Jehovah—Awe-Inspiring but Loving
“TO WHOM can you people liken me”? asked Jehovah God. Even the loftiest of language could never fully convey God’s incomparable power and glory. He himself invites us to consider the expanse of the heavens, saying: “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. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isaiah 40:25, 26.
The thousands of stars visible to the naked eye are just a fraction of the some 100 billion stars that make up our galaxy alone! Yet Jehovah has numbered and named all the stars in the entire universe! Consider, too, the massive volume of energy locked up in all of this matter. Our sun has a central temperature of 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). What “dynamic energy” Jehovah must have to have created billions of these nuclear furnaces!
Understanding Jehovah fully is therefore beyond our limited capabilities. Said Elihu: “As for the Almighty, we have not found him out; he is exalted in power . . . Therefore let men fear him.” (Job 37:23, 24) Jehovah, however, wants more than just our awe or fear. “You must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force,” the Bible commands. (Deuteronomy 6:5) But can we love someone we cannot fully understand? Yes, for though Jehovah’s dwelling is high in the heavens, he deals lovingly with imperfect humans and allows them to gain at least a partial understanding of him.—Compare Psalm 113:5-9.
His “Eyes,” “Ears,” and “Face”
One way in which Jehovah helps us understand him is by allowing himself to be described in human terms. The apostle Peter said: “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 Peter 3:12; compare Exodus 15:6; Ezekiel 20:33; Luke 11:20.
Of course, these are metaphors, not to be taken literally, any more than when the Scriptures call God “a sun,” “a shield,” or “the Rock.” (Psalm 84:11; Deuteronomy 32:4, 31) ‘But does not the Bible say that we are made in his “image”?’ reason some. (Genesis 1:26, 27) Yes, but claiming that God has a literal mouth, nose, and ears creates serious problems. Would an almighty God’s hearing, for example, really be limited by what sound waves would carry to literal ears? No, for the Bible indicates that God can “hear” even voiceless expressions made in the human heart. (Genesis 24:42-45) Nor does his ability to “see” depend upon light waves.—Psalm 139:1, 7-12; Hebrews 4:13.
Perfect man thus mirrored, not physical features, but God’s qualities such as love and justice. Especially do Christians manifest such qualities as they heed the counsel of the apostle Paul, who urged: “Clothe yourselves with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.”—Colossians 3:10.
Visions of Glory
In ancient times, certain servants of Jehovah had the privilege of receiving inspired visions of Jehovah’s heavenly glory. Ezekiel was one of these individuals. (Ezekiel 1:1) What he saw in vision defied description! Ezekiel resorted to metaphors and similes, often stating that what he saw was “something like” familiar material things. For instance, the prophet said:
“There was something in appearance like sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne. And upon the likeness of the throne there was a likeness of someone in appearance like an earthling man upon it, up above. And I got to see something like the glow of electrum, like the appearance of fire all around inside thereof, from the appearance of his hips and upward; and from the appearance of his hips and downward I saw something like the appearance of fire, and he had a brightness all around. There was something like the appearance of the bow that occurs in a cloud mass on the day of a pouring rain. That is how the appearance was of the brightness round about. It was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 1:26-28.
What glory Ezekiel described! The apostle John had a similar vision of Jehovah, and he wrote: “Look! a throne was in its position in heaven, and there is one seated upon the throne. And the one seated is, in appearance, like a jasper stone and a precious red-colored stone, and round about the throne there is a rainbow like an emerald in appearance.” (Revelation 4:1-3) Although Jehovah is represented in such grandeur, he is not depicted as a cruel God. Rather, the setting is calm, peaceful like the rainbow.—Compare Genesis 9:12-16.
The fact that God allowed even such limited views of his heavenly majesty shows that his intentions toward mankind are peaceful. Surely, then, those who love God can confidently approach him as the benevolent “Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.
The man Job said of God: “Look! These are the fringes of his ways, and what a whisper of a matter has been heard of him!” (Job 26:14) There is, indeed, much to learn about Jehovah God, who has blessed his servants with the prospect of living eternally. (John 17:3) But even “time indefinite” will not be enough for us to “find out the work that the true God has made from the start to the finish.”—Ecclesiastes 3:11.
What honest-hearted ones do know or learn, however, can motivate them to love and obey Jehovah. (1 John 5:3) Are you one of such individuals? Obeying God is not always easy. But when you have truly come to know Jehovah God and his loving ways, no effort seems too great. Are you determined, therefore, to know more fully this awe-inspiring yet loving God?
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Men such as Ezekiel and John had visions that give us only an idea of Jehovah’s awe-inspiring glory
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God’s creating and naming the stars give us some idea of his limitless power