Who needs to read the instructions when you can just look at the pictures? As a kid I often got toys that needed to be assembled. The instructions on the box were big pictures with very few words. I remember well the Ready Ranger backpack, the G.I. Joe Jeep, and a cutting-edge water rocket. Boom ... I had these treasures put together in minutes. Life was good.
I miss the simplicity of childhood. Assembling a complex piece of furniture or electronics is a whole new ballgame. Sure, they usually come with some technical diagrams and detailed instructions, but I prefer to look at the pictures on the box. The result is usually hours of frustration and dark thoughts of just returning the whole thing to Amazon. Even in my late forties, I’m still trusting my own intuition instead of the manufacturer’s instructions.
Sometimes I try to approach God the same way. But there are no shortcuts to knowing Him. Pictures are helpful, but instructions are vital.
General Revelation — Helpful Pictures
God reveals Himself in two ways. Theologians call these general revelation and special revelation. General revelation does not come as nouns and verbs; it comes to us through the splendor of creation. Whether we are looking through a microscope or a telescope, the message is clear — God is real! "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). This is happening every moment of every day, and no place on earth or in the cosmos escapes this message (Psalm 19:2–4).
Revelation also exists inside people, through their conscience. "The work of the law [is] written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Romans 2:15).
What do these helpful pictures communicate?
The Creator's Existence (Psalm 19:1) — He is here and everywhere. He leaves His providential fingerprints on everything. Every day.
The Creator's Glory (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20) — He is not like us and we are not equal to Him. His attributes, eternal power, and divine nature are exalted above all creation and eternity.