The Nature of God
The ethos of the Talmidi view of God
Followers of the Way have a wondrous, reverent awe of YHWH our God. YHWH inspires such enormous feelings of wonderment, because we have a real sense of the infinite greatness and “hugeness” of God. Our God is not a god of plaster or stone we can see or measure; our God is enormous, bigger than the Universe, and this realisation overwhelms us – that God is so great and mighty, yet still has concern for insignificant creatures such as us. Talmidi spirituality, having been inspired at its inception by the teachings of a prophet of God, teaches the very nearness of God; that God is closer to us than our own breathing, as one who is always by our side to encourage us, to help us endure our trials, and to share in our joys; that God is concerned for each and every one of us, no matter how isolated, how poor or how unimportant; and that God is actively working among us, here and now. God is a comforter to the lonely, a friend to the outcast, and a counsellor even to the wise. The one common theme about God held by all Talmidi sects, is the presupposition of the existence of God; that is, in our faith and philosophy, Followers accept the existence of God as a given, and do not feel the need to defend or argue any proof for God’s existence. The prophet Yeshua` brought a realisation that God was not up in a distant heaven, but with us every moment. Like the prophets who came before him, Yeshua` was convinced that God abandoned no one, not even the poorest, most desperate or most despised of humanity. Yeshua` saw God as one who was continually active around us. We didn’t have to wait for a messiah to come, or for the end of the world, but that wonders and change could happen now – and any one of us could be the agents of that wondrous change. Above all else, God is experienced as a God of compassion, mercy and love; a God of justice, slow to anger and quick to forgive. We experience YHWH as the God of kindness and forgiveness. The Prophets encountered God as one who taught that the externals of religion were worthless without the internal adherence to justice, mercy and compassion.
God is One
YHWH alone is God – there is no other. We worship and follow YHWH, and YHWH alone – nothing and NO ONE else. God is not divisible into parts or personalities – YHWH is a single, unified entity. We give praise and blessing in no other name but that of YHWH.
God was, is and always will be
God existed before time, and will exist when time ends or stops. Although God takes an active part in creation, God is not part of that creation; God was before creation ever came into being.
As a result of our desire to come closer to God, and to understand God and experience God in all of God’s fullness, we reject and turn away from anything and everything (concepts, beliefs, teachings) that divert our attention away from that realisation. In the Galilaist sect (a traditional but moderate sect), the teaching is that we should never worship anyone or anything but God, not revere anyone or anything but God. The Yeshuinist tradition (a liberal sect) says that we should not “make for ourselves images, statues, or pictures, of anything in heaven or on earth, for the purposes of worship or prayer – be they to be worshipped directly, or to have worship focused through them. This is so that the invisible and intangible nature of God can be realised, and the infinite wonder of God be appreciated and felt.. We should never erect statues to any saint, prophet or hero of the faith; to do so will divert attention away from the reverence and respect due to God; and in our prayer, we do not need to pray to or through anyone else – all prayer is direct to YHWH.” The Book of Saminnius (a community rule handbook within the Yeshuinist community of Followers).
God is Creator
Creation, and all that exists, comes from God. That is as much as we are supposed to glean from the bible. How God created, and still creates, is not the domain of religion. We are not supposed to take the story of creation in Genesis literally (if we did, we would be required to believe that there was a metal dome over the earth, which itself is a stretch of flat land floating in a giant basin of water)! When we look at all that exists, our hearts give blessing and praise to God for the wondrous variety of all life in existence, and ever has existed. For all are the work of God’s hands – from the gigantic might of the dinosaurs, down to the tiniest bacteria. Everything in creation belongs to God. The sun, the stars, the planets; the earth and all that is in it belong to God, all the plants and the animals are God’s. We are like stewards, who look after things on God’s behalf, and we pay God a rent (the tithe) for the use of it. YHWH is the creator of the Universe, of all that exists. YHWH is not only the God of Israel, but of all the nations. God chose Israel to be the vehicle of God’s teaching, but in prophetic writings, that teaching is always envisioned as being taken to all the nations.
God is knowable
YHWH has a personality, and is knowable; if God were unknowable, we would not be able to know or say anything about God, and we would have no religion of any kind, no experience of God to base our beliefs or teachings on. Our relationship with God is on-going; as human spirituality evolves, so too our knowledge of God grows and evolves too. And we learn about God’s personality, love and warmth through that on-going relationship. Everything in God’s creation may speak of God. The wind and the sea may act as messengers of God (Ps 104:4), and so also can human beings (Nu 20:16). Using God’s Holy Name in private prayer, helps to make God a psychologically tangible entity. God is not a vague, unreachable concept, but a knowable being with a Name, who cannot then be confused with any pagan gods or god-men.
