Our study of Exodus thus far has looked at how God was at work even while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and during the birth and early life of Moses (ch. 2). That raises the issue of the identity and attributes of God, a topic about which Scripture has much to say, especially in the portions of Exodus we will be covering in the months ahead. To help us have a better grasp of what the entire Bible says about God, we will now take a short break from our studies in Exodus and follow Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series The Attributes of God as our guide.
God is the primary topic of study in the discipline or science that we call theology, a term that literally means “a word about God.” The category of theology proper focuses on the nature and providence of God, with a special focus on His attributes. These attributes or characteristics include such things as God’s holiness, justice, wisdom, power, truth, infinity, and more.
During the Middle Ages, theology was regarded as the Queen of the Sciences in the universities because people believed that knowing God and His attributes was the highest aim of human existence and because knowing God helps us integrate all aspects of knowledge. Since the days of the prominent eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, however, there has been a profound skepticism regarding whether we can actually know anything true about God. If the topic of God is discussed at all in universities, it is usually assumed that the best any of us can do is to make an educated guess about Him, but we cannot truly know Him. “God” becomes a word to signify whatever we believe to be true about ultimate reality, and no view of God is seen as intrinsically right or wrong. The only belief about God that popular culture will not tolerate is the belief that Jesus is the only way to God, as the Bible teaches (John 14:6).
Scripture takes a drastically different view of the knowability of God. Our Creator can indeed be known, for we are made in His image and thus have the capacity to know Him truly (Gen. 1:26–27). Yet, we cannot know Him fully, for the Bible also tells us that God is incomprehensible. Moreover, we cannot know Him in the same way that He knows Himself. He is, as Romans 11:33 says, unsearchable. We will never master God as we master other subjects.