How can you get to know God? Almost without exception, priests, preachers, and other spiritual leaders within Christianity will answer this question unanimously: pray, and spend time in God's Word, the Bible. The true nature of God is said to be revealed within its sacred pages. So now that we've gone through a series of studies on the book of Genesis, I thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight and review just what we've learned about God from His Word thus far.
God According to Genesis
Per Genesis, man was created in God's image. God formed man, Adam, from the dirt of the Earth and breathed into his nostrils to give Adam life. This not only trumps an evolutionary link, it also brings up questions about whether or not God is shaped like a man, and if so, does He have a belly button? ;-)
When Adam and Eve did not resist the temptation that God have given them (to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), God cursed them and banished them out of the Garden of Eden. God did not offer any opportunity for forgiveness.
From the story of Cain and Abel, we see that God may capriciously reject the honest, hard work that you do for Him according to His whim. At the same time, God may honor work done for Him which has no apparent value. If God rejects your work, He doesn't think you should be angry or upset about the rejection. Instead, you should just try something different to please Him.
Sometime later, God is upset to find that mankind has become thoroughly evil, which, contrary to His omniscience, seems to indicate that He didn't realize that mankind would end up that way. God is regretful that He made man, another blow to omniscience. As opposed to sending prophets or Jesus to earth to steer mankind back to righteousness, God decides that the best solution is to exterminate all of mankind through an epic, global Flood. But God finds Noah, who is the only non-evil man, so He decides to preserve Noah and his family through the Flood.
When the Flood waters recede, Noah kills some animals and burns their flesh, an odor that pleases God. Even though God knows that man will continue to be evil, God promises that He will never again kill all living creatures with a flood, and He makes rainbows as reminders of that promise. Of course, God has made an utterly meaningless promise, because not only do floods continue to kill people even in our time, but God could kill all living things in any number of ways, such as by famine.
At one point in time, all of mankind was working in harmony on one project; the Tower of Babel. The intent of the Tower was to reach Heaven with its top. Instead of God laughing off the impossibility of such a project, God voices His fear that a mankind united in one language could do anything they plan to do. So God scatters mankind around the globe and gives them all sorts of different (and primitive) languages. Given that communication, while not a guarantee, is an essential catalyst and foundation for peace, God seeded misunderstanding, turmoil, and war between different nations forever after with this act.
Through the stories of Abraham lying to Pharaoh and then to Abimelech about Sarah being his sister, we see how God seems to capriciously inflict punishments. For when Pharaoh took the miraculously beautiful senior citizen Sarah into his house, God inflicted him with horrible diseases. However, when Abimelech took the lovely, yet very, very elderly, Sarah into his house, God simply made Abimelech's women infertile.
In yet another blow to omniscience, when God had heard how wicked the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, God decides that He will go down to earth and see it for Himself to verify their grievous sins. He debates with Himself whether or not He should tell Abraham about how He was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He does arrange for the only righteous man in the two cities, Lot, and his family to be removed from Sodom before its destruction. God turns Lot's wife into a pillar of salt when she looks back at the ensuing destruction.
As we will learn later in Deuteronomy, God rightfully finds the practice of making a burnt sacrifice of your son to be detestable. However, that doesn't stop God from telling Abraham to make a burnt sacrifice of his son Isaac. God instructs this morally corrupt act as a test of Abraham's obedience. Of course, if God were omniscient, He wouldn't need to test anyone. Fortunately He does stop Abraham from killing Isaac at the last moment, having Abraham make a burnt sacrifice of a ram instead.
When Jacob steals his brother Esau's blessing, we get our first insight as to how unscrupulous acts may play a part in fulfilling God's prophesies. Furthermore, we see that God is not opposed to blessing those that commit the unscrupulous acts.
In a story in which Jacob can't be considered completely innocent, Jacob gets tricked into marrying Leah instead of her sister Rachel. Eventually, Jacob marries Rachel too. Jacob shows love to Rachel, but not to Leah. In a classic case of displaced aggression, God punishes Rachel by making her infertile because He is angry that Jacob doesn't love Leah.
While working for his father-in-law, Laban, Jacob and Laban agree that Jacob's wages will be the motley colored flock. Jacob cheats Laban by successfully biasing the flock's offspring to be motley colored. When Laban sees that his own livestock wealth is declining, he changes Jacob's wages to more specific color pattern requirements. At this point, God steps in to ensure that the offspring produced match Jacob's prescribed wages, thereby making Laban poorer and Jacob richer. Implicitly, God approved of Jacob's plan to cheat Laban, perhaps as payback for making Jacob marry Leah.
After leaving Laban's house, Jacob spends a night alone while on the way to meet with his brother, Esau. At that time, God took on a human form and wrestled with Jacob. When God saw that He could not win the match, He fought dirty by permanently crippling Jacob, stabbing him in the hip socket. Upon pleading with Jacob to release Him, God renames Jacob to be Israel.
God chooses to execute Er because he is wicked. God then executes Onan for having sex with Er's widow but pulling out before ejaculation to avoid producing an heir for Er and thereby attempting to keep Er's inheritance. Er and Onan don't seem to rank as humanity's worst specimens, yet God kills them according to His whims.
For the grand finale, God manipulates Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery to an Egyptian, which led to him being imprisoned in Pharaoh's jail, where God helps him interpret dreams. Later, when Pharaoh has a couple of bad dreams, God helps Joseph correctly interpret them. The interpretation is a warning that a seven year famine is coming. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of making preparations for the famine. God brings on the severe, worldwide famine in which most people outside of the famine-prepared Egypt undoubtedly perish. Joseph's family moves to Egypt to survive. All the people in Egypt, except for the (polytheistic!) priests, end up selling their land and themselves into slavery of Pharaoh just for food to survive. The purpose of this amazingly horrible story was to fulfill a prophesy that God had made to Abraham; namely that Abraham's descendants would be enslaved and mistreated in a foreign country for four hundred years.
What We've Learned
God is probably man shaped (or perhaps more appropriately, man is God-shaped!). God will tempt you and punish you if you succumb to that temptation, and will not seek your forgiveness. God is capricious in His acceptance of deeds done for Him. God's omniscience is flawed. God is sorry that He made man. God likes the smell of burning flesh. God will make meaningless promises. God is afraid of mankind working altogether in harmony, and will take action to prevent such a peaceful collaboration. God is capricious in His punishments. God will test you in morally corrupt ways. God will fight dirty. And, finally, God will do absolutely anything to keep His promises and prophesies, including using evil methods and laying waste to the overwhelming majority of mankind, and the animal kingdom for that matter.
In short: Be afraid. Be very afraid. The fear of God is exactly what God wants you to have.