The Abundant Goodness of Jehovah
“How abundant your goodness is, which you have treasured up for those fearing you!”—PSALM 31:19.
1, 2. (a) What immense work did Jehovah undertake at some time in the distant past? (b) How did Jehovah describe the result of his creative activities?
THERE was a time when God began to create ‘the heavens as his throne and the earth as his footstool.’ (Isaiah 66:1) The divine record does not reveal when this took place. It simply states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) During the period of creation, untold millions of galaxies were formed, many containing thousands of millions of stars. Toward the outer edge of one such galaxy was a bright star orbited by a number of relatively small, dark spheres. One of them came to be called the earth. Compared to the great, shining stars, the earth was insignificant. Yet, this was what Jehovah purposed to be his footstool.
2 Jehovah thus turned his creative abilities toward the planet Earth. “The firstborn of all creation” was at his side as a Master Worker while this small, dark mass was changed during the course of six long creative “days.” It became, figuratively, a suitable resting-place for God’s feet. (Colossians 1:15; Exodus 20:11; Proverbs 8:30) Here was where God purposed to place a new form of intelligent life: mankind. The first human pair, created from elements found in the ground, were placed in lovely, paradisaic surroundings. (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7, 8) So perfect, so beautiful, was the final result of this outstanding act of creation that the Bible reveals God’s feelings on the morning—the final part—of the sixth creative day: “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.”—Genesis 1:31.
3. What outstanding quality of God is revealed in creation?
3 Thousands of years later, a descendant of that first human pair looked back to the time of creation and wrote: “[God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) Yes, the superb excellence of the earth and of the creatures on it was indeed a marvelous reflection of God’s invisible qualities—not least of which is God’s abundant goodness. How appropriate, then, that God pronounced that everything he had created was good!—Psalm 31:19.
4, 5. What is goodness?
4 Goodness is the sixth aspect of the fruitage of God’s spirit described by the apostle Paul at Galatians 5:22. Previous studies in the Watchtower magazine have discussed the first five fruits of the spirit, showing the importance of these in the cultivation of a rounded-out Christian personality.* How vital, though, that we do not forget goodness! Fittingly, we now give our attention to this quality.
5 What is goodness? It is the quality or state of being good. It is moral excellence, virtue. Hence, it is a positive quality that expresses itself in the performance of good and beneficial acts toward others. How can we display this endearing quality? Basically, by imitating Jehovah. Hence, before discussing further how we as individual Christians can manifest goodness, let us examine the goodness that our loving God, Jehovah, has shown in his providing for, and dealing with, the human family.
Goodness Manifested in Creation
6. What prompted Jehovah to create other intelligent forms of life?
6 What prompted our heavenly Father in the first place to share his enjoyment of life with intelligent living creatures? The apostle John answers that question when he says: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Yes, unselfish love moved the great Source of life to create other living forms, providing some with a heavenly home and others with an earthly home. Of course, we know little of what heaven or the heavenly creatures are like. They are spirits—invisible to human eyes—and their home is in the spirit realm. But look around you at the earthly home that Jehovah provided for his human children. And consider mankind itself. Then you will begin to see with your own eyes powerful evidence of God’s goodness.
7-9. How is God’s goodness seen in the way he created the earth and man upon it?
7 Jehovah gave our first parents life. More than that, he made it possible for life to be highly pleasant, enjoyable. To begin with, he created their home, the earth, with a rotation, a temperature range, and an atmosphere that were just right. He set in motion water, nitrogen, and oxygen cycles that worked perfectly for the benefit and comfort of humans. He carpeted earth’s surface with thousands of types of vegetation, some for man’s food and some that especially delight the eye. He filled the skies with birds that give much pleasure with their colors and their songs. He filled the seas with swarms of fish and the land with many kinds of animals, some wild and some that can be tamed. What prodigious generosity! And what evidence of God’s goodness of heart!—Psalm 104:24.
