Leanne VanDyk

READ : Exodus 34:6-7

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious . . . and abounding in steadfast love. (v. 6)

Also read the Belgic Confession, Article 1

God’s self-description in the story of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai includes words like “merciful” and “gracious” and “steadfast love.” The Belgic Confession’s descriptions of God include words like “incomprehensible” and “invisible.” Even a casual listener would notice that the words used to describe God in the Bible have quite a different tone than the ones in the Belgic Confession, Article 1.

The Christian church has always had a hefty list of descriptions of God. These descriptions are called “attributes.” It is good that the attributes “incomprehensible” and “invisible” are included in the Belgic Confession because they say important things about God. They stake out territory about God’s boundless size and splendor and God’s presence beyond time and space. But the words themselves don’t soar and sing like the lovely biblical phrases “slow to anger” and “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Perhaps Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession, in his own way, recognized that. The end of Article 1 ends with an almost biblical lilt. God is “completely wise, just, and good, and the overflowing source of all good.” This is so beautiful, it sounds like it comes straight from the Bible.


Prayer: None of our words are adequate to describe your greatness and goodness, O God, but somehow use them to your praise and glory. Amen.