We all love stories. I could uninterestingly but simply state that Mr. Smith is a person of integrity. Or I could tell you a story that illustrates that Mr. Smith is indeed a person of integrity; and I could do so without ever specifically stating that fact. In the Bible in the story of Job, God does both; we are both told that Job is a person of integrity outright; but we are also told a story that illustrates that truth for us. And although I am glad I have the simple evaluation by God that Job eschewed evil and feared Him; I am extremely thankful for 40 plus chapters of narrative that illustrate how Job feared God. Thus, stories are quite an important element of the human experience. Nevertheless the simple facts are important too.
The same is true about God. There are statements in the Bible that matter-of-factly provide characteristics of God. For instance, God is good. God is gracious. God is loving. God is holy. God is powerful. And many others. But the Bible also tells stories that demonstrate the grace, love, holiness, or power of God. We can intellectually understand that God is loving by reading 1 John 4:8; but we can emotionally discover the depth of the love of God through the stories surrounding the life of Jesus Christ, a love which was summarized in Romans 5:8.
One section of Scripture that both factually states attributes of God and dramatizes those characteristics for us is found in Exodus 15. In Exodus 14, God had just used Moses to successfully lead Israel across the Red Sea. Then as Exodus 15 began, Moses beautifully praised God for delivering Israel from captivity: "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD..." (15:1). In this song, Moses made three matter-of-fact statements about the character of God. But these characteristics were also demonstrated as God redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt.
Characteristics of God:
- God is glorious in His victory. "I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously" (15:1). It was easy to see just how glorious God's victory was over Egypt.
- God is glorious in His power. "Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power:..." (15:6). Moses was referencing the parting of the Red Sea he had described in 15:3-5. This clearly demonstrated to Israel that God is glorious in power.
- God is glorious in holiness. "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness,..." (15:11)? The story of Exodus would go on to demonstrate the holiness of God in a visible, story-like way as the instructions for the Tabernacle were provided to the people of Israel.
Here is one point of application we can make from our line of thinking: God's actions always line up with His words; and God's words always line up with His actions. Think about that in light of whatever passage of Scripture you read in your personal devotions this morning.
Written by Edward Barclay