8 Look, now, at the way God made man. His arms, legs, and hands are just what are needed to enable him to maintain his balance and move about with ease. Thus, from the materials found so abundantly on the earth around him, he can obtain food and other necessities for himself. Jehovah provided taste buds so that eating and drinking were not just mechanical acts performed to obtain energy—like connecting an appliance to an electrical outlet today. No, eating and drinking were designed to give enjoyment, as they not only fill the stomach but also excite the sense of taste. Jehovah gave man ears as well and surrounded him with a multitude of sounds to delight those ears. What a pleasure it is to listen to the soothing murmur of a running brook, the cooing of a turtledove, or the chuckling laugh of a baby! Yes, thanks to God’s goodness, in spite of all the bad things that have happened since creation, it is still a joy to be alive.
9 Look, too, at our other senses. How many varying, delightful colors exist to please our eyes! And how satisfying it is to smell the delicate fragrance of a flower! No wonder the psalmist exclaimed to Jehovah: “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful”!—Psalm 139:14.
Mankind’s Fall and Rescue
10. How have most humans responded to God’s goodness, yet how do they continue to benefit from it?
10 Sadly, in time our first parents displayed a lack of appreciation for all of God’s goodness toward them. They showed this when they disobeyed Jehovah’s commands and trespassed against the sole restriction he had imposed. As a result, they and their offspring came to know sorrow, suffering, and death. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:16-19; Romans 5:12) Throughout the millenniums that have passed since that act of disobedience, most of mankind has shown indifference toward or lack of appreciation for God’s goodness. In spite of this, though, thankless and unappreciative people still benefit from God’s goodness. In what way? The apostle Paul explained to the inhabitants of Lystra in the Middle East: “[God] did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.”—Acts 14:17.
11. In what way does God’s goodness go further than providing a delightful home for mankind?
11 But God’s goodness has not been limited to continuing to provide the delightful, life-sustaining provisions with which the earth abounds. No, he went further. Jehovah showed himself ready to forgive the sins of Adam’s offspring and to continue to nurture relations with faithful ones among mankind. This aspect of God’s goodness was brought to the attention of Moses when Jehovah promised to cause ‘all his goodness to pass before [Moses’] face.’ Moses then heard the declaration: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.”—Exodus 33:19; 34:6, 7.
12. What provisions of the Mosaic Law showed Jehovah’s goodness?
12 In Moses’ day, Jehovah established a legal system for the new nation of Israel whereby unintentional sinners could obtain a provisional, or symbolic, forgiveness of sin. Through the Law covenant that Moses mediated, the Israelites became God’s special nation and were taught to offer to Jehovah various animal sacrifices that would cover their sins and unclean acts. Thus, despite their imperfect natures, repentant Israelites could continue to approach Jehovah acceptably and know that their worship was pleasing to him. King David, a member of that nation under the Law, expressed his awareness of God’s goodness in this regard: “The sins of my youth and my revolts O do not remember. According to your loving-kindness do you yourself remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Jehovah.”—Psalm 25:7.
13. How did Jehovah provide a more effective way than animal sacrifices for forgiveness of sins?
13 In time Jehovah’s goodness moved him to provide a more effective and permanent way to forgive sins. This was by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, who was a descendant of King David. (Matthew 1:6-16; Luke 3:23-31) Jesus did not sin. Hence, when he died, his life given in sacrifice had great value, and God accepted it as a ransom that could cover all of Adam’s sinful offspring. The apostle Paul wrote: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. God set him forth as an offering for propitiation through faith in his blood.”—Romans 3:23-26.
