The Love of a Great God

Written by Kailynn Nelson

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4)
This is the first in a series of rhetorical questions that God poses to the suffering Job. Job has had everything, but his own breath taken from him. In his pain and confusion, he questions God. He cries out to God, demanding an explanation for the tragedy he’s been going through. God does answer Job. God’s answer to Job’s suffering is ultimately Himself. He points Job back to His own greatness. Job is reminded that God is far greater than what people can understand. Job admits “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).
Across the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, we see demonstrations of just how great God is. From the very beginning in Genesis 1, we see a divine being who can speak anything He wants into existence. He can just decide that something should exist, and it does.
In the story of Exodus, God demonstrated that He is far greater than any idol created by humankind or any earthly king. The plagues in Egypt all show the weakness of Pharaoh and his gods. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is more powerful than any ruler in any corner of the earth. When the Lord meets His people at Mt. Horeb to give them His Law, He intentionally appears to them in the midst of fire, with no earthly form. Here, God shows His people that no image they can carve will even come close to representing who He is. He is far greater than anything we can imagine.
Throughout the Psalms, David and the other psalmists constantly praise God for His awesome deeds. Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Psalm 104 walks us through all of creation and how God provides for animals and human being alike. Even in the prophetic books we see the power of God over the nations and kings as He moves them for His own purposes.
However, this greatness and power are not the only qualities of God. He is not simply a great force that rules over His creation with an iron fist, nor is He a God who creates and controls with no interest in His creation.
Unfortunately, however, this simple view is how a lot of the world views God. For many, He is no more than a tyrant or some distant figure who could care less about what happens to us. But if one studies the Bible carefully, they will find a beautiful picture of a God who is above all that He creates, and yet a God who chooses to be intimately involved in that creation. In many other creation myths, the world and humanity are merely the result of chaos or an accident. But the God of Christianity deeply desires His creation. The world He formed is no accident. He intentionally formed the mountains, the seas, the animals and birds. He called all those things good. Human beings were not formed as the result of some chaos in the heavens, but have been given the breath of this great, divine being. He forms us in His own image, giving us a piece of Himself, desiring to live and have a relationship with us.
Even as those beings that He carefully, lovingly formed turn our backs on Him, God does the remarkable once again. Instead of destroying us the minute we sin, the minute our hearts are covered in gross darkness, He covers us. He gives us clothes to cover their wickedness. And then He stays and even creates more of them. The rest of the Old Testament points to a God, who in His greatness chooses to stay and love a rebellious people. We see a God whose ultimate desire is to dwell with His creation. He does not want to just create and rule, He wants to love as well. This is a very radical and unusual thing, this God who wants to love the ones He creates. And in that desire to love His creation, He stays.
We may think to ourselves, “Well, that’s great, He wanted to create us and He stays in control. But God doesn’t want to come close to us right?” It’s easy to think about God looking at us and loving us from a distance, not wanting to get His holy hands dirty. He loves us, but from a distance, keeping us at arms-length so that our mess does not get on Him. But the beautiful thing we find if we study the Bible carefully is that God is not that god. Yes, He is holy. And yes, He hates sin. And yes, because of our sin there is a separation from Him. But that separation is not because God is afraid of getting dirty. The God of the Bible does not stand at a distance wishing He could love us closer. He does not look at us in our darkness, in our evil mess and feel sorry for us. He moves and initiates our salvation.
In fact, God loved this world, and the people He created so much that He stepped down into that world in the person of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2 says “though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Our God took on the humanity He created. Although He was not anything like us, He became fully like us. He chose to step right into our despair and darkness. Philippians 2 goes onto say that “being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” God not only took on our humanness, He also took on the judgement and death that we deserve.
In the person and work of Jesus Christ, we see the great glory and the great love of our God come together. On the cross, Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man, poured out His blood so that anyone who would believe in Him would be restored to God. Here we see this great love of God toward those He creates. We see a God who loves so much that, not only will He get His hands dirty, He will get them bloody. God doesn’t just wait for us to turn ourselves around, or for us to get our own acts together before He comes after us. No. Instead this God enters our world, taking our punishment on Himself, while we are still sinners, while we are still His enemies. In the cross, God shows His great love for us.
And in the resurrection of Jesus we see the pinnacle of God’s power and greatness. This God who gives life, can also conquer death. He can kill the thing that is killing us. He has control over both life and death. There is nothing that can stop Him from loving the ones He created. In the resurrection, the love of God is sealed by His power.
Here in Jesus Christ we see this same powerful God, who makes life out of nothing and controls the nations. For those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, this means that, as Paul says in Romans 8, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
The God that we have faith in is not like any other god we can imagine. He is so much God that we cannot capture His God-ness in any image we make. He creates what He wants out of nothing. He moves the course of the world to serve His purposes. He is outside of what we can imagine. And yet, God is also not a tyrant, Zeus-type god. He does not just sit and watch our lives from afar. He steps in and lives with us.
Our God does not distance Himself from His creation because He is afraid of getting dirty, or because He wants to look down on how small we are. Instead, this great, powerful God loves. He loves so much that He gets very personal with those He creates. God not only steps into our dark, evil world, He dies to save it. This is the God we worship, this God that is above all else.
Related Links:
Where Were You? Ghost Ship
The Lord is Great and Does Wondrous Things: Desiring God
The Lord, a God Merciful and Gracious: Desiring God

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