The uniqueness of God


The God of the Bible, the Lord God Almighty, is completely unlike any other god!  Only God is totally trustworthy and true, unchanging, transcendent and immanent.  His character is unchanging, his love for his creation unshakable.

Let's look at some aspects of the unique character of our God.  When the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by asking: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat of the fruit of the tree?’ he called into question the character of God with whom Adam and Eve had been sharing happy communion.

The lies

The lies the enemy sowed, and which Adam and Eve believed, played a crucial part in all that followed.  He had the audacity to suggest that God was, in fact, a spoilsport, selfish, callous and even vindictive.  Outside of Eden, the lies were perpetuated, distorted and exaggerated.

The new gods of the shamans and witchdoctors

And man, apart from God, quickly developed forms of religion with pantheons of gods and all kinds of beliefs, rituals, and sacrifices required to appease them.  All other so-called ‘gods’ had flaws.  Though many, they all tended to be remote and naturally antagonistic towards humans.  Shamans and witchdoctors practised their magic and dark arts in order to manipulate the gods to act favourably towards them – in other words, to propitiate them.  The ancient Greeks and Romans offered libations and sacrifices to their gods in an effort to coerce them to turn from their habitually hostile disposition towards humans.

God's self-revelation

In contrast, the Creator God who called Abraham began by showing him who he was.  He told Abraham that he was sovereign over all the nations of the earth and held the future in his hands.  He knew all about Abraham and had called him specifically and personally.  It was on the basis of his character that he called Abraham to trust him and follow him into the unknown and thus spur God’s salvation plan for all time into motion.

God bestows identity

I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:2-3).

As the story develops, we discover the stark contrast between God and the gods of the other nations.  The God who acted on behalf of Abraham’s family, the Israelites, called his chosen people into relationship with himself on the basis of his infallible, unchanging character.  He was naturally disposed towards the people he had chosen, not against them.  He revealed himself to Abraham as the Provider (Genesis 22), then went on to reveal himself at various points of the Old Testament story as the Healer (Exodus 14), the Lord our banner (Exodus 17), the Shepherd (Psalm 23), our Peace (Judges 24), the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23), and many others.

I am who I am

Perhaps most important of all was his revelation to Moses at the burning bush, when he profoundly announced: ‘I am who I am’ (Exodus 3:14).  He is not a God to be trifled with or manipulated, his character is always the same, and always will be.  In calling Israel into covenant relationship with him, he showed them who he was and exhorted them to respond freely and gratefully in worship and obedience. At Mount Sinai, God said:

 I am the God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:2.

Israel did not do well!  The Canaanite religion was enticing, and Israelite history is littered with situations where they compromised the exclusive relationship with God and had to be called back to the One who acted lovingly on their behalf.

(God says:)  When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.  They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.  It was I who taught Ephraim (i.e. Israel) to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realise it was I who healed them.  I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.  To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them (Hosea 11:1-4).

Their failure to be the holy nation in relationship with the Creator they were meant to be necessitated the next great plank in God’s salvation plan.  Mixing monist worship of other gods with worship of the Creator was the plumb line by which Israel’s monarchs were judged and which eventually caused them to lose the Promised Land to their enemies.  Israel failed in her identity and function, so God sent his son, Jesus, into this world as a man, to demonstrate what living in perfect covenant relationship with God looked like.  He did what Israel failed to do.

Bearing the sin of the world

But Jesus also had a unique mission, to bear the sin of the world in his body on the cross.  His crucifixion was the only moment in history when God, because of our sin, turned his back on Jesus his son.  John tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice was the propitiation for sin – by carrying our sin and defeating death by his glorious resurrection, he enabled God the Father to once again look favourably on him – and by faith in Jesus we also can live in loving relationship with our Creator.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 1:14)

No wonder God told the Israelites to steer clear of other gods!  There is no meeting point between false gods and the Lord.  As the song of Moses states, when the most remarkable saving miracle in the Israelite story, the crossing of the Red Sea, had just occurred:

Who among the gods is like you, Lord?  Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?  You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies.  In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed (Exodus 15:11-13).

Being a Christian entails having a personal relationship with the living God who desires to interact with us.  It is not, as some suggest, just about holding to a set of beliefs.  Whilst what we believe is incredibly important (there is only one true Gospel), without the relationship it is nothing . . .

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