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You have all seen those commercials where the young women are ecstatic because “He went to Jareds!” and they flash the big rock on their finger. Well every time I take Karen to a fancy jewelry store to look at a brilliant diamond [you have to understand some illustrations are more hypothetical than historical], they display the stone the same way. They like to lay it out for you against the backdrop of a dark, black cloth – Why? Because the brilliance of the diamond is best exhibited against such a background of stark contrast. So it is with the Goodness of God. Today’s message is going to show that great contrast between our sin and God’s Goodness from the historical record of God’s gracious dealings with the nation of Israel.

– God’s Goodness displayed over and over

– Man is totally Undeserving because of his ungratefulness and disobedience and rebellion

– So Why does God still remain faithful and shower His people with Goodness??

Because of who He is = He is Supremely Good

Remember the rich young ruler who approached Jesus in Mark 10:17-18

“Why do you call me Good? No one is good except God alone.”

This is the Gospel Message – Where sin abounds, God’s Grace abounds even more; His Grace is greater than all of our sin – not a license or encouragement to sin – but encourages us despite our failures to keep turning back to God for forgiveness and grace – His goodness endures forever

2 Tim. 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”


Historical review started last week in Neh chapter 9 with this great prayer of confession of sin and testimony to God’s Covenant Loyalty. You remember it started with the Call of Abraham and the formation of the nation of Israel from the Book of Genesis (9:7-8); then continued into Book of Exodus (9:9-12); then the giving of the Law and the preservation of the nation in the wilderness through vs. 15.


Today we are looking at verses 16-31



A. Man’s Ungrateful Rebellion – Despising the Goodness of God

1. Root Problem = Pride in establishing Self as the Ultimate Authority

“But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;”

In contrast to God . . . “our father” = talking about the people of God; we know that unbelievers refuse to recognize the authority of God and set themselves up as the master of their own universe – but how often do we act arrogantly despite knowing better?

This root problem of Pride continues to plague us our entire life – Probably our toughest spiritual battle; What God had done for His people should have produced grateful hearts and a spirit of humility and meekness – look at the meekness of Moses and the meekness of Jesus Christ – not weakness, but allowing God to be in control of their situation completely and trusting in the Goodness of God

2. Refusal to Listen to the Authoritative Voice of God

“They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. They refused to listen,”

What happens when children are stubborn and refuse to listen to the commands of their parents? Things don’t go so well – many parallels to parenting when we are studying the goodness of God; just as a father, He delights out of His Goodness to give good gifts to His children; His commands are intended to be helpful, not harmful

What are some ways we refuse to listen to the authoritative voice of God?

– We fail to spend time with God and in His Word

– We get defensive when God sends someone across our path to give us some insight into an area where we are weak or disobedient

– We fail to listen to our conscience so that it becomes dull and ineffective

3. Revisionist View of History

“and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them;”

They did not really forget the historical fact of miraculous events like the crossing of the Red Sea – but they forgot the significance of those events and they turned their back on the lessons of history that would have reinforced the goodness of God

Liberal theologians take things a step further – they deny the actual historicity of the events – these were just myths – like Aesop’s Fables – just nice stories

But God instructs us to remember both the deeds and their significance:

Psalm 145:7 “They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.”

Education: Example of Revisionist History:

In a building named after a hero of the battle of the Alamo — another battle is being fought. This time, it’s a battle in the culture war.

Members of the Texas State Board of Education are trying to hash out what should and should not be in the social studies textbooks of 4.7 million students in Texas and beyond. That’s because what Texas wants ends up in textbooks used all over the country. . .

“I noticed the review committee had deleted describe the role religion played in the founding of our country. I was stunned. I was shocked.”

Mavis Knight on the Texas Board of Education says, “From my perspective, it gets to be the point of being a little silly.”

4. Rebellion Against Authority

“So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.”