God has no physical form, never has, never will have
God is spirit; an invisible, incorporeal spirit. God is One, that is, God is a unified entity, and has no divisible personalities or parts. God has no form, and does not take on any bodily form, or appear as anything. YHWH does not incarnate in any physical form; neither as a man or woman, nor as an animal, nor as a plant or natural phenomenon, such as a rock or a mountain. Although the bible speaks of God as having human bodily attributes, (God’s arm protects us, the hand of God guides us, and we have refuge in the bosom of God), they are only used because we have no adequate human language to describe God to us. It is also important to remember that YHWH is neither male nor female. Every pagan god is either man-like or woman-like; only YHWH is neither. There are growing attempts in the Talmidi tradition to try to put this across in our language of prayer, by using non-gender specific words.
God is holy
The holiness of YHWH means that everything about God is like nothing else. ‘Who is there like you among the pagan gods, O YHWH? Who is there like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendour, doing wonders?’ No other god effects and guides the universe as YHWH does; no other god acts with wisdom and compassion and justice; and no other god acts with reason, love and kindness. To the ancient Israelites, it also meant that the way YHWH was worshipped in ritual was to be completely different from the way other gods were worshipped. Israelite worship was to be holy – that is, separate and distinctive.
God in history
God is part and parcel of human history. God has an ultimate plan. Chaos and evil may occasionally throw things off track, but there is a plan at the end of things. History is not a drunken, aimless wandering through time; we progress, and God assists us in our progression and perfection. History also has a moral significance. Whether something happens that was directed by God, or some tragedy happens that was not directed by God, God has instilled in us the capacity to learn and improve from what has happened.
God is everywhere, and is all-knowing
God fills every part of the Universe, and exceeds it. God is aware of everything that occurs in the Universe, and is therefore able to love and care for everything and every being in God’s creation.
The mitzvot about God
- Have no other gods besides YHWH
“You shall have no other gods besides myself”. (Ex. 20:3, Deut. 5:7).
- Acknowledge YHWH alone
“Hear O Israel! YHWH is our God – YHWH alone”. (Deut. 6:4).
- You shall be a follower only of YHWH
“YHWH your God [alone] shall you follow”. (Deut. 13:5)
- Reverence YHWH in awe
“and Him [alone] shall you reverence [in awe]”. (Deut. 13:5).
“Reverence YHWH your God [in awe]”. (Deut. 6:13, Deut. 10:20).
- Obey only YHWH
“and His voice [alone] shall you obey”. (Deut. 13:5).
- Lovingly devote yourselves to YHWH
“adhere to Him”. (Deut. 10:20)
“and to Him [alone] shall you adhere”. (Deut. 13:5).
- Serve YHWH
“and you shall serve YHWH your God, and He shall bless your food, and your water; and [He] will take sickness away from the midst of you”. (Ex. 23:25).
“and serve Him”. (Deut. 6:13, Deut. 10:20).
“It shall be, that if you really do obey [the] precepts I am commanding you today – [ . . . . ], to serve [me] with all your heart and with all your soul, I will grant rain [for] your land in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, so that you may gather in your cereal crop, your new wine and your fresh oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied”. (Deut. 11:13 – 15).
- Love YHWH
“and you shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”. (Deut. 6:5).
“It shall be, that if you really do obey [the] precepts I am commanding you today – to love YHWH your God, [ . . . . ] with all your heart and with all your soul, I will grant rain [for] your land in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, so that you may gather in your cereal crop, your new wine and your fresh oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied”. (Deut. 11:13 – 15)
- Imitate God in His ways
“to walk always in His ways”. (Deut. 19:9).
“YHWH will establish you for Himself as a holy people, just as he swore to you [by sacred oath], if [ . . . . . . ] you walk in His ways”. (Deut. 28:9).
- Honour God
“I shall be sanctified by the children of Israel; I am YHWH, who sanctifies you”. (Lev. 22:32).
- Do not belittle or curse God
“Do not revile God”. (Ex. 22:27).
- Do not put God to the test
“Do not put YHWH your God to the test like you did at Massah”. (Deut. 6:16).
(Ex. 17:1 – 7 the Israelites were thirsty, and virtually said that they would not believe YHWH was with them unless he gave them water. YHWH gave them water, but said next time ask, don’t test).