Posts Tagged 'God'

(Almost) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About God


Everybody seems to have their own ideas about God; who He is, what He does, where He lives, and even what He looks like.  God might well be the most libeled Person ever.  Fortunately for all the people who have ever preached sermons or written books or made movies that defamed God’s character, He doesn’t seek damages.  At least not in this world.

Some people think God is a mystery.  Other people think He is some kind ethereal idea; a nebulous cloud of strange matter that hangs out in the darkest corners of the universe.  No wonder they make up all kinds of crazy things about Him.  Yet, God is not a nebulous “something,” nor is He a mystery.  He is, in fact, a Person, who is knowable by man.  There may be things we may never completely understand about this divine Person, but then the same holds true about our wives.  The fact that (as some husbands reckon) women cannot be understood certainly doesn’t stop husbands from loving their wives!

God has revealed as much of Himself to man as man needs to know in the here-and-now in His Word, the Bible.  If a man thinks God is a mystery, it’s only because that man hasn’t picked up a copy of the Bible and read through.

Part of God’s self-revelation to man are the names by which He is known.  In the Old Testament, there are several names for God, each name pointing to a different aspect of His character.  Here is a handful to give you an idea:

  • Elohim.  This name of God is seen over 2,000 times throughout the Old Testament and paints a picture of God’s fullness and majesty.
  • Yahweh.  This God’s proper Name, often erroneously translated as Jehovah.  It appears some 6,000 in the Old Testament.  In Exodus 3:13, God refers to Himself as “Yahweh” in the phrase, “I Am that I Am,” meaning simply God is an eternal Person.
  • Adonai is a popular Old Testament Name for God, and means “Lord of Hosts.”

There are many, many more Names for God in the Bible.  But Names aren’t they way God has revealed Himself to man.  Let’s look at some Scriptures that will help you understand more about our God.

Genesis 1:1 

Going back as far as we can go, we read this about God:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1:1  NKJV)

Here the name in behind our English word “God” is Elohim.  What was our majestic, glorious God doing in the beginning?  He is seen working; specifically, Elohim is seen creating the material universe.  This is an important verse—maybe the most important verse in the Bible because it tells us, (1) where everything came from, and that (2) Elohim, the majestic Creator is the One responsible.  Of course, Moses, the man who wrote Genesis, doesn’t tell us how or when this work of creation took place.  The purpose of Genesis 1:1 is not to give us all the answers, but to introduce Elohim to us.  God is referred to as Elohim 35 times in Genesis 1.  Why?  Because Moses, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wanted his readers to understand something about God, so he used the name, Elohim.  In the Creation story, we see Elohim in action:  God demonstrating His infinite, unstoppable power by bringing the material universe into being simply using the power of His Word.  He didn’t need anything else.  God is so majestic (Elohim), that He is able to make something out of nothing.

That’s an amazing aspect of God.  Imagine how powerful He must be; to be able to bring an orderly universe into being.  If God was able to do this, what can He NOT do?  He can bring order to your chaotic life.  He can create solutions to your problems out of nothing.  This truth about God raises two questions.  First, why do some people have so much trouble believing in a Creator; a Personal Being behind the creation of a perfectly ordered universe?  And, secondly, why do some Christians have so much trouble trusting in God to help them?

Perhaps the easy answer to each question is one of accountability.  If you truly believe in Elohim, a Personal, all-powerful God, then you will be accountable to Him, some day.  People, even Christians, don’t like that.

Exodus 15:11 

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?  Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?  (Exodus 15:11  NKJV)

In the book of Exodus, this verse occurs within a “song of deliverance.”  It was Moses’ song, sung shortly after the Hebrews left Egypt.  After so much time in bleak bondage, with no hope for the future, to suddenly be set free by a glorious action of God, no wonder Moses wrote such a song!

The first thing we discover about God is that He is unique.  There is no one like Him.  Remember, these people had lived for generations in a land with many “gods.”  God, with a “big G”, wanted His people know that all those “small G” gods were merely pretenders to the throne; that He was and is the One true Sovereign in the whole universe, and He backed that up with action.  He and He alone set His people free and the Egyptians were dumbfounded; they couldn’t stop the Hebrews from walking out.

God is portrayed in a most heroic fashion in these verses.  But more than just a hero, God is seen as supreme over all.  Put yourself in the Israelite’s sandals, as you watch the Red Sea parted by the power of God.  Then marvel as you see the mighty, fearsome Egyptian army drowned by that same power.  God, majestic and powerful, dispensed of the enemies of His people.  But even more than supreme over nature and people, God is “glorious in holiness.”  That’s a profound attribute.  God is glorious because He’s separate from and not part of any aspect of this world.  Stop reading, and think about that for a moment.  God is not bound the laws of nature.  Seas don’t stop Him, the darkness doesn’t slow Him down, and the greatest armies of man are as nothing to Him.  This is because God is holy—separate and distinct from everything.  But this doesn’t mean He is “all by Himself”!  You and I, like the believing Israelites, are also holy; just as separate from this world as God is.

