The Nature of God
The LORD Thy God
"Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You" (Jeremiah 32:17NASB).
Believing in the existence of a supreme intelligent being as the creator of the universe, the earth, and all its inhabitants, the next step in developing our faith is to determine the character of this awesome being. An understanding of God’s character will aid us in understanding His plan and the reasons behind its various elements. The Scriptures describe the creator as a God of Justice, Wisdom, Power, and Love. Psalms 89:14 (NASB) says, "Righteousness [or righteous power] and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; Lovingkindness and truth [wisdom] go before Thee." These four characteristics have been exercised throughout God’s dealings with mankind.
A God of Justice
Psalms 89:14 declares that justice (the quality of being just) and righteousness (or righteous power) form the very foundation of God’s authority (throne). They are the basis from which He deals with all His creation. This is corroborated in Deuteronomy 32:4: "He is the rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." God’s work and ways are perfect, just, and righteous. Jeremiah 9:24 adds, "I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." The prophet elaborates that it is the LORD’s pleasure or delight to exercise righteous judgment in the earth.
We find ample evidence of God’s righteous and perfect justice in His plan for mankind. One example is God’s sentence upon father Adam. When God created Adam, he was a perfect being (Genesis 1:31). God clearly stated His requirement for Adam to maintain a perfect existence in the garden. He could eat freely of all of the trees of the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the consequence of which would be death (Genesis 2:16-17). Because Adam disobeyed, God’s sentence of death came upon him and all of his offspring, the human race. The just nature of this sentence is evident. The perfect life given to Adam was a gift from God contingent upon his obedience. When Adam violated God’s law of obedience, he forfeited his right to life (Romans 6:23, Ezekiel 18:4). Many have distorted the sentence upon mankind into a condemnation to eternal torment. This view is not supported by scripture, nor does it fit with the concept of God’s perfect justice. The idea that God would eternally torment an individual based on one lifetime of sinfulness does not reflect God’s idea of perfect equity, as expressed in Exodus 21:23-25: "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand."
Additionally, God’s justice is seen in the Mosaic law’s precision of measuring and weighing so no one would be cheated. Leviticus 19:35-37 (ASV) reads: "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin, shall ye have: I am Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. And ye shall observe all my statutes and all mine ordinances, and do them: I am Jehovah." Today, man routinely perverts justice. He uses religion, race, power, and economics as a means to oppress and take advantage of his fellow man. Clearly, God’s principle of perfect justice is ignored in today’s society. But God has promised that His righteousness will be the standard of justice in Christ’s kingdom (Isaiah 28:16- 17). At that time, mankind will be taught this standard so that he can live righteously before God (Isaiah 26:9).
For those who seek to serve God, practicing justice and equity is a basic requirement. Proverbs 21:3 says, "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." Before we should render our offerings to the Lord, we must first demonstrate honesty and integrity in our dealings with others, especially the household of faith. Practicing honesty and equity to the best of our ability is to follow God’s righteous justice.
A God of Wisdom
Psalms 104:24 states, "O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." The Psalmist declares that all of God’s works have been made with wisdom. These works include not only the creation, but every aspect of the plan for man’s salvation. The wisdom God has shown in His works is greater than anything man has ever seen. "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).
Isaiah 46:9-10 provides a glimpse of how God used His wisdom in the development of His plan: "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." God’s wisdom includes foreknowledge, the ability to know in advance what will happen. He uses this ability to shape a successful plan to teach His intelligent creation His principles of righteousness and justice, while at the same time allowing them to exercise their own free will.
In God’s plan, we find numerous examples of divine wisdom. God foreknew that man would fall into sin and degradation. Instead of creating and filling the earth with the entire human race, God created only one man, Adam. When Adam sinned, he came under the death sentence and passed this penalty down to all his progeny. Because disobedience started with the sin ofjust one man, purchasing the human race back from the death penalty required only one willing sacrifice, the man Christ Jesus, to satisfy God’s perfect law of justice (Exodus 21:23-25, Deuteronomy 19:21, Romans 5:12, 18-19).
Another example of divine wisdom is using the death penalty to limit man’s degradation. If God had not limited man’s existence via the death penalty, there would have been no check on the sinfulness of man. We see this in the time leading up to the flood, when individuals lived for hundreds of years. Genesis 6:5 says, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Imagine how much more evil the world would be today if some of the worst dictators and tyrants of history lived for hundreds of years, as in the days of Noah. Through the death sentence, God mercifully controlled how far man could degrade himself. In His wisdom, God provides mankind enough time to procreate (in order to fill the earth) and to experience life under the effects of sin. The goal is to teach mankind sin’s true result — pain and destruction.
