God’s goodness is not revealed as a quality of measurement or as a concept, but as a description of his personality, who wills good.
He is both the one who defines good and brings good in an interactive way. This goodness requires a human response for covenant relationship.
This goodness is evident in many ways in the creation accounts, and the creation accounts lay the foundation for the covenant agreement which is to come to the Hebrews. In establishing covenant the commandments are revealed as ways of showing God’s goodness both in his character and the way in which a good life is to be lived. The goodness of God is revealed in the way he wishes to release the people from slavery and establish them as a nation. The obedience required in the convenant is for their blessing. Thus God is the source and the one who decides ethics, and ethical monotheism is established.
This is known by the Hebrews by faith, not by reason; revelation is key to this understanding, and it is not a case of working out this goodness, but living in obedience.
God’s goodness is seen in the anger that he shows if people do not follow the obedience and the demands of the covenant. As a parent says to the child, “that wasn’t good”. The instruction is to be good as your God is good and that that involves a life of justice and righteousness – Jeremiah 15:6.
God’s goodness is also seen in the way he responds to the situations in which his people find themselves, and he feels for their plight – Jeremiah 3:19-20. I wanted to bless you but you rejected me … but I will keep my side of the covenant agreement with you. He shows a compassionate response to the plight of Hannah, who is childless – 1 Sam. 1:10-11, 20. Now the Holy Spirit gives evidence of this goodness of God in the individual believer – Galatians 5: 22-3.
Perfect goodness is therefore not seen to be static and unaffected. Hosea 11:3-4 – God is seen as a Father who raises his child Israel. Goodness and love are seen as synonymous, and the love of God wants the best, reached by obeying God’s good commands. This is not a universal concept as in the idea of the Form of the Good or the Prime Mover, but a God deeply interested in the welfare and development of the individual within a community – Psalm 23.
God retains perfection in the midst of this changing nature – Deut. 32:4-5 and 2 Sam. 22:31. This difficult philosophical problem has intrigued philosophers for centuries.
In the New Testament (or new covenant), the goodness of God is ultimately shown in the form of Christ who establishes agreement with all people not just the Jewish nation, through the cross. Once again, the idea is to bless and demonstrate love in order to establish relationship. This is where Greek philosophy and Christian thought depart – John 3:16 and John 1:14. There is an answer to the fall of the first Adam in the goodness of the second Adam.
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