Tag Archives: Israel

Goodness on Fire

Cover of "Merriam Webster Dictionary"
Merriam Webster Dictionary’s definition of goodness fall short in comparison to the goodness of God.

What biblical goodness is
Goodness, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary refers to the quality or state of being good. The term good is then defined as a favourable character or tendency.

Receiving the compliment of being good is an honour and privilege – we may call many as exhibited some good acts, but labelling them as good people takes on a much higher level. Yes, being called good is such a rare opportunity.

National heroes may speak well of the term – but not all of them. It only shows that the term is heavy and calls for uniqueness.

In the Bible, the term goodness is said fifty (50) times in the King James Version (KJV), in which more than 90% refers to the goodness of God. Good is said seven hundred fifty (750) times, and the majority of it coming from the acts and nature of God. Very few of the biblical terms goodness and good refer to a particular biblical character. Clearly implied, goodness is a virtue in which God is exemplary, and none of His creation comes close to the degree of His innate goodness or good character.

A survey of the use of both goodness and good in the Bible defines the meaning by its qualities that are exhibited when practiced. One key area is forgiveness. When God shows goodness, it is often associated in His unwavering commitment to forgive His straying people (e.g. Isaiah 63:7). Another is God’s willingness to bless peoples materially. This is evident in the way God blessed Israel in the Old Testament times (1 Kings 8:66): God loves to bless His people not because of their own merit but because God desires to glorify His Name. It is also God’s way of showing that He desires a people who will speak of His goodness.

The list could go on but maybe the most important of all is how the goodness of God relates to His character of love. In the Holy Scriptures, the goodness of God in relation to His love (actually mercy (chesed), but the term mercy/lovingkindess implies love according to Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew) is mentioned sixteen (16) times in the KJV. When God chooses to do wonderful good acts, it is because He does it out of love. Or to put it differently, because God is love, He will never cease to do good things. Wow! O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

The goodness of the Lord therefore is of a separate class. It is far beyond the idea of human kindness. The goodness of man has its own limits, and its nature is imperfect, but God’s goodness crosses boundaries and is perfect in its nature.

Heartfelt Giving to God

English: A model of the second jewish temple i...
A model of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The second temple existed in the time of Jesus in the Gospels.

(1Chr 29:9) Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.

The story of 1 Chronicles 29 marks the inevitable coming end of King David’s reign, the best King the land of Israel has ever had. And upon bidding his farewell, his interest still was all about the Glory of God – the Glory of His Temple on earth and how His chosen nation should worship and render service to Him.

With that on mind, he spoke to the people of Israel about his plans for the Temple, and what seemed best for the preparations in building it. He was also telling them that he has already prepared some of the construction materials needed. He was asking the people if they would be willing to render their service to this great task of building God’s Temple.

Many responded – in fact, all of them gave their part and contribution.

There was joy and gratitude all over – they loved to give to God, and not to the king. Here we can see simple truths about giving for the service of the Lord.

1. Giving, I mean heartfelt and delightful giving should be started by the leaders. It was started by the David, followed by the rulers and princes of the tribes of Israel.

(1Chr 29:6) Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly,

A good leader is a good example, right? They are the ones whose selfless service and sacrifice should be seen first which would be used by God to inspire the people to do the same.

2. Giving should be transparent and accountable to both God and the people. As these leaders gave, it was recorded – to be known to all with exact measurements.

(1Chr 29:7) And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.

The church should also do the same. The congregation would like it best for their giving to be accounted well with precision and accuracy to be known. It also gives them the assurance that their giving really goes to where they should be used.

3. Giving started well would also inspire others to give willingly. Being a good example commands powerfully more than words do.

(1Chr 29:8) And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.

I could still remember how our former pastor showed us a good model for giving. He gave abundantly and inspire us to give also cheerfully with what we have. He gave not only financially and materially, but his efforts and perseverance as a carpenter (though not his profession) also proved to be a powerful magnet to motivate us to work with to renovate our Church building.

4. Giving gives joy to both the leader and the congregation. True giving, if done rightly, should never be a source of burden but of great joy.

(1Chr 29:9) Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.

The true giving of the leaders brings inspiration and joy to the church – and vice-versa. How good it is to see selfless and sacrificing people of God!

5. Giving inspires us to worship God and remember His goodness in our lives. Every true giving should begin and end in worship and gratitude to God.

(1Chr 29:10-20) Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee… Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. …all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king.

The church has many problems in regards to giving – to be more specific, heartfelt giving. But if these simple truths from the Bible be instilled onto our minds and hearts – the Church could experience revival in this area.

Battle for Pleasure

John Piper (theologian)
John Piper tells us: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Everyday life is a battle for Pleasure. It is either we get satisfied in God, or in anything else.

When former pastor and writer John Piper released his book Desiring God, which aims to show the Church that the basic duty of man is to delight in God, he got numerous criticisms from fellow Christians around the world. The most prevalent teaching is that when we love and seek God, we should not be thinking of benefiting ourselves but rather do it sacrificial all for the sake of its own virtue, and for the Glory of God. But for Piper it is different. He sees Scriptures commanding us that at the center of God’s plan is ‘Glorifying Himself by getting people satisfied in Him.’

After much meditation, I agree with Piper. Truly, every moment of each day we find ourselves battling to get ourselves being happy and joyful and satisfied with whatever or whoever we find pleasurable in life. It is either we  glut  on God, or in anything else. And that ‘anything else’ may well include, money, relationships, or sinful acts.

What does the Bible really say then? Is it really wrong to have self-delight as everyday, moment-by-moment duty?

(Ps 16:11) Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

This verse would simply mean that God is leading us to a true kind of life – one that is joyful in His presence.

(Phil 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Here Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord always.

There are still many Scriptures that could be said, but I would like to focus now on one thing: God’s determination to Glorify Himself by having people getting satisfied in Him.

Here is a key Scripture passage:

(Jer 2:1) Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

(Jer 2:11) Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.

(Jer 2:12) Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.

(Jer 2:13) For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

The Lord here is speaking, telling Israel her many sins. And on verses 11-13 He nails the point: Israel has forsaken their glory, the God of Israel to many things that does not profit them. Instead of choosing God as the only source of their satisfaction and sustenance, they have chosen other things, like other gods for their objects of pleasure.

Here it is also interesting to note that God sees sins as having pleasure other than in God, and we know that sins are all acts that try to trample on God’s Glory. Thus, Scripture Logic tells us that being satisfied in God brings Glory to God.