Bible Study: "How do we know God is Good?"
Context: Looking at God’s goodness and justice in Genesis 1-11
Moving forward we will have a bit more structure with our bible studies and we will post them on our website at www.enrichregina.com. We are doing this so that you can study alongside of us even if you aren’t at the study. We also want you to learn how to read the bible on your own and this gives you a great outline to be able to do that.
Inductive Study: At Enrich we preach and teach inductive bible study methods. This is important because inductive study develops tools within us that help us define what scripture is saying instead of relating every piece of scripture to our personal lives. The bible isn’t about us! But the truth it teaches still works and speaks to us. What is the language being used in the scripture? Who wrote it? Who is the audience? What comes before and after the verse? How is Jesus represented in the scripture? What does the scripture say about God’s character and who He is?
There are three steps to inductive study: Observation, Interpretation, Application. For further study on these three methods visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/tips/the-inductive-method-of-bible-study-the-basics-11628183.html
Question: How do we God is truly good and just specifically in regards to Genesis 1-11?
The biblical definition of the word “good” (Tob)
The familiar word טוב (tob) is the Bible's common but difficult word for "good". Its antonym is רע (ra'), meaning evil (see the names Bera and Ahira).
The word tob covers that ethical extreme "good" about which so many people have thought. Because what is it? What is goodness and what is virtue? The only answer possible, or so it seems, is to define goodness as that which brings about the inevitable, as set by God. The opposite ra, may then be defined as that which thwarts it. Ultimately, good is that toward which the universe develops; the attractor of all evolution — because, no, evolution does not happen by dumb chance but by settling into stable conditions. Evil, on the other hand, describes instability or the falling apart of unstable elements due to stronger formative forces. Evil's ultimate fate, of course, is to be overcome.
It's a misconception to maintain that at the fall, mankind was rendered discernment between good and evil. Prior to Adam and Eve's consumption of the fruit, there was no knowledge of evil. As they ate, they gained knowledge of good and evil. The problem is that the difference is unclear. As long as we have no reasonable idea where God is taking us, or how he's doing it, we have no authority to judge over good or evil. All we can do is follow Law.
Like our English word "good," the Hebrew verb טוב (tob) is also used to indicate being pleasant (Numbers 24:5), pleasing (2 Samuel 3:19), joyful (Judges 16:25, Ecclesiastes 7:14), of quality (Judges 11:25), and positively inclined (Numbers 11:8).
–Abarim’s Biblical Dictionary. https://www.abarim-publications.com/Dictionary/te/te-w-b.html
Modern Society’s Definition of the word “Good.”
Bounitful, Fertile, Handsome, Attractive, Suitable, Fit, not depreciated, that can be rlied on, commercially sound, agreeable pleasant, salutary, wholesome, amusing, clever, full, true, well founded, cogent, adequate satisfactory, legally valid or effectual, deserving of respect.
There are even more defintions for “Good” than what was written here! It is clear that we have a hard time, as secular society and humans, defining what “Good” means. We cannot define “Good” apart from God and understanding who God is. God is the only thing on this planet that is truly “Good” because goodness is only set by God.
1.Our definition of good ONLY comes from God—We cannot define what is good without God.
Genesis 1: The creation of the world written in Hebrew (Aramaic) couplet style (a poetic style). It is written this way to convey the important of God’s order in the world. God created order, God deemed what He created to be good and well thought out. God also was there in the beginning before creation meaning that God created everything out of nothing. Everything came from God and nothing has created God. If God says something is good—it is good!
“Let us make man in our own image! God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the first of the sea…God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good.” –Genesis 1:26-31
Genesis 2: A different style and telling of the creation account. This account follows a different timeline than the previous account—Is this a contradiction? No. It is simply telling a different theological truth about God. God is not only ordered, exact and calculated but God also created the world to have a relationship with the world. Genesis 1 is God establish HOW the world works and Genesis 2 explains WHY He made it.
“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” –Genesis 2:5
Genesis 3-5: Original Sin enters the world through the disobedience of Even, then Adam subsequently. This creates generational sin among the generations of humanity to follow. Adam and Eve are tempted with the knowledge of good and evil and feel entitled to know what God knows (because Satan tricked them). The fruit of this sin is complete rebellion towards God. God’s people become pride-filled and the world becomes corrupted.
“Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 2:22-23
Genesis 6: There is complete corruption in mankind except for the man Noah (and His family) Noah is right with God and favoured by God. God saves humanity through this small remant of Noah’s family.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth…” Genesis 6:5-6
2.Whenever we talk about God’s goodness or justice we have to remember that humanity is sinful. We cannot blame God for the consequence of our sin, God is sinless and perfect, we cannot blame God for our sin.
Our sinfulness demands God’s perfect justice. In order to have justice there must be a judge exacting judgement. The word judgement in Hebrew is literally mishpat (mish-pawt')
This literally means to “make right what has been wronged through a legal process.” Another definition is “rightful place”. God’s judgement restores His people back to their “rightful” place. What has been wronged? Humanity has turned towards sin, disobeyed God, humanity has disregarded God’s promise and disobeyed God. To be restored back to God, God must judge. Ultimately, this points to the cross since Christ has been judged on our behalf, He bore humanities’ sin (2 Corinthian 5:21) on that cross as a substitute so that those who have faith in Him are saved for eternity.
Genesis 7-9: Is God’s judgement upon His creation, upon humanity (the flood). Those who repented and have faith in Him (Noah and his family) are saved and a new covenant is established. This shows us that God is both the perfect judge and a loving father AND He judges because He holds true to His promises, He doesn’t lie to us. Those who turn away from God will not be saved. Again, this isn’t God’s fault, Adam and Even sinned and disobeyed therefore it is humanities’ fault.
“Of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life died. Thus, He blotted our every living thing that was upon the face of the land…” Genesis 7:21-22.
“God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth… I establish My convenant with you; and all felsh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood…” –Genesis 9:1, 11-12