If God is going to be our Rock, he must be righteous. An unrighteous Rock is a mirage. The very thing that a global pandemic shakes is our confidence that God is righteous, holy, good. If God is not righteous in the midst of it, we have no Rock.
So we need to ask, What is the holiness and righteousness and goodness of God? Because if we don’t know what they are, how will we know if this coronavirus outbreak has made them crumble?
The root meaning of the Old Testament word for holiness is the idea of being separate from the ordinary. And when applied to God, this separateness implies that he is in a class by himself. He is like a one-of-a-kind diamond, supremely valuable. God doesn’t depend on anything else for his existence. He is self-existent. So he needs nothing and depends on nothing. He is complete. Perfect. Therefore, he possesses the greatest value as the source of all reality and all value.
God’s infinite height above all other reality does not mean that he is a loveless, solitary mind. God exists as three divine persons. But these three are one—one divine essence. There is one God. Not three. But this one God exists in a mysterious and true unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each of them eternal and without beginning. Each of them truly God.
This perfect Trinitarian fellowship is essential to the fullness and perfection and completeness of God. It is essential to his transcendent worth and beauty and greatness—that is, it is essential to his holiness.
But the Bible also speaks of God’s holiness in terms of morality. To be holy is not only to be separate and transcendent, but also to be righteous.
This forces a question that will have great implications for how we view the coronavirus in relation to God: Since righteousness implies doing what is right, and doing what is right implies compliance with some standard of rightness, what standard does God’s righteousness comply with?
The answer is that the standard of God’s righteousness is God. He cannot act in a way that would deny his own infinite worth and beauty and greatness. This is the standard of what is right for God.
This means that the moral dimension of God’s holiness—his righteousness—is his unwavering commitment to act in accord with his worth and beauty and greatness. Every affection, every thought, every word, and every act of God will always be consistent with the infinite worth and beauty of his transcendent fullness.
God’s goodness is his disposition to be generous—to do what blesses human beings. The transcendent fullness and perfection of God—his holiness—is like a fountain that overflows. This is why he is disposed to be generous. God is not needy. Therefore, he never exploits others to make up for some deficiency in himself. Instead, the impulse of his nature is to give, not get.
But his goodness is not disconnected from his righteousness. It is not bestowed in a way that would deny his infinite value and beauty and greatness.
What we have seen here will keep us from jumping to the conclusion that God’s fingers in the coronavirus discredit his holiness or righteousness or goodness. The coronavirus, therefore, does not point to unholiness or unrighteousness or lack of goodness in God.
Our Rock, in these troubled days, is not unrighteous. He is not unholy. “There is none holy like the Lord . . . ; there is no rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2). Our Rock is not a mirage.
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