God is good. We can see this from several texts in the Psalms and in the gospel of Mark.
Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good
Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for He is good
Mark 10:17-18 A man ran up and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’
While this list is not comprehensive, we get a picture that one of the characteristics of God and the way that he acts is his Goodness. The English word from these passages that has been translated to be “good” is the Hebrew transliteration: towb.
This same word is used in Genesis 1 as God describes his new creation. After the first, third, the fourth, and the fifth days, God describes his creation as ‘towb’ or good. Genesis 1:29-31 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.” In fact, since God called his creation “good” twice on days 3 and 6, there is a total of seven “good” descriptors of his creation. As seven is seen throughout scripture as the perfect number, God is bringing extra emphasis on the goodness of his creation. Creation wasn’t just “good” in a trivial sense, it was made to reflect God’s goodness and glory (Psalm 19:1).
We know that later on in chapter 3 of Genesis, it describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s one command. Sin caused pain, thorns, and death to pervert God’s “very good” creation. Romans 8 confirms this when it says, “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Sin perverted God’s “very good” creation. And God revealed that the curse of sin included death, pain, thorns, and creation being in bondage to decay.
When archaeologists dig down into the layers of earth, what do they find? Fossils of billions of dead things. Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals that had terrible diseases like cancer are found. Some fossils show teeth marks of predators in layers that evolutionists date as having been buried millions and millions of years before mankind walked the earth. Even fossilized thorns have been found in layers that evolutionists date as being 400 million years old.
But there are Christian teachers out there, who are trying to harmonize clear teaching of scripture with billions of years of bloodshed, suffering, and death. Is this what the Psalmist would relay as a character quality of the Almighty? But that’s exactly what Hugh Ross, the Rossians, and John Walton would have us believe. To make this work, they have to re-define the Hebrew word “towb” to mean potential or ordered.
It is no small thing to attribute billions of years of cancer, bloodshed, pain, and death with the perfect character of the Almighty. Yet, when Walton and Ross redefine the same word “towb”, which is used to describe God’s character, as inclusive of death, one has to question their understanding of scripture.
Lastly, Isaiah 11:6-9 describes a time when God will restore his perfect creation. God revealed to Isaiah that there will come a time when predatory behavior, harm, and destruction will be a thing of the past. But Ross and Walton would say that predatory behavior, harmfulness, and destruction was a part of creation prior to Adam’s sin. Their interpretation of scripture has serious problems that affect the gospel. If death and destruction and harm were part of God’s very good creation, then why did Jesus have to die a horrific physical death on the cross? Romans 8:21 “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.”
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
We can trust the Good God Almighty about what he has revealed about the past, and we can trust him about the good He plans for the future. Praise Him!!!
Devil’s Advocate. (1) The word “good” from Mark was not towb was it?
(2) Could a critic counter by suggesting the Psalm passages COULD mean “ordered” or “organized”? God is those things. Using towb there might fit their line of reasoning? I suppose “potential” is not quite accurate 🙂
Is being a Devil’s Advocate “towb”?
1) Correct, the word in Mark would not have been towb, but the context from Mark 10 included Jesus quoting the Hebrew scriptures in Genesis 1 and follows up with the Hebrew commandments in Exodus. So, while the gospel of Mark would have been written in Greek, Jesus was clearly drawing from the Hebrew scriptures as his context. It would not be a stretch for the Hebrew audience to have translated Jesus’ Greek directly to the Hebrew word for good as they listened to his quotes from the Hebrew Torah and Psalms.
2) Perhaps a critic could counter that God’s character includes being organized or ordered. And I would agree that God’s character includes orderliness and organization. But the point is that since “towb” is used to describe both God and creation (prior to sin), the OEC must also impute to the character of God: cancer/death/destruction/harm/bloodshed since OEC postulates that all of these things happened prior to mankind’s sin when God referred to his creation as “towb” (with an emphasis on the goodness by saying it SEVEN times.)
Yes, I’ve seen God’s goodness in my own life, and that includes those times when life is hard. God is good- all the time.
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