By Femi Aribisala
The God of the holy scriptures does not conform to human expectations of goodness. A good man does not tell his son to marry a prostitute, as God did with Hosea. (Hosea 1:2). A good man does not instruct his servant to walk around without their trousers for 3 years, as God did with Isaiah. (Isaiah 20:2-4). A good man does not put diseases on people. (Exodus 15:26). A good man does not kill off millions of his children over 40 years in the wilderness, as God did to Israel.
If Jesus were a good man as men call goodness, He would not be despised and rejected by men. (Isaiah 53:3). He would not call his friend Peter “Satan.” (Matthew 16:23). He would not call a woman who came to Him for healing a little dog. (Matthew 15:25-26). He would not keep company with disreputable people. (Matthew 9:10-11). He would not take side with a woman caught in adultery. (John 8:3-11). He would not deny His own mother and brothers. (Matthew 12:47-50).
He would not pronounce woe on his adversaries and call them whitewashed tombstones. (Matthew 23:27). He would not tell some Jews that the devil is their father. (Matthew 8:44). He would not smash the wares of sellers in the temple, he would simply ask them to leave. (Matthew 21:12-13). He would not ask a man who has been sick for 38 years if he would like to be healed. (John 5:6). He would not heal just one man and leave so many others unhealed. (John 5:3-13).
Righteousness of man
Because men truly have difficulty with the goodness of God, Jesus presents a parable in which a man says to God: “I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” (Luke 19:21).
God’s goodness became doubtful at some point to David, he asked God: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8).
As for Jonah, he tried to run away to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:3).
When Jeremiah ended up in prison despite God’s assurances, he outrightly accused God of deception: “O Lord, you deceived me when you promised me your help.” (Jeremiah 20:7). Since God is righteous, he wonders why the way of the wicked prospers. He asks: “Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1).
Habakkuk is disgruntled with God’s goodness: “Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch!” (Habakkuk 1:13). The psalmist has the same complaint: “Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3).
But the worst of all is Abraham, who had the effrontery to try to teach God righteousness. When he realised God would soon destroy Sodom, he asked: “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
As for Job, he acknowledges that God is not good all the time but brings good as well as evil. (Job 2:10). Nevertheless, after having lost his children, his wealth, and his health, he asks God accusatorily: “Why do the wicked live and become old, yes, become mighty in power? Their descendants are established with them in their sight, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.” Job 21:7-9).
God answers Job angrily: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (Job 40:8). Since Job was acting like a know-it-all, God asks him: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!” (Job 38:4-5).
Elihu counsels Job: “Do you know the mind and purposes of God? Will long searching make them known to you? Are you qualified to judge the Almighty? He is as faultless as heaven is high-but who are you? His mind is fathomless-what can you know in comparison.” (Job 11:7-8).
Isaiah asks: “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14).
Paul is even more categorical: “Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question?” (Romans 9:20).
The truth is that the wisdom and knowledge of God are too deep for man to fathom. His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out. (Romans 11:33). There are far too many things about the knowledge of God that are simply beyond man’s pay grade. As David admits: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:6).
Thus, Paul says: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).
God is not answerable to man for His actions: “Why do you contend against Him? For He does not give account of any of His actions. [Sufficient for us it should be to know that it is He Who does them.]” (Job 33:13).
“Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, Israel’s Creator, says: ‘What right have you to question what I do? Who are you to command me concerning the work of my hands?’” (Isaiah 45:11-12).
We do not have to understand why God does some of the strange things He does. All that is required of us is to trust Him. The wise man says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Only God is wise. (Romans 16:27). “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17).
As for us: “We know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).
When perfection comes, we will discover that there is always a good and righteous reason for everything that God does. That is why we give thanks to Him in everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:18). By faith. we know that God works all things together for good. (Romans 8:28).
Therefore, Jesus says: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:23).