The Goodness of God | Deuteronomy Series
Do you believe this is true? We hear the phrases - "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good" - and the verses - "all things work together for good for those who love God" - and the songs - "Let the King of my heart be the shadow where I hide, the ransom for my life, oh He is my song. You are good, good.."
But I'm gonna be honest: sometimes as I'm singing that song, it's like I'm trying to convince my heart that it's true. Intellectually, yes I know it's true. Because I believe the Bible, I believe that what it says about God is true. But in my circumstances, I can question it. And I don't think this is necessarily wrong - because life is hard and messy and things aren't always going to be smooth - but questioning it emphasizes the fact that this truth can be hard to believe, and I need to renew my mind with truth even when my circumstances seemingly contradict it. I also need to remind myself of the experiences I've had of God's faithfulness and goodness.
Lyrics like the ones in "King of My Heart" can offer a "I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:14-29) moment for us. Singing those words or reading Scripture about how God is good doesn't mean things are always fine and dandy, but we can choose to surrender and believe that, despite my present situation, what I know to be true about God still reigns supreme.
If you don't know already or haven't seen/heard any other SHG content, remembrance is a huge deal to me. I'm finding that even in this series, it doesn't take serious effort to tie things back to it because Scripture makes it easy.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses is prompting the people to remember who the Lord their God is:
Moses continues by recounting their journey. He doesn't shy away from the reality that it had been really hard, yet simultaneously, He points out God's provision and protection, reminding them of His character:
That's crazy to me! And side note, does that sound familiar? The same words mentioned in verse 3 are the same words that Jesus speaks to Satan during His temptation in the wilderness in Matthew 4. He perfectly expressed His dependence on and obedience toward God, not only being an example to us on how to handle temptation, but being the hero of the whole story. The One who did perfectly what the people in Deuteronomy - and you and I - fail to do in our forgetfulness and idolatry. The whole story of the Bible breathes Jesus and points to Jesus. How beautiful.
As I continued reading, noted all the times the word "good" is used in this chapter (& all of these are best read in context - so go check it out!):
"For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land..." (v. 7-9)
"And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you." (v.10)
"...lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your hearts be lifted up, and you forget the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (vs. 12-14)
"...that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end." (v. 16)
Yes the journey had been hard, but look at all that God had done! And His ultimate purpose? He wanted to humble them so that they may know that they would be a mess on their own (v. 2 - the state of their heart), and that He is the sole provider and protector for them (v. 3 - living not on bread alone but the truth of His Word). The word used for "testing you to know" & "that He might make you know" is yada` which means, get this: to know, learn to know, or to learn from experience. And ultimately, that is for their good. All of this is in the context of remembering what God has done and who He is.
He is good. He gives good. He desires to bring more good.
We have a similar reminder in Romans 8:28, where we're told that if we've been made new in Christ and have been called to His purposes, all things work together for our good. And, lest you forget, be sure to tack on verse 29: "For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..."
Just in case you're perfect, I'll speak for myself: to conform me to the image of Jesus is going to take a lot of refinement and reshaping and renewing. It's going to take getting in there and getting at the very core of my heart. Hm, refer back to Deuteronomy 8:2 up top.
The Lord sees and discerns my heart just as much as He did with these people.
This chapter finishes with what will happen if the people continue to forget God and serve other things instead. This is something that we'll continue to see through this book as Moses reminds them of life and death, blessing and curse. We also see "take care" and "be careful" in chapter 8, which is another theme of the book and something we'll be talking more about next week.
It would've been hard for the Israelites to see God as good through their many challenges. But their feelings about whether or not He is didn't change the fact that He is. Your circumstances don't get to decide the character of God. His character is set in stone. We can trust the One who is good, has shown us His goodness, is able to do immeasurably more (Eph. 3:20), and who desires to do us good in the end (Deut 8:16).
I think it's important to look at this series through the lens of God's goodness. Reminding you of this truth, along with many others, is something that both Mel and I want to emphasize through the podcast and through the posts or series I put out on the blog.
We remember His goodness, and we sing His grace.
Ney Bailey talks a lot about how God's Word is truer than what we feel or what our present circumstances say in her book Faith is Not a Feeling. She does not negate that our feelings are valid, but she gives practical ways to shift our perspective in times that are less than ideal. Highly recommend!
A.W. Tozer's The Knowledge of the Holy -- the quotes used here were from chapter 16, "The Goodness of God"
King of My Heart - use this song to remind yourself of what's true about who God is. Even if you're struggling, tell your heart what's true about the God you believe in.