The Thirteen Attributes Of God

The story begins in Exodus 34:1-5 when God called Moses to the top of Mt Sinai.

The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.  Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain.  No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain.” So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands.  Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His name, the Lord.”

We see that God starts off by proclaiming His name, the Lord. But what is in a name? With the Lord, about thirteen attributes.

Exodus 34:6-7 goes on to speak of those thirteen attributes of God. 

And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

So let us take a closer look at this passage of Scripture and see these thirteen attributes of God

1- The Lord! (HaShem)–The Name, God does not change. Revelations 1: 8 says “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”   Hebrews 13:8  tells us the same, “Messiah Yeshua  is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  God does not change, and because of that He is our rock. The sage tells us that the first Lord means God is merciful before a person sins, even though He is aware that future evil lies dormant within him.

Romans 5:8 says this,  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us.”

2.– The Lord, the Lord! (Adonai)– When God repeats Himself it is to put emphasis on what He is saying. The sages tell us that there are two types of mercy. We just saw the one way and this is the other. God is merciful after the sinner has gone astray.  

1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

3.– God (Elohim)–a name that denotes power as ruler and judge over nature and humankind, indicating that God’s mercy sometimes surpasses even the degree indicated by this name.

Romans 2:12-16, “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;  for it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified.  For when Gentiles who do not have the Law instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves,  in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience testifying and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,  on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of mankind through Messiah Yeshua.”

Titus 2:11-14, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age,  looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, eager for good deeds.”

God is a righteous Judge and He  will judge us according to the Law, (Torah), but when we repent of our sins (a turning back to the law) the blood of Yeshua becomes our blessed hope.

4– Compassionate (rahum)– the word rahum is closely related to the word rheum meaning womb. God has a motherly side to Him and He being our Father, also gave birth to us. God is filled with loving sympathy for human frailty, and does not put people into situations of extreme temptation, and eases the punishment of the guilty.

James 1:13 tells us, “No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

5.– Gracious (chanun) a variation of this word is chen which  means favor. God shows mercy even to those who do not deserve it, but He also consoles the afflicted and raises up the oppressed.

Romans 5:15,  “ But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Yeshua Messiah, overflow to the many!”

Psalm 113:7 speaks of God’s graciousness, “He raises the poor from the dust  and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes,  with the princes of his people.”

6.– Slow to anger (ereh apayim)– which actually means “slow nosed ” It is a Hebrew idiom for growing angry.  God gives the sinner ample time to reflect, improve, and repent.

2 Peter 3:9 says,  “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

7– Abundant in kindness or loving kindness (v’rav hesed)– a better translation of chesed  is devotion, covenant devotion. God is kind toward those who lack personal merits, providing more gifts and blessings than they deserve; if one’s personal behavior is evenly balanced between virtue and sin, God tips the scales of justice toward the good.

Titus 3:4-7 tells us, But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Yeshua Messiah our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Covenant devotion is found in a marriage. It is that faithfulness and love that keeps the covenant going. God made a covenant with Israel and called them His “Segula”, His special treasure, and He brought them out of Egypt. Yeshua said this in John 15:10, If you keep My commands, you will stay in My love — just as I have kept My Father’s commands and stay in His love.”

8– Truth (v’emet)–God never reneges on His word to reward those who serve Him. Emet can also mean faithfulness. God is faithful to fulfill every promise. Isaiah 40:10 says this, Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by His strong arm; here is His reward with Him, His recompense before Him.” 

Isaiah 65:16 testifies that God is a God of truth. “Whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of truth; whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; for the hardships of the past shall be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

Yeshua says this in John 14:6,  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Revelation 22:12 tells us, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves.”

9– Preserver of kindness for thousands of generations (notzeir hesed la-alafim)–God remembers the deeds of the righteous for the benefit of their less virtuous generations of offspring (thus we constantly invoke the merit of the Patriarchs).

Deuteronomy 7:9 says , Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His faithfulness to a thousand generations for those who love Him and keep His commandments.” 

Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,  to Him be the glory in the church and in Messiah Yeshua to all generations forever and ever. Amen”

10– Forgiver of iniquity (nosei avon)–God forgives intentional sin (anomia) in the Greek, meaning lawlessness, resulting from an evil disposition, as long as the sinner repents. 1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”

Acts 13:38-39 says, “Therefore let it be known to you, that through this One, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and from all the things from which you were not able to be justified by the law of Moses,  by this One everyone who believes is justified!”

God forgives the sinner, but the sinner must be repentant, also we, too, must forgive the sinner. Luke 17:3 tells us, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.”

11– Forgiver of willful sin (pesha)– (transgression which means rebellion). God allows even those who commit a sin with the malicious intent of rebelling against and angering Him the opportunity to repent.

Nehemiah 9:26-27 says, “But they became rebellious and revolted against You, and threw Your Law behind their backs and killed Your prophets who had admonished them in order to bring them back to You, and they committed great blasphemies. Therefore You handed them over to their enemies who oppressed them, but when they cried out to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them people who saved them from the hand of their enemies.”

12– Forgiver of error (v’hata’ah)–God forgives a sin committed out of carelessness, thoughtlessness, or apathy. The word for sin is “chata” which means to miss the mark.  1 John 2:12 says, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you on account of His name.”

Jeremiah 31:34 speaks of the future redemption, “They will not teach again, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their wrongdoing, and their sin I will no longer remember.”

We see that God is merciful, forgiving, loving, and covenant keeping, but the last attribute of God is a Righteous Judge.

13– Who cleanses (v’nakeh)–God is merciful, gracious, and forgiving, wiping away the sins of those who truly repent; however, if one does not repent, God does not cleanse.

Exodus 34:7 says, “Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

The thirteenth attribute is punishment, not only to the one who sins, but who  does not repent, even to  his children to the third and fourth generation. It seems that all that we have just read about God and His love just went out the window. 

We have to realize that God is a God of justice, as well as mercy.  Isaiah 30:18 says,Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;  therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.   Blessed are all who wait for him!”

God is the Righteous Judge as Psalm 7:10-15 tells us, “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who shows indignation every day. If one does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and taken aim. He has also prepared deadly weapons for Himself; He makes His arrows fiery shafts. Behold, an evil person is pregnant with injustice, and he conceives harm and gives birth to lies. He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made. His harm will return on his own head, and his violence will descend on the top of his own head. I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”

God forgives and God washes us clean in the blood of Yeshua, but we must repent and turn back to living by God’s Word or else  Galatians 6:7 tells us this, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap.”

God will not only turn from you, but all your children until God finds one who is ready to not only repent of the sins of the fathers, but also one who will be a covenant partner with Him.

 Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

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