The simple quote “And if not, He is still good” hangs in a prominent place in our home and serves as a constant reminder of God’s goodness and my hope. It hangs there because I am a slow learner who needs a lot of reminders. Rather than a loving and good God, I typically choose to put my hope and confidence in my doctor or my bank account or my own abilities, all of which fail me regularly. As I read and reread today’s passages, I saw a pattern of God’s goodness—to Israel, to King David, and to me—a constant reminder that I can unquestionably place my hope and confidence in Him because He is unquestionably loving and good.
Leviticus 16, which outlines the rituals and practices for the Jewish High Holy Day of Atonement (better known as Yom Kippur) is a difficult passage to read and can be easily dismissed as irrelevant or not applicable. After all, I’m no longer required to observe the Day of Atonement. But a closer look at its meaning and purpose reveals that the Day of Atonement was ultimately the design of a good and loving God to atone for the sins of His people and restore their relationship with Him. The Day—and all of Leviticus for that matter—reflects God’s goodness and His love for Israel. In the same way, I can see His goodness and love for me through His perfect plan that culminated in Christ’s death on the cross and fulfilled the need for rituals and sacrifices, covering my sins once and for all. His goodness in sacrificing His son was the ultimate act of unselfish love and gives me the hope of eternal life. It is the reason I can be confident and hopeful in Him and His good plan for me.
It’s been a difficult week at our house. One of our dearest missionary friends is fighting for his life overseas in a country where good healthcare is not readily available. We have been begging God for a miracle on his behalf and, so far, God has answered with a yes. But that aforementioned quote reminds me that if even if God chooses not to heal our friend, He will still be loving and good. And, because of Christ’s sacrificial death and our shared hope in Jesus, we have the promise of heaven and eternity together.
Just as we have been begging God to heal our friend, in Psalm 31, David begs God to punish his oppressors and rescue him. He doesn’t hide his fear or sorrow. He acknowledges his grief. But he also reiterates over and over again that God can be trusted. He is not just good. He is “abundantly good” (vs 19, NRSV). David says confidently “I trust in YOU, O Lord…You are my God.” (vs 14, NRSV) The writer of Hebrews expresses this same confidence in Hebrews 6:19 “We have this [the hope set before us], a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (NRSV).
This hope of David and the author of Hebrews and ME is only possible because a loving God who desires relationship with me was willing to sacrifice His Son and provide a way for that to happen. He outlined the rituals and sacrifices in Leviticus out of a deep love for Israel. He repeatedly showed His love and goodness even in trials, giving hope and confidence to David and the writer of Hebrews. He loved me enough to become the scapegoat and provide complete payment for my sin. Because of that, I can know that I am forgiven and, in good times and bad, I can place my hope and confidence in a God who is the only sure and steadfast anchor for my soul.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love
Will Your Anchor Hold?
Priscilla J Owens