October 18, 2017

Who Is God

By Samuel Csonka

A few weeks ago a co-worker asked me, "Exactly who is God?" He said he wanted to put God in his life, but needed some more information about him. So I thought about his question and after a few weeks of study, presented him with the following. (Note: for simplicity, I did not deal separately with the three personages of the Godhead, but as one. That can be addressed later.)

Introduction

In order to find out who God is, the best source of information to consult would be the book that claims to be the Word of God himself. A thorough examination of the Bible should give us plenty of understanding about God.

I. God is "The Creator"

If we look in the Bible, the first time God is mentioned is in the very first verse, Genesis 1:1, which says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." With regard to the Creator, Nehemiah is more specific when he says, "You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all things on it, the seas and all that is in them" (Neh. 9:6). The previous two verses explain how everything came into being. God created them all. And since it was God "who built all things" (Heb. 3:4), including us, we aught to gain a better perspective of our relationship to him. We owe him everything -- our very existence  and we should be thankful. Moreover, since we are his creation, we should submit to him and reverence him as a child would its own father. We must remember that we are not and never can be greater than he is, as a vessel is not greater than the potter who made i t.

II. God is "Everlasting"

Since recorded history indicates that God began creation as much as 7000 years ago, one might wonder ii' he is still alive; and if so, what he is doing or where he is.

With regard to his "life-span," God has this to say: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8). This verse indicates that God is not dead, as some may argue, but is very much alive. He was present in the past and will be present in the future. He is an "Eternal God" (Deut. 33:27). He will continue living long after you and I are dead and gone.

What is it that makes God eternal? Why does he not die like we do? The reason is that he is not a man as you and I (Num. 23:19). He has no physical temple which can decay, or mortal body which can be killed. Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that God is a spirit. He is an eternal, everlasting, never-ending being.

III. God is "In Control"

After learning that our Creator is indeed still alive and well after all these years, one might wonder what he is doing. After all, we don't ever "see" God doing anything. He doesn't float by and greet us or pass over our towns in plain view to assure us of his presence. And I would be real surprised if he actually spoke to people today as some claim he does.

If we turn to the Bible to see if there is any evidence as to what God might be doing now, we find several passages that give us the answer. In Genesis 14:22, Abraham calls God the "possessor of heaven and earth." This indicates God's ownership of his creation. In Daniel 5:21 Nebuchadnezzar learned that "the most high God rules in the kingdom of men and appoints over it whomever he chooses." So God does not nonchalantly sit back and watch things go. These verses indicate that God is still proactive with respect to our world. God is not only watching over us, but has ultimate control over what happens here. If he chooses to overthrow a nation  he does. If he wishes to save a person from death or disease  he can. So many people are afraid of man's ability to destroy the earth and every living thing it sustains with nuclear weapons; but if God doesn't want that to happen  it won't, for God preserves heaven and earth and all things on it (Neh. 9:6). And think about this: Jesus said of sparrows, ". . . not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will" (Matt. 10:29). The simple fact that God knows this and is aware of the most minute details of his creation should show us that he is in control.

IV. God is "All-Powerful"

As we continue searching the Bible for attributes about God, we find that he is mentioned as being so powerful that no one is able to withstand him (2 Chron. 20:6). In Deuteronomy 32:39, God himself exclaimed, ". . . I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, nor is there any who can deliver from my hand!" Truly he is all-powerful. He created all things, he sustains all things, and no one was ever able to withstand him or defeat his purposes. He is the "almighty" (Rev. 1:8).

One might wonder why he was called the "most high God" (Gen. 14:22). It was most likely to show his standing with reference to the other "so-called" gods of pagan idolatry. In Deuteronomy 10:17, Moses reminded the Hebrews that "...the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome!" King David praised God saying, "You are great 0 Lord God, for there is none like you, nor is there any God besides you according to all that we have heard with our ears" (2 Sam. 7:22). Those people who were honest and sincere knew that the idols of their day were only man-made objects fashioned from base materials (Isa. 44:9-20). And, they realized that God was the only supernatural being that made himself known to mankind.

V. God is "Fearsome"

Throughout the history of the Bible, God has had to lift his hand and wield his power to catch the attention of certain nations and their rulers. They needed a reminder that he was still "All powerful" and in control of things. In many cases those who stood up against God or mocked his Holy name were sent away in shame and despair. And, in some cases, God not only became feared by them, but was praised and adored by them because of his wonderful works. Notice the following:

1. Egypt. When Moses came to free Israel, Pharaoh would not release them. He said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" But, after the 10 plagues, Egypt became very familiar with God. Unfortunately for them, that was not enough. God had to destroy the Egyptian army in the Red Sea "that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord" (Exod. 14:14).

