In the previous post I argued that polytheism is a bad career path because the “gods” of polytheism are blurry mirrors of our flawed natures. I argued that according to the Bible, these gods are created, rebellious servants of the one God. That this God is a god in his own image, not ours, and stands in sharp contrast to our natures.
So let’s look at the nature of God. A good place to begin is to look at what God says about himself. We read in Exodus 34:6-7 that God told Moses who he was.
Then the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: Ha-Shem—Ha-Shem is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving wrongdoing, rebellion, and sin. But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation. Exodus 34:6-7
What do we see? A God who is compassionate and gracious. A God who is slow to anger. He is rich in faithful love and truth. This lovingkindness is lavished on a thousand generations of those who love him and includes forgiveness for rebellion, because that’s what sin is – rebellion against the kingship of God. Yet he is not unjust in his forgiveness because he punishes the guilty who will not reconcile with him. But there is an end to his punishment – while he faithfully loves a thousand generations, he will not bring the consequences of wrongdoing past the third or fourth generation of those who oppose him. He is a God of hope.
Do you see how different his character is from that of mankind?
Did God live up to what he said about himself? I talked about Yeshua (Jesus) being a sea change in our relationship with God. We sinned. We turned away from God. Under justice, we should be condemned and God would be within his rights to punish us and never forgive us. Is that what happened? No. God gave us the Law of Moses. He wrote out exactly how we could be holy and perfect. We couldn’t do it. Did he give up on us? No. God laid out in the Garden of Eden exactly what the result of rebelling against your creator was. It was death. Our sin can only be paid for with our death. Yet God would not leave us there. He came as Yeshua, lived the Law perfectly and then died in our place. Is he compassionate and gracious? Yes. Is he slow to anger and rich in faithful love and truth? Yes. He maintained his love for more than a thousand generations while he waited for the right time to come as Yeshua so that he could forgive our sin. Yeshua’s death made it possible for the consequences of wrongdoing to end forever for those who follow him.
The implications of this are staggering. God created this universe knowing what would happen. None of this took him by surprise and he planned how to deal with it before he even created the world he knew would fall. We read in Ephesians 1:4, “For He [God] chose us in Him [Yeshua], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.” How powerful and omniscient a God!
Read the mythology of the Mediterranean or Scandinavia. These gods are punting. They go running to the Fates and are bound by them. They are controlled by the future. They do not control it and often seem unaware of what is coming. Odin gained sight into the future by drinking from a spring at the cost of his eye in payment. There’s a picture. A god who is blinded in his attempts to see the future. This cannot be said of the one God who says “This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but Me. Who, like Me, can announce the future?” [Isaiah 44:6-7a] Read the Iliad and watch the gods manipulate and connive to achieve their outcomes – fighting each other in effect by choosing sides in the Trojan War. Not so with the one God. “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” [Isaiah 46:10]
So on one hand we have gods who are punting, at the mercy of Fate and have characters no better than our own. On the other we have a God who announces the future as occurring as he planned it and a character of which the psalmist said, “The Lord is just; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” [Psalm 92:15]
The difference between the polytheistic gods and the God of the Bible is nowhere more evident in than in the Yeshua himself. Name one of the polytheistic gods who came to earth to deliver mankind from the consequences and failures of their own natures. This is a God so powerful that he did not need to don the head of bird or an animal to demonstrate his power. He came as a man and could still raise the dead and calm a raging sea. There are no scandalous stories about him. He stands above human life. There is no story of his birth because he always existed. He has no wife. His son is one with him and not a separate being. He died and yet never died. He does not fit in the walls and limits of our understanding of existence. The reason to refuse the polytheistic gods is that they do fit inside our understanding. They are familiar because they are like us. And that is not what we want in a God.