Then the Lord said: ‘I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.
Exodus 34:10 (NIV)
Read: Exodus 34:1-35
Consider: The Bible contains many details which point to the character of God. Let us consider a few of these today, starting with information that we find in Exodus 34. This is not Moses telling us what God is like; it is God himself speaking, telling us what he is like. We read: Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation’ (Exodus 34:5-7). God himself tells us that he is:
- abounding in love and faithfulness;
Just in case we end up with a ‘saccharin’ view of God, we are told that he:
- does not leave the guilty unpunished. God makes sure that we have a balanced view of what he is like.
There are many in society and the church who do not like to think of God as anything other than loving. God describes two facets of his character – being loving and just.
It is said that if you want to know what God is like we only have to look at Jesus. We know this to be true because Jesus himself says: I and the Father are one (John 10:30) and Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves (John 14:11). Jesus, being God the Son, encapsulates all the divine characteristics of the Father.
The apostle John tells us: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8). We can gain insight into what real love us in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians where he speaks of love in these words: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). If you have ever measured yourself up against these characteristics of love you will know that we cannot meet these exacting standards. There is only one person who can do so, that is Jesus. While we often tend to concentrate on the loving aspects of Jesus’ character, yet it is clear from Scripture that he also reflected the ‘justice’ aspect of God’s character. In his ministry we see him expressing his love and compassion towards those whom society regarded as sinners, while he condemned the hypocrisy and lack of godliness of those who regarded themselves as the religious elite.
We have looked only at some of the characteristics (attributes) of God in this post. There are others like his holiness that are equally important to our understanding of what God is like. There are other characteristics of God that prove more difficult for us as human being to fully understand; examples would be his omnipotence (all powerful), omniscience (all knowing) and omnipresence (always everywhere).
Pray: Father, help us to see your characteristics displayed throughout the Old Testament, while also being displayed in the life and ministry of your Son, Jesus Christ. We stand in awe of the complexity of your character and we worship you for who you are. Amen
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