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THE GOODNESS AND SEVERITY OF GOD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, June 10, 2001


"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

The word "goodness" here means "kindness, gentleness, goodness." God is kind, gentle, and good. But God is more than that. He is also severe. The word "severity" means "rigor, sharpness," even "harshness." God is both: He is kind, gentle and good, but He is also rigorous, sharp, and harsh.

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

Let us look at several accounts in the Bible which show both the goodness and severity of God.

I.    The goodness of God is illustrated in the lives of several people
    in the Bible.

1. Think of God's goodness to Jacob.

Jacob stole his brother Esau's blessing and fled into the land of Haran. There he fell in love with Rachel. But Laban her father tricked Jacob into marrying her sister, Leah, and working for him for many years without an adequate salary. Finally, after being tricked and swindled by Laban for many years, God told Jacob to return to his home in Canaan. The Bible says,

"And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock, And said unto them, I see your father's countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me" (Genesis 31:4-5).

In spite of Laban's tricks, Jacob was blessed because God in His goodness was with him.

2. God's goodness to Joseph.

Joseph's brothers were jealous of him. They threw him in a pit and left him there to die. Some passing nomads pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him as a slave in Egypt. There was no human reason that Joseph could succeed under such conditions, but the Bible says:

"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand" (Genesis 39:2-3).

God, in His goodness, was with Joseph in Egypt. The goodness of God later led Joseph into a great position of leadership in Egypt.

3. God's goodness to David.

My third illustration of the goodness of God is from the life of David. King Saul was very jealous of David. Saul became demonized and the demons told him that David would try to steal his throne. So King Saul set out to kill David. On several occasions he tried unsuccessfully to murder David, but the Bible says:

"David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him" (I Samuel 18:14).

King Saul was very treacherous and very mean. He persecuted David, and drove him out of the city. He tried again and again to kill David. But each time David was able to escape. Finally, with the help of God, David overcame Saul completely. The secret of David's success was the presence of God in his life. The Bible tells us, "The Lord was with him" (I Samuel 18:14). The goodness of God kept David from being murdered by Saul and made him prosper. Finally, the goodness of God led David to become the king himself.

4. Then, fourthly, think of the goodness of God to our first parents, Adam and Eve.

They sinned horribly against God. They listened to the voice of Satan. They rebelled against God. They were judged by Him for their sins. But even though they lost their former glory through sin, our first parents were not destroyed, as they rightly could have been by God. Instead, God in His goodness clothed them in skins to protect them from the changed weather patterns that came as a result of man's sin, and to protect them from judgment as well. The Bible says,

"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21).

Actually the Hebrew literally means "coats of skin" (rather than "skins"). The Hebrew indicates that both of their coats were made out of one skin. Jesus Christ gave one sacrifice, and this is pictured in the one skin that God clothed them with.

The Scofield note says:

Coats of skins: Type of "Christ, made unto us righteousness" – a divinely provided garment that the first sinners might be made fit for God's presence (note on Genesis 3:21).

Dr. J. Vernon McGee says that the sacrifice of an animal to provide the skin they were clothed with was the beginning of sacrifice:

I believe that this is the origin of sacrifice and that God made it clear to man. God rejected their fig leaves, but made them clothing of skin, and when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they looked back upon a bloody sacrifice ( Thru the Bible, volume 1, p. 27).

When God looked at that skin that covered them, He gave us four lessons:

(1) You must have your sins covered to approach God.
(2) Fig leaves are not acceptable. Blood must be shed for your
      sins to be covered.
(3) God Himself must provide the covering.
(4) The covering is provided by the death of Jesus Christ on the
      Cross.

God was very good to our first parents to cover their sins.

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

Both the goodness and severity of God are shown in this sacrifice for our first parents:

"Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins (literally "skin"), and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21).

Notice that God Himself killed the animal that provided the skin. Notice that God Himself took the skin and covered them with it. The word "atonement" means "covering."

God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to cover your sins (John 3:16). God now takes the righteousness of Christ and clothes you with it. The righteousness of Christ clothes you by imputation. His righteousness is imputed to you – and covers your sins – as the "coat of skin" covered our first parents.

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

II.   But, second, I want you to think about the severity of God.

As I said, the Greek word "severity" means "rigor, sharpness, harshness." God is not only good, He is also sharp, harsh, and severe.

