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God Tells Us about Himself

“In the beginning God”: The opening words of the Bible announce God’s desire to make Himself known. The Bible is a book about God, His ways, and His people. Without His self-revelation, we could not know Him, discern His ways, or understand ourselves. Amazingly, God gave us this Book precisely because He wanted to be known and loved and to make His love known.

The truth of God’s existence is obvious: Even though we cannot see God, we can see His handiwork, through which He demonstrates His eternal power and divine nature. The earth and the sky reveal His invisible attributes (Romans 1:19-20). All of creation proclaims His existence. This general revelation testifies to all humanity that God is powerful, orderly, and purposeful. God has also revealed Himself throughout history through His miracles, through His Word, and through Jesus—special revelation—so that humans would know His goodness, love, and truth.

Moses records the detailed account of the creation of the universe. During their four-hundred-year stay in Egypt, the Hebrews (God’s chosen people) learned the Egyptian narrative that gods and goddesses governed the natural and supernatural worlds. God gave Moses this record of creation to dismantle the false Egyptian narrative and replace it with truth.

Truth starts with God Himself. From the beginning, He reveals that He exists. He demonstrates His power by simply speaking—when He speaks, things happen! Nothing becomes something.

God establishes Himself as the judge of good and evil; He evaluates what He makes and deems it good. And He immediately introduces boundaries, separating light from darkness, sky from earth, land from water, day from night, and aquatic life from aerial life. He also sets boundaries in reproduction—all animals and plants reproduce offspring of the same kind. God makes humanity in His image—morally, spiritually, and intellectually—and gives humans the ability to reproduce more image bearers, along with the right to reign over His creation. He blesses His image bearers and anticipates all of humanity’s needs before they even have needs.

God makes orderly, integrated systems within the boundaries He created, testifying further to His own creativity and design. The heavenly lights rule the times and seasons, the reproductive process provides ongoing life, and the rule of humans provides order and care for God’s creation. As He concludes this creation event—and before He elaborates more on the crown of His creation, humanity—God evaluates everything He has created as “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

The creation event also reveals God’s goodness. His design of the universe displays His desire for the flourishing of His image bearers and ensures their safety and provision. He places Adam in a beautiful garden loaded with resources. He fashions Adam to appreciate beauty and enjoy bounty. He gives Adam a complementary companion to share in the beauty and bounty, to reign with him in the Garden over all the earth and its created order, and to extend God’s Kingdom.

God’s goodness in creation lays the foundation for the prohibition He gives regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the midst of abundant provision, He delineates one prohibition: “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:17). Though Adam has never seen death, God makes the word understandable and promises that death would follow eating from the forbidden tree. The prohibition is for their good, as are all the boundaries established in creation. Would His image bearers trust His goodness and exercise rule over their appetites?

Sadly, they listen to God’s enemy—the serpent, who seeks to be the dominating voice that humanity hears—and they question God’s goodness, doubt His word, and eat the forbidden fruit. Sin enters their hearts. They feel shame at their nakedness, fear that causes them to hide from God, and guilt that leads them to blame others for their own faults.

But God, in His goodness, seeks them in their hiding. His questions expose their sin, but His mercy provides both a promise of future restoration (Genesis 3:15) and a picture of that restoration (Genesis 3:21). God promises that an offspring of the woman would crush the head of the serpent.

The rest of the biblical story tracks God’s goodness displayed against the backdrop of humanity’s rebellion. The refrain “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!” (Psalm 136:1) could be applied to each era of the Bible. God’s goodness is displayed in the Patriarch Era when He chooses a man from an idolatrous family to found a nation. The Exodus Era narrates the goodness of God as He liberates His people from slavery and cares for them in the wilderness despite their frequent rebellion. God’s goodness is celebrated in the Conquest Era as He splits the Jordan River for His people and gives them the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. In the Judges Era, God works behind the scenes and raises up a family from Judah through whom the redemption story continues. The goodness of God is paraded in the Kingdom Era through a king after God’s own heart and through His glory settling on the Temple built by Solomon. God’s goodness disciplines His people and calls them to repentance in the Divided Kingdom Era. His goodness sustains His people during the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, and then He brings His people back to their land and prepares them for the coming of the Messiah. In the Silent Era, God’s goodness is displayed as He preserves both His people and His written Word.

Finally, God’s goodness is on ultimate display in Christ Jesus, who bears guilty humanity’s penalty in His death on the cross and then bursts out of death’s tomb and ascends to heaven, where “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!” plays on gloriously for all eternity.

Posted by Iva May at 3:05 PM
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