“Then He said, ‘I will make all MY GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’ ”
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD in the land of the living.”
I read a cute little story recently. On Boss’s Day, the workers of a company got together and bought a beautiful, small, engraved plaque telling their boss they appreciated his leadership. At the bottom of the plague was to be engraved a Scripture reference, 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “We remember before our God your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Unfortunately, the engraver got confused, reversed the numbers, and posted 1 Thessalonians 3:1: “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves…”. Oops!
In recent weeks we have been learning about faith, expounding upon the question “when Jesus comes, WILL HE FIND FAITH on the earth?”. Today’s texts will show us how to understand the word “goodness” as it relates to, of all things, faith and prayer!
What does “MY GOODNESS” mean as it relates to our Great God? If you were to read the text surrounding Exodus 33:19-20, in particular verses 12-23, you will quickly notice that Moses had an amazing intimacy with the Lord! And the heart of Scripture shows that intimacy with the Lord is available to ALL of God’s children. Notice the Lord’s intimacy with Moses! He says (verses 13, 16, “I am pleased with you”. Wow! Now THAT’S intimate!
And that is not all – God also says, “I know you by name! Double wow – Wow! Wow!
He uses that phrase throughout the Scriptures, implying that He uses that of His children. He told Jeremiah (1:5), “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you;I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” In Jesus’ interaction with Nathaniel (John 1:43ff), John records: “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” And don’t forget Nathaniel’s response to that word of Jesus’ intimacy: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”. Nathaniel worshipped the Lord Jesus Who was right in front of him! So first of all, the Lord loves to be intimate with His people.
So then what IS “goodness”, and why is God’s goodness so special? In the Hebrew, “goodness” means “beauty; glory; what is best.” In the Greek, when said of God, it means “kindness of heart or act; grace; tenderness; compassion”. And when said of man, it means “what is upright; righteous”; that is, the evidence of God living in and through His children.
Now I have an HUGE question for each of us: HOW MANY OF YOU SAY, “OH MY GOODNESS”? Does it always refer to God, or to what you have because you are related to God by faith? Then might your saying “OH MY GOODNESS!” be taking away from what only God deserves – an acknowledgement of Who He is, and who we are by faith?
Moses saw God’s goodness, and from then on, God’s goodness was on display in and through Moses. IS IT ON DISPLAY THROUGH US?
How about “God’s goodness” and prayer? Look again at the above verse, Psalm 27:13. The word “goodness” appears at least 19 times in the Bible: 12 in the Old Testament and 7 in the New Testament. The greatest usage in any one book of the Bible is in the Psalms – 8 times – and all on PRAYER!
In Psalm 27, a classic psalm of prayer, David, too, has a request of God (verse 4): that David would dwell in God’s house, to gaze upon His beauty, and to seek Him. Period. That’s it! What would YOU request? Blessings? Salary? Safety? Provision? Money? David shows what the basic needs of true fellowship are. Are we content with that? BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!!!
Hear David’s voice of request – for what? – GOD’S PRESENCE(verses 8-9), the same promise we find in Hebrews 13:5 and in Matthew 28:18-20.
What was David’s CONFIDENCE? Look at verse 13 again. He would see God’s GOODNESS in the land of the living! Read over the above definitions, and put them in this verse. David hungered for many things, perhaps, but the most important “thing” in his life was to see God’s “beauty”, His “glory”, to see God’s “best” on display in and through David and his life! Wow! How about you? For what would YOU hunger?
Moses offered a request. David offered a confidence! When a need goes from a request to a confidence, we then have boldness with God in prayer!
The fruit of David’s prayer was to see God on display in his life on a daily basis, and among those with whom he rubbed shoulders that day. I need to ask myself each morning: “What is MY plan for this day?” “What is GOD’S plan for this day?” And then ask, “are they the same or different?”
Finally, there is the topic of “MY GOODNESS” and the church! Listen to 1 Peter 2:2-3, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by glory and virtue”. “Virtue” is one translation of the Greek word for “goodness”.
There are many passages to choose from [see Romans 15:14 and Galatians 5:22-23 for starters!], but 2 Peter 1:5a is a classic one:
“giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue” [“goodness”].
Peter says “add to your FAITH.” Jesus asked “WILL I FIND FAITH?”. Peter says that God has given us everything we need, especially His promises (see again 2 Peter 1:4). So ADD what? Add to your faith GOODNESS! Look again above at the definitions for “goodness”. What does Peter say we are if we DON’T add to our faith? Look at verse 9:
“he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
He is SHORTSIGHTED! He is BLIND! And perhaps worse of all, he has FORGOTTEN THAT HE WAS CLEANSED from his old sins!
In other words, that one is forgetful of the work of the cross! Oh may that not be said of us!
Let’s wrap this up…
God alone has goodness – beauty, glory, what is best.
God’s goodness is on display through His children, and is an encouragement to prayer, as with David.
God says, ADD to our faith…GOODNESS – an indication of our walk with God.
But note 2 Peter 1:10a:
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure…”
Make sure you belong to God through His cross!
THAT is how Jesus will find faith on earth when He comes!