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In response to last week’s article, a friend submitted a passage of Scripture concerning the sovereignty and goodness of God, a message, if preached, he wrote sarcastically, would “fill the pews”:

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (John 9:1–3). 1

And then, of course, Jesus healed the man.

This is a reality, safe to say, none of us would prefer to know. God caused a person to be born blind so that the works of God “might be displayed in him.”

Who would choose that way to reveal the work of God?

Who would think that act was good and loving?

Truly, we have very little understanding of how important God regards the revealing of His work among us in comparison to our discomfort and suffering. And we have very little understanding of the goodness, power, sovereignty, and love of God. What God did in the case of this blind man was good. The blindness was good. The healing of the blindness was good. They were good because God was the Actor. For us, God is good when things go well. When they don’t, well, we wonder.

What God did was loving. We know this because God is love. That is His defining characteristic. God is not faith or hope, which will fade away. God is love; thus, all His actions flow from that heart.

Let’s continue to think about God’s work in this man’s life for a moment. What else had transpired in this person’s life that is unknown to us? For instance, how did his family and neighbors deal with his blindness—with him, with God? How did he himself respond to it? All the people in the blind man’s life were given the opportunity to show compassion and trust in God’s goodness, despite the circumstances. Each act of compassion would have revealed God’s good and loving work.

One last question. Did the Lord have regard for this poor fellow’s comfort? Yes, of course He did. But it is clear in the passage that the revelation of God’s work is of greatest regard.

Recently, I read a troubling passage from Ezekiel.

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.’ So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:15–18).

Why did the Lord take the life of Ezekiel’s wife, the delight of his eyes? Ryan Pemberton wrote, “In this profoundly painful act, the people are to see that their current sorrow is nothing compared with that which will come if they do not turn from their ways of death and enter the life of God’s salvific plans.”2 The very next morning, Ezekiel said, “‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes, and the yearning of your soul, and your sons and your daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men. Your turbans shall be on your heads and your shoes on your feet; you shall not mourn or weep, but you shall rot away in your iniquities and groan to one another. Thus shall Ezekiel be to you a sign; according to all that he has done you shall do. When this comes, then you will know that I am the Lord GOD’” (Ezekiel 24:21–24).

Christian, is this the God to whom you want to submit your life? Is this the God in whom you trust? Is this the God you proclaim loves you and the world? Is this the God you’re referring to when you say, “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good”?

Yes, this is that God. The sovereign, good, loving, eternal God of all the earth.

One final example of God’s goodness. When King David numbered Israel, the Lord was extremely angry. The explanation for His anger about David’s sinful error is found in Exodus 30:11–16. The answer is a bit complicated, but Biblehub concisely offers: “The principle of Exodus 30:12 speaks to God’s ownership of His people. In the thinking of these ancient cultures, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel didn’t belong to David; Israel belonged to God. It was up to the Lord to command a counting, and if David counted he should only do it at God’s command and receiving ransom money to ‘atone’ for the counting.”

In response to David’s law-breaking, the Lord gave David three choices. Three years of famine, three months being pursued by his enemies, or three days of pestilence (2 Samuel 24:11–14). David chose a pestilence that resulted in the deaths 70,000 men.

And as David made that choice, he proclaimed that God’s mercy is great.

Christian, do you know this God? Paul said an interesting thing about knowing the Lord in Galatians 4:9: “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”

Do we know Him? Or are we just known by Him?

Both. Many passages in Scripture indicate that we are to know God. So, do we? Do we indeed know Him?

Yes, because He has drawn us into a relationship with Himself, by His grace.

And no. In the amazing 55th chapter of Isaiah, He said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

The fullness of that knowledge is yet to come. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Until then, we are, as Paul admitted, often “perplexed” in our afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:7–10).

Fellow Christian, welcome to a relationship with the greatest Being in the universe—the sovereign, loving God, Creator of all things, the sacrificial Servant of all.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

2 Ryan J. Pemberton, “Ezekiel’s Embodied Phrophetic Voice,” Bible Study Magazine, January/February 2017, 28.

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