Isaiah 40:28—31 

Does God ever get tired?  These verses answer that very question with a resounding “NO!”  The opening of Isaiah 40 sets the tone for the rest of the chapter:

Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”  says your God.  (Isaiah 40:1  NKJV)

There’s not a lot of comfort in the world for God’s people today, so we know that this verse and what follows look forward to the future, to the time when God’s judgments of Israel are past, when Jerusalem will have paid for her sins, and when the Lord returns.  The promised comfort will be possible when the Messiah returns.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”  (Isaiah 40:3  NKJV)

We know that the New Testament uses that verse in reference to John the Baptist, and it was his job to introduce the Messiah to the world.  Unfortunately for Bible readers, the Old Testament prophets never distinguish between the first and second comings of Jesus; they are always sort of blended together.  Clearly, the prophecies of these verses were not fulfilled at the first coming of our Lord; therefore we know they must be referring to the second coming.  When He returns, they will be completely fulfilled.

The rest of chapter 40 contains some phenomenal descriptions of God’s character and omnipotence.  Some of what Isaiah wrote here sounds a lot like Job 38, in which God questions Job, to set him straight.

Why are you using your ignorance to deny my providence?   (Job 38:2  TLB)

That’s God’s response to Job’s assumptions about God; assumptions he and his friends spouted for over 30 chapters.  Some of what Job said about God was true, some was off base.  Notice God called Job “ignorant.”  That he was—presuming to know all about God when, in fact, he knew very little.  Here’s what prompted God to set Israel straight in Isaiah’s day:

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God”?  (Isaiah 40:27  NKJV)

Thinking anything is hidden from God is at least ignorant!  It’s also arrogant.  God addresses their “concern” that He is not listening to them or ignoring them by describing Himself to them.  Specifically, God assures His people that He is on the job and that He is never tired or unaware of anything.

The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable.  (Isaiah 40:28b  NKJV) 

Not only is God always on the job; not only does He never get tired; He has enough energy and vitality to spread around!

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  (Isaiah 40:29  NKJV) 

That’s incredible, isn’t it?  The very people who were complaining about God’s lack, in fact, lacked what they accused Him of lacking!  But God is ever gracious.  He promises to empower the weak, old or young.  However, that promise isn’t for just any weakling.  There is a condition for receiving this supernatural strength:

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31  NKJV)

The key for Israel, and for us, is to wait upon God.  Israel’s problem back then is our problem today:  impatience.  We want what we want from God right now.  Very few believers want to take the time to “wait upon the Lord,” but they want His promises.  When, from their vantage point, God doesn’t come through for them, they accuse Him of not listening or of taking a nap.  The problem, as it always is, rests on man, not on the Lord.

If you need strength, He has it for you.  He has more than you could ever use!  But first, you have to do what He asks of you.

Romans 11:33—36 

The apostle Paul begins the eleventh chapter of Romans with a question many Jews of his day were asking:

…has God cast away His people?  (Romans 11:1  NKJV)

Now, we know the answer to this question, but to Jews of the first century, many of whom where living scattered all over the known world with the ever present threat of persecution hanging over them, this was a genuine issue.  Had God really forgotten all about them?  Had God erased all of His promises?  Of course not, was Paul’s enthusiastic answer.  Israel was not forgotten and it will never be forgotten.  In fact, the exact opposite will prove to true!  Israel can be saved and WILL be saved, as is stated plainly in verse 26:

And then all Israel will be saved.  (Romans 11:26  TLB)

Naturally, it isn’t a “blanket salvation.”  Israel will be saved on the same basis as all people—by responding in faith to the Gospel of forgiveness through the work of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s point is simply this:  other people are being saved, and Israel will be saved, too.  God has not forgotten His people.

This was tremendous revelation to Paul.  Just think about it; God had given Paul the barest glimpse of His eternal plan.  No wonder responded the way he did!

Oh, what a wonderful God we have!  (Romans 11:33a  TLB)

Then he proceeds to write about some of the reasons why God is so “wonderful.”  God has an abundant supply of precious wisdom (sophia) and knowledge (gnosis).   He knows things we could never know and He knows things before we discover them.  Not only that, God’s thought processes, unlike ours, are absolutely prefect; completely objective in every way.  Furthermore, God’s decisions or judgments are perfect and nobody is able to “keep up” with when and how He makes them.  Recall the words of Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8, 9  AV) 

What Paul seems to love most about God is the very thing that drives most of us crazy:  the seeming mystery of the “how’s” and the “why’s” of God.  This didn’t bother the apostle at all.  He understood something Tersteegen also did:

A God comprehended is not God at all.

If God at times seems hard to figure out and His divine attributes without limits, then that must mean His love is also limitless and, at times, unfathomable.  This ought to be a great comfort to all believers, as it was to Paul.  Our Lord makes available to believers who love and trust Him, a measure of His divine nature.

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4  AV)

The world, with it’s conflict of ideals and out of control passions may seem to be in a state of chaos, but when we see it through the lens of God’s attributes—His wisdom, knowledge, love, etc.—our own understanding of it transcends our own understanding.  He gives us perfect perspective and peace and we are able to see the world, not as a chaotic mess, but as a place full of lost souls, looking for something we have.


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