God, the Father, is good. God is so good, that Jesus did not accept to be called good. The evangelist Matthew registers the occurrence like this: “Behold, one came to him and said, ‘Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 19:16-19). Jesus intended to teach him that God, the Father, is love, and only the ones who love will have life. God is love, and love without measure; and only those who love without measure will enter into his kingdom (1 John 4:7-8; Matt. 5:43-48). The young man who was so interested in the eternal life went away sad, because he did not know the true love.
In the Old Testament there was no love, and the law of Jehovah ruled everything. Marriage obeyed the rules of the law, not of love. And love had no relevance in marriage. If a man were not pleased with the woman, he could give her a letter of divorce with the endorsement of Jehovah (Deut. 24:1-4). If the divorced woman loved her husband or not, it did not make any difference to Jehovah.
Shechem, son of Hamor, the Hivite, lay with Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah. She did this because she loved Sechem. She loved him so much that Sechem and Hamor, his father, went to talk to Jacob (Gen. 34:1-8). Nothing was enough for the sons of Jacob, but only the law of circumcision (Gen. 34:14). Jacob and his sons suggested that the Hivites were circumcised so that Dinah and Sechem could be married. As Sechem’s love for Dinah was without measure, Hamor, a prince of that land, convinced all their men to be circumcised, and that really happened. On the third day, however, when the pain was the worst, Simeon and Levi took their swords and went into the city and killed every male in it. They also killed by the sword Hamor and his son Shechem (Gen. 34:25-29). Jacob was horrified with the atrocities done by his sons.
Jehovah, who killed Er, the firstborn of Judah (Gen. 38:7), killed Onan, a younger brother of Er, because he refused to raise up seed to his dead brother (Gen. 38:8-10); Jehovah, who killed Nadab and Abihu, the two sons of the high priest Aaron, with fire from heaven, because they had brought strange fire for the offering on the altar (Lev. 10:1-2); Jehovah, who stroke Uzzah because he had the audacity to reach his hands to the ark of the covenant to steady it (2 Sam. 6:5-7); as to the hideous crime of the sons of Jacob who mowed down an entire city, he did say nothing. The proverb says that to silence is to acquiesce. Why did he consent, then? Because the twelve sons of Jacob were going to make up his kingdom of glory (Is. 43:7). Along the same lines Judah committed adultery with Tamar, the wife of his son Er, a shameful adultery, and Jehovah did not talk about the issue (Gen. 38:13-26). Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, committed incest with Bilah, his father’s concubine (Gen. 35:22). Jehovah did not kill Judah or Reuben; neither did he say a thing about the issue. Why was that? Was it because he was good? If he were good, he would have spared Nadab and Abihu, which sins were much less serious, and he would have spared Uzzah, who had not committed any sin.
It is fine with Jehovah that a daughter of a priest that might prostitute herself would be burnt with fire; it is fine with Jehovah that whoever worshipped another god would be killed by their own brothers (Deut. 13:6-9). But when Achan coveted a Babylonian mantle, two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold, Jehovah, who considered himself pious and merciful, ordered the stoning with stones and burnt alive Achan, his wife, his sons, his daughters and all he had. This is to ignore love, it is to ignore mercy, and it is to ignore the grace of the Father (Josh. 7:24-26). To cruelly kill innocent people does not reveal any kindness. What does the covetousness of Achan have to do with his sons and daughters? What does Achan’s covetousness have to do with sheep, oxen, and donkeys? Jehovah, who is so careful about fowl and birds (Deut. 22:6-7), orders the stoning of sheep, oxen, and donkeys of a sinner? It is not enough to respect persons, but is he also a respecter of irrational animals? Where is this god’s goodness? The psalmist exalts the goodness if Jehovah, saying: “The earth is full of the loving kindness of Jehovah” (Ps. 33:5). In the beginning of the story of Israel, when they were going to take possession, Jehovah killed everybody: men, women, and children, because the earth was full of the goodness of Jehovah (Deut. 2:30-34). When the Bible says children, it is not speaking of eight-year-old boys, but of suckling babies. Let us look at the order of Jehovah to Saul, king of Israel, by the mouth of Samuel: “Jehovah sent me to anoint you to be king over his people, over Israel. Now therefore listen to the voice of the words of Jehovah. Thus says Jehovah of Armies, ‘I have marked that which Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way, when he came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don’t spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and nursing baby, ox and sheep, camel and donkey’” (1 Sam. 15:1-3). And what is the reason for this criminal vengeance? Because the earth is full of the goodness of Jehovah. When the people of Israel became idolatrous and offered sacrifices to the devils and not to Jehovah, the Holy Scriptures registers the fury of the goodness of Jehovah: “For a fire is kindled in my anger, Burns to the lowest Sheol, Devours the earth with its increase, and sets the foundations of the mountains on fire. I will heap evils on them. I will spend my arrows on them. [They shall be] wasted with hunger, and devoured with burning heat and bitter destruction. I will send the teeth of animals on them, with the poison of crawling things of the dust. Outside the sword shall bereave, and in the rooms, terror; on both young man and virgin, the nursing infant with the gray-haired man” (Deut. 32:22-25). This all happened because the earth is full of the goodness of Jehovah. Imagine what would Jehovah do if he were not so good!
Job was the most perfect man on the earth, for he was sincere and righteous, fearing God, and who avoided evil (Job 1:1). For this good man speaks about Jehovah, the Almighty, saying: “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me. My spirit drinks up their poison. The terrors of God set themselves in array against me” (Job 6:4). Really, Job knew from personal experience the goodness of Jehovah.
We, Christians, can declare that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is infinitely good, for he sent his only-begotten Son to save all men (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 4:10).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira