Who is God?

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“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”( Genesis 1:1)

The Bible begins with an emphatic answer to the question “Who is God?”  God just is, before anything else. But even that word “is” implies personality. That is to say, there is an immediate insistence on the personality of God. So “Who is God?” is a good question. If we were to ask, “What is God?” we might be tempted to say that God is the infinite being, the creator, a presence, or something like that. These answers may be partially correct, but the title question brings us closer to what the Bible teaches.

Is God a he?

There is no question of gender in God, of course, even though the limitations of the English language force us to use the words “he” “his” now and then. If gender does come into the mind of the Hebrew writers then it is strongly paternal rather than patriarchal (the loving, protective father rather than the stern boss).

But the key to the gender issue is in Genesis 1:27: God created mankind in his own image,  in the image of God he created them;    male and female he created them.” This is a crucial verse which repays a lot of thought, but for now it’s enough to notice that the “image of  God”  is “both male and female.”  The differentiation of gender, (male and female), are both perfectly expressed in what the writer means by  “God.”

In the same context comes another enriching principle. The word used for “God” through Genesis 1 is a plural term. Usually, this plural usage is said to express strength and authority in Hebrew, but in v26, the creative activity of God is also described as plurality: Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.’ ” God is described as an “us.”

This usage recalls the first verses of the Bible: “In the beginning God created…the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said..”

The Hebrew word translated “hovering” means moving or brooding, as when a mother bird broods over her eggs to bring forth life. What an amazing thought- the Spirit of God waiting like a midwife to see life coming forth!

First, we have to acknowledge that, in terms of language, Genesis 1 is much closer to a worship song than to a theology textbook, but even so, it is at least interesting to consider the three-fold activity of God in creation.

God makes, God broods, God speaks. He is maker, midwife, and communicator.

Lord, this morning I look to you. You are the creator and sustainer of life itself. With all my heart I smile to see you. I open like a flower to the sun. Brood over me and let my day bring forth joy to you.

Amen

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