Let’s Talk… The Good God

Overview

God’s intrinsic character produces comprehensive commands and faultless judgments. Specifically, God’s goodness provides humanity with 10 commandments,[1] from which all His judgments are consistently and correctly made. From His goodness comes lovingkindness; from obedience to His commands comes righteousness and a better life for those who love Him; and from His judgments come justice. For this reason, the children of God, across the ages, can confidently boast in the Lord their God (Jeremiah 9:23-24). If you want to grow in your faith, learn to understand and properly respond to the many trials that come your way, and respond wisely to the human tragedy you will surely witness, you must know and embrace the steadfast character of God and understand His Commandments. Only then will you be able to fully appreciate God’s response to evil through the judgments He implements. Those who fail to understand His character and commandments remain immature in their faith and, too often, angry with God for things that are not His doing. This article discloses the natural and foundational character of God, which we must know, understand and embrace fully if we are to live confidently as believers in a fallen world led by fallen and power-hungry people.

The Importance of Knowing God Well

Throughout the history of mankind, God has revealed Himself; yet, human beings have consistently failed to understand Him in light of His own revelations. Instead, the knowledge of God is 1) questioned or mistrusted (e.g., Why can’t I find my own way? Why does God allow the things He does? Why is there so much suffering?), 2) not passed down from generation to generation (unfaithfulness), or 3) due to mankind’s natural instincts toward rebellion, God is intentionally denigrated or ignored by corrupt people whose own depraved character longs for divinity and glory. The truth is that God created the heavens and the earth. (Yes, I unapologetically think that science is significantly limited in its capacity to understand the creation of planet Earth and the vast universe in which it exists.) We humans, with thousands of years of human history to examine, can’t acknowledge the undeniable evidence that demonstrably divulges humankind’s natural proclivity towards obstinance, perversion, and self-destruction, each of which is completely in conflict with the character of God. As a student of world history, I tend to be extremely untrusting of human philosophy and its methods for bringing about “unity and peace”.[2] Monarchy, Papacy, Democracy, Socialism, Fascism, and Communism are all intensely totalitarian and destructive, mostly because they either misrepresent God or dismiss Him, and because none take care to solve the sin issue that fully undermines human judgement and cohesiveness. Oddly, we human beings tenaciously strain to create a world of unanimity by force that Almighty God will give us simply by faith or for the asking. Respect for and submission to God would bring humanity all that it needs to be fully prosperous, efficient, and secure.

One divine characteristic undergirds or buttresses the full majesty of God and discloses why His judgments are always flawless and His plans are perfectly executed. It is not ours to know all because we cannot; therefore, we place our lives in the hands of Him whose character, knowledge, and actions are far beyond ours to comprehend. Limited knowledge always demands faith, obedience, and hope; therefore, it is essential that we know and trust in God and especially in his innate or distinctive GOODNESS, a trait that humanity corrupted in itself by sin.

The verses that will teach this valuable lesson are Exodus 33:18-19.

 18 Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 19 And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

There are two major revelations in this passage of Scripture that form the foundation of God’s decision-making and His impeccable judgement: 1) the revelation of His fundamental goodness and 2) the revelation of His Autonomous Authority. No one can live or lead others without embodying these two aspects of God’s character. They are foundational to life, leadership, and liberty.

The Revelation of His Fundamental Goodness

Note that God’s response to Moses’ request, “show me your glory,” is “all My goodness.” The word glory speaks to an unveiling, a genuine and clear revelation. In this passage, God reveals His true and basic state of being, from which all of his characteristics are derived. God is good! This is who He is; this is the “name of the Lord.” Goodness defines His character.

The foundation of His glorious character is a goodness so penetrating, so intense that a fallen (sinful) person cannot bear to look upon Him and live. Hence, God passes by Moses, having placed him gently in the crevice of a rock to protect him from the glory of God’s overwhelming goodness, allowing him only a glimpse (Exo. 33:20-23). A sinful person, whether loved by God or not, cannot bear more than a mere glimpse of the immeasurable and concentrated goodness of God.

