Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Great and Good"

"God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food." The child's prayer expresses profound truth concerning the hand and heart of our Lord.

"Oh Lord, my God, Thou art very great... The Lord is good" (Psalm 104:1; 100:5).

God is both great and good. The former speaks of His infinite being and power. The latter proclaims the wonder of His nature and character.

The greatness of God drives us to our faces in the fear that Solomon declared is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). He is a being who merely speaks and a universe vast beyond comprehension springs into existence. He sustains His handiwork "by the word of His power," and glimpse of Him caused the prophet Isaiah to be "undone," and the Apostle John to "fall at His feet as dead" (Hebrews 1:3; Isaiah 6:5; Revelation 1:17). The eternal destiny of the universe rests solely upon the power of His greatness, as does our personal existence. This moment also depends on the hand of God upholding all things, and keeping "the power of darkness" from overwhelming us in utter destruction (Luke 22:53). Our Lord's greatness is both "mighty" and "terrible," and we require both for continued existence and hope (Deuteronomy 7:21).

God's goodness proclaims the character and nature of His heart. Of this holy subject, the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ recognizes that he contemplates an ocean with shore, a mount without summit, and a Heart for which even eternity will not allow full revelation and discovery. "God is love" declared John, and the Apostle Paul amplifies the consideration by writing to the Corinthians that love "seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5). The Lord Jesus tangibly revealed this sublime goodness as He "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

Such truth presents to us the blessed understanding that the great and mighty and terrible God is also the God of pure and perfect unselfishness. We have no personal frame of reference for such a notion, but to the degree we can assimilate truth, this is cause for "peace which passeth all understanding" and "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (Philippians 4:7; I Peter 1:8). The Being of infinite power whose greatness drives us to our faces in fear is also the One whose heart of infinite goodness brightens our faces with the light of His kindness, humility, and devotion to our well being.

For those who will know Him as He is through the Christ who reveals Him as He is, God's goodness will forever be the quality of His being that most amazes and thrills us. Character precedes and guides power in His eternal economy, even as Paul taught that the capacity to "remove mountains" is nothing without love (I Corinthians 13:2). Thus, we reverence our Creator in proper awe and yes, even fear as we rightly fall to our faces in worship of His greatness. But we love Him because of His goodness, as a nail-scarred Hand lifts us to our feet and beckons us to "behold the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4). Yes, "God is great, God is good..."

"One of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain."
(Revelation 5:6)

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