The first piece in October cited and briefly looked at a few texts where God, in words assigned to Him personally, disturbingly claimed responsibility for events that appall us. We’re told He gave commands that are heartless (the kind we’d expect from Herod the Great or Hitler and his advisors). For the economically and socially blessed who never took God or the Holy Scriptures seriously we got, and get, what we expect, indifference or moral condemnation. For those who live in a world, a prison, of deprivation, threat, humiliation and unceasing hardship we get numerous different responses. If all they hear from preachers is that they need to repent of their sins we often get bitter resentment: “GOD needs to repent!”
Or if they believe God is mad at a world that rejected Him and refuses to honor Him they’re tempted to believe that He is vengefully drunk on punishment. He ladles it out plentifully and indiscriminately on little children and their awfully burdened parents—well, He does appear to discriminate in favor of the wealthy and the powerful, the nations with the most powerful weapons and most advanced medical technology. As well as being swollen with a sense of His honor He is arbitrary and blesses these sinners and crushes those, kills these impoverished babies via devouring parasites and provides more than enough employment and wealth for countless hedonists to spend on “more”.
And then, of course, there is the everlasting, ceaseless torture he will inflict on humans if they don’t give Him honor. This kind of thing His friends tell about Him and they wonder why people show little (free) interest in Him and much less love for Him or admiration of Him.
And if that isn’t enough to put Him in the doghouse with us we hear as the center-piece of His glory and grace that He cannot forgive sinners unless He punishes Sin out of existence by punishing the most lovely young human that ever walked on this planet! We’re told He desperately wants to forgive us but He can’t do that because there is something in Him that demands that sins must be punished to the nth degree. So He inflicts punishment (not just “suffering”—punishment) on Jesus of Nazareth and that allows Him to “forgive” us our sins. So He “forgives” by violence, without which He cannot forgive and yet calls on those who give Him honor to forgive repeatedly without violence those who come seeking forgiveness from us. At the heart of the God who is the heart of all things is the need for doing violence to the young man we admire above all others as a model of love and honor. No wonder we have a tough time with “texts of terror.” But God is not like any of that! He’s like Jesus Christ! There is nothing in Him that is not like Jesus!
The second piece reminded us that when God claims responsibility for all that is anti-human, anti-life and anti-God in the world He is not saying He is a heartless, genocidal “hit-man”. He is claiming that He alone is Creator and sustainer and governing Father of the world!
The piece reminded us that the world in which Israel lived was absolutely saturated with the worship of innumerable gods to whom credit was given for success in war, material prosperity, national security, drought, famine, pestilence, disease and disablement. The piece proposed that in making the claim that He is responsible for what takes place He is in effect denying that the gods or chance or spiritual powers or demons or humans control the world. There is but one God and it’s Yahweh (Isaiah 42:5-8) He will not credit the gods with anything—either good or evil (Isaiah 41:23; Jeremiah 10:5) He will not credit humans with autonomous power or credit them as lords because they have chariots, horses, military might and shrewdness. He is the one that raises up kings, emperors and gives authority to whoever He chooses.
But God not only shoulders the responsibility for the evil that goes on in the world. He and He alone exists as Lord and sustainer of the world and all in it and He sovereignly chooses to allow humans to invent gods, corrupt and brutalize one another and create a world of the poor and oppressed. And He takes responsibility for that sovereign choice!
He claims also that He is the giver of rain, sunshine, harvests, health and national blessing and that He is Lord of the seas, the nations and all else! (See Psalm 104 & 148 Acts 14:17; 17:24-29.) The gods control nothing! Chance rules nothing! Human strength, shrewdness and military power (Psalm 33:16-22; 147.10) rules nothing. God alone is LORD! That’s why He holds Himself responsible for things on earth. That’s why we hear Him say, “I did it!” He’s no heartless tyrant! He is imaged perfectly by Jesus Christ so you know if He says “I did it!” that we can trust Him as we seek understanding.
All that is good and wise and uplifting and promotes the blessing of human existence He actively works to bestow because it is His heart’s desire. All that is anti-human, anti-life, anti-God He chooses to allow, but He chooses to allow it (Acts 14:16; Romans 1:18, 21, 24). In both cases the decision to actively bless and to allow evil is the decision of God! It isn’t chance, the gods, demonic thugs, satanic servants who control and enslave. Whatever or whoever exists exists because God permits it to be. (I purpose to offer some developed pieces on demonology that you might think are worth pursuing though I suspect you’ll want to disagree. But that’ll be okay. God will bless us for our seeking His truth and heart.)
But why would God permit, choose to permit, the gods, the brutality, oppression and such to exist? Because He chooses humans to exist and pathetic fools we enslaved ourselves (and others with us) to the powers and as a consequence we turned on one another. He has such a love for humans (wondrous beyond imagining!) that He became one of us and has permanently taken the experience of humanness up into His divine experience. The day will come when He will bring this real-life drama to a conclusion and a reckoning will take place (Acts 17:31; Romans 14:9-10) and all who are embraced in His redeeming purpose will know GOD for who and what He is and will be utterly free to live everlastingly in warm noble glory and pure-hearted righteousness. The plundered poor will approach a judgment-seat and find they are meeting a God who is like His Holy Son, the world’s Deliverer. Happy Day! Those impenitent servants of the evil powers who will not have Him will perish and so will have suffered an eternal loss—that being, life with Him and a glorious fellowship with countless majestic and joy-filled beings!
(another piece purposed with some specific OT texts looked at)