In the world today there might not be any question as controversial as this one. Who is God? All of us have our own views about what God is like, even within Christianity so it’s important for us to go to scripture to have a clear understanding of who God is. Without going to scripture we end up making up our own opinion about what God’s like, usually based on our own beliefs, morals, and desires.
The two most important things for you to know about who God is that he is beyond us and he is with us and that’s what we’ll dig into in this post.
It’s easy for us to think about God like some sort of superhuman. Like he’s a person, but better in every way. It’s normal for us to think that way, and if you look through history you’ll see that most people who believe in God or gods believed something along those lines.
When we look at how the Bible presents God though we see something that’s completely alien to us, completely un-human. In the first pages of the Bible we see him creating the entire universe (Gen.1:1) This means that he’s completely outside of the natural order, the first cause of the universe.
Because he created everything that means that he also invented things like morality (right and wrong, good and evil). This means that everything he does and everything that he wants is good, because he’s the center of whats real in the universe.
Since he is all powerful he is also able to see everything and have control over everything at the same time. This might sound crazy, but it makes sense when we remember that God’s not a human, he’s not bound to space and time like we are because he invented space and time.
He has authority over the natural world in the same way you have control over a lego set you can buy at the store. You are not bound to the Lego world, you are above and outside of it so you have full creative control. It’s the same with this universe and God, he has full creative control because he is above and outside of it.
The word that the Bible uses to describe God’s separation from everything else is the word Holy. To be holy is to be set apart, in your own category, a true individual. God’s holiness is because he is different, he is all powerful, and he is perfect.
When people in the Bible encounter God it is not a low-key experience. No one walks up to God and just acts casually. Isaiah falls on his face and assumes he’s going to die in the presence of God (Isaiah 6:4,5). Job and his “friends” get blasted by a long speech from God about his power and authority and saying that they were severely freaked out would be an understatement (Job 40:1-4). When God has a meeting with Moses on a mountain God tells Moses’ crew that if anyone or any animal touches the mountain that they need to be killed because they’ve come too close to a perfect God (Exodus 19). Later Moses asks to see God’s face and God says no because just seeing God would kill him (Exodus 33:18-20). Paul calls the presence of God an unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16)
So God is different, he is beyond us, all-powerful and holy.
So think of God like the Sun. It is powerful, it is separated from us by a huge distance, and we depend on it for life. We can’t directly approach the sun though, we can’t even look at it for too long without doing serious damage to our eyes.
A lot of people can see God as an angry force who wants to beat down people who disobey. They agree that God is all-powerful, holy and perfect. They just believe that God couldn’t possibly love them but that would be missing a big part of who God is, and it’s important for us to see another side of who God is.
God is with us
In the beginning of the Bible God creates all of the natural world as we know it. He creates an ordered system for the universe to operate and creates all of the living things on earth. His last creation was people, this was a strange creation though becuase people, unlike everything else in the universe, has the ability to have a relationship with God (Genesis 1:26-27).
This is weird because God doesn’t need anyone or anything. He’s perfectly content as he is. He doesn’t need people because he’s lonely, and doesn’t need a bunch of slaves to rule. He is complete in himself and all powerful. So why did he create people if he doesn’t need them in any way?
The only logical conclusion is to say that he wants us but doesn’t need us. If we were needed then God wouldn’t be all-powerful. So his only motivation in making us is love, because God is love.
People chose to rebel against God, believing the lie that following God isn’t what’s best for them (Genesis 3). God didn’t choose to give up on people though, instead he chose to get even closer, picking a group of people that he would show special attention to, the descendants of a man named Abraham. Those people would be the people that God would show the world his power through.
Those people, even after being rescued by God multiple times and seeing miracles with their own eyes still chose to rebel. They worshipped other gods, they stopped following God’s way of living and stopped worshipping him altogether.
God continually shows his people the problem with living apart from him. God is the source of life in the universe and running from him is separating yourself from purpose, worth, and satisfaction. Despite the constant failure and 0% success rate of his people he never gave up on them.
We see God mourning for his people and punishing his people out of love like a parent would punish a child. All of this is out of love. If God didn’t care he would just let them suffer forever, but he always comes closer no matter how bad the failure.
Despite this rejection, God didn’t stop his pursuit for the heart of his people, and when the time was right he came down again, in the form of Jesus Christ. He was this same God and his mission was the same as it always had been, to seek and save the lost, to help the people see that their own way of living was only bringing destruction and death, and to turn from those ways and to follow him.
And what did God’s chosen people do to Jesus? They killed him.
Even this wasn’t enough to stop God’s pursuit of his people, becuase Jesus’ death wasn’t a defeat, it was a victory. It was God’s endgame to bring the whole world closer to him. Jesus’ execution was God’s way of taking his wrath off of the world for their rejection of him. Jesus took the punishment so we as people who fail God don’t have to.
So at the moment where God should have given up on people, he actually was closing the gap between man and God forever.
Now we have access to the presence of God in the Holy Spirit. He lives inside everyone who trusts in Jesus’ death, burial, and ressurection as payment for our failures.
so the story of God as told in the Bible is of a Creator God being present with his people despite their constant rejection, pursuing them out of love and a desire for relationship.
“I was found by people who were not looking for me.
I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.”
God has always had a never stopping, never giving up love in both the old and new testaments, he has never changed and never will change.
We must never say that God is just a holy separate God who looks down waiting to judge people.
We must never say that God is just this grandpa in the sky who just wants to give us nice stuff and happy feelings.
Instead, we must see God as he is presented in scripture. The Holy God, in unapproachable light who is all-powerful, perfect, sees all things past present and future and yet cares for us, loves us, and desires that we be his children.
God is beyond us and God is with us, and that is who God is.
Desiring God – The Goal of God’s Love
The Gospel Coalition – God’s Pursuit of us