In the Scriptures we are often confronted with the Principal of Recognition. First, we come to recognize who God is, e.g. “In the beginning God” and then we come to recognize ourselves, e.g. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” and “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 1:26; 6:5
This is clearly on display in the Book of Job, particularly if we examine the latter chapters where Yahweh speaks, revealing more of His character in bringing Job to an increased knowledge of Whom he has to do (Hebrews 4:13). Subsequently, Job’s eyes are illuminated to see himself now with respect to God; the creature in light of the Creator.
This principal is not limited to Job, but spans all of Scripture and the examples are many. It is evident with Moses (Exodus 34:8); Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-5); Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28); as well as in the New Testament with Peter (Luke 5:8) and the Revelation given to John (Revelation 1:13-17). In each example, and there are others, we see how man is brought to a recognition of his own unworthiness, own sinfulness, in the light of God’s own holiness. We may refer to this revelation as knowledge of God and it is with respect to this knowledge that we have a greater knowledge of self.
Writing in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin comments
“man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself (Vol. 1, pg. 37).”
“we must infer that man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty (Vol. 1, pg. 39)”
Bringing the mind to a knowledge of God, through His general revelation (creation) and divine revelation (Scripture) should cause us to be struck with fear and reverence and then gratefulness that this same God would ever, by grace, condescend to call us (believers) His children. Consequently, as Calvin says, this contemplation of God should cause us to consider ourselves, that we may humbled before him, realizing our sinfulness and weaknesses.
This was the path that God lead Job down, may it also be our path as we come to know more of God and more of ourselves.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.”