- Rick LoPresti
The hunger of God
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen 1:1)." This is the first verse in the Bible, and one of the most well known. This seemingly simple statement has so many profound implications. It shows us the eternality of God, His unique and unlimited power, His self-existence, and His creativity. It shows us that we are not our own, but we belong to Him and are accountable to Him. It shows us or leads us to the answers to the big and basic questions of life: where do we come from, why are we here, and where are we going? We are created by God, we are here to fulfill His will (Rev 4:11), and we are heading for one of two eternal destinations - heaven or hell (Jn 5:24-29).
Genesis 1:1 also shows us that everything that exists came from God, and is sustained by Him (Jn 1:1-14, Col 1:16-17, Heb 1:3). Therefore, He is self-sustaining and needs nothing else to exist or function. When David was dedicating all the materials for the construction of the temple, he said that although they were presenting all of those treasures to God, all they were really doing was giving God what was already His (1Chr 29:14-16). He continued that what they were actually presenting to God was their willing hearts to do right (vs 17). David was saying that what God wanted most was not their stuff, but themselves. God wanted relationship with His creation and His people. When David confessed his sin to God, he said God wanted a repentant heart more than an animal sacrifice (Ps 51:16-19). When Samuel confronted Saul, he also taught the same principle - God wants a relationship through obedience more than our human efforts (1Sam 13:12-14).
Is it possible for God to need anything? He is omnipotent (Mt 28:18, Rev 1:8, Rev 19:6). He has all power. He is omniscient (Ps 139:1-6). He knows all things. He is omnipresent (Ps 139:7-12). He is everywhere. What could He need? God cannot worship or pray. He is God. Some think when Jesus prayed it was God the Son praying to God the Father. The phrase God the Son is not biblical. Jesus did not pray as a person in the Godhead. He prayed as a man in the flesh (Heb 5:7). God also cannot lie or sin (2Cor 5:21, Titus 1:2, 1Pet 2:22). So what does God need? In Psalm 50:8-11, God told Israel He was not primarily concerned with their animal sacrifices. The animals already belong to Him. If He was hungry, He would not need man to provide Him with food (vs 12). God is a Spirit (Jn 4:24). A spirit does not have flesh and bones (Lk 24:39). God does not need physical, earthly sustenance. So what is He hungry for? He desires a relationship with us. He wants our worship and prayer (vs 14-15). He wants to refrain from evil and do His commandments so He can bless us (vs 16-23).
Jesus approached a well of water in Samaria (Jn 4). His disciples went to buy food. The Lord spoke with a woman at the well about satisfying her spiritual thirst. She had attempted to satisfy herself with sinful, carnal pleasures. He described what a true relationship with God is really like. It is not based on our ignorant attempts at religious activity (vs 19-22). It is based on knowing God, and worshipping Him in spirit and in truth (vs 24). The disciples returned with food and offered it to Jesus. He said He had meat to eat they did not know about. They misunderstood that He was talking about earthly things instead of spiritual ones. He said His meat was to do the will of the Father. This was to be their focus as well (vs 35-38).
When Paul went to Athens, he found a city that was very religious (Acts 17:15-31). They gave all their time to discussing new religious and philosophical ideas. There were altars all over the city. They even had one dedicated to "the unknown God". Paul preached a simple but profound message about the one true God and Creator. He said God doesn't need anything from us. He gives us all life and breath and all things. What He wants is for us to seek Him and find Him. We should not think of God in material terms, but spiritual ones.
He is hungry, but not for food. He is hungry for us to know Him. He is hungry for a relationship with us. He gave us the choice, because He wants it based on love, not force of will. Love can only be chosen. The one thing God wants the most He cannot just take. It must be given willingly. It is us. He spoke the universe into existence from nothing (Gen 1), but He values us more (Mt 16:24-27). One of the great mysteries of life is why God loves us so much. It is so basic and simple, but sometimes it is so hard to believe. He loves us more than we could love ourselves, no matter how selfish we can be. Just as a person has a natural drive built into them to eat for their body, God has a built-in desire to have a relationship with us. It is why He created us. He calls the church His bride (Eph 5:22-33) and His children (1Jn 3:1-2) - the two most intimate relationships people can have. That is how close He wants to be with us.