I start this article with some trepidation because the topic matter is about something which is beyond human comprehension, and I don't want to imply that I "get it", or to misrepresent the Creator. It is a solemn thing for the finite to consider the Infinite. However, the Bible is a revelation of God to humankind, so obviously He wanted us to know something about Him. But, as stated in the last article, the revelation of God to mankind is formulated as to be understood by finite humans. More, it was formulated to be understood by ancient peoples living 4,000 years ago in the case of the Old Testament. Now, they weren't idiots back then like some people think. But certain concepts we have today would have been foreign to them. That doesn't make the Bible or God irrelevant to modern man. Our technology and knowledge may have increased, but the human problem (see the first article in this series) has been remarkably unchanged throughout recorded history.

The origin of the word "God" is somewhat of a mystery, possibly deriving from words in Dutch or German or Anglo-Saxon. But it is the catch-all English word for supernatural beings worthy of worship (if capitalized, it is for the Supreme Being). The Greek and Hebrew use several different words, or names, for what we call "God". Each word describes some aspect of God. Most of these words are translated into the English as "God" or "Lord". I won't go into an exhaustive list of these names or descriptions, but I'll bring some of them up as I go on.

When God tells Moses to go to Egypt, Moses asks Him, "Who shall I say sent me?". God replies, "Tell them the I AM sent you."1 That is, God identifies Himself as the ultimate reality. He IS. The Hebrew word for this is (transliterated into English letters): YHWH. Hebrew doesn't include vowels, and we don't know what the original vowel sounds were, so the pronounceable word could be "Yahweh", "Yehovah", "Jehovah", or several other variants. But the pronunciation isn't as important as the concept of God being the I AM.

Here are some of the things we know about God from the Bible.

  1. The first thing recorded in the Bible about this God is that He created the universe2. So then, He is the Creator. He created space, matter, and time.
  2. Since He created space, matter, and time, He is not subject to any of them. Since He is not subject to time, He exists outside of time. That is, He is eternal. I draw a distinction between the words "everlasting" and "eternal". The first is a term that implies the passage of time. The second indicates that time has no relevance. This is why He doesn't change His mind - to change requires existing in time. It is why He knows everything that will happen in our future, because to Him the past, present, and future are all the "present".
  3. Multiple times the Bible states that God is Holy3. Which I take as a way of stating that 1) God is complete and has need of nothing (He is Whole), and 2) God is the measure of what is good (moral). Thus, all morality derives from Him. And He is the standard by which we measure ourselves. Anything contrary to His intentions and desires are wrong (immoral). There seems to be an innate understanding of this in us humans (again, I refer you back to the first article).
  4. Fifth, He is a Person. That is, He has a mind, a personality, and emotions. He isn't merely a force or a poetic description of the Big Bang.
  5. He is almighty4. He created the universe. And about creation, Job states, "how faint the whisper we hear of Him!"5. If all of creation is a faint whisper, what more is He capable of!
  6. He is omnipresent, meaning that He is everywhere. He doesn't exist in a single place in our 3D universe. There is no place you can hide from Him - He is inescapable.
  7. He is also omniscient, meaning He knows everything6. He sees every neuron firing in your brain, every atom in every molecule, and every action that has, is, or will ever happen. There is no circumstance, no action, no thought, no emotion or desire that is hidden from Him.
  8. He embodies true love. John says "God is love"7. Even the purest, highest human love is nothing compared to His love. This is not the same thing as saying the "love is God", by the way. I consider it important that He is both loving and powerful. If He was powerful but not loving, that would be dreadful. And if he was loving but not powerful, then His love would do us no good.

As I said, there are many other descriptive attributes of Who He is - many of which are ways He's described Himself. This is not an exhaustive review of every aspect of God revealed in the Bible. I will be covering some aspects in more detail in the future. But let me take a moment to state what God is not. He is not a supernatural human-minded creature, like the ancient gods of Rome and Greece. He is not a megalomaniac that needs people to worship Him. He needs nothing. His wants a loving relationship with us, His creation. In the book of Psalms, God reproves us saying, "you thought I was exactly like you" and makes it clear that He is not8. God is omnipotent, or almighty, meaning He can do whatever He desires. You might be able to say that He is subject only to His own character. But that is just to say that He wouldn't do anything He didn't want to. He cannot be manipulated, coerced, or otherwise controlled. He isn't a cosmic vending machine that will spit out what you want if you put the correct amount of prayer or Bible reading or money.

As stated above, God is the ultimate reality and the ultimate reality is a Person. But how can the finite human mind comprehend this Person? Obviously, it can't. Fortunately He has revealed enough in the Bible to us for us to have somewhat of an idea of who He is. If you understood nothing more than what I said above, that would be enough. But, there is a lot more depth about God in the Bible. One of the more difficult concepts is that of the "trinity". There is no place in the Bible that talks about the trinity - it is a term we use to describe what we read in the Bible. The trinity is made up of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I'll cover this more in the future, but let's address the concept first.