14. What wonderful hopes are made possible for humans through the ransom sacrifice?
14 Faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice accomplishes much for Christians, much more than those animal sacrifices under the Law covenant did for the Israelites. It led to a limited number of Christians being declared righteous and adopted by God’s spirit to become his sons. They thus became Jesus’ brothers and gained the hope of being resurrected as spirit creatures to share with him in his heavenly Kingdom. (Luke 22:29, 30; Romans 8:14-17) Imagine that God would open such heavenly prospects to creatures living on this small planet, the earth! A small group cherishing this hope still remains. But for millions of other Christians, exercise of faith in the ransom opens the way to enjoy what Adam and Eve lost—eternal life on a paradise, gardenlike earth. The Law covenant alone had been able to supply neither heavenly nor earthly future prospects for its adherents.
15. What is included in the good news?
15 How appropriate that the message about the new arrangements that God set in motion through Jesus Christ is called “good news,” for it reflects God’s goodness. (2 Timothy 1:9, 10) In the Bible, the good news is sometimes called the “good news of the kingdom.” Today it centers on the truth that the Kingdom has been established under the rulership of the resurrected Jesus. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 11:15; 14:6, 7) Nevertheless, the good news involves more. As indicated by Paul’s words to Timothy just quoted, it includes the knowledge that Jesus offered a ransom sacrifice in our behalf. Without that sacrifice, our relationship with God, our very salvation—not to mention the Kingdom of Jesus and 144,000 priests and kings taken from the earth—would not be possible. What a wonderful manifestation of God’s goodness the ransom is!
God’s Goodness Today
16, 17. How was Hosea 3:5 fulfilled (a) in 537 B.C.E.? (b) in 1919 C.E.?
16 Looking forward to “the last days,” the apostle Paul warned: “Men will be . . . without love of goodness.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3) Even normal manifestations of goodness, such as generosity and neighborliness, would not be appreciated. How encouraging, then, is the heartwarming prophecy of Hosea 3:5: “The sons of Israel will come back and certainly look for Jehovah their God, and for David their king; and they will certainly come quivering to Jehovah and to his goodness in the final part of the days.”
17 This prophecy was first fulfilled in 537 B.C.E. when the Jews returned to the Promised Land from exile in Babylon. In modern times, it began its fulfillment in the year 1919 when the remnant of spiritual Israel came out of Satan’s organization and started earnestly looking for Jehovah and his goodness. They found that “David their king” had been reigning in the person of Jesus Christ in heavenly power since 1914. Under his heavenly supervision, they enthusiastically took up the announcing of this good news to the nations. Thus they began to fulfill the commission recorded at Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the [established] kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
18. Who have joined the remnant of spiritual Israel in declaring the good news?
18 Today, the remnant of anointed ones have been joined by the “great crowd,” who similarly hail Jehovah’s goodness. (Revelation 7:9) Now, more than four million echo the voice of the angel seen by the apostle John in vision as they announce to all the nations: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.”—Revelation 14:7.
19. Name one of the greatest evidences of God’s goodness.
19 One of the greatest evidences of God’s goodness is that he allows us to be his coworkers in this climactic work. What a privilege to have entrusted to us “the glorious good news of the happy God”! (1 Timothy 1:11) By our preaching and teaching this to others, we are manifesting to a high degree that important fruit of God’s spirit, goodness. Thus, we have the attitude of God’s ancient servant David, who said: “With the mention of the abundance of your goodness they will bubble over, and because of your righteousness they will cry out joyfully.”—Psalm 145:7.
20. What further information regarding goodness will be discussed in the next article?
20 However, is sharing in the preaching of the good news the only way to manifest goodness in our lives? By no means! We are encouraged to become “imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) God’s goodness is manifested in various ways. Hence, our goodness too should affect many aspects of our lives. Some of these will be considered in the following article.
The individual fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control.
Can You Answer?
□ In what way does creation reflect God’s goodness?
□ What arrangements did Jehovah make to forgive the sins of repentant humans?
□ In fulfillment of Hosea 3:5, when did the anointed remnant come to Jehovah and his goodness, and what did this lead to?
□ What is one of the greatest evidences of God’s goodness today?
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Creation gives evidence of God’s abundant goodness
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Our being allowed to share in the preaching work is an outstanding proof of God’s goodness