The number 13 has been shunned for centuries; we have been led to believe that it is taboo. Friday the 13th is considered the unluckiest day of the month, It’s considered to be unlucky to have thirteen guests at a table, many architects even omit the number 13 from office buildings to this very day. Yes, in our culture the number 13 has been demonized. What people fail to recognize is the Biblical significance of the number 13. You do not have to fear it; you do not have to fear this year, 2013.

An attribute is the inherent character of a person, the way that a person acts or conducts himself. When we take a closer look at the 13 attributes of God, we then can get a better understanding of the character of God himself. The number 13 in the Bible is very significant. It refers to the ability of God to transcend time, space, and circumstances. Transcendence enables one to infuse spirituality within our material world; it brings God into the mix. 

Twelve is the number of maximal differentiation. It is the number of lines that border a cube, but to connect all the twelve into the center you need the thirteenth line. The thirteenth line defines the center.  You can see this principle many times in the Word of God. There were 12 tribes of Israel, Jacob, their father, was the 13th. There were 12 Disciples, Jesus, The Messiah, was the 13th.  The word “love” in Hebrew has a numerical value of 13. [AHAVA] Hence, the love chapter being 1st Corinthians 13 was not by accident.  The word “one” in Hebrew has a numerical value of 13. [ECHAD] If you add these two together, love and one, you get the number 26, which is the exact numerical value of the Jewish name for Jehovah, YHVH.

The thirteen Attributes are in fact thirteen principles that govern all Jewish beliefs. Reading in Exodus Chapter 33 verses 13-14, the Bible states, “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, That I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”

In this text Moses asked God to “Shew me now thy way,” and God did just that in Exodus Chapter 34 verses 5-7. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping Mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

In these scriptures we find that the Lord gave Moses these 13 attributes himself, revealing his true character. As we take a closer look, we gain understanding of these 13 attributes and how they relate to us.

Every time you see the word, Lord capitalized it refers to Jehovah.  Whenever it is repeated twice in the same text, it always refers to the dual nature of mercy.

The first of the 13 attributes is YHVH [Lord] this means that God himself is a covenant keeping God. He, by nature, is a forgiving God and is merciful even before a man sins. God’s forgiving nature did not develop in reaction to man’s sin. He was merciful before man ever sinned.

YHVH [Lord] is then repeated in the text. This repeat emphasizes God’s unchanging character. The Lord is merciful after a person has sinned and repented. Man’s sin does not alter the nature of God.

God [EL] is mentioned next. This lets us know that He is the creator and that as the creator he has the right to show mercy. He is all-powerful; therefore, he is not insecure and in need to prove he is powerful by being cruel. He shows his true power through his mercy to provide to all creatures according to their need.

God is merciful [RACHUM] He is so compassionate that he even loves a child in the womb. So loving is God that he doesn’t even want you to be distressed. He wants to prevent distress.

God is gracious [CHANAN] God showers the undeserving with favor and grace. If you are already in distress, He, in his mercy, will alleviate your distress.

God is longsuffering [EREK APAYIM] God is slow to anger; He waits patiently for you to repent.

God is abundant in goodness. [RAV CHESED] God is good to the righteous, he is kind to all believers, and is plentiful, and abundant beyond all measure.

God is abundant in truth [EMET] God is good even after he has scrutinized your life; He already knows exactly how to fix what is wrong. He is fair, and he is equitable. He will not do for one that he will not do for you.  

God keeps mercy for thousands [NOTZEIR CHESED L’ALFIM] God’s kindness will extend to your children and to all generations. His devotion to your salvation is boundless. It is not just for one, it is for all of us.

God Forgives iniquity [NOSEI AVON] God forgives intentional sins; he forgives sins that are committed willfully.

God Forgives transgression [NOSEI PESHA] He forgives rebellious sins, sins committed in defiance to his will. He forgives sins of self-will.  

God forgives sin [NOSEI CHATAH] He forgives sins that were committed inadvertently, or without knowing. Sins of ignorance.

God clears [NAKEH] He cleanses, and acquits only the repentant sinner; He pardons but only those who repent. He will not clear the guilty or the unrepentant sinner. 

The 13 attributes of God all relate to mercy and forgiveness. We should pray and thank God for the mercy and forgiveness he shows us, and pray that he will help us show these same attributes to people in our lives.  The important thing about these attributes of God that he imparts to us is that they only work for us if we give them away. Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. When you give the attribute to someone else, it comes back to you. If you forgive then you shall be forgiven. So take these 13 attributes and begin to live by them, give them to those you come in contact with, share them, and you will see these same attributes manifested in your own walk with God.

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