October 31, 2010

On Being Glad That God Is Good

 

Then Moses rose early in the morning and went up Mount Sinai . . .Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth . . ." (Exodus 34:4‑6).

Moses was given a glimpse of God that no other human being has ever been given. Exodus 33:11 says that "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." After Moses' death, it was said that "there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10). But it's helpful to remember what God revealed to Moses. It was not just that God was real but that God was also good: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth."

In Hebrews 11:6, we are told that to come to God we must believe two things about God: that God is (existence) and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (benevolence). If the first takes faith, the second does as well. In a world where short-term appearances can call God's goodness into question, we need to hang on to the indisputable evidence that God has given of Godís good will toward us Ė nowhere more clearly than at the Cross.

We ought not to take the goodness of God for granted. God might have existed and been something very different than the God that God is. But as it turns out, God is a God who is benevolently inclined toward us, and God has revealed Godís self to be that kind of God. We can't know God perfectly or completely, but what we can know of God, we can know truly. We don't have to speculate about it; we can know for sure that our God is good.

Knowing that God is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth" should make us want to reach out to God. God is a God for whom we can yearn with admiration and love. We dare not forget that God is also a God of justice, who will banish us from Godís presence forever if we refuse to lay down our rebellion against God. But oh, how nourishing it is to know that Godís inclination and Godís fervent desire are to save us. 

ďWhile the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of HimselfĒ (A. W. Tozer).