Descriptions of God define Him as LORD.

We’ve been looking at the topic “Who is God?” and we started by examining how God reveals Himself by ACTING through miracles, providence, creation and decrees. [4 separate posts see them by clicking here.]  Today I want to launch into the next major topic: How God DESCRIBES Himself through names, images, and attributes in the Bible.

Here’s the thing.  God does indeed want us to know what He is like.  The word “God” itself is a more generic term, and is often used to describe false gods as well as the One True God.  However, the NAME YAHWEH (the LORD) can only be used of the ONE True God.  There are also compound NAMES found in the Bible like:  God Almighty (El Shaddai), Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Tsabaoth – emphasizing God is Lord of all the angelic army of heaven), the Lord Who Provides (Jehovah Jireh), and so forth.  The name Jesus, is a really significant name for God, which Paul says is so worthy of praise, that every knee shall bow at the name of Jesus. (Philipians 2:10)

Now IMAGES are verbal pictures of God which compare Him to people or things in human experience.  The Bible shows God to be King, Father, Shepherd, Light, Rock, and Shield.  In fact the image of King is synonymous with LORD in thousands of verses in the Bible.  Father is maybe the most significant image of God in the Bible, and the prominent image of God in the New Testament.  Jesus taught His disciples (and us) to call God “Father” when we pray [Matthew 6:9].  Paul teaches that God adopts us into His own family when we accept Jesus as our Savior, and we then can cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Daddy!) [Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6].  Jesus did this too… in Mark 14:36.

Sometimes people ask me if it would be ok to call God our Mother.  Well, let’s be candid, since God has no body (He is invisible), God is neither male or female.  So really it is a question of imagery… should we speak of God using mainly male or female images?  Well, guess what… there are feminine descriptions of God in Scripture!

The Bible says God gave birth to Israel, so in that sense God is Israel’s mother [Deuteronomy 32:17; Isaiah 42:14-15].  In fact Paul uses similar descriptions of himself suggesting he anguishes in childbirth until we accept Christ as Savior [Galatians 4:19].  Figuratively, this makes Paul the mother of the church… but it doesn’t really raise doubts for us about Paul’s sexual orientation as male.

In Scripture God is mostly described in male terminology, and this is not an accident or coincidence.  During ancient times the pagan religions described in the Bible often worshiped female deities, mainly through sexual acts.  The Biblical authors therefore stridently avoided suggesting that YAHWEH was female.  Scripture also emphasizes male leadership in the family and in the New Testament church.  Most of these writers then would have wanted to avoid confusing their readers as to God’s authority, therefore He is presented in male terminology.  Think about how this is reflected in the image of Jesus as the Bridegroom who redeems His church as a glorious bride.  [Revelation 19:7]

These NAMES and IMAGES are meant to introduce us to God as HE wants us to know and see Him.  Once we know these names, and see these images, we enhance our understanding of Him by studying His ATTRIBUTES.

So… next time we’ll examine God’s Attributes of LOVE.

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God is…

To answer the question: Who is God?… we must state the obvious.  He is LORD.  In the first two installments I introduced three basic tenets as a foundation for spiritual understanding.  God as Lord is… in control of all things, speaks with absolute authority, and is present with us, His creatures, all the time.

But the question, “who is God?” really is asking for more than this simple view, right?  So over the coming weeks, my articles will be like taking a leisurely stroll through some Bible passages that help us see, know, and understand God better.

This will be a glance into the nature and character of God, as His word reveals it.  The vast expanse of Bible material to cover would overwhelm us both, if we tried to cover it too quickly.  So little bits of tasty morsels is all I will give in any one article.

Psalm 34:8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Where to begin?

One of the mysteries of scripture is how God reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. We call this the Trinity, although this word is not found anywhere in the Bible.  Three in One we say, and the Bible implies it is so.

Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

You will notice right away that I will also use this threefold pattern to help bring clarity to the topics discussed.

The Bible reveals God to us by

  • showing us his ACTS,
  • by giving us authoritative DESCRIPTIONS of Himself,
  • and by revealing just a glimpse of the relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit.

The ACTS of God are all about demonstrating how God the LORD is in control of everything.

The DESCRIPTIONS of God the LORD help us understand the demand on His creatures to yield to His authority and will for our lives.

And the glimpse of the TRINITY tells us that even before God made the world, He was in personal relationship – committed to one another in love, and perfectly PRESENT to one another.

Now, here’s the thing…

Some of the work you’ll have to do on your own.  If you don’t own a Bible, you need to borrow one, or buy one, or link to an online website that makes the Word of God available to you.  I simply will not be able to give the text of every reference, every time, but will give you the source to look up for yourself.  It will have great benefit for you, if you look it up and read it for yourself, trust me on this.

In all of God’s acts, descriptions, and glimpses of His inner life (Trinity) He puts Himself on display as LORD.  Everything He does, everything He says, every glimpse is so that you and I will be like those first chosen ones.

Exodus 29:46
They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Are you ready?

We begin tomorrow with “How God Acts”


 

If you enjoy this series of articles, please re-post, or send to your email list.  Thanks.