Someone may say, "I don't like that." Well, it really doesn't make any difference whether or not you like it! That's the way God is, whether you like it or not! God is not a new age "force." He is not "the man upstairs." And He is not a glorified substitute for "Santa Claus."

I heard Rodney Howard-Brown, leader in the "laughing revival," say that God is a big "Daddy" in the sky – and that the Hebrews should have climbed Mount Sinai and "played with God"!!! I was there! I personally heard him say that. But Rodney Howard-Brown's god is not the God of Scripture!

God said:

"Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death" (Exodus 19:12).

Again, the Bible says:

"And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish" (Exodus 19:20-21).

So, the Bible says that if they "gazed" upon or even touched Mount Sinai, they would die – because God was there – "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31).

In our day of weak-evangelicalism the holiness, wrath, and judgment of God are not emphasized. So, several hundred people in Pasadena could hear Rodney Howard-Brown say that the Hebrews should have gone up the mountain to "play with God" like a Daddy – and no one but me and my friend Arthur Houk even noticed that this was against the Bible!

No one seems to notice how the weak-evangelicals have changed the God of the Bible into the "cream-puff" image they themselves have created!

But the God of the Bible is not the god of weak-evangelicalism! He is a God of fire and judgment!

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

1. Nadab and Abihu found out about the severity of God firsthand!

"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord" (Leviticus 10:1-2).

These two men were burned alive by God for their presumptuous sins. They are given to you as examples of the "severity" of the Lord. God will also burn you in fire – in everlasting fire – if you go on in your sin. Jesus said:

"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment"

(Matthew 25:46).

Jesus quoted the rich man as saying, "I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:24).

Yes, the Bible teaches that God Himself will send you to the everlasting flames of Hellfire if you go on like you are now.

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

You may call this "sharp," "hard" and "severe" – and indeed it is! But it is the very nature of God to severely judge sin. That is why you need Jesus the Saviour!

2. Think also about the severity of God's judgment on the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath:

"And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses" (Numbers 15:32-36).

This man had been with Moses ever since they went out of Egypt. He saw the Red Sea parted by God. He saw the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day – sent from God. He saw God send the Manna to feed them. Now he deliberately sins. On purpose, he breaks the fourth commandment of Exodus 20:8-11.

"The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work" (Exodus 20:10).

The judgment of God fell on this man for willful sin. He said in effect, "I'm going to sin, and I don't care what God thinks about it." And the Lord said unto Moses, "The man shall be surely put to death" (Numbers 15:35).

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

3. Now, then, take the example of Ananias and Sapphira, in the New Testament:

"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him" (Acts 5:1-6).

People will tell you that accounts like this will scare people, and drive them away from the churches. Bill Hybels or Rick Warren would tell you to be "user-friendly" – not to scare the new people away. But the Bible says:

"And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things…And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" (Acts 5:11,14).

I believe we need preaching on the goodness and severity of God in our day. God is severe. God will send you to Hell!

God sent His Son to die on a bloody Cross to pay for your sin. When you trust Jesus Christ fully you are saved from the penalty of sin.

Jesus Christ is now alive in Heaven – at the right hand of God.

4. The severity of God is shown in the death of His Son, Jesus. God sent Jesus to die a horrible death to pay for your sins.

"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

"It pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin"

(Isaiah 53:10).

"He gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16).

Turn fully to Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Do it now!


Scripture Read Before Sermon: Acts 5:1-11, 14.

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Before Jehovah's Awful Throne"

by Isaac Watts (1674-1748).

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."




THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOODNESS AND SEVERITY OF GOD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22).

I.   The goodness of God
1. God's goodness to Jacob, Genesis 31:4-5.
2. God's goodness to Joseph, Genesis 39:2-3.
3. God's goodness to David, I Samuel 18:14.
4. God's goodness to Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:21; John 3:16.

II.  The severity of God, Exodus 19:12, 20-21; Hebrews 12:29; 10:31.
1. God's severity to Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1-2;
         Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:24.
2. God's severity to the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath,
         Numbers 15:32-36; Exodus 20:10.
3. God's severity to Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-6; 11, 14.
4. God's severity to His Son, Jesus, Isaiah 53:6, 10; John 3:16.