Your Creator—Learn What He Is Like
“I myself shall cause all my goodness to pass before your face, and I will declare the name of Jehovah before you.”—EXODUS 33:19.
1. Why does the Creator deserve to be honored?
THE apostle John, writer of the last Bible book, recorded this profound declaration about the Creator: “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.” (Revelation 4:11) As the preceding article established, the findings of modern science often add to reasons for believing in the Creator of all things.
2, 3. (a) What do people need to learn about the Creator? (b) Why is personally meeting the Creator not reasonable?
2 As important as it is to accept that the Creator exists, it is equally important to learn what he is like—that he is a real person, with a personality and ways that draw people to him. To whatever extent you have done that, would it not be beneficial to get to know him better? That does not require meeting him personally, in the sense that we meet other humans.
3 Jehovah is the Source of even the stars, our sun being just a medium-sized star. Would you think of trying to have a close physical encounter with the sun? Hardly! Most people are careful about even glancing at it or exposing their skin to its powerful rays for a long time. Its core temperature is some 15,000,000 degrees Celsius (27,000,000°F.). Each second, this thermonuclear furnace transforms some four million tons of mass into energy. Just a fraction of it reaches earth as heat and light, but that amount sustains all life here. Those basic facts should impress us with the Creator’s awesome power. Well could Isaiah write about “the abundance of [the Creator’s] dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power.”—Isaiah 40:26.
4. What did Moses ask for, and how did Jehovah respond?
4 Yet, did you know that some months after the Israelites left Egypt in 1513 B.C.E., Moses begged the Creator: “Cause me to see, please, your glory.” (Exodus 33:18) Remembering that God is the Source of even the sun, you can understand why he told Moses: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.” The Creator permitted Moses to take a hiding place on Mount Sinai while He “passed by.” Moses was then exposed to God’s “back,” as it were, to some type of afterglow of the Creator’s glory, or presence.—Exodus 33:20-23; John 1:18.
5. In what way did the Creator satisfy Moses’ request, proving what?
5 Moses’ desire to get to know the Creator better did not go unsatisfied. Evidently speaking through an angel, God passed by Moses and declared: “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) This shows that getting to know our Creator better involves, not seeing a physical shape, but sensing in fuller measure what he is like, his personality and characteristics.
6. How is our immune system a marvel?
6 One way we can do that is by discerning God’s qualities from what he created. Consider your immune system. In an issue on immunity, Scientific American said: “From before birth until death, the immune system is in a state of constant alert. A diverse array of molecules and cells . . . protects us against parasites and pathogens. Without those defenses, humans could not survive.” What is the source of that system? An article in that magazine said: “The marvelous array of deftly interacting cells that defend the body against microbial and viral invaders arises from a few precursor cells that first appear about nine weeks after conception.” A pregnant woman passes some immunity to her developing fetus. Later, via her breast milk, she also provides immune cells and beneficial chemicals for her baby.
7. What might we consider about our immune system, leading to what conclusion?
7 You have good reason to conclude that your immune system surpasses anything that modern medicine can provide. Hence, ask yourself, ‘What does this suggest about its Originator and Supplier?’ This system, which ‘first appears about nine weeks after conception’ and which is ready to protect a newborn, certainly reflects wisdom and forethought. But could we discern even more about the Creator from this system? What do most of us conclude about Albert Schweitzer and others who devoted their lives to providing medical care for the underprivileged? We usually ascribe good qualities to such compassionate humanitarians. Comparably, what can we conclude about our Creator, who provides an immune system to rich and poor alike? Clearly, he is loving, impartial, compassionate, and just. Is this not consistent with the description of the Creator that Moses heard?
He Reveals What He Is Like
8. Jehovah reveals himself to us in what special way?
8 There is another way, though, to come to know our Creator better—by means of the Bible. This is particularly important because there are things about him that science and the universe cannot reveal at all and other things that are much clearer from the Bible. An example of the former is the Creator’s personal name. Only the Bible discloses both the Creator’s name and its import. In Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible, his name appears some 7,000 times as four consonants that can be transliterated YHWH or JHVH, commonly pronounced Jehovah in English.—Exodus 3:15; 6:3.
