“No one was ever saved other than by grace, from Abel to the present moment. Since mankind was banished from the eastward garden, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer goodness of God. And whenever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ. Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ, but it did not wait for His birth in the manger or His death on the cross before it became operative. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The first man in human history to be reinstated in the fellowship of God came through faith in Christ. In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gazed back upon it, but always they came and they came by grace, through faith.”
-A. W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, pg. 95, on the Goodness of God.
The Goodness of God is a foundational attribute of God, and happens to be the one that Israel, and us, tend to disbelieve the most often here in the States. Indeed a brief recount of events will prove the side of Israel. I will quote Israel directly up till Aaron’s death, then move into how we today tend to disbelieve God is good, and then finish on God’s goodness based on the big picture briefly covered in chapters 1-2 in Deuteronomy.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you don’t to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Exodus 10-12
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:2-3
“But the people thirsted for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” Exodus 17:3
…”Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1
now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Numbers 11:4-6
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the Sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4
And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Numbers 21:4-5
In our current day and age we wish we can get away with the thought, “Well, we are on the other side of the covenant of God, now we have Jesus.”, “These are different times, we are different, there is grace.” and many other things that rush to our current Christian minds as we are faced with delving into our hearts before God and bearing ourselves completely to Him for complete forgiveness. Please don’t stop here and be content with hiding behind self-justification and avoid a real and vibrant relationship with God where you have the freedom to come before Him in all the depths of your sins of your heart, and experience an abiding rest that doesn’t come from the path you may be considering (that of, “well there is grace”)!
Someone who has a habitual sin doesn’t believe God is good, someone who has an idol, an obsession, or something that they can never stop thinking about no matter how hard they try; does not believe God is good. Essentially any sin is out of a heart that doesn’t believe God is good. Here is why, God bringing Christ and crushing Him after He lived a perfect life is from God’s goodness. So Christ’ life, death, and resurrection is a result of, and solely from God’s goodness. So when you sin, you fail to trust in Christ’ being sufficient for your needs, desires, and wants; when you swim in the muck of self-condemnation and self-pity you fail to believe Christ to be your advocate and your propitiation (replacement for you, that being you are Christ before God in righteousness, holiness, and perfection by the blood of Christ). And you may interject here and say that you believe all the right doctrine and theology on God, that you believe He is sovereign, that He is just, Holy, righteous, all-knowing, etc. You may be able to scale the depths of covenant theology, predestination, baptism, election, sanctification, and draw a cute cone diagram of the Sinner, God, and how the more we see our sinfulness and God’s holiness the bigger the cross becomes before us. The problem here for you my friend, is that Israel had the same theology as a nation, and yet still rebelled against God when they came to Canaan.
The equivalent today for people of our nation, you have trudged through the years of singleness as an adult, let’s say…10 years and your now 28. You finally meet the person that fits all your desires, you are friends, and the other person actually likes you! God even spoke to you in your dreams and told you that you two will get married, so go ahead and move forward in this. But you are terrified of ruining your friendship, you see her/him as in a different category of holiness to yourself, you begin to realize just how jacked up you are and believe if you two actually dated/courted you will bring all your trash in and destroy the relationship; and so you don’t go forward. You don’t believe God is actually good, that He delights in you moving forward here, that He will bless your efforts here, and that His forgiveness over your sins is enough here as well. And just like with Israel, as a consequence, you have lost that wonderful blessing for both of your lives.
So before I move onto the last point, consider here; what are your sin patterns right now. What temptations hit you the hardest usually? What have been the consequences of these sins before? Broken relationships, dismantling of trust, personal isolation to hide your sin, strained relationships with family, what is it for you? Now ask yourself the question, it will be hard, and all kinds of defense mechanisms you have (everyone has at least one, to hide from God) will crop up to keep you from asking and dwelling on this question; why do you not believe God is good? Consider these sin patters, temptations, and consequences, and pray for God to illuminate your mind to your heart.
Let us close on the Goodness of God by recalling briefly and quickly the Biblical history of His Goodness. Without compulsion, without any need, God created all matter in existence. Being triune in nature He had perfect community, relationships, and joy; yet not only did He create matter, He created beings that were specifically designed to be in relationship with Him. He made it possible for something finite to relate to the infinite. Then His greatest creation, man, disobeyed His commands and claimed godhood over himself. God killed an animal, probably the first death Adam and Eve ever saw (unless Adam swatted a fly that landed on him during God’s pronouncement of the curses), which also was the consequence of their sin displayed before them. They had two sons; the one who trusted in God’s goodness was slaughtered by the one who saw God as a stern task-master. God then covered the whole earth in a flood after allowing evil mankind to live for some time in constant rebellion; He preserved humanity STILL through Noah.
God then spoke to a pagan man who had no thought or desire for Him, Abram, eventually naming Him the father of all the nations. God made promises to this man whom did not deserve them (whorring his wife out so he doesn’t get slaughtered comes to mind). Isaac may have shown exceptional patience and romance by working for a great deal of years to win the woman he loves, but he was a pitiful father in the end. Though Joseph’s brothers who represented the heads of all the nation of Israel sold him into slavery and hated him, God still saved them all through Joseph instead of dying off in starvation. Then God saved Israel from the mighty hand of Pharaoh, the people grumbled against God, yet God gave them water, manna, and kept their clothing and sandals in mint condition during their travels. Though Israel turned their back on the Promised Land God preserved the next generation to take the land, he built confidence by showing them three Gentile nations that conquered a similar type of people as the Canaanites, who were not under any promises from God.
Eventually the Israelite’s conquered the land, and despite God telling them they would rebel and be exiled, He commanded them to obey Him and enjoy the land. They eventually were exiled, and after some time allowed to come back under the prophet Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and in effect, the nation of Israel. Here God began the process of rebuilding the nation He would come down to serve and be slaughtered by. And indeed He did just that, came down bearing flesh, sat and talked with man like a friend, rebuked the fools like demons, and allowed himself to be slain after living a perfect and sinless life so that after His resurrection we may have Christ’ righteousness, have the power to die to ourselves, and have a future resurrection to look forward too. And in closing, God also gave us the Holy Spirit, now including us in the Triune relationship that God has with Himself, not that we are now divine or God as well, but we are given intimate access to a God we do not deserve to be in intimate relationship with.
Indeed God is Good.