The Hebrew word for good, “tub” (pronounced “tube”) refers to good things and goodness. It is translated by words such as beautiful, pleasant, desirable, and refers to good things, prosperity, fairness, and graciousness. His “abundant goodness” is aligned with righteousness, about which the psalmist “shouts joyfully” (Psalm 145:7). Goodness in Exodus 33:19 refers “to the divine appearance in summary fashion. This spectacle of outward beauty will be a visible representation of God’s moral perfection” emphasis added).[3] The Lord God is the absolute opposite extreme of evil; He cannot, could not do anything contrary to his good nature, which includes all His divine attributes or characteristics, to include His judgments in regard to sinful persons. Simply said, God’s basic nature, His very state of being is goodness! While unbelievers cannot understand this basic truth about God, and will therefore, consider the Lord to be a tyrant or bully, believers who also fail to recognize this truth about their Lord will never find trust, peace or comfort in this life (Romans 3:1-20).

The fruit of the Spirit, as outlined in Galatians 5, is as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law because each is, at its core, good and to be desired and practiced liberally or without controls (Galatians 5:23). All of these divine traits are directly linked to God’s basic character of goodness, that of being good at His core. Because God is good, everything that He does is good, to include the giving of His Commandments and the execution of His judgments against those who violate them.

Burn this following statement into your mind: God is good; human beings are not good! Not one of them is good, not one single person born upon this earth is good or does good (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-5; Romans 3:9-20). Contrary to some of our modern-day female Bible teachers, God did not make each one of us “beautiful”.[4] People are only good when they are in the family of God and then, only to the extent that they are faithful to God’s Word or controlled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30). The unregenerate or unbeliever “does good” only when their natural state is compelled by culture and law to do so. Where the 10 Commandments are absent, other religious tenets, laws, and statutes fill the void. But these so-called guidelines are not sufficient for godliness. Gradually, humankind’s natural and selfish predilections toward power, self-reliance, and lust reduce nations and their people to the whims of totalitarian despots and to cultures absent divine restraint of evil. Without a present and active God in the world, any quest for righteousness and justice, i.e., anything good, is not even a fool’s errand; it is not even a consideration. Never question God about evil in this world, but rather place the fault where it belongs: on human beings. Then, imagine what the world might be like, or would be like if God simply moved on. After pondering such things briefly, stop and thank our good God that He sought you out, brought you into His Church, gave you His Holy Spirit to help you live above your sinful circumstances, and showed you a picture of the future, in which not even a speck of evil needs to be swept away. The evils and dilemmas we face are of our own making. Bad people are the problem; a good God is the ONLY solution!

The Revelation of His Autonomous Authority

After the Lord shows Moses a glimpse of His glory, He reveals an important aspect about His decision-making. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” The Apostle Paul makes the same assertion: “For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Romans 9:15). In this context, God, before the birth of the twins, chooses to impart His love on Jacob rather than Esau, who deserved all the rights of the firstborn. By His mercy, God chooses or calls whom He pleases despite one’s natural position or the person’s works (Romans 9:10-16). God declares Himself to be the autonomous, authoritative, and final decision-maker with regard to each and every life born into this world!

Why does the Lord make this “declaration of intent” immediately after identifying Himself as good? The answer resolves every question regarding the decisions of the Lord, or at least should, if rational thought matters. The idea that God “does what He wants” is troublesome to many, if not most believers and proof of His cruelty to unbelievers, who look for reasons to dismiss Him altogether. This characteristic is offensive because it teaches God’s complete independence from human desire, His lack of need for “the best among us” in the important decision-making issues of life, and makes us dependent upon His good pleasure. Our local, state, or national will is subordinate to His universal will. The undeniable fact, however, is that, in the scheme of things from eternity, to creation, to the present, and into the future, “we know little; He knows all! We are limited; He is unlimited. We are sinful; He is sinless! We are mortal; He is immortal and eternal! We are evil; HE IS GOOD! And this is the point: because the Lord is good, all His decisions are based on His omniscience (all-knowing) and, therefore, are wise, without prejudice, loving, just, and righteous. In America’s courts, 12 jurors must all agree on guilt or innocence. If one juror dissents, the accused is exonerated or declared not guilty even though he might be guilty—human beings simply do not have the knowledge necessary to judge correctly 100% of the time; however, a GOOD GOD does! Because He is innately good, He makes choices that are infallible and, therefore, right each and every time.