9. What does the Creator’s personal name mean, and what can we conclude from this?
9 For us to come to know the Creator better, we need to appreciate that he is not just an abstract “First Cause” or a vague “I Am.” His personal name shows that. It is a form of a Hebrew verb meaning “become” or “prove to be.”* (Compare Genesis 27:29; Ecclesiastes 11:3.) God’s name signifies “He Causes to Become” and emphasizes that he both purposes and acts. By our knowing and using his name, we can better appreciate that he fulfills promises and actively brings his purpose to realization.
10. We can gain what important insight from the Genesis record?
10 The Bible is the source of knowledge of God’s purposes and personality. The Genesis record reveals that at one time mankind was at peace with God and had the prospect of a long, meaningful life. (Genesis 1:28; 2:7-9) Consistent with the import of his name, we can be sure that Jehovah will end the suffering and frustration that humans have long faced. We read about the fulfilling of his purpose: “The physical world was made subject to frustration, not by its own desire, but by the will of the Creator, who in making it so, gave it a hope that it might one day be . . . made to share the glorious liberty of the children of God.”—Romans 8:20, 21, The New Testament Letters, by J. W. C. Wand.
11. Why might we consider Bible accounts, and what are the details of one such account?
11 The Bible can also help us to come to know our Creator better in that it reveals his actions and reactions when dealing with ancient Israel. Consider an example involving Elisha and Naaman, the military chief of the hostile Syrians. As you read this account in 2 Kings chapter 5, you will see that a captive Israelite girl urged that Naaman’s leprosy might be cured with help from Elisha in Israel. Naaman went there expecting Elisha to wave his hands in a mystical curing rite. Rather, Elisha told the Syrian to bathe in the Jordan River. Though Naaman’s underlings had to convince him to comply, when he did, he was healed. Naaman proffered valuable gifts, which Elisha declined. Later an associate sneaked off to Naaman and by a lie got some valuables. His dishonesty led to his being struck with leprosy. This is a fascinating, human account—one from which we can learn.
12. We can draw what conclusions about the Creator from the account of Elisha and Naaman?
12 The account, in an appealing way, shows that the Grand Creator of the universe is not too lofty to note with favor a little girl, quite in contrast with the norm in many cultures today. It also proves that the Creator does not favor only one race or nation. (Acts 10:34, 35) Interestingly, instead of expecting people to use hocus-pocus—common with some “healers” of the past and present—the Creator displayed marvelous wisdom. He knew how to cure leprosy. He also manifested insight and justice in not permitting fraud to succeed. Again, is that not consistent with Jehovah’s personality that Moses heard about? Though that Bible account is brief, how much we can detect from it about what our Creator is like!—Psalm 33:5; 37:28.
13. Illustrate how we might draw valuable lessons from Bible accounts.
13 Other accounts about Israel’s ungrateful actions and God’s response prove that Jehovah truly cares. The Bible says that the Israelites put him to the test again and again, making him feel hurt and pained. (Psalm 78:40, 41) Hence, the Creator has feelings, and he cares about what humans do. There is much to be learned, too, from accounts about well-known individuals. When David was chosen to be king of Israel, God told Samuel: “Mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Samuel 16:7) Yes, the Creator looks at what we are inside, not at mere outward appearances. How satisfying!
14. As we read the Hebrew Scriptures, what can we beneficially do?
14 Thirty-nine of the Bible books were written before the time of Jesus, and it behooves us to read them. This should not be merely to learn Bible accounts or history. If we really want to learn what our Creator is like, we should meditate on those accounts, perhaps thinking, ‘What does this episode bring to light about his personality? Which of his qualities shine through here?’* Doing so may help even skeptics to see that the Bible must be of divine origin, thus laying a basis for their coming to know its loving Author better.
A Great Teacher Helps Us to Know the Creator
15. Why should Jesus’ actions and teachings be instructive?
15 Granted, people who doubt the Creator’s existence or whose view of God is vague may know little about the Bible. Perhaps you have met individuals who could not say whether Moses lived before or after Matthew and who know virtually nothing of Jesus’ deeds or teachings. That is most sad because one can learn so much about the Creator from the Great Teacher, Jesus. Having had a close relationship with God, he could reveal what our Creator is like. (John 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 1:3) And he did so. In fact, he once said: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.”—John 14:9.
