TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  Basics

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Chapter 1  Part I

Basics

The concepts in the first half of this chapter are fundamental to understanding what God is like, as they concern basic attributes of his being. These include attributes which show God to be very different to us, but also attributes which indicate that he is like us in that he is a personal being.

God’s Form

God is one

Mark 12:29b, 32  [Jesus, quoting Moses:] Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.32The expert in the law said to him, “That is true, Teacher; you are right to say that he is one, and there is no one else besides him.  NET

In teaching that God is one, the Bible indicates that God is a single entity or being.

God is spirit

John 4:24  God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  NET

God’s nature is spirit; he is a spiritual being. So God is not a physical being, in contrast to people and particularly to idols.

God cannot be seen by people

1Tim 6:16  [Paul, speaking of God:] He alone has endless life and lives in inaccessible light. No one has ever seen him, nor can anyone see him. Honor and eternal power belong to him! Amen.  ISV

God is everywhere, not just in temples

Jer 23:23-24  “I am a God who is near,” says the Lord. “I am also a God who is far away.” 24“No one can hide where I cannot see him,” says the Lord. “I fill all of heaven and earth,” says the Lord.  NCV™

1Ki 8:27  [Solomon, praying at the dedication of the temple:] But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!  NKJV

A vision of God

Ezek 1:26-28a  [Ezekiel, describing a vision of God:] I then saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure in the shape of a human. 27From the waist up, it was glowing like metal in a hot furnace, and from the waist down it looked like the flames of a fire. The figure was surrounded by a bright light, 28as colorful as a rainbow that appears after a storm. I realized I was seeing the brightness of the Lord’s glory!  CEV

Note: God primarily dwells in heaven

Deut 26:15a  [Moses, to God:] Look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people …  NET

Verses which speak of God being in heaven are not understood to indicate that he is in any way confined to one location. But they do suggest that his form is such that his primary presence is in heaven. Note that some verses imply that God is present throughout the earth through his Holy Spirit (cf. Ps 139:7-10).

 Questions for Section A

God’s Glory

Scripture often speaks of God’s glory in reference to his wondrous being. In doing so, it has in view God’s essence and/or his attributes. Regarding his essence, God’s glory pertains to his essential being itself, such that his presence is on occasions perceived as his glory and spoken of in terms of it. Regarding his attributes, God’s glory emanates in part from his attributes – such as his power – which in a sense reflect the glory of God’s essence and presence.

Glory is a prominent and key attribute of God

Ps 138:5  They [kings] will sing about the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord!  ISV

Rom 3:23  All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  CEV

In their sinful state, people are not compatible with God’s wondrous glory. The fact that it is God’s glory that people are measured by or compared to, underlines that glory is a key attribute of God.

God’s glory is an integral aspect of God’s presence

Ps 26:8  [David, to God:] I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells.  GNT

Here David speaks of God’s temple as being a prime location of God’s presence and thus his glory. As such, David associates God’s glory with his presence.

God’s glory manifests his presence

Lev 9:23-24  Moses and Aaron then entered into the Meeting Tent. When they came out, they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24Then fire went out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat parts on the altar, and all the people saw it, so they shouted loudly and fell down with their faces to the ground.  NET

Acts 7:55  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  NET

Leviticus 9:23-24 (above) correlates “the glory of the Lord” (v. 23) with “the presence of the Lord” (v. 24). Acts 7:55 (immediately above) correlates “the glory of God” with “God” himself – and so likewise with God’s presence.

God is surrounded by brilliant light

1Tim 6:16a  [Paul, speaking of God:] He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see.  NET

God has great majesty

Ps 145:5a  [David, to God:] I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty …  NKJV

God’s glory is reflected in his powerful deeds

John 11:40-44  Jesus responded [to Martha], “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. 42I knew that you always listen to me, but I said this for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he shouted in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The one who had died came out, his feet and hands tied up with strips of cloth, and a cloth wrapped around his face. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”  NET

God’s glory was seen (v. 40) or reflected in the raising of Lazarus from the dead, with Jesus effectively calling on God and his power (v. 41) in raising Lazarus.

God’s glory is evidenced throughout the earth and the heavens

Ps 8:1  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.  ESV

Ps 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork.  NET

The above verses speak of how God’s glory is evidenced throughout the earth and the heavens. For God so wonderfully created them, reflecting his glory.

God’s glory will be explicitly revealed throughout the earth, to all nations

Hab 2:14  For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  ESV

The revelation of God’s glory in the destruction of Babylon (cf. vv. 12-13) may initially be in view, but the verse probably also has a final fulfillment at the end of the age.

 Questions for Section B

God’s Personhood

God is not a “thing” but a personal being that one can interrelate with. God thinks, has a will, has feelings and has character. Furthermore, God is active, communicates and interacts with people.

God has a mind – knowing and comprehending things

1Sam 2:3b  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do.  NET

1Chr 28:9a  [David:] And you, Solomon my son, obey the God of your father and serve him with a submissive attitude and a willing spirit, for the Lord examines all minds and understands every motive of one’s thoughts.  NET

God has a will

Eph 1:11  [Paul, to believers:] In the Messiah we were also chosen when we were predestined according to the purpose of the one [God] who does everything according to the intention of his will, …  ISV

God has feelings and character . . .

2Chr 36:15  But the Lord God felt sorry for his people, and instead of destroying the temple, he sent prophets who warned the people over and over about their sins.  CEV

James 5:11b  You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  NET

. . . God feels emotional pain

Isa 63:9a  Through all that they suffered, he suffered too.  NET

God suffered in response to the suffering of his people.

God is active

John 5:17  But Jesus said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.”  NCV™

God communicates . . .

Phil 3:15  [Paul, to the Philippian believers:] All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you.  CEV

Heb 1:1-2  After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, 2in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world.  NET

. . . and people can communicate with God

Dan 6:10b-11  Three times each day Daniel would kneel down to pray and thank God, just as he always had done. 11Then those men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.  NCV™

God interacts with people, responding to their requests and needs

James 4:8, 10  Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double–minded. … 10Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  NET

Ps 91:15  [God, speaking of a person devoted to him:] When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him when he is in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him honor.  NET

 Questions for Section C

God’s Eternity

God is alive

2Sam 22:47  The Lord is alive! My protector is praiseworthy! The God who delivers me is exalted as king!  NET

God has always been alive, the first of all things . . .

Ps 93:2  Your throne, O Lord, has been firm from the beginning, and you existed before time began.  GNT

Isa 44:6  This is what the Lord, Israel’s king, says, their protector, the Lord who commands armies: “I am the first and I am the last, there is no God but me.  NET

. . . God existed even before the world began

Ps 90:2  [A psalmist, to God:] Even before the mountains came into existence, or you brought the world into being, you were the eternal God.  NET

God will live forever

Dan 4:34b  [King Nebuchadnezzar:] I extolled the Most High, and I praised and glorified the one who lives forever. For his authority is an everlasting authority, and his kingdom extends from one generation to the next.  NET

1Tim 1:17  [Paul, speaking of God:] Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.  NET

God transcends time

2Pet 3:8  [Peter, to believers:] Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.  NET

God dwells outside of the limitations of time, not bound by its finite perspective. From his eternal perspective, diverse periods such as a day and a thousand years are both small, even insignificant. To God the distinction between them is merely relative.

God is self-existing

John 5:26  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  ESV

God does not change

James 1:17  All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.  NET

Note that “the Father of lights” refers to God as the creator of the lights in the sky, i.e. the sun, moon, and stars (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians