Sermon #17 Series: Who Is God?
Title: The Goodness of God
Text: Nahum 1:7
Date: Tuesday Evening - May 15, 1990
We do not know who Nahum was, what kind of man he was, who his parents were, how long he lived, where he died, who his descendants were, or even if he had any descendants. All we know about this man, Nahum, is that he was a prophet of God who carried in his heart the burden of the Word of the Lord and faithfully proclaimed the God gave him to his generation. Nahum was one of those men who faithfully served the Lord in obscurity, without fame or recognition in this world. But he was a faithful man who served a faithful God. For him that was enough.
God tells us virtually nothing about Nahum. But Nahum tells us much about God. Read with me Nahum 1:2-7. May the Spirit of God who inspired Nahum to write these words, now enable me to preach from them to your hearts for the glory of Christ.
We are studying the attributes of God. God’s attributes are those characteristics of his Being which are essential to him, without which he would not be God. And in these verses Nahum is declaring the attributes of God. He does not declare all the attributes of God’s Being. No man could do that! But he does give us six distinct attributes of Deity, six things which are essential to and descriptive of God’s holy character. Who is God? What is he like? Nahum tells us that...
1. “God is jealous.” With God jealousy is not a fault, but at attribute. It is right for God to be jealous because he is perfect. Any assault upon his person, resistance to his will, rebellion against his rule, or objection to his will is evil. It is right for God to be jealous.
· God is jealous for his Son - Ask those who crucified him!
· God is jealous for his own honor and glory - Ask Moses!
· God is jealous for his worship and ordinances - Ask Uzza!
· God is jealous for his people - Ask Pharoah!
God will avenge his own elect. He will avenge the honor of his name. He will avenge himself upon his enemies. (Read v. 2).
Today men talk about God’s love as though his love were a fluctuating passion, like ours, and altogether isolated from his other glorious attributes. I am not going to speak about that tonight; but be sure of this - The fact that “God is love” does not in anyway diminish the fact that “God is jealous.” In fact, it is God’s love that makes him jealous, so jealous that he is “furious,” so jealous that “he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
NOTE: The word “wrath” is not in the original text. It was added by our translators. What God reserves for his enemies is inconceivably and inexpressibly horrifying! “God is jealous” (Nah. 1:2).
2. “The Lord is slow to anger” - In other words, this great and terrible God, whose jealousy makes him furious, is also patient, forgiving and longsuffering with sinners. God is not in a hurry to punish sinners and execute judgment upon his enemies. Judgment is his strange work. And he always defers it, giving sinners space for repentance. This is mercy! God is willing to be gracious! God now affords his enemies opportunity to repent and commands them to do so (Acts 17:30; II Pet. 3:9).
3. “The Lord is great in power.” He is the omnipotent, almighty God! He has all power, and can do all that he is pleased to do. Our God is a great God, because he is “great in power.” A weak, frustrated, defeated God is as useless as a bucket without a bottom, or a well without water. What is omnipotence? It is the ability and power of God to do...
· All his pleasure! (Isa. 46:9-13).
· All his Word!
· All his purpose!
· All his salvation!
A weak god is a frustration to those who worship him, because a weak god is always frustrated. The almighty, omnipotent Jehovah is the comfort and stay of those who trust him!
4. “The Lord will not at all acquit the wicked.” - That is to say, God is just. Justice and truth are the habitation of his throne. Though he is longsuffering and patient, he will punish every transgressor. God’s forebearance is not an indication that he lacks either the will or the ability to punish his enemies. He is great in power. And he is just. Therefore, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” God will not clear the guilty. A just God cannot clear the guilty.
If God is just and must punish sin, how can any sinner ever be saved? Will God lay aside his justice that he might be merciful? No. He cannot. Justice is essential to his character. How, then, can he save us? There is only one way - Substitution (Job 33:24; Prov. 16;6; Rom. 3:24-26).
If God almighty saves a guilty sinner and forgives his sins three things must be done.
· The sinner must be punished to the full satisfaction of justice.
· His sins and his guilt must be totally removed.
· He must become perfectly righteous.
And these three things can be satisfied only by the substitutionary work of Christ.
5. “The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm.” What do those words mean? They mean that the Lord our God, who is jealous, longsuffering, omnipotent, and just, is also totally sovereign! He rules all things. “And the clouds are the dust of his feet!” (Read Psa. 115:3; 135:6). “The Lord hath his way!” In all things, at all times, with all creatures, and in all places, “The Lord hath his way!”
· In creation!
· In providence!
· In grace!
We rejoice in the glorious sovereignty of our great God, knowing that God always exercises his sovereignty over all things for the redemption and salvation of his people (vv. 4-6; Isa. 45:7, 22; 50:2; 51:10-12).
Even as the prophet describes the judgment of God, the fierce anger of his wrath, he raises a question which, when answered, carries a message of hope for sinners - “Who can stand before his indignation? And who can abide the fierceness of his anger/” Not me! Not you! God’s wrath would consume us like a snowflake in a blast furnace! But the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Substitute, stood before the indignation of almighty God and consumed his wrath for us!
Do you see these attributes of God? The Lord is jealous. The Lord is longsuffering. The Lord is omnipotent. The Lord is just. The Lord is sovereign! Now read verse 7.
6. “The Lord is good!” Oh, I like that! Our great God is good! Goodness is as essential to God’s Being as is his sovereignty, his justice, his truth, and his holiness. In fact, the very name “God” is an abbreviation of the word “good.”
