Character of God Word Studies
What does it mean for God to be compassionate? In this video, we take an in-depth look at the Hebrew word for compassion, rakhum.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. In the Bible, God’s compassion is consistently shown as both an emotional and active reality. What does God do when he feels compassionate? How does he respond when his people return to him in order to follow him? (See Deuteronomy 4:29-31, Micah 7:19, Isaiah 14:1, Isaiah 49:10, and Jeremiah 30:18.)
  2. God’s ancient people fail to return to his ways and end up in exile. Read Isaiah 49:15-16, where God assures his people of his compassion during a dark chapter in Israel’s history. What comes to mind when you consider God’s compassion for his people being related to a mother’s care for her infant?
  3. God’s compassion compels him to rescue his people from their self-destructive ways. Learn how God does this by entering into humanity and all of its suffering (see Isaiah 53). Discuss your observations.
  4. Jesus entered into the suffering of humanity to bring restoration (see Matthew 9:35-36, Luke 13:34). What are some of the ways Jesus embodies the compassion of God?
  5. Describe the ways followers of Jesus are called to live out the same self-giving compassion of God (see Luke 6:35-36; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Colossians 3:12-13). What is one specific example of how this could be practiced in the life of the Church today?

The Attributes of God

Exodus 34:6-7 is the first description of God’s attributes found in the Bible, and it’s also the most referenced passage in the Bible. Here we learn that all of God’s actions are an expression of these attributes: compassion, grace, patience, loyal love, and faithfulness. This list of God’s character traits has been carefully designed to help us see the meaning and importance of each trait in relation to the others.

God's Core Character

How does God’s mercy relate to his passion for justice? Sometimes God brings severe consequences in response to human evil. But how does God’s mercy and love balance with his anger at destructive human behavior? These are crucial questions that the biblical authors love to explore in narrative, poetry, and in the literary design of this Exodus passage.

The passage tells us that God’s core character traits are rooted in generous mercy and loyal love, which means that God’s anger is not a primary attribute. It’s a divine reaction to selfish and destructive human decisions, and it’s rooted in God’s love. Just like you would get angry if you saw a beautiful work of art being vandalized, so God’s anger is a response to evil done to or by his human images. God would not be good if he didn’t get angry at evil.

God's Judgment

God’s anger and judgment is a really important theme in the Bible, but it’s not the whole story. God’s core character is one of generous love that created the world, and he plans to rescue and restore his creation from human evil. Exodus 34:6-7 invites us into a lifetime of pondering the depths and mysteries of the character of God.

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Podcast Series
Character of God
14 Episodes
Exodus 34:6-7 is quoted and adapted by biblical authors more than any other passage in the Bible. In
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