What does it mean for God to be “our God”? We often say that God is our God; we sing about our God, who reigns forever. But what does it mean? Certainly it does not mean that we possess Him, or that we have a claim on Him in any way. We can begin our understanding of this term from Joshua 10:42, which says this: “And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.”
This gives us greater insight into what it means for God to be our God; we can learn from what it meant for God to be the “God of Israel.” The fact that God was Israel’s God meant that He fought for them. He led them into battle and He led them out of battle. Moreover, He fought on their behalf. The fact that God was the God of Israel meant that He was for them. He would protect them and fight for them in battle. He cared about Israel and had their well-being in mind.
Going back further in Israel’s history, we see their exodus from Egypt. Exodus 5:1 says, “Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.”‘” Here again God calls Himself the God of Israel, and here again we see that He acts tremendously for Israel’s sake. He orchestrates their freedom from slavery in Egypt, in a sequence that includes plagues on the Egyptians, the deaths of their firstborns, the parting of the Red Sea, and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. He does this because He cares for Israel–He loves Israel. Thus He calls Himself the God of Israel because He is exactly that. He is their God: not that Israel has any claim on Him, but that He is devoted to them.
Turn back even further and we see the Lord acting for Jacob. God says of Himself, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). And God Himself describes His provision for Jacob in this way:
9 But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. 10 “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, 12 the Lord alone guided him, no foreign god was with him.
God took care of Jacob. In the most intimate and tender imagery of a mother bird protecting her young, God describes His heart for and care of Jacob. He did so because He was Jacob’s God. He was not distant or aloof, but incredibly motivated to care for Jacob and protect him and flourish him.
This is what it means for God to be our God: He loves us and cares for us and acts for our sake. The Father crucified His Son to bear the punishment for our sin; the Son endured unimaginable wrath that we might be reconciled to the Father, all because God is our God. To say that He is our God is to say that He is our personal God, because He demonstrates devotion and care in what He has done for us and continues to do for us. We do not deserve such personal attention or care, we do not deserve His death or resurrection or intercession; therefore all the more should we be driven to worship our God, who loves us with an undeserved love.