16. Jesus’ interaction with a Samaritan woman illustrates what?
16 Consider this example. On an occasion when Jesus was tired from traveling, he spoke with a Samaritan woman near Sychar. He shared profound truths, centering on the need to “worship the Father with spirit and truth.” Jews of that era shunned Samaritans. In contrast, Jesus reflected Jehovah’s willingness to accept sincere men and women of all nations, even as we noted from the incident involving Elisha and Naaman. It should reassure us that Jehovah is above the narrow-minded religious hostility that permeates the world today. We can also take note of the fact that Jesus was willing to teach a woman, and in this case a woman living with a man not her husband. Instead of condemning her, Jesus treated her with dignity, in a way that could really help her. Thereafter, other Samaritans listened to Jesus and concluded: “We know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.”—John 4:2-30, 39-42; 1 Kings 8:41-43; Matthew 9:10-13.
17. To what conclusion does the account of Lazarus’ resurrection point?
17 Let us consider another illustration of how we can learn about the Creator by familiarizing ourselves with Jesus’ actions and teachings. Reflect on the occasion when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Jesus had previously proved his power to bring the dead back to life. (Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56) How, though, did he react to seeing Lazarus’ sister Mary mourning? Jesus “groaned in the spirit and became troubled.” He was not indifferent or aloof; he “gave way to tears.” (John 11:33-35) And this was not a mere display of emotion. Jesus was moved to positive action—he resurrected Lazarus. You can imagine how this helped the apostles to appreciate the Creator’s feelings and actions. It should also help us and others to understand the Creator’s personality and ways.
18. How should people feel about studying the Bible?
18 There is no reason to be ashamed of studying the Bible and learning more about our Creator. The Bible is not an antiquated book. One who studied it and became a close associate of Jesus was John. He later wrote: “We know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us intellectual capacity that we may gain the knowledge of the true one. And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting.” (1 John 5:20) Observe that employing “intellectual capacity” to gain knowledge of “the true one,” the Creator, can lead to “life everlasting.”
How Can You Help Others Learn About Him?
19. What step has been taken to help skeptical people?
19 A lot is required for some people to believe that there is a compassionate Creator who cares about us and to appreciate what he is like. There are millions upon millions who are yet skeptical about the Creator or whose view of him does not correspond to what is found in the Bible. How can you help them? At the 1998/99 district and international conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an effective new tool was released in many languages—the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?
20, 21. (a) How can the Creator book be used successfully? (b) Relate experiences of how the Creator book has already proved effective.
20 It is a publication that will enhance your own faith in our Creator and your appreciation for his personality and ways. Why is this certain? Because Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? has been specially designed with such goals in mind. A thread running through the book is “What can add meaning to your life?” The contents are presented in a way that even people with considerable education will find intriguing. Yet, it touches on longings that all of us have. There is fascinating and persuasive material for readers who doubt the Creator’s existence. The book does not assume that the reader believes in a Creator. Those who are skeptical will be captivated by the treatment of recent scientific discoveries and concepts. Such facts will even strengthen the faith of those who believe in God.
21 In studying this new book, it will be seen that parts of it present an overview of Bible history in a way that highlights aspects of God’s personality, helping readers come to know God better. Many who have already read it have commented on how that has been true in their case. (See the following article, pages 25-6.) May that also be so with you as you familiarize yourself with the book and use it to help others to come to know their Creator better.
Jesuit scholar M. J. Gruenthaner, while editor-in-chief of The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, applied to this verb what he said about its kindred verb, that it “never has the notion of existence in the abstract but always expresses being or becoming phenomenally, i.e., manifesting itself concretely.”
As parents relate Bible accounts to their children, they can help their offspring by bringing up such questions. Thus youths can become acquainted with God, as well as learn to meditate on his Word.
Did You Note?
□ How did Moses become better acquainted with Jehovah on Mount Sinai?
□ Why is studying the Bible an aid to knowing what God is like?
□ As we read the Bible, what can we do to draw closer to our Creator?
□ In what way do you plan to make use of the Creator book?
[Picture on page 20]
What does our immune system suggest about our Creator?
[Picture on page 21]
A section of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the Tetragrammaton (God’s name in Hebrew) highlighted
Courtesy of the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
[Picture on page 23]
What can we learn from Jesus’ reaction to Mary’s grief?