Jehovah—an Awe-Inspiring yet Loving God
NO DOUBT you, like the vast majority of persons, acknowledge belief in God. But what does God mean to you? What qualities or characteristics does he have? How would you describe him?
First of all, it is good to realize that God has a name—not one given to him by men, but a name that he has given to himself. Perhaps you have seen that name, Jehovah, in your own copy of the Bible.—Ps. 83:18; Isa. 42:8, AS.
If you have reasoned on the matter, you probably concluded that God has always existed and that he is responsible for all creation. You no doubt found this more logical to believe than that the universe brought itself into existence and, without any guiding intelligence, produced the marvelous results you see all around. Therefore you have reason to agree with the acclaim given to God by heavenly creatures: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Rev. 4:11.
You undoubtedly accept the idea of infinity—that something can be limitless, without beginning or end. You realize, for instance, that time is infinite, and that space has no beginning or end as far as man can determine. Thus, you can accept the fact that Jehovah God is the “King of eternity,” and that, as the Bible says, he has no beginning and will have no end.—1 Tim. 1:17; Ps. 90:2; Rev. 10:6.
But what does God look like? How would you describe him?
Since Jehovah is a Spirit, and thus is beyond the power of humans to see, any description of his appearance in human terms can only approximate his incomparable glory. (John 4:24) Jehovah says: “To whom can you people liken me so that I should be made his equal? . . . Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name.”—Isa. 40:25, 26.
Thus is emphasized the greatness and incomparable glory of the Creator of this marvelous material universe. Perhaps you have seen motion pictures of a powerful nuclear explosion with all its awe-inspiring brilliance and magnitude. Yet the thousands of millions of stars, or distant suns, that Jehovah created and calls individually by name give off tremendous flares that dwarf in brilliance and energy anything that man can produce. How awe-inspiring and magnificent the Creator of these innumerable suns must be!
No wonder that Jehovah God cannot be fully comprehended by mere humans. Really, for the Almighty Jehovah to set down for us a description of himself in spirit terms would be like supplying advanced algebraic equations to persons having only the most elementary knowledge of mathematics. Or it would be like trying to explain colors to a person born blind.—Job 37:23, 24.
Nevertheless, certain of Jehovah’s servants were given inspired visions of his heavenly courts, although they did not actually see God. (John 1:18) Their description of his presence portrays, not only great dignity and awesome majesty, but also serenity, order, beauty and pleasantness. These descriptions employ metaphors and similes, likening Jehovah’s appearance to things known to humans, such as jewels, fire and a rainbow. But, of course, such descriptions are never to be taken literally.—Ezek. 1:26-28; Rev. 4:1-3.
DESCRIBED AS IF HAVING HUMAN FEATURES
Similarly, Jehovah God is described in the Bible as if having certain human features. For example, the Christian apostle Peter wrote: “The eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication; but the face of Jehovah is against those doing bad things.” (1 Pet. 3:12; Ezek. 20:33; Ex. 15:6; Luke 11:20) Such expressions are often necessary for the description to be humanly comprehensible. But they are not to be taken literally, any more than metaphorical references to God as being a “sun,” “shield” or “Rock” are to be taken literally.—Ps. 84:11; Deut. 32:4, 31.
“But does the Bible not say that man was made in ‘God’s image’?” you may inquire. “And does not that indicate that God has body parts that are similar to those of humans?”—Gen. 1:27.
Bible references to man’s being made in God’s image do not mean that the first human was created physically in Jehovah’s likeness. Rather, they refer to man’s being created with the same attributes or qualities possessed by Jehovah God, such as love, thinking ability, a sense of justice, and so forth. That physical likeness is not meant is indicated by Jehovah’s specific warning to the nation of Israel through his spokesman Moses: “You must take good care of your souls, because you did not see any form on the day of Jehovah’s speaking to you in Horeb out of the middle of the fire, that you may not act ruinously and may not really make for yourselves a carved image, the form of any symbol, the representation of male or female.”—Deut. 4:15, 16.
This shows that it is impossible for any humans to make a likeness of Jehovah God, because no human knows what he looks like, that is, what form of likeness he has. We do know that God and his spirit creations are altogether different from humans. Their perception, for instance, is not dependent on eyes and ears such as humans possess.
For example, Jehovah God, even without the benefit of light rays, can see deeds done in utter darkness. (Ps. 139:1, 7-12; Heb. 4:13) In fact, his vision can encompass all the earth. (Prov. 15:3) And he needs no X-ray equipment to see the growing embryo within the human womb.—Ps. 139:15, 16.
Furthermore, Jehovah’s hearing is not dependent on sound waves in an atmosphere, for he can “hear” expressions though uttered voiceless in human hearts. (Gen. 24:42-45; Ps. 19:14) Man cannot successfully measure the vast physical universe, yet even as the physical heavens do not embrace or enclose the place of Jehovah’s residence, much less does some earthly house or temple. (1 Ki. 8:27) Really, what a great God we worship!
LOVE MANIFESTED IN CREATIVE WORKS
How grateful we can be that the awe-inspiring, magnificent Jehovah is outstandingly a God of love! In all his dealings this quality is apparent.
Jehovah showed love in granting his first-created spirit Son the privilege of sharing with him in all further works of creation, generously causing this fact to be made known, with resultant honor to his Son. (Gen. 1:26; Col. 1:15-17) He thus did not weakly fear the possibility of competition, but rather displayed complete confidence in his own rightful Sovereignty as well as in his Son’s loyalty and devotion. And, lovingly, Jehovah allows his spirit sons relative freedom in the discharge of their duties, on occasion even permitting them to offer their views on how they might carry out particular assignments.—1 Ki. 22:19-22.
