October 24th, 2020

God’s longing for man

By Submitted Article on November 9, 2019.


First of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Why did God create? Some speculate that God felt lonely, providing company for himself. But the three Persons of the Trinity had perfect communion. Outside of God, there was nothing; maybe God wanted to replace this nothingness with something.

There is one word in the New Testament that hints at God’s motivation: goodwill, good pleasure (eudokia). The context shows that this motivation is self-willed, beneficial to the receiver and pleasing to the giver. The initiator does something good just because he wants to.

St. Paul uses this word several times in his letter to the Ephesians, showing that their salvation was not planned by themselves but came forth from God’s goodwill (Eph. 1:5, 9, 11, 1 Cor. 1:21).

When the angel told the shepherds of Bethlehem that the Saviour was born, and the heavenly hosts praised God’s glory, they also used this word: “Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14).

God offered salvation to sinners from the goodness of his heart. He did not have to do it; he wanted to.

In the six creation days (Gen. 1), God seven times looked at his work with satisfaction because it was good. It seems reasonable to conclude that God created because he wanted to share his goodness with others.

First, he created other spirits (angels) that resembled himself. God is Spirit (John 4:24), and angels are spirits (Heb. 1:14). Then, on the fifth and sixth days, he created physical living things. The angels rejoiced when they saw God’s physical universe (Job 38:7).

Initially, there was complete harmony in the garden of Eden. Humans, too, had peace with God, with nature, with each other, and with themselves.

Because of pride, Satan had fallen into sin before humans did (Is. 14:12-14). While Adam and Eve were still innocent, Satan lied in ambush, waiting for them.

With the fall of humans – trusting Satan and doubting God – the tranquility of the garden was rudely disrupted, and they were banished.

Now a new yearning started in the heart of God: longing for man’s return and reconciliation – like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15). God’s walking with Enoch and Noah, God’s speaking with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and God’s dealings with Israel over many centuries, confirmed God’s yearning for contact with his people.

Yearning for water, food and love points to imperfection. Does God’s yearning make him imperfect? No. Love always yearns for contact with the loved one. God’s yearning for reconciliation with man shows his perfect love.

When God’s Son took on human flesh, he demonstrated God’s love by helping the afflicted and despised. He made several long trips just to help one person (Luke 7:11-17, 8:26-39, Matt. 15:21-28).

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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