One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Moses asks God to show him His glory (Ex 33:18). God answered Moses and said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you My name ‘The Lord’” (Ex 33:19). And in the next chapter, the Lord descended into the cloud atop Mount Sinai, stood with Moses, and there His goodness passed before Moses and He proclaimed His name: “The Lord, The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindess for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished”(Ex 34:6-7). Moses wanted to see God’s glory, and God showed him His very nature, which God Himself described as His goodness.
O taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps 34:8)
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely. (Ps 135:3)
All my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
The lyrics of this song are merely echoes of the songs of the ancient psalmists as they raised their voices in worship and proclamation of the goodness of God. And we all mostly agree as we lift our voices and hands to sing the ageless truth that “God is good” on Sunday mornings. But God’s goodness is one of those things that we might affirm in the abstract or when things are going our way, yet when push comes to shove and all of life bottoms out on us, our confidence in this reality can be truly shaken.
Is God good when my life is falling apart? Is God good when my child is diagnosed with cancer? Is God good when the love of my life is taken in a freak accident? Is God good when children are dying in a famine in the Middle East? Is God good when the typhoon hits the tiny island and 40% of the population is killed in the storm?
To answer these questions, we have to spend time meditating on who God is – bathing our hearts and minds in the truth of His goodness (Rom 12:2; Ps 77:11-12; Ps 119:15; Ps 143:5). When God passed before Moses, He basically described His goodness by revealing Himself as: ‘compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindess and truth, forgiving of iniquity, transgressions, and sin, and His goodness is also just and will by no means leave the guilty unpunished or the unjust things of this world unchecked’ (Ex 34:6-7). Here and in many other places in Scripture, we see that God is good by definition – He doesn’t just ‘act good.’ God isgood in His very nature, and therefore, everything God does is good. In other words, there is no goodness apart from God, and there is no God without goodness.
You are good and You do good. (Ps 119:68)
The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. (Ps 145:9)
God’s goodness is seen in everything He has ever done, everything He is doing, and everything He promises to do in the future. God looked over all that He had made at Creation, and “behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God’s goodness is revealed day after day in the heavens and the earth (Ps 19:1-2). He causes the sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous. He causes the rains to fall, flowers to grow, and the harvest to ripen (Matt 5:45; Matt 6:28-30; Ps 104:14-15). He upholds and orchestrates every part of Creation by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). If that wasn’t enough, in His goodness and kindness toward us, He made it all beautiful and gave us senses with which to discover and partake of its wonder. We can’t get enough of the smell of rain in the mountains or the glory of the sun setting over the ocean simply because God chose to give us the capacity to truly enjoy the majesty of all He created. Through Creation, God displays both unnecessary and extravagant goodness.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever! (Ps 107:1)
We also see God’s goodness in Jesus. Scripture reminds us that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and that “in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:19). When Jesus walked around on the earth ministering to women, children, the hungry, the poor, the outcasts, the oppressed, the sick, and so forth, everything He said and did revealed the glory and goodness of God. Paul teaches us that the “knowledge of the glory of God” is found “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). Jesus is the goodness of God in the flesh. In His eyes, in every word of His mouth and every act of His will, Jesus revealed the unchanging, extravagant goodness and glory of God for all to see. And He didn’t stop there – He walked the long road to Calvary and spread wide His arms on the Cross. In our place, He bled and breathed His last as an offering for our sins. We never have to wonder if God loves us or if He’s good when we look at the Cross. What kind of God leaves His throne to be crucified for those who despised Him? God proved His own love for us once and for all, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). And that isn’t even the end of the story. Jesus rose again, He gave us His Word and sent His Sprit, and He will return again to the earth to restore all things.
The Lord is my shepherd… surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life (Ps 23:1, 6). For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. (Ps 100:5)
We also see God’s goodness in His leadership over our lives. Now, that’s not to say that we always ‘feel’ like what God is doing in our lives is good. Job didn’t understand what was happening to him when he was tested, and no one would describe his loss or suffering as ‘good.’ Yet, God was still there, He was still good, and God’s compassionate leadership over Job’s life would take all that he suffered and cause it to work together for good in the end, because Job had put his trust in God alone. Paul promises us that just like Job and so many others throughout Scripture, God’s sovereign kindness will cause “all things to work together for good for those who love Him” (Rom 8:28). So even if we don’t feel like it’s true, God is always leading our life with cords of lovingkindness. But this is where the believer tends to be pushed, pulled, and tested the most. We are tempted to doubt God’s goodness and believe the lie that there’s something better for us than God and His will for our lives.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. (James 1:16-17)
The fundamental issue in the Garden was the goodness of God’s leadership. God’s goodness is foundational to the Christian faith. God is eternally good, even if we are blinded by doubts and accusation. His goodness is the hope we must cling to, whether we are standing on the mountaintop of victory or we are being tossed around in a raging sea of trials, and it is the hope of our future. Temptation, at its very core, is doubting that God is good. It is the suspicion that there’s something better out there than what God offers us, just as Adam and Eve believed the lie that the one tree God forbade them to eat from in the Garden had something better to offer them than the bounty of other trees God had freely given them. Adam and Eve had everything, yet they believed God was withholding something good from them, so they chose to disobey His one command.
James warns us in verse 16 above not to fall for this same tired trick that the Enemy has been deceiving us with since the Garden. James cautions us not to be deceived about God’s goodness: “every good thing given and every perfect gift” that we will every experience, need, or desire comes from the Father. God is good. He is better than anything else the world has to offer. This is the testimony of all of Scripture. God is good by definition, in our experience, and in His very essence and nature. Wherever you find goodness, you will find God; and wherever you find God, you will find goodness. There is no goodness apart from God. Jesus said it this way: “no one is good except for God alone” (Mk 10:18).
Such is the importance of God’s goodness that at the culmination of history when the Bride of Christ is finally face to Face with the Trinity, there will be a hush followed by a Voice from the throne that commands: “Give praise to our God, all you His bondservants, you who fear Him, the small and the great” (Rev 19:5).
And from the great sea, there will be a sound that John the Beloved described as “like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder,” and the sound will be us! It will be our voices, in unison, singing the praises of our God and King, and this is what we will sing: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!” (Rev 19:6)
We will stand as the Bride of Christ on the sea of glass in the Mountain City on that Day. We will finally see Jesus clearly and fully, the way He’s always seen us (1 Cor 13:12). We will look back over the landscape of all of history and over all of mankind since Creation, and then we will look back over the landscape of our own lives, and with one voice we will proclaim: “You ARE good! You are wise! Your love and Your leadership never failed us, not even in the darkest valleys. Your judgments are true and they are right. Your leadership over everything in all of heaven and all of earth is good! You are faithful and true! Hallelujah, the Lord our God, reigns!”
This is a real event that John was seeing, and one that Christians will really experience one day. On the day of His Wedding, we will see and know and proclaim with one voice that we were right to trust in the goodness of our God. This is the end of our story… this is where all of our journeys crescendo… this is the grand finale to all the songs we will ever sing to the Great I Am. If this is what we will sing when we finally see and know God in fullness and when we are able to see all of history through the lenses of resurrected eyes with eternal understanding, and if this will be our chorus when His goodness is the light of the nations, then it seems only right to sing of His goodness and faithful leadership today and every day of our lives until that Day. Doesn’t it?
'Cause all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able,
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God
Oh, I’m gonna sing of the goodness of God.