MacArthur: The Hebrew of this statement is almost a repeat of Numbers 14:4, which records the discontent of the people with God’s plan and Moses’s leadership. In contrast the spies pointed out that the land God had promised to give them was “an exceedingly good land.” (vs. 7)

Are we going to turn back and put ourselves under bondage to sin again = picture of Egypt being the world system; even the wilderness is only a picture of wrestling with sin without victory and fruitfulness; only entrance into Canaan is a picture of the victorious life that comes when we yield the members of our body as those alive from the dead to accomplish the righteousness of living for Jesus Christ (Romans 6)

Who is your leader today? Whom do you follow?

Are you still in slavery to sin or experiencing the freedom of victory in Christ and all of the blessings of the Goodness of God? [Transition]

B. God’s Amazing Goodness

1. Rooted In His Character

“But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;”

2. Displayed In His Care of His People

“And You did not forsake them.”

Would have been so easy for God to walk away and forsake us sinners; We deserve to be abandoned;

We know what it feels like to be cut off from support relationships – it is painful; How painful if God turns His back on us; Christ took our sins on Himself; He was made sin for us; He endured the Father forsaking Him on the cross



A. (:18) Man’s Ungrateful Rebellion – Despising the Goodness of God

1. Foolish Idolatry

“Even when they made for themselves a calf of molten metal”

While God was in the process of giving them His law – tremendous privilege of God’s revelation; yet the people despised this display of God’s goodness

2. Mocking Insults

“and said, ‘This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,’”

3. Shocking Irreverence

“and committed great blasphemies,”

B. (:19-25) God’s Amazing Goodness

1. Rooted In His Character

“You, in Your great compassion”

2. Displayed In His Care of His People – 4 Amazing Blessings

a. Guiding Presence in the Journey of Faith

“ did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, to guide them on their way, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go.”

They were in the wilderness because of discipline; even discipline is a demonstration of God’s Goodness – Heb. 12 teaches us to appreciate God’s discipline

b. Gracious Enlightenment Regarding God’s Expectations – Giving of the Law

“You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,”

Nothing teaches us as effectively as personal tutoring; that is one reason homeschooling has proven to be so effective; classroom instruction has much value; but personal tutoring that is customized to the needs of the individual can do the job quicker and more effectively;

Here we have insight into the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the OT; referenced also in vs. 30

c. Generous Provision in the Wilderness Wanderings

(1) Food — Manna in the wilderness

“Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth,”

Walk out of your tent every morning and pick up the baked goods for breakfast – what a deal!

People of God didn’t appreciate it – grumbled and complained

(2) Drink — Water in the desert

“and You gave them water for their thirst.”

We have such an abundance of variety – yet we are probably the most discontented people of all time. That is what history demonstrates happens during times of prosperity and peace. Because we forget to depend upon God for our daily sustenance.

(3) Long Term Sufficiency

“Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want;”

MacArthur: The same word is used in Ps. 23:1, “I shall not want.” Even during the long season of chastisement, God miraculously cared for their every need.

Review your life and the experiences of your family – when have you been in want?

(4) Physical Care

(a) Clothing

“Their clothes did not wear out,”

Look at all that fills our closets – we need bigger closets – shirts, ties, shoes, handbags …

John the Baptist advised: if you have the luxury of having 2 coats, you might want to give 1 to someone else who is in need; you can only wear one – He wasn’t much of a fashion guru

(b) Health

“nor did their feet swell.”

Swindoll: Despite their recurring fits of doubts, grumbling, rebellion, and outright idolatry, the Lord brought them into the Promised Land, settled them, and began to prosper them.

d. Growing Dominion in the Promised Land

“You also gave them kingdoms and peoples, and allotted them to them as a boundary. They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon and the land of Og the king of Bashan. 23 “You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, and You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 “So their sons entered and possessed the land. And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, to do with them as they desired.”

Promise of territory growth – tremendous military victories

Promise of numerical growth – fulfilling the promises to Abraham

Note that God does not mention key names of leaders like Joshua … Why? Because they were simply instruments that God used. They were not the ones who should get the credit for the accomplishments. Everything came to the nation as a gift from the sovereign God.

