Who Is the True God?
1. Why do many agree with the Bible’s opening words?
WHEN you look at the sky on a clear night, are you not amazed to see so many stars? How do you account for their existence? And what about the living things on earth—colorful flowers, birds with their delightful songs, powerful whales that leap in the ocean? The list goes on and on. All of this could not have come about by chance. No wonder many agree with the Bible’s opening words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”!—Genesis 1:1.
2. What does the Bible say about God, and what does it encourage us to do?
2 Mankind is greatly divided on the question of God. Some think that God is an impersonal force. Millions worship dead ancestors, believing that God is too remote to be approached. But the Bible reveals that the true God is a real person who shows warm interest in us as individuals. That is why it encourages us to “seek God,” saying: “He is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27.
3. Why is it impossible to make an image of God?
3 What does God look like? A few of his servants have seen visions of his glorious presence. In these he has symbolized himself as seated on a throne, awesome brightness extending from him. However, those who beheld such visions never described a distinct face. (Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 4:2, 3) That is because “God is a Spirit”; he does not have a physical body. (John 4:24) In fact, it is impossible to make an accurate physical image of our Creator, for “no man has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18; Exodus 33:20) Yet, the Bible teaches us much about God.
THE TRUE GOD HAS A NAME
4. What are some meaningful titles applied to God in the Bible?
4 In the Bible, the true God is identified by such expressions as “God Almighty,” “the Most High,” “Grand Creator,” “Grand Instructor,” “Sovereign Lord,” and “King of eternity.” (Genesis 17:1; Psalm 50:14; Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 30:20; Acts 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17) Meditating upon such titles can help us grow in the knowledge of God.
5. What is God’s name, and how often does it appear in the Hebrew Scriptures?
5 However, God has a unique name that appears almost 7,000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures alone—more often than any of his titles. Some 1,900 years ago, the Jews superstitiously ceased to pronounce the divine name. Biblical Hebrew was written without vowels. Hence, there is no way to be precise about how Moses, David, or others of ancient times pronounced the four consonants (יהוה) that make up the divine name. Some scholars suggest that God’s name may have been pronounced “Yahweh,” but they cannot be sure. The English pronunciation “Jehovah” has been in use for centuries, and its equivalent in many languages is widely accepted today.—See Exodus 6:3 and Isaiah 26:4 in the King James Version.
WHY YOU SHOULD USE GOD’S NAME
6. Psalm 83:18 says what about Jehovah, and why should we use his name?
6 God’s unique name, Jehovah, serves to differentiate him from all other gods. That is why that name appears so often in the Bible, especially in its Hebrew text. Many translators fail to use the divine name, but Psalm 83:18 clearly says: “You, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” So it is appropriate for us to use God’s personal name when we speak of him.
7. What does the meaning of the name Jehovah teach us about God?
7 The name Jehovah is a form of a Hebrew verb meaning “to become.” Thus, God’s name means “He Causes to Become.” Jehovah God thereby identifies himself as the Great Purposer. He always causes his purposes to become reality. Only the true God can rightly bear this name, for humans can never be sure that their plans will succeed. (James 4:13, 14) Jehovah alone can say: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. . . . It will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11.
8. What purpose did Jehovah announce through Moses?
8 The Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each “called on the name of Jehovah,” but they did not know the full significance of the divine name. (Genesis 21:33; 26:25; 32:9; Exodus 6:3) When Jehovah later revealed his purpose to deliver their descendants, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt and give them “a land flowing with milk and honey,” this may have seemed impossible. (Exodus 3:17) Nevertheless, God emphasized the everlasting significance of his name by telling his prophet Moses: “This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘Jehovah the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.”—Exodus 3:15.
9. How did Pharaoh view Jehovah?
9 Moses asked Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the Israelites go to worship Jehovah in the wilderness. But Pharaoh, who himself was viewed as a god and who worshiped other Egyptian gods, replied: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away? I do not know Jehovah at all and, what is more, I am not going to send Israel away.”—Exodus 5:1, 2.
