What Is God Like?

God is described in many ways, with many attributes and actions. Our finite minds try to grasp the infinite by straining language to the breaking point trying to paint word pictures of God. We’ll touch on that today in this post from the Doctrine of God series.

How is God different from us?

He has two sets of attributes, incommunicable and communicable. His communicable attributes are the ones He shares with us. His incommunicable attributes He shares less of or not at all.

What is so important about God’s names?

In the Bible, it’s a description of His character, like a lot of Bible names. For example, when we pray “hallowed” be your name as part of the Lord’s prayer, we’re praying that people will speak and act in a way that is honoring and reflects His character.

It also shows the reason in not taking God’s name in vain. It’s a command that we don’t dishonor God’s reputation with foolish or misleading words or actions that don’t reflect His true character.

Why does God have so many names in the Bible?

Many of the names come from human experiences, emotions, or from natural creation in order to describe God’s character. It’s like using an analogy.

How is God described from natural creation?

God is compared to…

  • a lion (Isaiah 31:4) This is what the Lord says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor—so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights.
  • an eagle (Deuteronomy 32:11) like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
  • a lamb (Isaiah 53:7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
  • a hen (Matthew 23:37) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
  • the sun and a shield (Psalm 84:11) For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
  • the morning star (Revelation 22:16) “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
  • a light (Psalm 27:1) The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
  • a torch (Revelations 21:23) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
  • a fire (Hebrews 12:29) for our “God is a consuming fire.”
  • a fountain (Psalm 36:9) For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
  • a rock (Deuteronomy 32:4) He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
  • a hiding place (Psalm 119:114) You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
  • a tower (Proverbs 18:10) The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
  • a moth (Psalm 39:11) When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin, you consume their wealth like a moth—surely everyone is but a breath.
  • a shadow (Psalm 91:1) Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
  • a temple (Revelation 21:22) I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

There are more but for the sake of space, we’ll move on.

How is God described from human experience?

God is described as…

  • a bridegroom (Isaiah 61:10) I delight greatly in the Lordmy soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
  • a husband (Isaiah 54:5) For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—
    the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
  • a father (Deuteronomy 32:6) Is this the way you repay the Lordyou foolish and unwise people?
    Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
  • a judge and king (Isaiah 33:22) For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver,
    the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.
  • a man of war (Exodus 15:3) The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
  • a builder and maker (Hebrews 11:10) For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
  • a shepherd (Psalm 23:1) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
  • a physician (Exodus 15:26) He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

That’s just for starters.

How is God described from human emotion?

Human emotions are attributed to Him like…

  • joy (Isaiah 62:5) As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you;
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
  • grief (Psalm 78:40; Isaiah 63:10) How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the wasteland!”
    “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy
    and he himself fought against them.”
  • anger (Jeremiah 7:18-19) The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger. But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?
  • love (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • hatred (Deuteronomy 16:22) and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.
  • wrath (Psalm 2:5) He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,…

To name a few.

How are God’s actions described?

He is described as doing things as we would, such as…

  • knowing (Genesis 18:21) that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”
  • remembering (Genesis 8:1) “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.”
  • seeing (Genesis 1:10) God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
  • hearing (Exodus 2:24) God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.
  • smelling (Genesis 8:21) The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
  • sitting (Psalm 9:7) The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.
  • rising (Psalm 68:1) May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.
  • walking (Leviticus 26:12) I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
  • wiping away tears (Isaiah 25:8) The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces;
    he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

Why does God seem so mixed up?

The passages show that all of the creation reveals something about God to us. Being made in the image of God reveals a bit more, and Jesus as the revelation of God to man is the final revelation bringing it all in perspective. This shows that all we understand is through our limited understanding in our experience with God.

That’s why anthropomorphic language is used that speaks of God in human terms. Don’t take a description by itself out of context, but understand it in light of the rest of Scripture. Remember, the Bible’s description of God isn’t exhaustive, but when you consider what we have…whoa…


Doctrine of the Bible Posts
How Did We Get The Bible?
Is The Bible The Word of God and Does It Matter?
Is The Bible Inerrant?
Is The Bible Necessary?
Is The Bible Sufficient?

Doctrine of God Posts

Is There A God? 
How Can We Know God?

Sources
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Chapter 11: Incommunicable Attributes of God

What Job 1 Can Teach Us About Suffering

Suffering isn’t something we like to think of. Particularly if you live in a culture where the goal is happiness. In a naturalistic framework, suffering is the ultimate evil–killer of happiness. What does the Bible say about it? Quite a bit.

Lately, I’ve been camped out on two subjects: the problem of evil, and suffering. If you want to take Suffering 101, read the book of Job. That’s where we’ll be today, Job 1, and looking at the lessons from it.

A Philosophical Look At Job

It begins with an introduction to a man so righteous and good that only two other Old Testament characters can compare. Of course, it’s Job. Philosophically speaking, the question is, can you love God for who He is rather than what He’s done for you?

Job proves that you can. However, we learn something about the culture at the time. There were two lines of thinking then.

One is the Great Symbiosis, a line of cultural thought that says you seek favor from a deity or multiple gods by caring for them. Offerings were usually just cooking them dinner, or plying them with gifts.

A good modern day equivalent is talismans or offering something for a favor. How many of us have ‘negotiated’ with God? I have and didn’t keep my end of the bargain.