2. Ammon, Edom, Moab. In 2 Chronicles we find the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites joining forces to attack Judah. Upon hearing of the approaching invaders, Jehoshaphat with the elders of Judah came to the temple to call upon the Lord. The Lord answered and comforted them by saying, ". . . do not be afraid . . . for the battle is not yours, but God's" (v. 15). God then caused the enemy armies to become confused and to destroy one another. Verse 29 shows the attitude of those nations after the great slaughter: "And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel."

3. Philistia. In 1 Samuel 4 the Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines. Israel later brought the ark of the covenant into the camp to help them win. When the Philistines heard of this, they were afraid and said, "God has come into the camp! Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before! ...Who will deliver us?" (vv. 7-8) But after pulling themselves together, they slaughtered Israel and captured the ark as God permitted. Soon after, though, they felt the wrath of God when they desecrated the ark. Their idol, Dagon, was shattered in its temple and they were plagued with disease and death. Finally they sent the ark back saying, "let it go back . . . so that it does not kill us and our people" for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there (1 Sam. 5:11).

4. Assyria. In Jonah 3, the Assyrians in Nineveh became distraught when Jonah warned them of the impending doom, unless they repented. The king proclaimed, . . .cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way . . . who can tell if God will turn and relent .. . so that we may not perish?" (vv. 8-9) They had apparently heard of the Almighty God.

Much later, though, it seems they had forgotten, and needed a reminder. In 2 Kings 19, as King Sennacherib was besieging Jerusalem, he wrote a letter to King Hezekiah saying, "Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you . . . shall you be delivered?" Then Hezekiah prayed to God saying, ". . . save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the Lord God, you alone" (v. 19). Shortly after, Isaiah told him that his prayers was heard. "And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thou-sand. .. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away" (vv. 35-36). They had received their reminder!

5. Babylon. In Daniel 3, the three Hebrews Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were commanded to bow to Nebuchadnezzar's gold image or be cast into a fiery furnace. When they did not, Nebuchadnezzar said, "If you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately .. . and who is the god who will deliver you from my hand?" Then they replied, "Our God is able to deliver us." So, with rage, he commanded them to be thrown into the fire. But, to his astonishment, they were not even singed; and, an angelic figure appeared with them in the midst of the fire. Then he called them out of the fire and exclaimed, "Therefore, I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this" (v. 29).

6. Medo/Persia. In Daniel 6, Daniel had a trap set for him by the other governors and lords of the empire, making it unlawful to pray to anyone but the king. The offenders would be thrown into a den of lions. When Daniel was caught praying to God anyway, the other governors accused him before the king. Even though King Darius did not want to harm Daniel, he could not change the law; so Daniel was thrown to the lions. In the morning, when Daniel was found still alive, Darius, with joy, wrote, "I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God and steadfast forever. . . He delivers and rescues, he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions" (vv. 26-27). The other wicked governors and lords were then fed to the lions for breakfast.

VI. God is "Holy"

It was once said of God, "... who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?" (1 Sam. 6:20) God certainly is holy. He is pure, without fault or blame. There is no sin or guile to be found in him. He is not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with him. He hates all workers of iniquity, destroys liars, abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful (Psa. 5:4-6). God does not like it when man is unrighteous and sinful. He hates sin. That is because "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 In. 1:5). And because evil cannot dwell with God, he made a way for sinful man to be reconciled from their sins  by the sacrifice of the pure and sinless Messiah, "who bore our sins . . . on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24).

In Conclusion

Even in the ancient history provided to us by archaeology, we can find references to God that corroborate the Bible. But, there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that help us understand who God is. These are just a few select ones that really hit the spot. From them we see that he truly is the Most High God, the Holy One, the Almighty, the Eternal Father, the Great Creator. He created us and knows what our limitations are and what our purpose is. His inspired Word is the "operators manual" to us  his machine; and we would do well to become familiar with it.

Jesus said in Luke 12:7, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered." If God knows and sees even the most insignificant things, we had better live and speak and move as if he were walking around behind us every single day! And since God is all-powerful and will judge our deeds when this life is over, we had better be concerned about how we live and where we stand in relation to him; for as Solomon said, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil" (Ecc1.12:13-14).

Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 7 p. 13-14
April 6, 1995

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