It was a time of great stress for the children of Israel. They had been longtime slaves under the oppressive arm of the king of Egypt for many years.
But Jehovah’s command, Moses and his brother Aaron were compelled to confront the Egyptian ruler.
In Pharaoh’s presence, the brothers demanded: “Thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go.’”
The arrogant monarch retorted: “Who is Jehovah that I should listen to his voice?” (Ex. 5:1-2 [ASV]; cf. 3:14).
That ancient ruler expressed a disposition that is common in today’s world.
Many in society have little interest, if any at all, in knowing about God. Much less are they disposed to yield to divine authority.
Any devout Bible student should be curious about the nature of God.
What are those qualities that distinguish true Deity from the pagan gods of the antique world?
The attributes of God may be surveyed from two important vantage points: non-moral and moral.
Non-moral should not be confused with that which is immoral. Rather, it refers to the Lord’s eternal attributes, independent of his relationship to created beings.
On the other hand, Jehovah’s moral attributes relate to his interactions with created beings. This would include angels and human beings, who are fashioned in his image (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1).
Of course, this does not refer to a physical image, because the divine deity is a strictly spiritual entity. Recall that Jesus himself affirmed this truth in John 4:24, “God is spirit.” After his resurrection, he proclaimed to his disciples that a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39).
That being said, let’s examine each of these classifications of divine attributes.
God’s Innate Non-moral Attributes
The innate qualities of absolute Deity those features that are uniquely divine. These attributes are possessed by three sacred personalities, identified in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
These three persons are one in nature. Each is Deity, yet they are distinct in personality.
What are these attributes?
First, God is eternal in nature.
There was never a time when he did not exist. He simply is the great “I AM” (Ex. 3:14). He is limited neither by time nor space. He is, and always will be.
This is awesome beyond our present ability to fully grasp, yet there it is.
Second, our Creator is omnipresent. There is no place that is not in his presence.
As Paul declared, the Lord “is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27). All things are “naked and laid open before” before his eyes (Heb. 4:13).
When scripture speaks of Jehovah’s “eyes,” “ears,” or “arms,” biblical writers are employing a figure of speech known as anthropomorphism.
This is where, for clarity’s sake, human traits are used to illustrate various attributes of the Almighty.
Next, the Lord is omniscient. This is an expression indicating that God knows everything there is to know, past, present, and future.
Scripture states: “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3).
No one can fathom God himself or fully appreciate the deeds of the all-knowing Creator (Jer. 23:23-25).
The Old Testament contains more than three hundred divine prophecies detailing the coming of Christ and certain events pertaining to him.
Jehovah is omnipotent. He possesses limitless power. He can do anything consistent with his holy nature, but he cannot sin or act unjustly in any fashion (Jas. 1:13).
He will never do anything contrary to his holy nature. And he cannot simply ignore sin (Hab. 1:13), nor will he yield to evil (Heb. 6:18).
God’s Moral Attributes
In addition to the attributes discussed in the previous section, it is important to emphasize our Creator’s absolute pristine nature.
Morality concerns the proper behavior of mankind toward other people.
Infidel philosophers are quick to charge that Jehovah’s actions, as occasionally recorded in the Bible, were immoral, They cite such examples as the Lord’s extermination of certain wicked people of the ancient world (cf. Gen. 6:5-8; 2 Kgs. 19:35).
This ignores the fact that God is sovereign over the nations. He can destroy them or raise them up, depending on the execution of his righteous will in the implementation of his holy plan.
Sinful humanity is in no position to criticize the eternal God of heaven and earth.
Nothing is more thrilling than to contemplate the love of Almighty God, as reflected in his benevolence and mercy.
The Lord’s love is illustrated in a great variety of ways.
He has provided the human family with a host of wonderful blessings in the features of nature, like soil, rain, sunshine, fruits and vegetables, and helpful animals.
Compare this with the barren planets that are Earth’s neighbors. Atheists cannot begin to explain this planetary distinction.
Nothing exhibits Heaven’s love more dramatically than Jehovah’s gift of his Son.
Christ voluntarily visited this planet to provide a ransom capable of reclaiming sinful humanity from the wretched rebellion by which we have degraded ourselves.
How thrilling it is to learn that the Lord is “rich in mercy” and “full of pity” for those who seek his pardon in the divinely appointed way (Eph. 2:4; Jas. 5:11; Jn. 3:3-5; Acts 2:38).
One of the most breathtaking truths ever uttered is found in the Gospel of John.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).
The term “believeth”—or in our common vernacular, “keeps on believing” (the participle reflects sustained action)—on him, should not perish. This does not imply the sectarian error of “once saved, always saved.”
A summation of some of our Creator’s qualities might be as follows.
God is entirely holy. Consistent with Jehovah’s character, heavenly seraphim proclaimed, “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa. 6:3).
God is just. A psalmist declared: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Lovingkindness and truth go before your face” (Psa. 89:14).
The Lord overflows with mercy. “I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:12 [from the Greek version of the Old Testament]).
God is love. As noted earlier, God’s lavish love was demonstrated by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
God never lies (Tit. 1:2). The Lord always can be trusted, for his word “is truth” (Jn. 17:17).
The Compassion of the Creator
The term “compassion” is reflected by several words in the Greek New Testament. Generally, it suggests the idea of a deep, inward, sympathetic emotion in a generously kind person.
There is a special emphasis in the book of Psalms on David’s appreciation for his Maker’s compassion during those dark occasions when the psalmist had yielded to fleshly weaknesses (see Psa. 32, 38, 51).
Divine compassion was wonderfully demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus. When the Savior saw the multitudes who were distressed and scattered as sheep with no shepherd, he was moved with compassion for them (Mt. 9:36).
When Christ noted that thousands followed him for three days without adequate food, he had compassion on them and supernaturally provided them with fish and loaves of bread (Mt. 15:32-39).
In the Lord’s parable of the good Samaritan, he noted that it was only this normally despised man who showed compassion to assist a wounded Hebrew, who had been neglected by a Jewish Levite and a priest (Lk. 10:25-37).
A study of the word “compassion” reveals the importance of this attribute in the affairs of those who would honor the Lord.
The Blessedness of Forgiveness
It must be a gross understatement to acknowledge that we humans do not appreciate the magnitude of sin.
And just what is sin?
In the early Greek writings, the term
harmartia and its combined grammatical forms signified “to miss the mark.”
The word was used in the Old Testament of the men of the tribe of Benjamin who could sling stones at a target “and not miss” (Judg. 20:16).
Eventually the term came to be used of a “violation of sacred law.”
Peter even used the word of rebellious angels who violated divine law (2 Pet. 2:4).
And it was employed profusely for human transgressions—either by commission or omission.
The universal recognition of sin is a phenomenon no atheist can explain!
Perhaps one of the most amazing features of Jehovah God is his willingness to forgive the sinner, who is contrite enough to repent of his errors and submit to the divine plan for human pardon. This concept is abundantly reflected in the book of Acts.
While hanging upon the cross as an atonement for man’s rebellion, Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
We cannot undo any sin we have committed. But Jesus Christ, because of his atoning sacrifice upon the cross, can, and is willing, to pardon us—if we conform to the plan of redemption he has imparted (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Oh, the value of God’s forgiveness!
It is beyond expression. And how awful the terror is that awaits those who scorn the divine provision for pardon that awaits the day of judgment and everlasting punishment.