Jehovah’s love was further demonstrated in his arranging for the bringing into existence of earthly creatures. Since man was made “in God’s image,” it follows that the joy a human father finds in his child, particularly one who shows filial love and acts with wisdom, reflects the joy that Jehovah finds in his intelligent creatures who love and wisely serve Him. (Prov. 27:11; Matt. 3:17; 12:18) This pleasure comes, not from any material or physical gain, but from seeing his creatures willingly hold to his righteous standards and show unselfishness and generosity.—Ps. 147:10, 11; Heb. 13:16.
Certainly the first man Adam in his perfection had reason to feel awesome respect and love for his Creator. He could certainly concur with the later words of the Bible psalmist: “I shall laud you [Jehovah] because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, as my soul is very well aware.”—Ps. 139:14.
Adam’s own body—outstandingly versatile among earthly creatures—as well as the things he found around him, offered good reason to laud Jehovah. Each new bird, animal and fish, each different plant, flower and tree, every field, forest, hill, valley and stream that the man saw would impress upon him the depth and breadth of his Father’s wisdom and the colorfulness of Jehovah’s personality as reflected in the grand variety of his creative works. All of man’s senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch—would communicate to his receptive mind the evidence of a most generous and thoughtful Creator.
Nor were Adam’s intellectual needs, his need for conversation and companionship, forgotten, as his Father provided him with an intelligent feminine counterpart. (Gen. 2:18-23) They both could well have sung to Jehovah, as did the Bible psalmist: “Rejoicing to satisfaction is with your face; there is pleasantness at your right hand forever.” (Ps. 16:8, 11) Having been the object of so much love, Adam and Eve should certainly have known that “God is love.”—1 John 4:16.
Most importantly, Jehovah God supplied man’s spiritual needs. He revealed himself to his human son Adam, communicating with him, giving him divine assignments of service, the obedient performance of which would constitute a major part of man’s worship. (Gen. 1:27-30; 2:15-17) Even when the first human pair rebelled against His law, Jehovah did not cease to exercise love.
Mercifully God made provision for Adam’s offspring to recover the forfeited human perfection and prospect of eternal life. The Bible explains: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Are you not grateful to Jehovah for this loving provision?
GOD’S STANDARDS AN EVIDENCE OF LOVE
We can also be thankful to Jehovah for the stability he established in his creative works. The regular cycle of day and night, the steady downward course of rivers in response to the force of gravity, and countless other things give proof that earth’s Creator is a God, not of confusion, but of order. (1 Cor. 14:33) Man surely finds this helpful in carrying out his activities. He is thus able to plan and work with confidence, free from anxious uncertainty. How loving and thoughtful for Jehovah to provide such standardization in laws and works of creation!
Commenting on these standards The Encyclopædia Britannica makes these interesting comments:
“Man’s accomplishments [in establishing standards] . . . pale into insignificance when compared with standards in nature. The constellations, the orbits of the planets, the changeless normal properties of conductivity, ductility, elasticity, hardness, permeability, refractivity, strength, or viscosity in the materials of nature, the orbits of electrons within the atom or the structure of cells, are a few examples of the astounding standardization in nature.”
And showing the importance of such standardization, this reference goes on to say:
“Only through the standardization found in nature is it possible to recognize and classify . . . the many kinds of plants, fishes, birds or animals. Within these kinds, individuals resemble each other in minutest detail of structure, function and habits peculiar to each. If it were not for such standardization in the human body, physicians would not know whether an individual possesses certain organs, where to look for them . . . In fact, without nature’s standards there could be no organized society, no education and no physicians; each depends upon underlying, comparable similarities.”—Vol. 21, pp. 306, 307, 1959 edition.
In view of such standardization in Jehovah’s marvelous material creations, it should not seem strange to us that Jehovah should set standards governing man’s conduct and his relations with his Creator. Especially stressed as essential is the standard of obedience to God’s instructions. Such obedience to God is how we can return the love that Jehovah has shown us. His Word says: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments.”—1 John 5:3.
Do you think that such obedience to God may in some way restrict you, somehow interfering with your happiness and enjoyment of life? You can dismiss entirely any such ideas. For within the bounds of Jehovah’s requirements for his earthly creatures are limitless opportunities for pleasure. As the encyclopedia article on standards, mentioned earlier, observes regarding the material universe:
“Yet with this overwhelming evidence of standards none charges nature with monotony. Although a narrow band of spectral wave lengths forms the foundation, the available variations and combinations of colour to delight the eye of the observer are virtually without limit. Similarly, all the artistry of music comes to the ear through another small group of frequencies.”
Likewise, Jehovah’s requirements for human creatures allow them all the freedom that a righteous heart could desire. True, due to human imperfection and exposure to the degraded thinking and practices of this devilish world, it may not always be easy to conform to God’s requirements. (Ps. 51:5; 1 John 5:19) But when the effort is made and when one remains within the safe bounds that Jehovah has set to govern human conduct, genuine contentment, satisfaction and happiness are realized.
Truly there is every incentive for us to want to come to know better this great, awe-inspiring and yet loving God, Jehovah. Are you not further encouraged to study the Bible wherein Jehovah reveals himself to us? What a privilege Jehovah God has made available to us—to know and serve him!