Australian historian and philosopher John Dickson points out an almost undeniable paradox in Western culture and spirituality:

“You might call it a spirituality of distraction. It’s not that we don’t think about the ‘great things’, it’s just that we find the distraction of the ‘lesser things’ easier to handle. Three out of four of us believe in the existence of God and the reality of the afterlife, according to the most recent research, but you’d never know it just listening to the conversations at work or in the pub, or to the public discourse in the media. We have this extraordinary ability to think big but live small.”

Our lives are a series of ups and downs, and not just as our circumstances change, but emotionally and spiritually even when our situation remains largely the same. Why is this?

Yes, we might answer truthfully and accurately that it is because we are just human, but I suggest to you that it is also because we too often forget that God is not human! Among many smaller, individual reasons for our emotional and spiritual wavering, there is this disconnect between what we know to be the human condition and what the Bible reveals about the greatness of God.

The Bible could not be more clear: “God is not a man” (Numbers 23:19).

Yet, what God says is in Psalm 50:21 is too often, too deeply true of us: “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” Here’s the claim of Scripture: God is not man, and that’s a good thing!

In the context of this assertion in the book of Numbers, this is what is taking place: As the nation of Israel came in like a flood, Moabite king Balak hired a seer named Balaam to curse Israel and help them defeat this enemy. Yet, although the pagan king Balak and the reprobate prophet Balaam did their best to curse and undo the peace and protection of God’s people, they were both reminded of the impossibility of their endeavor. The reason? Because God is not man.

And there are four specific ways in which God’s superior nature and character are emphasized: God is not man, that He should lie; Neither the son of man, that He should repent: Hath He said, and shall hH not do it? Or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?”

1) Because God is not man, He does not lie.

Lying is an undeniable part of fallen humanity. But God is not man!

Who told the truth to Adam and Eve, concerning eating the fruit? God said: “You shall surely die.” satan said: “You shall not surely die.”

No matter how it is painted, spun, or marketed, sin always comes down to this: will you believe God, or will you trust satan?

Whether the issue is happiness in marriage, raising children, the definition of success, a sabbath of rest, or sexual fulfillment — God is not man, He does not lie, and so we can trust the truth and counsel we find in His Word.

In fact, Jesus insists, as the God-man, He not only speaks truth but is the Truth! “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me’” (John 14:6). It is because Jesus is the truth and the life we must not only trust Him but trust in Him!

If our soul is not firmly anchored, it is not because Jesus Christ is in any way insufficient, but because we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from His abundant sufficiency. God is not man, that He should lie.

2) God does not repent or change.

We change our fashions, change our minds, change our priorities, change our majors in college. But God is not man.

Unlike us, God does not need to learn or grow or mature: God is omniscient (all-knowing). As we are told in Psalm 147:5, his understanding is infinite. God never changes or ages, although everything else does.

This is both sobering and encouraging, because God does not change His declarations of judgment or of deliverance. After describing events of His second coming, which include both promises of salvation and of judgment, Jesus says: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away… Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:33, 36).

3) When God speaks, He also acts.

We promise to pray for people, say we’ll be there for people in their need, but many times fail to follow through: but God is not man!

When God speaks, it is never feel-good platitudes or empty-headed philosophy; what He says and what He does are always a perfect match.

Consider this, then, when you read God-speech like in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.” And God-breathed words like Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”

4) When God promises, He also fulfills.

Especially in an election year like this one, promises are flying through the air fast and furiously. But God is not man! God is not running for election, and He never over-promises or under-delivers.

No one can undo or hinder His promises from coming to pass! You can almost hear the chagrin in Balaam’s voice as he is brought to prophecy, “Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it” (Numbers 23:20).

May the good news that God is not man rush over you today, convicting you of your human depravity and sin, and encouraging you with His sure promises of forgiveness and salvation to those who repent and trust in His trustworthy grace through Jesus Christ. Because, although God is not man, He did become a man in the person of Jesus Christ — and took the place of sinful humans on the cross so that we could know and enjoy the perfection and presence of our holy God.

May you live in the bigness of the God who is not man.