TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Loving Characteristics

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Chapter 2  Part II

Loving Characteristics

God’s love is one of the two primary characteristics from which his other personal characteristics emanate, the other primary one being his holiness. Comprehending and persistently being mindful of God’s love and his associated characteristics provides great encouragement for believers.

Love

See also:

God is love – as epitomized in him giving his only Son, to save us

1Jn 4:8-10, 16  The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent his unique Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.16We have come to know and rely on the love that God has for us. God is love, and the person who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  ISV

The phrase “God is love” (vv. 8, 16) implies that God’s nature is fundamentally love, rather than that love is simply a characteristic of God. It is also indicative of God being the sole source of love; love does not exist apart from him. This assertion is also reflected in v. 7 and v. 16b.

God’s love is great

Ex 34:6-7a  The Lord passed in front of Moses and said, “I am the Lord. The Lord is a God who shows mercy, who is kind, who doesn’t become angry quickly, who has great love and faithfulness 7and is kind to thousands of people.  NCV™

Ps 108:4  [David, to God:] For your loyal love extends beyond the sky, and your faithfulness reaches the clouds.  NET

God’s love is steadfast

Ps 36:7a  How precious is your steadfast love, O God!  ESV

God’s love lasts forever

Ps 89:2  [Ethan, to God:] I know that your love will last for all time, that your faithfulness is as permanent as the sky.  GNT

Ps 100:5  For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  ESV

 Questions for Section A

Mercy

God is merciful

Deut 4:31  [Moses, to Israel:] The Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not abandon you, destroy you, or forget the promise to your ancestors that he swore he would keep.  GW

God’s mercy is great

Ps 25:6  [David, to God:] Because of your great mercy, I come to your house, Lord, and I am filled with wonder as I bow down to worship at your holy temple.  CEV

Along with being merciful, God is gracious

Ex 34:6b  The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, …  ESV

God is compassionate

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

Due to his mercy and compassion: God is long-suffering; . . .

Neh 9:28-31  [Levites, praying to God and making reference to their forefathers:] Then, when they were at rest again, they went back to doing evil before you. Then you abandoned them to their enemies, and they gained dominion over them. When they again cried out to you, in your compassion you heard from heaven and rescued them time and again. 29And you solemnly admonished them in order to return them to your law, but they behaved presumptuously and did not obey your commandments. They sinned against your ordinances – those by which an individual, if he obeys them, will live. They boldly turned from you; they rebelled and did not obey. 30You prolonged your kindness with them for many years, and you solemnly admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets. Still they paid no attention, so you delivered them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31However, due to your abundant mercy you did not do away with them altogether; you did not abandon them. For you are a merciful and compassionate God.  NET

. . . and God is forgiving

Mic 7:18-19  Who is a God like you? You forgive sin and overlook the rebellion of your faithful people. You will not be angry forever, because you would rather show mercy. 19You will again have compassion on us. You will overcome our wrongdoing. You will throw all our sins into the deep sea.  GW

Note: God is patient – allowing people to repent

2Pet 3:9b  God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.  CEV

 Questions for Section B

Benevolence

God’s benevolence encompasses his goodness, kindness and generosity – as the following subsections indicate. However, it should be noted that “goodness” and “kindness” are quite general concepts and as such pertain to other character traits as well (cf. introductory comment below on God is good…).

God is good

Ps 119:68  [A psalmist, to God:] You are good and you do good. Teach me your statutes!  NET

When the Bible says that God is good, arguably there are two concepts in view. God is good in that he is: (a) morally upright; and (b) generous and kind towards his people (and all his creatures). The first concept reflects God’s holiness (and so is pertinent to the first half of this chapter). The latter concept is plainly indicative of his benevolence. The two concepts themselves are by no means unrelated, as God’s upright character produces his generous and kind actions.

God shows great goodness

Ps 145:7, 9  [David:] They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. … 9The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.  ESV

God exercises kindness

Luke 6:35  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people.  NET

Titus 3:4-5a  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was shown, 5he saved us because of his mercy.  NCV™

God is generous

James 1:5  But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.  NET

The phrase “without reprimand” may be implying that God “won’t correct you for asking” (CEV) or possibly that God will not use any fault in a person as a reason not to give them what they have asked. In any case, the verse points to the fact that God gives “ungrudgingly” (AMP, NRSV; cf. NLT).

God gives good gifts . . .

Matt 7:11  If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  NET

. . . God is the ultimate source of all gifts

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

 Questions for Section C

Jealousy

The Hebrew and Greek words translated as “jealousy” convey a very forceful passion. When used of God, “jealousy” is spoken of in a positive light, as a virtuous attribute aligned with his profound commitment to and love for his people. God’s jealousy in regard to his people is comparable to that of a husband or wife. Their jealousy is a product of their intense love for each other and evoked by anything that poses a threat to their relationship. As such God’s jealousy is expressed in action against whatever threatens his people or his relationship with them. Thus it is expressed both against hostile forces – bringing salvation to his people – and in punishing any unfaithfulness of his people, leading them back to him.

God is a jealous God

Deut 4:24  [Moses, to Israel:] For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; he is a jealous God.  NET

God’s jealousy is sometimes compared to fire devouring or destroying that which has aroused it.

God’s jealousy arises in response to his people’s sin

1Ki 14:22  Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord. They made him more jealous by their sins than their ancestors had done.  NET

God’s jealousy arises particularly in response to unfaithfulness

Deut 32:20-21  ‘I will no longer help them,’ he [God] said; ‘then I will see what happens to them, those stubborn, unfaithful people. 21With their idols they have made me angry, jealous with their so-called gods, gods that are really not gods.  GNT

God is jealous for his people and their well-being . . .

Zec 8:2-5  Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. 4Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. 5And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.  ESV

God’s jealousy for Zion (v. 2) – i.e. Jerusalem - has in view her restoration (vv. 3-5; cf. GNT) and expressing wrath towards her enemies (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT).

. . . and God is zealous in working for his people’s cause

2Ki 19:30-31  And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 31For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord will do this.  ESV

Note that in both ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek, the word that is translated as “jealousy” is also the one which is translated as “zeal” – depending on the context. Hence God’s jealousy and his zeal are related.

Note: In his zeal God punishes his enemies

Isa 59:17-18  He [God] put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. 18According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment.  ESV

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians