Summary: God is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, and merciful.
Characteristics of God Part Two
What are some other characteristics of God?
We have looked at the fact that he is spirit; he does not have a human body. He is a person, meaning he demonstrates characteristics of personhood such as: personality, consciousness, anger, love, and jealousy. God is independent; he doesn’t need anybody or anything. Finally, we saw that he is immutable. God doesn’t change, and therefore, we can trust what he says.
What are other characteristics of God? We will look at four more in this chapter. God is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
God Is Eternal
Another characteristic of God is that he is eternal. His eternality essentially means that he has no beginning and no ending. Everything else has a beginning but God does not. In fact, he is the one who created time. We see this in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The question we should ask is, “In the beginning of what?” Moses, the author, is referring to time. When God created the earth, he also created time. Later in the Genesis narrative he creates the sun and moon specifically to track the time. It says, ‘“Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (Gen 1:14). God is eternal and he is the beginning of all things.
In fact, we see God’s eternality in the covenant name he gave to Israel. Moses said, “Who shall I tell the people sent me?” God said, tell them, “I am sent you” (Ex 3:13–14). “I am”, or Yahweh, refers to the self-existent one, the one that always has been. I am because my parents were, but God just is; he is eternal. Jesus used this phrase to describe himself in his discussion with the Jews in John 8:57-58. It says, ‘“You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”’ (emphasis mine). He was declaring himself to be the God of Israel (Ex 3:13–14), but he also was declaring that he had always existed as he had previously seen Abraham .
Jesus also declared his eternality in Revelation 1:8. Listen to what he says: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (emphasis mine). Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Christ was calling himself the beginning and the end. He was again declaring his eternality.
This characteristic is taught throughout the Scriptures. The Psalmist said this about God: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (emphasis mine)” (Psalm 90:2).
Reflected in the Way God Speaks about Time
Understanding God’s eternality will help us better understand how he often speaks about time and events. Because he is eternal, he has a different view of time than us, and this many times is reflected in his declarations.
Listen to what Peter says: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (emphasis mine)” (2 Peter 3:8). To God, a thousand years happens as fast as one day, but also, one day happens as slow as a thousand years. His idea of time is very different from ours since he is eternal.
Not only does he see time differently, but he is outside of time. He sees the end from the beginning. Look at Isaiah 46:10: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (emphasis mine). God stands outside of time, and therefore, can see what has happened in the past, what’s happening right now, and what will happen at the end. His view is very different from ours.
Reflected in the Way God Speaks about Man
We see God’s unique viewpoint in how he often speaks about man. Look at what he says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
How can God know Jeremiah before he was born? Well, part of the reason is because God is outside of time. He sees Jeremiah before he was born and, at the same time, sees his end. He speaks blessing and purpose over his life before he was formed in the womb.