Discover the answer to the question: Who is God?
(Note: This Page Should Clear Up Any Confusions You May Have Regarding the God of the Bible)
Possibly the most important aspect of God, in general, is that He is very complex.
And he should be! If God wasn't complex, wouldn't you think someone just made him up or invented him?
Any "god" who is so simple that a human could have invented him (or her) is just that: a made-up god.
However, the God who interacted with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and made a promise that was eventually fulfilled by God's messiah, Jesus Christ: this God is complex.
He's so complex that people often misunderstand Him.
So who is God?
* Some people say this God is loving, yet they then don't understand why He had the Israelites kill people in the Old Testament.
* Others say this God is really a God of hate, and they believe the God of the New Testament isn't the same God.
Both of these groups are confused because they don't read the Bible enough to find out what it has to say about God.
However, we are going to investigate the Bible and discover the answer to this question: Who is God?
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The Bible's Answer to: Who is God?
- So then why did God have the Israelites kill people?
- But how can a loving God punish like that?
- Yet God is Merciful
So Who is God?
God's love for humanity is present all throughout the Old Testament, and His love extends much further than any person.
In fact, God's love is everywhere in the Old Testament. Take God's commandments for example.
"Neither shall you steal." (Deuteronomy 5:19)
See the love? God loves people and doesn’t want others to steal from you or anyone else.
Or how about this? "Do not inquire concerning their gods, saying, 'How did these nations worship their gods? I also want to do the same.'
You must not do the same for the Lord your God, because every abhorrent thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods. They would even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods." (Deuteronomy 12:30-31)
See the love? God doesn’t want people to worship him with human sacrifices. That’s just evil, and God loves people.
(There are plenty more examples from the Old Testament showing God's love, because His love really is everywhere in the Bible. These are just a few to illustrate.)
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Well, actually, we are told why in the Bible.
When the Israelites were getting ready to go into the promised land, (and thus kill the people living there) they were told,
“It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land;
but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is dispossessing them before you.” (Deuteronomy 9:5)
God was punishing those nations for their wickedness (like human sacrifices). And being the giver of life, their punishment was death.
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We actually already understand this perfectly well (how God could do this) if we think about it.
Think of the person you love most, (your mother or spouse or best friend).
How would you feel if someone murdered them?
Imagine for a moment how you’d feel if this happened to you. Sound like a nightmare?
Don’t you think that person deserves to be punished?
Well, yeah! Most people feel that person needs to be punished for the evil they’ve committed against you and your loved one.
This is why we have laws giving murderers a punishment for their actions.
So why is it so hard to believe that God also gets upset when someone murders a person you love?
You think you’re angry? God is even more infuriated that your loved one was killed!
He knows your pain. In fact, God's even more angry, because even though you love this person dearly, God loves them much more than we can imagine. He created your loved one.
In fact, God gets upset when someone murders a person you don’t love! Because even though you don’t love them, He loves them!
Now, let's change the situation a little, so we can view the situation as God sees it.
Let’s say a person, whom you love dearly, kills another person you love dearly.
Just imagine that.
How would you feel if someone you love killed another loved one?
Ouch. That’s really tough. Not only do you feel betrayed, but you feel immense anger, as well as a lot of other complicated feelings.
What would you do if someone you love murdered someone else you love? Would you get revenge? Would you want that person punished? How can the situation get any more bitter?
Let’s say you decide to forgive this person, whom you love, for killing another person you love. You decide to be merciful.
Then this person you love murders someone else you love, and then someone else.
Finally, you reach the point where punishment must come. This evil has to stop, no matter how much you love the person committing the evil.
Someone needs to go to jail or something! Some would even want the death penalty.
That is tough. Really tough.
Some people would want justice immediately, even if their loved one was the offender. Others might be merciful for awhile, but eventually you can’t take it anymore, and you realize this evil has to be stopped.
This kind of situation is exactly why a loving God can exact the punishment of death on people He supposedly loves.
When we see this kind of situation in the Bible (when God punishes people by having them killed), we have no idea how much pain and suffering these people have caused others.
All we know is that it was apparently bad enough that God finally punished them.
So when we ask, "How can a loving God have people killed?" We actually already understand the answer.
We especially understand the answer as soon as we experience how horrible the evil is for ourselves.
When it's our friend or our spouse, we understand.
Well, for God, it's always His someone.
And what's worse is that He loves the person doing the evil too! (Which complicates everything.)
(In reality, when we do understand how we would feel in this kind of situation with one person, we are only getting a glimpse of how God feels when hundreds, or more, people are committing these kinds of evils.)
Every situation is personal to God (even when most of us couldn’t care less).
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Unlike us, God is often much more merciful than we would ever be.
In the Bible, God is seen waiting for hundreds of years, giving plenty of time for the people to repent (turn away from their evil and instead be good), before He finally punishes them for their evil by having them killed or exiled (because they didn’t repent).
God’s mercy is everywhere in the Old Testament.
* Over and over again, we read about people committing horrible evils, and God’s punishment is often not as severe as the crime would seem to deserve (such as Cain and Abel).
* On the other side, we also read about punishments that sometimes seem far too severe for the supposed crime. However, it only seems that way because we often misunderstand the seriousness.
An example is “If anyone secretly entices you - even if it is your brother...or your most intimate friend - saying, “Let us go worship other gods,”...you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion...But you shall surely kill them...” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
Now, most people would look at that passage and think that the punishment is far too severe for the crime.
However, if it is true that the God of the Bible is the only God (and sinning against Him is what deserves punishment) then not only is following other made-up “gods” a great evil (idolatry), but doing so would produce far more evil, due to an increase in disobedience to the only true God.
Such a person would not only be committing evil, but if that person continued to live, then that evil would spread, causing even more evil.
If someone wants to worship another God who calls for human sacrifices, imagine the evil that would spread.
When we look at it from this perspective, then it’s much easier to understand why the punishment would be so severe.
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God is a complex, loving Being, who is unlike any of His creation (meaning we are like Him, rather than Him being like us).
He hates evil, and enacts justice, yet He is also merciful because of His great love for His creation.
In being merciful, because of His love for people, He often doesn’t enact justice and punishment immediately.
Instead, He often patiently allows people to be evil, giving them time to repent (to turn away from their evil and be good), being patient even for hundreds of years.
However, eventually His patience and mercy have been abundant enough, (and the victims often have been crying out for a long time "When God? When will you bring us justice?") and He must punish the ones doing evil (He's more angry at all the evil than we are).
Therefore, a loving God, because He is also righteous and just, is seen being both a merciful judge, as well as a punishing judge (sometimes using people to perform His punishment and other times using a natural disaster).
When we understand just how evil sin is (especially when we are personally wronged), we can easily understand how a loving God could also be a God of punishment of wrongdoing (even as severe as death).
For a list of all of God’s attributes and characteristics,
Attributes of God
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