Genesis and the Goodness of God

by Abraham Cremeens

Lord willing, we will conclude our journey in Genesis this Sunday. I trust the Lord has used it in your heart along the way. He certainly has mine. 

In this final scene, the goodness of God rises to the top yet again. This theme has threaded each chapter, and it comes out loud and clear in this final moment. With their father Jacob having departed this life, the brothers fear Joseph will bring full retaliation. However, rather than the hammer of judgment, Joseph grips the joy of contentment in the sovereign goodness of God.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20, ESV)

His brothers were certainly accountable for their sin. Yet in a bigger and mysterious way, God had designed something through their sin that brought his goodness to Joseph, the people of God, and even the surrounding nations. God is that big.

This is echoed in the New Testament: 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29, ESV)

Throughout the Scriptures, God affirms his promise to bring good to his people. Both the difficulties we face (or cause), as well as the best life has to offer, both merge into the river of blessing God intends for his people.

But what is that goodness, primarily? Does God promise only health and wealth? Does God intend that hardship or heartache never touch his people? The Joseph narrative of Genesis and the whole of Scripture counter such thinking. The explicit answer is found in Romans 8:29. The goodness God primarily intends for his people is to form them into the image of Jesus Christ. He predestines them to be conformed to the image of his Son, because that is the best thing for them.

Thomas Watson, in his work All Things for Good, wrote,

Afflictions work for good, as they conform us to Christ. God’s rod is a pencil to draw Christ’s image more lively upon us.

Hardship doesn’t counter God’s goodness for his people. Hardship serves God’s goodness. Watson says elsewhere in his work,

To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that ALL things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.

While the lesson of Habakkuk was to bring your heartaches and hardships to God in biblical lament, the lesson of Joseph is to thank God for those same difficulties because he is drawing Christ’s image more lively upon you and turning your crosses into blessings. He is that big.

In the end, the Gospel according to Genesis teaches that God is sovereign over all things and aims his infinite goodness with perfect precision at all his covenant people. Your circumstances may at times challenge your faith in that reality, but it remains true nonetheless. 

So as we conclude this journey through Genesis, the invitation is to pursue a life of trust and hope. Trust God in the good and the bad. The sum total of his work for his people leads to an outcome of unfathomable goodness. In fact, he is doing something that far exceeds the best you could ever imagine. He means and plans all things for good.