God the Father: What is God like?
How do you introduce yourself to people? Similarly, we would not know God unless He introduced himself to us. The most quoted passage in the by the Bible is the one where God introduces himself to his people.
Exodus 34:6–7 says:
The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.
This description of the entire Trinity is so packed that we must consider each truth it reveals.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is a person with the name “LORD.” In the Old Testament, God’s people were surrounded by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Philistines, and other nations that each had gods. These false gods ruled over a people and a place but did not rule over all people and all places as the Lord of the Bible does. The same can be said of the New Testament, wherein God’s people were also in a world “full of idols,”1 and even our own day, when spirituality is popular but very few spiritual people know the Lord who rules over all spirits and spiritualties.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, begins by telling Moses and us that he is a person. He has a name. He wants to relate. This is very different from the contemporary spirituality of Hollywood Buddhism, and Star Wars, where there is only “the Force” flowing through everything.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is compassionate to hurting and suffering people. He sees our lives, knows our frailty, and responds with compassion.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is helpful. Not only does God rule over us and have compassion on us, but God is also at work for us. Our God is a servant who delights in humbly serving the people he has made; he does so not because he has to but because he longs to, as an outworking of his goodness.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is slow to anger. Unlike the Greek and Roman gods who are irritable and volatile and take out their anger on people unless they are appeased by sacrifices or praise, the God of the Bible has a long wick. Yahweh can be angered but only after being provoked by sinners determined to arouse his anger through ongoing unrepentant sin and rebellion in abuse of his patience.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is lovingly faithful, shown by the wonderfully powerful Hebrew word hesed. It speaks of the constant, passionate, overflowing, relentlessly pursuing, extravagant, limitless, trustworthy, and merciful love of our God. It speaks of his caring provision coming from his strong mercy.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is dependable and truthful. He never fails and he never lies. As a result, he alone is fully worthy of faith, trust, and devotion, because he alone will always keep his promises.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is forgiving. God is keenly aware of our sin. Yet, in his loving mercy he is willing and able to forgive repentant sinners.
- Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is just. In the end, no one who lives in sin and rejects his offer of loving relationship through forgiven sin will have any excuse. God is altogether holy and good, and because he is just, he cannot and will not excuse or overlook sin that is not repented of to him in relationship with him.
This revelation of God takes on extraordinary depth because the Lord gave it in the context of Israel’s horrific betrayal and sin when they worshiped the golden calf.2 Yahweh, the Trinitarian God of the Bible, is a person who is compassionate, helpful, slow to anger, loving, dependable, forgiving, and just to ill-deserving sinners. He is the one we see in the God- man, Jesus Christ. John tells us he is full of grace and truth.3 This is an unmistakable allusion to Exodus 34:6–7. John is saying that Jesus Christ is full of Yahweh. He has come to reveal the Father.
When you think about God, what are the most common characteristics that come to mind? Spend a few moments thinking of practical ways that God has shown his love to you.