“Are you saying that God allowed my dear friend to die a slow death from cancer? You’re saying that God allowed my baby to die! You’re saying that God allows war and its horrible consequences?” Yes! “Why didn’t God just end it all after Adam and Eve sinned against Him? He certainly knew that they would fall. He certainly knew the consequences of sin upon their progeny.” This is all very true, but these questions or accusations are deflective in nature and do not deal with the real reason “bad things” happen in the world. The problem in the world is not with God; it is with humanity, us, you and me! We deflect the real problem away from ourselves and onto God. Please, carefully read through the following illustration.

If God builds you a house and provides you with every possible need for a productive and safe livelihood, but asks you to refrain from cutting down one solitary tree in the forest of millions, would you obey? The Maker tells you that cutting down and using this one tree will open up a world to you that will corrupt you, your loved ones, and all that you have built. However, before becoming corrupt, your will is free, in the sense that your choices will bring about only good in your lives and the lives of your progeny. Would you obey your Maker or would you, without knowing any of the consequences, choose to disobey your Maker and cut down and use that “one tree in the forest of millions”? One day you are out cutting some trees to build an outbuilding and you come across that one tree, about which you know nothing except for the fact that the Lord told you not to cut it down or use it as building material. You can cut the tree to the right or to the left, in front of or behind, but you get this thought and urge in your mind and heart to strike out on your own, to dismiss God’s blessing, and to create your own life with your own rules. You strike the tree and it falls to the ground. “Seems good enough to me,” you surmise. You use the tree for part of the foundation of the outbuilding.

You don’t notice anything for a day or so, but gradually an intrusive fear begins to creep into your heart; a feeling that you have never felt. You sense that your Maker is disappointed in you. From where is this trepidation coming? You’re not sure about anything, except you don’t want to see or talk to the Maker; you even have the nonsensical thought that you can hide from Him. To your surprise, the Maker finds you. “Why are you hiding from me? What have you done?” Your first thought is to lie to Him. First fear, then hiding, and now lying! From where have these behaviors come. “I told you that you could cut down and use any tree in the forest, but one. You cut that tree down, didn’t you? You now have a choice: you can ask for forgiveness, which I will grant or you can blame me and go your own way, that is, deflect. But deflection will, over time, bring you to ruin.” What do I do? I can blame myself and repent in order to stay close to my Maker and Protector or I can choose to keep running and hiding from the truth about my creaturely existence. I can respond to my conscience that knows that He is God or I can deny God and my conscience and strike out on my own. I turn to my Maker and say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I like this feeling of independence; You make me feel afraid and alone. I can build a life without you.” The Maker grants your desire and you set out on your own.

Things are fine for a while; you and your spouse quarrel from time to time and your children are doing okay, but they’re beginning to go their own way. Soon they don’t like each other. To your shock, your older son gets into a fight and the younger kills the older. Your other children are in dismay. In your sadness, you strike out at the Maker (deflecting), “Why did you allow this to happen to me. What have my sons done to You? You could have stepped in and protected them,” to which the Maker responds, “You wanted to strike out on your own.”