10. In ancient Egypt, what action did Jehovah take to fulfill his purpose involving the Israelites?
10 Jehovah then took progressive action to fulfill his purpose, acting in harmony with the meaning of his name. He brought ten plagues upon the ancient Egyptians. The last plague killed all of Egypt’s firstborn, including proud Pharaoh’s son. Then the Egyptians were eager for Israel to go. However, some Egyptians were so impressed by Jehovah’s power that they joined the Israelites in leaving Egypt.—Exodus 12:35-38.
11. What miracle did Jehovah perform at the Red Sea, and what were his enemies forced to acknowledge?
11 Stubborn Pharaoh and his army, with hundreds of war chariots, set out to recapture his slaves. As the Egyptians drew near, God miraculously divided the Red Sea so that the Israelites could cross on dry land. When the pursuers entered the seabed, Jehovah “kept taking wheels off their chariots so that they were driving them with difficulty.” The Egyptian warriors cried: “Let us flee from any contact with Israel, because Jehovah certainly fights for them against the Egyptians.” But it was too late. The vast walls of water crashed down and “covered the war chariots and the cavalrymen belonging to all of Pharaoh’s military forces.” (Exodus 14:22-25, 28) Jehovah thus made a great name for himself, and that event has not been forgotten to this day.—Joshua 2:9-11.
12, 13. (a) God’s name has what meaning for us today? (b) What do people urgently need to learn, and why?
12 The name that God has made for himself has great meaning for us today. His name, Jehovah, stands as a guarantee that all he has purposed he will cause to come true. That includes accomplishing his original purpose that our earth become a paradise. (Genesis 1:28; 2:8) To that end, God will eliminate all opposers of his sovereignty today, for he has stated: “They will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 38:23) Then God will fulfill his promise to deliver his worshipers into a new world of righteousness.—2 Peter 3:13.
13 All who want God’s favor must learn to call upon his name in faith. The Bible promises: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Yes, the name Jehovah has rich meaning. Calling upon Jehovah as your God and Deliverer can lead you to endless happiness.
QUALITIES OF THE TRUE GOD
14. What basic qualities of God does the Bible highlight?
14 A study of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt highlights four basic qualities that God possesses in perfect balance. His dealings with Pharaoh revealed his awesome power. (Exodus 9:16) The masterful way God handled that complex situation showed his matchless wisdom. (Romans 11:33) He revealed his justice in meting out punishment to stubborn opposers and oppressors of his people. (Deuteronomy 32:4) A preeminent quality of God is love. Jehovah showed outstanding love by fulfilling his promise respecting Abraham’s descendants. (Deuteronomy 7:8) He also showed love by allowing some Egyptians to forsake false gods and benefit greatly by taking their stand for the only true God.
15, 16. In what ways has God shown love?
15 As you read the Bible, you will notice that love is God’s principal attribute, and he demonstrates it in many ways. For instance, it was out of love that he became a Creator and first shared the joy of life with spirit creatures. Those hundreds of millions of angels love God and praise him. (Job 38:4, 7; Daniel 7:10) God also showed love in creating the earth and preparing it for happy human existence.—Genesis 1:1, 26-28; Psalm 115:16.
16 We benefit from God’s love in ways too numerous to mention. For one thing, God has lovingly made our bodies in such a marvelous way that we can enjoy life. (Psalm 139:14) His love is shown in that he provides “rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling [our] hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:17) God even “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Love also moves our Creator to help us gain the knowledge of God and serve him happily as his worshipers. Indeed, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) But there is much more to his personality.