Look at all God did for them in His Amazing Goodness; now switch gears/ What was their Role?

e. Grabbing Up the Goodies that came to them undeserved from the labors of others – God Gives … we just receive the gifts as undeserved sinners

“They captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees in abundance.”

– Nice not to have to build walls around your own cities – they could appreciate how much hard work was involved in such projects

– Nice not to have to build or furnish your own houses – just there for the grabbing and the possession

– Nice to not have to dig your own wells – but have abundant water

– Nice to drink wine without the hard work of cultivating the vineyards

– Nice to eat fruit without having to cultivate the trees

f. Summary: Great Satisfaction with the Abundance of God’s Goodness

“So they ate, were filled and grew fat, and reveled in Your great goodness.”

No limits to God’s Goodness



A. (:26) Man’s Ungrateful Rebellion – Despising the Goodness of God

1. Casting Off God’s Authority

“But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs” very disrespectful

2. Killing God’s Messengers

“and killed Your prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to You”

Popularity is not a good test of a prophet – must look from God’s perspective to aspect of faithfulness to deliver the correct message

Purpose of warnings is to get people to wake up and turn back to God (condition of Nineveh)

3. Calling God a Liar

“and they committed great blasphemies.”

B. (:27a) God’s Loving Discipline

“Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them,”

Swindoll: This is the story of Judges. Seven bewildering cycles of prosperity, sin, decline, oppression, repentance, and deliverance, then back around to prosperity again, though less than before. It’s a tragic, sickening, downward spiral into national chaos on every level – spiritual, political, economic, and social.

C. (:27b) God’s Amazing Goodness

1. Rooted In His Character

“But when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion”

manifold mercies – not just one-sided

Exodus 33:19 “And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.”

2. Displayed In His Care of His People

“You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors”



A. Man’s Ungrateful Rebellion – Despising the Goodness of God

“But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You;”

B. God’s Loving Discipline

“Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.”

C. God’s Amazing Goodness

1. Rooted In His Character

“When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,”

2. Displayed In His Care of His People

“And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law.”



A. Man’s Ungrateful Rebellion – Despising the Goodness of God

“Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.”

Mark Fitzpatrick:

Progressive stages of rebellion against God – pictured in their body language:

1. withdrew their shoulder (speaks of willingness to work for the things of God)

2. hardened their neck (refusing to turn back to God)

3. finally the ear which they closed (refusal to listen)

B. God’s Amazing Goodness (Finishing cycle has a double emphasis on the Goodness of God)

1. Rooted in His Character = longsuffering

“However, You bore with them for many years,”

2. Displayed in His Care of His People

“and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, Yet they would not give ear.”

C. God’s Loving Discipline

“Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.”

D. God’s Amazing Goodness – finishes with this twofold emphasis on God’s Goodness

1. Rooted in His Character

“Nevertheless, in Your great compassion”

2. Displayed In His Care of His People

” You did not make an end of them or forsake them,”

3. Rooted In His Character

“for You are a gracious and compassionate God.”


Wiersbe: Against the dark background of Israel’s unfaithfulness shines the bright light of the faithfulness of God. When Israel obeyed Him, He was faithful to bless; when they disobeyed Him, He was faithful to chasten; when they asked for mercy, He was faithful to forgive. God is willing to give His people many privileges, but He will not give them the privilege of sinning and having their own way. God’s purposes are more important than our pleasures, and He will accomplish His purposes even if He has to chasten us to do it.

If you have not yet bowed the knee to Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, the message of the Book of Romans is that you dare not continue to presume upon the goodness of God.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

For the people of God, we must pay close attention to these lessons from history. Every act of rebellion and of disobedience is an affront to the goodness of God. Our Heavenly Father delights to shower us with His blessings. We need to live with thankful hearts and fully embrace the goodness of God.

Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Psalm 31:19 “How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men!”