Meditating on the Judgements of God:
1.2 God’s Loving Goodness
1 Chron 16:34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
In the first meditation we said, by way of laying a foundation to consider the judgments of God, that it is imperative that we consider first the character of God if we are to have any hope of understanding His judgments. In fact, I suspect that for many of us this will mean completely rethinking what we think about God because I have not seen these things written about much in the Christian press (and they certainly aren’t out there in the secular press!)
We started by noting that the apostle John declared that “God IS love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). Note in passing that this isn’t the same as saying love is God, but it does describe God’s nature. We didn’t say this in the previous meditation but it must mean that everything that God thinks, says or does is an expression of love. It has to be! This means, therefore, that whatever we find God doing in the Old and New Testament has to be viewed through new glasses, so to speak, seeing that whatever He does is an act of love. Yes, this is really going to be a dramatic exercise that turns our thinking upside-down! Please, we really must take this in and therefore we must repeat it: IF the apostle John was truly inspired to write what he did – and it complied with a teaching right the way through the Old Testament (even though we only looked at some starter verses in the previous study) – then everything about God is love and whenever He expresses Himself, by thought, word or deed, it is an expression of love.
Now I have written it in numerous other places but to build a complete picture here in this series, I need to bring this out yet again. What does love mean? What do we mean when we say God is love? Now love, according to a dictionary, might be described as warm affection, attachment, liking, benevolence or strong benign feelings for us, and in God it shows “selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will towards us. Note that latter part – unrestricted good will towards us. God is for us (Rom 8:31) and wants good for us, all the time. In fact He is working in our circumstances all the time to bring good out of them (Rom 8:28)
We need to anchor that word ‘good’. A dictionary defines ‘good’ as “having suitable or desirable qualities; promoting health, welfare or happiness; benevolent, not troublesome” and goes on to give reams more uses of ‘good.’ ‘Good’ signifies in our thinking something that is pleasant, something positive that we are happy with. Moses declared of God, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deut 32:4) and all of that description could be summed up in, “He is good!” This was Moses’ declaration. Everything that God thinks, says and does IS good. Moses knew God more intimately than any other man in the Bible apart from Jesus. He is good for a character reference.
David reminded himself of this truth when he needed lifting up: “according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD,” (Psa 25:7) and “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” (Psa 34:8) and “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you,” (Psa 86:5) and “You are good, and what you do is good,” (Psa 119:68) and “Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good” (Psa 135:3) David was described as a man after God’s own heart; he also is good for a character reference. This testimony of God’s goodness is repeated again and again and again by a whole variety of people in the Old Testament.
Now our starting verse above – “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever,” – links love and goodness. Goodness is an expression of love. In the many verses in the Old Testament that refer to God’s goodness, they always come out of a testimony about what God HAS DONE. We know He is good because of what He has done. If He wasn’t good He would not have done these things or, if you like, He wouldn’t have done these things if He wasn’t good.
We are starting to stack up a pile of data in respect of God which needs to be taken into account WHENEVER AND WHEREVER we observe God revealed in the Old Testament. So He’s a God of love and so everything but everything that He thinks, says or does is an expression of warm affection, attachment, liking, benevolence or strong benign feelings for us and “selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will towards us. He is also a good God and so whatever He thinks, says or does is “having suitable or desirable qualities; promoting health, welfare or happiness; benevolent, not troublesome”. Not troublesome???? In respect of destructive judgments? We are going to have to do some serious thinking, but that is where this is going to have to lead us. If these testimonies are correct, without distorting the English language, then somehow we are going to have to see that every act of God that brings death or destruction comes with selfless, sacrificial, unrestricted good will toward us and will be done to promote health, welfare and happiness!
Ready to do some serious thinking? Well there is one more description of God that we find in the Bible and if the definitions of love and goodness nearly blew you away, you won’t know what hit you with the next one. Hold on to your seat, and pray.