What God is and Why and So What

When we read the Old Testament we tend to look for the story, with good reason. Paul wrote that the ancient events were recorded for people in the modern age (1 Cor. 10:11). In a perverse kind of way we long for those things we approve to happen to us, so we sing confidently “What He’s done for others He’ll do for you…” as if there are no unique and exclusive things God wants to do for us. We diligently seek to be like Israel without understanding that there is no repeat, there is no emulation of Israel. There is only one Abraham and one Moses, and one Messiah. The stories are only reliable when they feed us the things that belong to Christ. The narratives are warnings – admonition (1 The. 5:14, Titus 3:10). Besides the narratives there are proclamations that demand an “Amen” without reservation. These sayings have neither probability nor assumptions that attaches to humanity. They admit no changeability. They simply are true.

The Lord is my light, literally, yahweh my light, yhwh ooree

The Lord is our refuge, literally, yahweh for us refuge, yhwh lanu machaseh

These types of sayings are tagged as copulas. The first half = to the second half. No-one is doing anything; the saying reports what is.

the LORD  is God (Old Testament)

the Word was God (New Testament)

the light was the light of men (New Testament)

Contemporary examples would be “Muhammad Ali [is] the greatest”, “America [is] home of the brave”.

There are scores of these copulas in the OT. Our hard copies of the KJV (The King James Version) of the Bible preserves many copulas by placing the was or the is in italics. How very accurate and cool is that!

In my digital version of the KJV – the KJS – the italics are replaced by brackets.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 (KJS)

For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting;

and his truth [endureth] to all generations. Psalm 100:5 (KJS)

In this last example the translators inserted endureth but the significance of the saying is the same.

God’s goodness simply is. His truth is endless.

In the Law

  • Genesis 21:22 (KJS) And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God [is] with thee in all that thou doest:
  • Genesis 31:50 If thou shalt afflict my daughters, or if thou shalt take [other] wives beside my daughters, no man [is] with us; see, God [is] witness betwixt me and thee.
  • Numbers 23:19 God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
  • Numbers 23:21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God [is] with him, and the shout of a king [is] among them.
  • Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:

In the Prophets

  • Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God [is] my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH [is] my strength and [my] song; he also is become my salvation.
  • Isaiah 45:14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, [saying], Surely God [is] in thee; and [there is] none else, [there is] no God.
  • Nahum 1:2 God [is] jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and [is] furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth [wrath] for his enemies.
  • Habakkuk 3:19 The LORD God [is] my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Some New Testament Examples

  • 2 Cor. 1:18 But [as] God [is] true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
  • 1 Tim. 4:4 For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
  • Hebrews 6:10 For God [is] not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
  • Hebrews 12:29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.
  • Rev. 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.

Great soul food from David

I found this example among from a Psalm of David most compelling, (i) because it is repeated and (ii) each is followed by a different profound statement of confidence.

He only [is] my rock and my salvation; [he is] my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. Psalm 62:2

He only [is] my rock and my salvation: [he is] my defence; I shall not be moved. Psalm 62:6

greatly = in any way = never = not at all

Both are to be read as “I shall not be moved, period”. Anything less would be foolhardy

The believer has relevant experience here. Christ is our rock, our salvation and our defence. We cannot yield to notions about being shaken or moved from our place in Him. Let the winds blow, let the floods rage, our house stands. If you are afraid, shaken or moved from your rock-salvation-defence, check your foundation. It is very likely to be sand.

Great soul food from David’s son

And the rain descended, and the floods came,
and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. Matt 7:25
And the rain descended, and the floods came,
and the winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matt 7:27

A truly Messianic saying of this type that features both the fixed truth and the action is Exodus 15:2, where God is strength-song-salvation-ancestral God

The action is underlined, for example,  the Word became human etc.

The LORD [is] my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he [is] my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.