. He set rules before him that would give him a wonderful life and would allow him to fellowship with Him continuously. There was only one DO NOT given, Do NOT eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. [Genesis 2:15-17]

Fellowship was Broken by Man

Sadly, Adam and Eve thought what would be the harm of eating from the tree. So they ate. And then they knew the harm. They suddenly felt the shame of their disobedience. And they covered themselves with leaves and hid in the bushes. [Genesis 3]

When God came that evening to fellowship together with them, they could “not be found”. God called to them, “Where are you?” But their shame made them fearful to present themselves to God knowing that they had sinned. God’s desire for fellowship never changed, but Adam and Eve chose to be distant.

But God Did Not Want to Be Distant with Adam and Eve

This post was inspired by the prompt "Distant" and the book The Jesus Who Surprises
This post was partly inspired by this prompt

So he provided a way for them to restore that fellowship. Again, He remained near to solve the problem. He killed an animal to use the skins for a covering. The spilling of blood would be the only way to cover the sins of man. At least for then, God promised that one day He would provide a perfect lamb to cover their sins.

Yes, God could have remained distant right then and left a chasm between Himself and Man. But He came down to them. He gently brought their sin to their attention, but then He provided clothing. And He promised to provide an advocate, Jesus.

God Works Through History to Restore Man to Himself

All through the centuries, He came near to them, guiding and directing their lives. They would turn away and become distant from Him and He would gently draw them back to Himself. He promised to take their hearts of stone and live within them. So many times, mankind turned away, but God came close again and again. [ Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10 ] Again let me share the words of Dee…

The Bible isn’t about us but about Jesus. Jesus is the greater Adam, who resists the temptation that felled teh first Adam. He is the greater Isaac, who is sacrificed for our sin. Jesus is the greater Moses, who leads His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. And Jesus is the great sacrificial lamb, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises, Chapter 6
The Bible isn't about us but about Jesus. -Dee Brestin #theJesusWhoSurprises Click To Tweet

Finally, When the Timing was Perfect…

He came to earth to live with us. His son, born of a virgin, he came as a man, yet still God. His name was Jesus. [ Luke 1 & 2] He lived among them and taught them. But mankind again turned away. They refused to believe it was God in the flesh. They crucified Him on a cross made for thieves and murderers.

BUT GOD, raised Jesus to life again, defeating the grave, death, and evil. [Matthew 28] Once again and for all time the chasm between God and man had a bridge. The Distance was removed and we can fellowship with Him once again. Our sins are covered because Jesus paid the full price of the punishment.

He Desires a Marriage-like Relationship with us

Throughout the Bible, you will find descriptions of the kind of relationship God desires with us likened to a marriage. That is how much He loves us. Think of your first love; how you wanted to be with your love every moment. And when you were apart, you could only think of them. This is how God desires to be with us. God created marriage as a beautiful relationship so that we could understand the possibility of having a relationship with Himself. Songs of Solomon is the perfect Biblical example. There is nothing distant about a marriage relationship. God desires the ultimate love story with us. Dee Brestin put it this way.

This earthly love storypoints to the ultimate love story, that of Christ and His bride. A metaphor that the bride uses in this Song [of Solomon] to describe her beloved has penetrated my heart and helped me to trust Him when He hides.

Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises, Chapter Two

There are many more marriage metaphors within the Bible: Ruth and Boaz, Hosea who married a prostitute to and kept redeeming her to show us how God keeps running after us even when we sin, and absolutely we can look to Revelations 19 and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

The metaphor of the bride and her beloved has penetrated my heart. #deebrestin #thejesuswhosurprises #bookreview Click To Tweet

God Remains Not Distant

We can find God in so many ways today. He is in every sunrise, in every flower and tree, in little kindnesses that people afford us. In her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp learned and shared that finding God’s gifts to us was the way to bring joy into our life. She offers 3 prompts for every day. Dee Brestin spotted four specific ways to spy God in our every day lives.

1. obvious answers to pray

2. Any unexpected evidence of His care

3. Help to do God’s work in the world

4. unusual linkage or timing

Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises, Chapter 13
Four ways to spy God in every day life. @deebrestin #thejesuswhosurprises Click To Tweet

God Has Chosen us, But we Must Choose Him Also

God has given us the choice to be distant from Him or not distant. He has given the choice throughout scripture. The most obvious is when Joshua told the people to choose.

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

in the Psalms

King David shares in the Psalms many times that God is guiding and directing us. Showing us the way to go. He desires us to choose Him but ultimately, the choice is ours to make.

I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me.

Let Your hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Your precepts.

Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

Psalm 119:30; Psalm 119:173; Psalm 25:12

In the Gospels

When he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Mark 8:34

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

in the Epistles of Paul

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-11; Romans 13:2

In Revelations

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Revelations 3:20

And Finally, in the New Earth

As we study the Bible and see Jesus in everything, we will realize that this world is not our home. our Desire to be united with Jesus will increase more and more. This world and its evil will be destroyed. God will renew all things. The New Earth and the New Jerusalem will come down. We will live in the New Eden in perfect fellowship with God once again. The prophet Isaiah said and is quoted by the Apostle Paul.

No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, not the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

What a day that will be! C.S. Lewis said,

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Let me close with one last quote from Dee’s book.

But indeed, the invitation to our real home is open to all who choose to receive the free gift Jesus offers. He paid the price He did not owe so that we could have the life we do not deserve. It is a free gift, but you must come to Him in repentance and faith…. This is the Good News of the Gospel.

.

My hope is that seeing this same story from Genesis to Revelation will give you great confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures and the truths they hold. For Jesus that surprised the two on the road to Emmaus, and surprises us in our everyday lives, is not at all finished surprising us.

Dee Brestin, The Jesus Who Surprises

God is Not Distant

I pray that you know Him today. If you are skeptical or if you love Him and just want to celebrate His beautiful plan, Please get your hands on one of these study books. You won’t regret it.

Mandy Farmer

P.S. Dee Brestin’s book is available now for purchase as well as her free videos studies. Find them here.

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