The second is the Retribution Principle. It simply states the righteous will prosper while the wicked will suffer. Karma follows the same line of thought, someone paying back what they did in a past life. You see calls for it online, “Karma will get them,” or “They’ll get what’s coming to them.”

My question is when they go through hard times, do they consider it to be their bad karma being worked off?

At the core of the Retribution Principle is justice. In a perfect world, it could work. However, we cannot avoid being affected by others’ actions, or our actions affecting others. The fact Job was the most righteous man to have ever lived at that point blew that principle out of the water.

A Personal Look At Job

This is where we turn from the philosophical to the personal. Job wasn’t guilty of anything, yet he suffered. Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything, yet the Son of God suffered. Not all who suffer are guilty of anything.

It’s not always punishment or the natural consequences of a sin. It can be because of this broken world, a personal or satanic attack. Supernatural beings aren’t using us as pawns in an undecided game. We serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God who sees and knows the end result.

Part of that was God the Son coming to earth to suffer and die for us. God knows suffering on more than an intellectual level. Suffering is actually part of the Christian life. 1st Peter is a pretty good book on it.

I don’t know who said it, but they put it like this: to the Christian, joy is at the center with suffering at the periphery. For others it’s reversed, suffering is at the center and joy is at the periphery. How can this be true?

The Christian’s joy comes from a relationship with an unchanging God.

What’s This Mean For Us?

We can’t comprehend the why of it in totality or see how far the ripples will spread. Romans 8:28 tells us God knows and He’s with us working all things–the good and bad–for the good of those who love Him, according to His purposes.

In this light, since I came with nothing, and will leave with nothing I have gotten for myself, I should–as hard as it is–give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Because as Christians, we have our salvation to be thankful for, the good to enjoy, the lessons pain teaches us so we can help others, and can rely more on God.

So cry, and run to the Father, remembering He works all things for your good according to His purposes.

The Day Ronin Acknowledged God As His Shogun

August 10th, 2014, forever known as the day I acknowledged God as God. In these three years, it’s been an interesting journey. I have a picture on my wall from that day, mostly inexpressive, looking into the camera. What a change since then, and the year before.

The Day the World Stopped

It started a little over a year earlier. I had been attending church out of obligation. When my godson was killed in an accident in my home, the church surrounded us. Even our jobs helped where they could.

An investigation started on us, and I eventually became the focus of it. I looked for an attorney, finding I couldn’t afford one and was starting to panic as paranoia crept in. That’s just the outside, inside I was either numb or angry, in shock or filled with anxiety and guilt.

And I couldn’t stop the tremors in my hands.

My wife and I were in counseling for six free sessions through a program offered by work. It was a nightmare to get her in due to a lack of an interpreter. Our pastor filled that role, later taking on counseling us both since our insurance wouldn’t pay for psychotherapy. I paid out of pocket for as long as I could, lamenting my own turmoil.

Broken

At one point in August 2013, I was completely broken. I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare, sure I was going to jail, hated by others, and hating myself. I sat crying in a pew at church while everyone was singing Just As I Am.

Weeping and sobbing, I made the chorus into the most sincere prayer I’ve probably ever prayed.

I come broken to be mended,
I come wounded to be healed,
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled…

God Begins to Move…

Things began to happen. A lawyer offered his services to us free of charge. My wife was cleared, though I was arrested and charged with child endangerment. They let me out on a signature bond, and the officers that did the booking paperwork acknowledged that is was an accident.

The court process went smoothly, so smoothly that our attorney remarked he’d never seen a case go so smoothly. I was given probation, a suspended jail sentence, a fine, and I could never get a concealed carry permit in the state again. That was the deal, and we only had one quibble that quickly went our way.

This, among other things falling so easily into place, despite the emotional turmoil and probability, I began to suspect someone was working in the background.

These lyrics from Andrae Crouch’s song came to mind to explain the year between the accident and my baptism.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God

Reborn

The Year of the Prodigal goes over 2014 in depth. I began to study the book of James and reading Immediate Obedience. I was learning how to follow Christ. In that year, I realized I was a lot like the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, and God is the loving Father.

The Year of Renewal was spent diving into apologetics, and slowly turning away from things that didn’t honor God. During that year, I was diagnosed with PTSD, yet Christ works best with broken things.

I walked away from a business I had inherited the previous year, that had made the original owner wealthy. It didn’t fit me now, I was a new creation. That year rather than being a prodigal, I felt like I had been worked on by a divine blacksmith in life’s fires.

Growing Pains

2016 was the Year of Searching and Growth, where I worked on developing relationships and philosophical musings on God. I felt like I was being prepared for something, and I’m still not totally sure for what.

I lost two friends in a week’s time as I continued searching for my purpose. Occasionally struggling with the idea of relationships, because I think God is getting a chuckle at making a loner logician value and understand people from an emotional perspective.

The end of the year brought our second pregnancy along with our second miscarriage. We grieved, we questioned, yet we trusted God. This was a fire that tempers or destroys faith, and considering how I got here, it was a hotter fire that brought me to Him.

Faith was grounded, tested, and proved that year.

What About Now?

This year has just been me given greater roles at work and church, relationships developing and growing, and working on one big thing. The contrast from then and now has been a complete 180. I’m not sure if any of my old friends understand it, maybe they will if they read this. I’ve even lost some friends.

Still, tomorrow is my 3-year Rebirthday. 🙂