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  • Photograph by Aaron Burden from unsplash

The Nature of God The Bible claims to be the completely inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3.16). It is the only source of reliable information about God and it is there that we find God's revelation about Himself. Indeed, God, LORD God and other titles appear very many times in the Bible. Here is an example from the prophet Isaiah:

I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besidesme ... that they may know from the rising of the sun to its settingthat there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is noother; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace andcreate calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things ... I have made theearth, and created man on it. It was my hands that stretched outthe heavens, and all their host I have commanded.

  • Isaiah 45.5,6,12

The very first sentence of the Bible reminds us that

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

  • Genesis 1.1

What does God teach us about His nature or character?

Firstly, that He desires a relationship with mankind. Genesis chapter 1 says that God made us in His own image (likeness – see Genesis 1.26, 27). His Word (The Bible) has been given to mankind, in which He has made known His requirements to us. The first two of the 'ten commandments' are the starting point:

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make foryourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in theearth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shallnot bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God,am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on thechildren to the third and fourth generations of those who hateme, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments

  • Exodus 20.3-6

Surely, our Creator is entirely reasonable in saying these things! How can anyone or anything challenge the Creator of all things? He has the absolute right to be jealous of His status, to bring punishment upon those who rebel against Him, and to show mercy on those who love Him and keep His commandments.

As we are the creation of God, it follows that we must acknowledge this fact and treat Him with the utmost reverence. Isaiah warned the people of his day:

Woe to him who strives with his Maker!

  • Isaiah 45.9

But on a positive note we read this:

But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word

  • Isaiah 66.2

Thus, we see both the "goodness and severity of God", as the Apostle Paul puts it

  • Romans.11.22

God as a Father

Perhaps the character of God is best illustrated by the metaphor of a good father. Does not the Lord's Prayer, as it is commonly called, begin Our Father in heaven? The very next phrase is hallowed be your name

  • Matthew 6.9

Our thoughts immediately picture a warm and trusting relationship between a child and its father, a relationship based on reverence and love. One senses the emotion of this close relationship in Moses' description of the loving care taken by God in bringing His people (Israel) out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the "Promised Land":

... in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you,as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place

  • Deuteronomy 1.31

Again we read of God's care when he spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai:

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you oneagles" wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you willindeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be aspecial treasure to me above all people; for all the earth ismine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holynation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.

  • Exodus 19.4-6

God’s love is conditional

The passage quoted above from the Ten Commandments reminds us that the love of God for His children is conditional. God brought them to Himself and they would be His special treasure on the condition that you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant. God opens His heart, as it were, in the emotional prophecy of Hosea:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son

  • Hosea 11.1

But says God:

..the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. Theysacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was Iwho taught Ephraim (Israel) to walk, taking them by the arms;but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them withcords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke fromtheir neck and bent down to feed them

  • Hosea 11.2-4 NIV

Just as a father hates to punish his child, so God portrays the anguish He felt over punishing Israel:

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?... (That is, for punishment) My heart churns within me; my sympathy is stirred. Iwill not execute the fierceness of my anger; I will not again destroyEphraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and Iwill not come with terror.

  • Hosea 11.8,9

God trains and disciplines His children

Just as a good father takes the trouble to train and discipline his son so does God:

... you should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, sothe LORD your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep thecommandments of the LORD your God, to walk in his ways and to fear him.

  • Deuteronomy 8.5,6

God is compassionate

Compassion is a prominent characteristic of God as the Psalmist reminds us:

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, andabounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will hekeep his anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to oursins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavensare high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those whofear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removedour transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so theLORD pities those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

  • Psalm 103.8-14

The Prophet Jeremiah lamented the effects of severe punishment brought by God upon Israel following years of His pleading with them. However, he admitted that

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because hiscompassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

  • Lamentations 3.22,23

God’s compassion is shown in the gift of His Son

God's compassion cannot be better shown than through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. What more could God do to impress upon us His concern to rescue us from perishing in eternal death. Perhaps the best known verse in the Bible is this:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

  • John 3.16

That God would save us from our sins through the death and resurrection of His beloved Son is a promise that goes right back to the first sin in the garden of Eden. That first sin was essentially disbelief of the Word of God.

God is truthful

The promise of God to bring redemption focussed in His Son, came to pass thousands of years later. But it illustrates another crucial aspect of God's nature, His truthfulness. The Apostle Peter said this:

In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in everynation whoever fears him and works righteousness is acceptedby him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel,preaching peace through Jesus Christ ... who went about doinggood and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for Godwas with him. And we are witnesses of all things which hedid both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom theykilled by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day,and showed him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesseschosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with him afterhe arose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to thepeople, and to testify that it is he who was ordained by God to beJudge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets witnessthat, through his name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

  • Acts 10.34-43

God revealed His character in Jesus

God had shown us His character in the life of His Son Jesus. Through preaching the gospel and doing good, he showed men by undeniable evidence that he had been sent by God. How astonishing it was then, that he should be rejected,

"taken by lawless hands ... crucified and put to death".

Even more astonishing is the fact that all this happened according to

the carefully planned intention and foreknowledge of God.

  • Acts 2.23

What greater appeal could God have made to men's hearts and consciences? When those in Jerusalem heard Peter explain these things they were profoundly shocked by what they had done. We are told that ''they were cut to the heart and asked the apostles what shall we do?'' To which the amazingly merciful answer came:

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins

  • Acts 2.37,38

The grace of God

It can be no wonder, therefore, that we read in the Word of God so much about God’s love and grace. This is His offer to forgive us our sins, although undeserving, provided we come to him in reverence, love and obedience. As Paul wrote to Titus:

...the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, weshould live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age.

  • Titus 2.11,12

The age in which we live is largely godless and the immense challenge to us is to repent, that is to think again and change from a godless way of life. As Paul reminded the first century Christians at Ephesus, we must become: followers of God as dear children

  • Ephesians 5.1

Are we prepared to do this?

Author Geoffrey Mitchell
Country Norfolk, England
Source Light on a New World reprint from Volume 29.1

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