Over the centuries, your family has become nations. Knowledge of the Maker diminishes with each generation, even though He has sent prophets among the people to teach them about His ways. Few of those who do believe take the necessary time to study what the prophets have taught them, and the rest create their own distinctive idols. Gradually, they forget God altogether. Once again humanity falls into conflicts and wars on personal and national levels. They create their own gods and religions, their own nations, their own philosophies, their own politics, and, once again, as each fails they simply rename the philosophies and politics and try again. When disaster after disaster ensues, they remember the Maker, but in ways that make Him the problem for their failures. God is always to blame for putting that darn tree in our way. Rather than accepting the blame and consequences of their sinfulness, human beings deflect their disappointments off themselves and onto God, thus making Him the cause of their suffering.

From the time of Adam and Eve to the present, the problem for our troubles is of our own making, our own wills that drive us deeper into our weakness and further from the God, who desires to be our strength. As long as the world continues to suppress belief in the Lord God, every human being will continue to experience the consequences of disobedience; yes, even those of us who love and know Him. For believers, old covenant and new, God has resolved the problem of death through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have eternal life, but we still live and work in a world that is naturally inclined to power and glory apart from God. Therefore, we all suffer.

The question, however, is not “Why doesn’t God protect my loved ones?” Through genuine salvation, He has resolved humanity’s greatest problem, eternal death. His written revelations have provided His children with the knowledge and wisdom to receive salvation and live faithfully and confidently in a destructive and dangerous world. When the consequences of human ignorance and unbelief, i.e., sin, affect us personally, we must never deflect the cause of these consequences onto our GOOD God, but rather place the blame on fallen human nature. Though we all suffer due to our human condition, it is not of God’s doing; it is the consequence of our natural state of being; we all are sinful. However, the vast majority of our suffering falls at the feet of wicked elitists and their obedient underlings, who arrogantly reject the Creator’s love and teaching, and are mostly responsible for the depth of evil in this world. On the other hand, GOD IS GOOD; He knows what He is doing and it is He who “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (emphasis added, Romans 8:28).

Conclusion

Until the Lord Jesus returns, it is the responsibility of each believer to faithfully reflect the character (goodness) of God in the location in which we are placed. We are to be “steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our toil is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:52). The toil or struggle that confronts each believer is, in some way, connected to humanity’s sinless nature. But the believer possesses a faith that is secured by God Himself. God promises to keep you in the palm of His hand.

27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-28).

 In our present state in this world, we can suffer unimaginably, depending upon where we live, our predilection for disease, the whims of our selfish leaders, the hate from our neighbors, and based upon the depth and commitment to our faith. When struggle comes, don’t deflect the emotional pain of that struggle onto our GOOD God, who loves and saved you. He will not forget you; He will grieve with you. Even if the struggle is connected to divine discipline, don’t deflect blame upon your Lord and Savior. The problem, even the death of a child, is always connected to our state of being, not His! Because He is GOOD, victory here and in eternity is a divine guarantee.

35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,

For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

GOD IS GOOD!


[1] The next “Let’s Talk” article will discuss the Ten Commandments.

[2] A Republic, like the United States of America, is fully dependent on a “good and moral” Judeo-Protestant people. The Founders of the country knew this because they had 1700 years of European and Asian history to back up all they created politicly. Instructively, this fact defends the principle that I am suggesting above—the God of Scripture alone must be the source of human endeavor.

[3] Eugene H. Merrill. The Bible Knowledge Word Study, Genesis through Deuteronomy (Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO, 2003), p.247.

[4] Allie Stucky on many Women Bible teachers: too many “reduce Jesus to an emotionally supportive boyfriend.” Three Myths Christian Women Believe (an audio program). While she mentions other women, she speaks more specifically about Holly Beeber. See also https://thetransformedwife.com/few-women-bible-teachers-biblical-womanhood/ on Woman Bible Teachers.

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I am a published author, co-author and editor of 13 books, written numerous articles, taught online at Liberty University and Grace College (Indiana), and appeared on numerous radio and TV programs. I am a theologian, bioethicist and retired veteran.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk… The Good God

  1. I read your article and responded to it on your website. Thank you for your insight and commitment to the Word of God,

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