TEEN TREE         OF LIFE

God’s Goodness – Part 2

April 11, 2021

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

We ended last week’s study with a simple, but invaluable statement: God’s Goodness allows you to trust and have hope in Him. Do you understand how important knowing about God’s Goodness really is? We hear it enough in overused sayings like “God is Good!” But saying it and obtaining a stronger faith from knowing how Good He is, are two vastly different things.

 

Look at PSA 100:5 (New International Reader’s Version): The Lord is good. His faithful love continues forever. It will last for all time to come. Think about that for a minute. You know that God is Supremely Good. But did you know that His Faithfulness and Love are part of His Goodness? And His Faithful Love and His Goodness, like Him, will last forever!! That means He will ALWAYS be there for us, at all times. Not just now and then. Not just when we’re in trouble. That’s where PRAISING Him comes in. Do you praise and thank God during prosperity (good times) and adversity (bad times)?

 

More importantly, do you think His Goodness stops if you sin or go through sinful times? NOT!!!  He causes his sun to shine on evil people and good people. He sends rain on those who do right and those who don’t. (MATT 5:45 New International Reader’s Version). That verse says it all about God’s Goodness! More importantly, it teaches a vital lesson: He is GOOD and FAIR to all people, at all times – no matter who they are or what they do. Do you know why? It’s because of Who He Is!!

 

Now let’s learn some history about the kingdom of Judah. King Solomon created the wealthiest and most powerful central government the Hebrews would ever see, but he did so at an impossibly high cost. Land was given away to pay for his extravagances and people were sent into forced labor. When Solomon died, between 926 and 922 BC, the ten northern tribes refused to submit to his son, Rehoboam, and revolted. From this point on, there would be two kingdoms of Hebrews: the southern and northern kingdoms.

 

The southern kingdom consisted only of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Because of this, it became the kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. The northern kingdom was called Israel. It consisted of the remaining tribes: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Ephraim. The Israelites formed their capital in the city of Samaria, and the Judaeans kept their capital in Jerusalem. These kingdoms remained separate states for over two hundred years.

 

Judah lasted more than a hundred years after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel but the people of Judah slowly turned away from God. But still, out of His Supreme Goodness, God sent prophets to warn them, but they would no longer listen.

 

There are four major prophets in the Old Testament. Their words and actions are told in the longer prophetic books of The Bible. The major prophets names are Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. The prophet Isaiah pronounced judgments on Judah for their sinning, idolatry, and wicked behavior. (In case you don’t know, idolatry is the worship of a physical object as a god.) As time progressed, the Judaeans became so wicked that they proclaimed sinful things as being good. YIKES!!! This is why Isaiah said: How terrible it will be for those who say that what is evil is good! How terrible for those who say that what is good is evil! How terrible for those who say that darkness is light and light is darkness! How terrible for those who say that what is bitter is sweet and what is sweet is bitter! (ISA 5:20 New International Reader’s Version) The Judaeans were really messed up.

 

ISA 5:20 contains a warning, not only to the people of Judah, but also to each of us today in the Church-Age. A huge part of the warning is to watch out for people who gloss over evil deeds and evil habits with nice-sounding names. These types of individuals call cowardice, caution and rashness, courage. They call being cunning or shrewd – being cautious or sensible. When they are rude, they say they’re being sincere. Ever met people like that? Stay away from them and if you have to deal with them, BEWARE!

 

These same people flatter themselves by imagining that what is sin, really isn’t sin at all. They aren’t drawn to sin by the temptations of the cosmic system, or even by the persuasions of other wicked people. They’re active and industrious in drawing sin to themselves. They greedily and steadily pursue sin. This is a sign of deep moral corruption. We can see this happening in the world today. Watch out!

 

Another major problem in Judah during Isaiah’s time was widespread drunkenness. People would wake up early in the morning and drink alcohol, then continue long into the night. We also see that today, not only with alcohol but also with all kinds of drugs. It’s a frightening time, especially for young people. Therefore, it’s so important for you to keep your focus on The Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In addition to the major prophets in the Bible, there are twelve minor prophets. They are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Their biblical writings are relatively brief.

 

The prophet Jonah was called by God to go to a great Assyrian city called Nineveh. God wanted him to prophesy disaster because of the city’s excessive wickedness. Sound familiar?? But Jonah didn’t want to go so he rushed down to Joppa and took passage on a ship that would take him in the opposite direction of Nineveh. He was trying to escape God. (DUHHHHHH!!) Jonah’s reason for running was that he didn’t like the Assyrians because they were idolatrous, arrogant, and ruthless. Assyria, to him, was a nation bent on world conquest and had long been a threat to Israel.

 

A storm of unprecedented severity struck the ship which Jonah was on and despite everything the ship’s master and crew did, the ship began to show signs of breaking up and sinking. That prompted Jonah to confess that his presence onboard caused the storm. So, he requested to be thrown overboard, and the storm subsided. JON 1:17 (New International Reader’s Version) tells us what happened next: Now the Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

 

As you can imagine, Jonah prayed to God for help. This translation of what he prayed is from The Message Bible (JON 2:1-9):

 

“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.

    He answered me.

From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’

    You heard my cry.

You threw me into ocean’s depths,

    into a watery grave,

With ocean waves, ocean breakers

    crashing over me.

 

I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,

    thrown out, out of your sight.

I’ll never again lay eyes

    on your Holy Temple.’

Ocean gripped me by the throat.

    The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.

 

My head was all tangled in seaweed

    at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.

I was as far down as a body can go,

    and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—

Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,

    O God, my God!

When my life was slipping away,

    I remembered God,

And my prayer got through to you,

    made it all the way to your Holy Temple.

 

Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,

    walk away from their only true love.

But I’m worshiping you, God,

    calling out in thanksgiving!

And I’ll do what I promised I’d do!

    Salvation belongs to God!”

 

What happens next is one of the greatest examples of God’s Goodness in the Bible: Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore. (The Message Bible JON 2:1-9):

{to be continued}

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