“A GOD MERCIFUL AND GRACIOUS”
17. What do we learn about God at Exodus 34:6, 7?
17 After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they still needed to know God better. Moses felt this need and prayed: “If, please, I have found favor in your eyes, make me know, please, your ways, that I may know you, in order that I may find favor in your eyes.” (Exodus 33:13) Moses got to know God better upon hearing God’s own declaration: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) God balances his love with justice, not shielding willful sinners from the consequences of their wrongdoing.
18. How has Jehovah proved to be merciful?
18 As Moses learned, Jehovah shows mercy. A merciful person has pity on those who suffer and tries to bring them relief. Thus God has shown compassion for mankind by making provision for permanent relief from suffering, sickness, and death. (Revelation 21:3-5) Worshipers of God may experience calamities because of conditions in this wicked world, or they may act unwisely and meet up with trouble. But if they humbly turn to Jehovah for assistance, he will comfort and help them. Why? Because he mercifully shows tender regard for his worshipers.—Psalm 86:15; 1 Peter 5:6, 7.
19. Why can we say that God is gracious?
19 Many people in authority treat others harshly. In contrast, how gracious Jehovah is toward his humble servants! Though he is the highest authority in the universe, he shows outstanding kindness in a general way to all mankind. (Psalm 8:3, 4; Luke 6:35) Jehovah is also gracious to individuals, answering their specific pleas for favor. (Exodus 22:26, 27; Luke 18:13, 14) Of course, God is not obligated to show favor or mercy to anyone. (Exodus 33:19) Therefore, we need to manifest deep appreciation for God’s mercy and graciousness.—Psalm 145:1, 8.
SLOW TO ANGER, IMPARTIAL, AND RIGHTEOUS
20. What shows that Jehovah is both slow to anger and impartial?
20 Jehovah is slow to anger. Yet, this does not mean that he does not take action, for he did so in destroying stubborn Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. Jehovah is also impartial. Hence, his favored people, the Israelites, eventually lost his favor because of their persistent wrongdoing. God accepts as his worshipers people from all nations, but only those who conform to his righteous ways.—Acts 10:34, 35.
21. (a) What does Revelation 15:2-4 teach us about God? (b) What will make it easier for us to do what God says is right?
21 The Bible book of Revelation highlights the importance of learning about God’s “righteous decrees.” It tells us that heavenly creatures sing: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.” (Revelation 15:2-4) We show wholesome fear of Jehovah, or reverence for him, by conforming to what he says is right. This is made easier by reminding ourselves of God’s wisdom and love. All his commands are for our good.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
“JEHOVAH OUR GOD IS ONE”
22. Why do those who accept the Bible not worship a Trinity?
22 The ancient Egyptians worshiped many gods, but Jehovah is “a God exacting exclusive devotion.” (Exodus 20:5) Moses reminded the Israelites that “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) Jesus Christ repeated those words. (Mark 12:28, 29) Therefore, those who accept the Bible as God’s Word do not worship a Trinity consisting of three persons or gods in one. In fact, the word “Trinity” does not even appear in the Bible. The true God is one Person, separate from Jesus Christ. (John 14:28; 1 Corinthians 15:28) God’s holy spirit is not a person. It is Jehovah’s active force, used by the Almighty to accomplish his purposes.—Genesis 1:2; Acts 2:1-4, 32, 33; 2 Peter 1:20, 21.
23. (a) How will your love for God grow? (b) What did Jesus say about loving God, and what do we need to learn about Christ?
23 When you consider how wonderful Jehovah is, do you not agree that he deserves your worship? As you study his Word, the Bible, you will get to know him better and will learn what he requires of you for your eternal welfare and happiness. (Matthew 5:3, 6) In addition, your love for God will grow. That is fitting, for Jesus said: “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.” (Mark 12:30) Obviously, Jesus had such love for God. But what does the Bible reveal about Jesus Christ? What is his role in Jehovah’s purpose?
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE
What is God’s name, and how often is it used in the Hebrew Scriptures?
Why should you use God’s name?
What qualities of Jehovah God especially appeal to you?
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How well do you know the Creator of all things?