Who is God?
Maybe you’ve asked this question before. And maybe you’ve asked the question, “Why does it matter?” a couple of times as well. One thing that I believe Christians should think about is how our understanding of God affects how we interact with the world around us. Consider this:
- If God is holy and calls us to be so, then we should pursue holiness as well.
- If God seems to uphold the value of human beings as making them the carrier of His image, then we should value human life, no matter what he or she may look like at any stage of development.
- If God is forgiving, then this means that being made in His image includes us having the capacity to forgive, and thus we should seek to forgive others, even our enemies.
- If God is completely hands off in the world and doesn’t care about what we do with it, then we shouldn’t care either.
God’s character means everything for the Christian… and for the world. If this is the case then we must then ask: What is God like?
Scripture is full of instances where God displays His character. From His justice displayed by way of The Flood and the Canaanite Removal to the loving kindness shown to those who confess the name of Yahweh in the OT and the name of Christ in the NT, we see a big God, who is justified in giving Himself the title of King, Lord, and Ruler of the Cosmos. And so, the question remains. Does the Bible provide a clear image of who Yahweh is? Is it a matter of picking out bits and pieces from interactions between God and His people, Israel, or are we given expectations for how God is to act?
On The Road… I Mean, The Exodus!
Imagine you are going to a party. At this party will be a mutual friend that you have never met before. You hear all of these things about this friend. The person is shy, anxious, doesn’t talk much, and doesn’t seem to like people.
Imagine going to this party with this in the back of your head and all of a sudden you notice that this person is nothing like this at all!
In fact he is loud, boisterous, the life of the party, includes everyone in the games, is very personable, and seems to carry the room!
What happened? The person you met seems to not match the person that was described. In fact, he is the complete opposite of how he was described to you!
I think sometimes we allow the world to tell us who God is without considering the idea that He has a lot to say about Himself as well. In fact, I’ve heard a lot of things about God that I did not see reflected in Scripture.
He is a raging narcissist. He is mean. He is evil. He is petty.
I had to work through all of these claims about God growing up, and it surely wasn’t easy.
We listen to so many outside descriptions, all the while not letting God have a say. What I want to do in this article is to open up a conversation about who God is. I would like to present God’s character as how He describes Himself and in future articles, I want to see how He lives up to these traits and show the implications for us as His image bearers.
To The Bible!
So, open up your Bible to Exodus 34: 6-9. Here is the ESV translation:
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.” – Exodus 34: 6-9
Take a moment to write down what you see.
What Do We See?
In this passage, we see God describing Himself to Moses on the top of Mount Sanai. His description of Himself is as follows: He is merciful, gracious, steadfast in love, faithful, forgiving, and just.
Take a moment to reflect on how God describes Himself and answer the following questions:
- What are moments in Scripture where you see Yahweh live up to His to character?
- Where do you think He did not?
- What are the implications for us?
The Implications Are Huge.
In essence the answers to these 3 questions will impact what we think about God. If there are moments in Scripture where we believe that God did not live up to His character, then we may find Him to be untrustworthy and thus unfollowable. If we find Him to be consistent with His character, however, then we will find Him to be worthy of not only our trust, but our praise as well.
In future articles, I will seek to explore these questions further as we dive into the character traits presented by Yahweh Himself.