Goodness is the character of our God; and the goodness of God gives us hope, comfort, and strength in the midst of our trials and sorrows in this world.
Let me briefly show you three things which Nahum here declares about our great and glorious God.
1. “The Lord is good.”
2. “The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble.”
3. “The Lord knoweth them that trust in him.”
Our text is full of God. It brims over with his praises. Out of this fullness may our souls be filled tonight.
I. First, Nahum declares, “THE LORD IS GOOD!”
Nahum has been talking about the storm of God’s wrath, the terror of his justice, the greatness of his anger, whirlwinds, shaking mountains, melting hills, and burning earth. Then, he comes to a blessed, calm, serene island of rest - “The Lord is good.” I can no more explain the goodness of God than a thimble could contain the ocean. But I can tell you some of the things I know about God’s goodness. I know that...
A. God is essentially good.
Goodness is essential to God. Without it, he would not be God. Goodness is so essentially the character of God that, as John Gill has observed, “There is nothing but goodness in God, and nothing but goodness comes from him” (James 1:13-14).
1. He. permits evil, but overrules it for good (Psa. 76:10).
2. He afflicts his children and brings many evil things upon us, but he makes the evil work for good (Rom. 8:28: Prov. 12:21).
Illustration: Joseph (Gen. 50:20).
3. God punishes sin with vengeance, but even that punishment of sin is good, as a vindication of justice and the protection of Kingdom.
B. God is singularly good.
He is the only good One in the universe. “There is none good, but One; that is God (Matt. 19:17).
“God’s goodness is the root of all goodness. Our goodness, if we have any, springs out of his goodness” (William Tyndale).
C. God is eternally and immutably good (Mal. 3:6).
The goodness of God never varies, changes, or alters. He is good, always good, good in each of his glorious Persons.
1. God. the Father is good.
2. God the Son is good.
3. God the Holy Spirit is good.
D. God is good in all his acts of grace (Eph. 1:3-14).
E. God is good in all his works of providence (Rom. 8:28).
· In all that he has done!
· In all that he is doing!
· In all that he shall hereafter do!
F. God is infinitely, incomparably, immeasurably good.
Who can measure the goodness of God? To what shall his goodness be compared? He is good beyond our highest estimation of what good is.
G. God is good to his own elect (Psa. 23:6).
“The Lord is good!” That is a sentence worthy of constant meditation. Eternity itself will not tell out the fullness of God’s goodness. And all his goodness is directed toward us at all times!
II Secondly, Nahum says, “THE LORD IS A STRONGHOLD IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE.”
The only place of safety in this world is the place we find beneath the shadow of his wings (Prov. 18:10). The Lord, who is good, s our stronghold, our place of refuge.
A. In the day of trouble, the Lord is our refuge (Heb. 6:18; 4:16).
We have our days of trouble as long as we live in this world, but notice how Nahum describes them.
1. Everyday of trouble is “The” day of God’s appointment.
2. Every day of trouble is temporary - only the “day” of trouble (II Cor. 4:17-18).
3. Whatever the trouble may be, the Lord is our Stronghold in the midst of the “trouble,” every kind of trouble (Heb. 4:16).
B. What is a stronghold?
A stronghold is a mighty fortress for the protection of citizens against the aggressions of enemies. It is...
· A place of safety.
· A place of peace.
· A place of residence.
· A place of provision.
III. I like this last statement in verse 7 - “THE LORD KNOWETH THEM THAT TRUST IN HIM.”
Do you trust in him? Do you trust his Son, his finished work, his abundant grace, his many promises, his providential rule, his unerring wisdom? Do you trust this great, mighty, good God? If you do, hear this and be of good comfort - “The Lord knoweth them that trust in him.” That word “knoweth” is pregnant with consolation. It means...
A. The Lord has foreordained and predestinated them that trust in him (Rom. 8:29).
B. The Lord everlastingly loves them that trust in him (Jer. 31:3).
· Without cause.
· Without condition.
· Without beginning.
· Without change.
· Without end.
C. The Lord is intimately acquainted with them that trust in him (Matt. 10:30). He knows...
· Who they are.
· Where they are.
· What they need.
D. The Lord graciously approves of them that trust him (Eph. 1:6 “Accepted”).
E. The Lord hold loving communion with them that trust in him (John 15:15).
F. The Lord tenderly cares for them that trust in him (Isa. 43:1-5).
· He is with you.
· He will protect you.
· He will provide for you.
· He will help you.
· He will keep you.
Tamar may disguise herself so that Judah does not know her. Isaac, through dimness of sight, may passover Esau and bless Jacob. Joseph may forget, or be forgotten by, his brethren. Solomon may not be able to tell who the child belongs to. And Christ may come to his own and not be received. But “the Lord knoweth them that trust in him.” He knows Daniel in the lion’s den. He knows Job on the dunghill. He knows Peter in prison. He knows Lazarus at the rich man’s gate. He knows Abel falling to the ground by his brother’s wrath. He knows me. And he know you (II Tim. 2:19).
G. And the Lord will publicly own them that trust him (Rev. 3:5).
1. He own us now.
2. He owns us before the throne (I John 2:1-2).
3. He will own us before all worlds in the last day.
1. Let us ever trust the goodness of God, even when we cannot see his goodness.
2. Let us flee to and abide in our mighty Stronghold.
3. Let us ever trust our Savior’s loving care.
4. If the Lord who is good knows me, I want nothing else to satisfy me.
· He knows eternally.
· He knows perfectly.
· He knows universally.
(Psa. 107:8, 15, 21, 31).