Some people think that the idea of the trinity indicates that Christians worship three gods. But in both testaments we find the phrase "The Lord our God is One"9. This is a monotheistic statement. So how can there be one God with three persons? I think this is at the limits of our human ability to comprehend. Many people have tried to explain this over the last 2,000 years and I don't claim to have any better understanding of it than the minds that have grappled with it in the past. One explanation I've heard is that the trinity is like a three-leaf clover: split three ways. But I think there is something more profound than simply the idea of the three members of the "Godhead" being different facets or parts of this single Being. There are also other interesting statements in the Bible, such as a reference to the "sevenfold Spirit of God"10. Does that mean God is actually a septinity? Again, I think that the nature of God is beyond our comprehension and perhaps such statements are just to remind us of that fact. What I do know for sure from scripture is that there is the Heavenly Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. Beyond that is mere speculation without any clear Biblical support.

We all face certain assumptions when we consider God, and it is important to try to rise above those presuppositions before we attempt to grasp Who He is. For instance, because God is so often referred to as the Father11, there have been issues with some people being able to view Him as good because their experiences with their earthly father were so bad. This is why it is essential to spend some time reading the Bible; it will help you see what a father should be like, which is what our Heavenly Father is like. And understanding His character will provide a model for how to be a better parent yourself.

Because it is our inclination to view God as being like our flawed selves, or like the bad examples of other flawed humans, the loving aspect of His nature is probably the hardest one to believe - harder than understanding the trinity. Reading certain passages of scripture and projecting our personality and preferences onto God can lead to seriously wrong understandings of Him. This leads to questions (some honest, some dishonest) about why He acts as He does. This is an example of how we must take any given passage in the context of the rest of the Bible. For instance, people look at the flood in Genesis and view it as the act of a vengeful God Who lashed out in anger at humans. But, the Bible says "The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain."12. Nowhere does the Bible record God's heart as being angry with those who died in the flood. I think the pain in His heart wasn't just because of how humans were turning out, but the fact that He needed to destroy nearly all of them. Imagine how bad they must have been in that time if even the evil of Hitler, Mao, and Stalin didn't result in that kind of mass extinction. Again, the Bible states "'As I live,' declares the Lord God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?'"13. He doesn't want bad for people - He wants them to live and prosper. We are, after all, His creation. But if people persist in evil even after warning after warning after warning, He will eventually act and deal with the situation. The previous Bible quote was after 490 years of violence, injustice, and rejection of the love of God. He gives people and societies a lot of time to turn from evil.

Of course, this patience of God is often used against Him by people complaining about why He allows wicked people to prosper. So, people complain about His wrath while at the same time complaining that He doesn't pour out His wrath on others. As a human, imagine trying to balance your love for people and your desire for them to turn from evil on one hand, with the need to set things right on the other. Eventually He sets things right - and eventually He will finally set things right for good. For now, though, He is providing opportunities for people to get right with Him and others. One must also consider the fact that things are going on that we simply don't know. I would say that major point of the book of Job is that there are things going on in the spiritual realm that we are completely unknown to us. The reader is given an explanation of the events in the spiritual realm that Job and his contemporaries are ignorant of. So, undoubtedly there are other considerations to how and when God acts. But one thing we do know is that God is love and acts in love.

Since God created everything and everyone that exists, any other "god" would merely be a creation of the One God. As such, they would be subject to His ultimate will and could not be considered equal to Him. Thus, they would be false gods, because they are not the only true God. In olden times (and sometimes today), idols served as false gods. Then there are the gods of mythology. I believe there are also created beings (sometimes humans) who claim to be gods. But, again, they are false gods. In comparison to YHWH, they are not gods at all.

I'll wrap up this article with this: everyone has a "god" - what they owe ultimate allegiance to. This may be a philosophy, a religion, an idol, or even themselves. But if that target of ultimate allegiance is not Almighty God, it is a false god. It seems like we humans are made to worship and we will find something to worship, one way or another. But there is only One Who is worthy of such allegiance and worship - because He made us and loves us more than we love ourselves. As a consequence, He has made Himself known to us (as much as we are capable of comprehending) in the Bible. He has provided a means of escaping the human problem that we are all born into. But He never forces us to love Him (if He did, it wouldn't be real love, would it?) He seems to love freedom more than that people are doing the right thing, otherwise no one would do bad things because He would prevent it. One day, though, He will set matters right. How sad that those who seek freedom from Him always end up enslaved to something far less! They wear chains and shackles they cannot see and march in stubborn lockstep toward in death and destruction - and they are free to do so. But as long as breath remains, each of us has the chance to choose Him instead of our own false gods.

1 Exodus 3:13-14
2 Genesis 1:1
3 Leviticus 11:44 , etc.
4 Genesis 17:1, Revelation 1:8, etc.
5 Job 26:14
6 Psalm 147:5 , 1 John 3:20 , etc.
7 I John 4:16
8 Psalm 50:21
9 Deuteronomy 6:4 , Mark 12:29 , etc.
10 Revelation 1:4, etc.
11 Matthew 6:9 , etc.
12 Genesis 6:6
13 Ezekiel 33:11