Our last example of divine wisdom is that the permission of evil provides the training ground for developing a priesthood that will teach mankind righteousness in Christ’s kingdom. The first member of this priesthood was our Lord Jesus Christ, who proved his perfect obedience, despite the "hostility of sinners against himself " (Hebrews 5:8, 12:3NASB). Because of his faithfulness, Christ was raised to the divine nature at the right hand of God and given the role of being man’s mediator, to teach them righteousness and bring them back into harmony with God (Hebrews 8:6). Jesus’ followers, the church, have been called to the same spiritual reward and work (2 Peter 1:4, Romans 2:7, 1 Peter 2:9-10). As with Jesus, they must be first trained and tested proving their loyalty to the Heavenly Father under adverse influences (Hebrews 12:9-11, 1 Peter 4:12-13). In His wisdom, God saw that this present evil world, though temporary in nature, would provide the right conditions for the development of this mediator class.
A God of Power
When Jehovah visited Abraham through the three angels, He told Abraham that Sarah would have a son (Genesis 18:10). Sarah laughed within herself because she was beyond child-bearing years. Sarah’s inward laugh led God to pose a question in Genesis 18:14: "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" At the appointed time, God returned unto Abraham and Sarah, and Sarah bore a son, Isaac (Genesis 21:1-3). In doing so, God answered His own question. Nothing is too hard for God.
The scriptures abound with examples of the power of God. A major example was the creation of the heavens and the earth. Psalms 19:1-2 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." The countless stars and galaxies created by God are a testament to His power. David adds that the wonders of God’s creation testify to His power on a continuing basis — "day unto day" and "night unto night." Even today, we continue to marvel at the glories of creation.
Other examples of God’s power include the miracles performed by Jehovah or by our Lord Jesus Christ. Before delivering the nation of Israel, God stated to Moses, "And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go" (Exodus 3:20). God miraculously brought the 10 plagues against Egypt in order to deliver Israel from bondage. During his earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles testifying that he was God’s son. The Apostle Peter explained in Acts 2:22 that God gave His son the power to perform these miracles: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know."
Another example of God’s power seen every day is the passing of human life from one generation to the next. The development of a child in the mother’s womb is a process that has been with us since man’s creation. In just forty weeks, a single cell (zygote) develops into a newborn child. This rapid and complex progression into a new human being testifies to God’s power and the remarkable reproductive ability He gave mankind.
The greatest fulfillment of God’s power is yet to come. In John 5:28-29 (ASV), Jesus said, "Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." Each person will be brought back from the grave with their identity intact. God will raise them with a body free from the effects of disease and sin (Isaiah 33:24). God’s power will also be manifest in the extermination of evil and the establishment of a permanent and righteous government that will reach to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 11:4-9, Revelation 21:1-4). Then mankind will see the full extent of God’s power, and he will rejoice!
A God of Love
The Apostle John writes, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8ASV). John is speaking to the consecrated footstep followers of Jesus, encouraging them to love one another. He clearly states that love (agape) is a distinct quality of God’s divine character ("God is love") and that love finds its origin in God ("love is of God"). The Strong’s definition of love (Greek word agape) is brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence. While this definition gives us a sense of what love is, the extent of God’s love is best described through examples.
The fact that God created man and placed him on this earth, already tailored for his needs and filled with wondrous beauties and populated with great varieties of living things for his enjoyment, is a demonstration of God’s love. While the world is fallen due to the curse of sin (Genesis 3:17-18), glimpses of a future perfect earth can be seen now in the beauties of nature — the magnificent colors of a sunset on the ocean, the striking majesty of snow-topped mountains, and the long-awaited-for blossom and fragrance of flowers in spring. Life itself is a gift of God’s love.
Because God foreknew that man would fall into sin, His love did not stop with His creation of our first parents. He promised that the earth would be restored and mankind would be resurrected from death and taught to walk according to God’s perfect and righteous principles (Isaiah 35, Revelation 22:1-5). Providing a plan for mankind’s restitution to perfection, and a relationship with his Creator is another example of God’s love. When we understand that God designed a plan to have "all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), we then start to realize His great love for us.
We gain a deeper appreciation of the depth of God’s love when we examine His plan more closely. The ultimate expression of God’s love is the sending of His only begotten Son, Jesus, to suffer and die as man’s redeemer (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). God did not hold back when it came to purchasing man back from death. He sent His most prized possession, His daily delight (Proverbs 8:30), His only begotten Son. This act of love did not come towards a deserving race, but to one justly condemned to death. The Apostle John summarizes this in 1 John 4:10, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Without the permission of evil and man’s fall into sin and death, we would never fully grasp the depth of divine love and mercy.
In 1 John 4:7-8, the Apostle tells us how our knowledge of God’s love should affect us. If we are to walk as God’s children, then we need to develop this same love in our lives. John adds that if we live a life of love, then we gain a better understanding of our God.
Finally, we have the assurance that God does not change. His character and His principles are fixed. Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the LORD, I change not." The same thought is brought out in James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." With this assurance, we can have great confidence in God’s Justice, Wisdom, Power, and Love. We can likewise be assured of the promises that He has made to us and all mankind. This confidence should spur us on to zeal and good works, helping to advance God’s purpose with a character that is modeled after our Creator.