Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why did God command that stuff?

There is an atheist blog somewhere or other that has asked the question, “Would you kill a baby if God told you to?” The implication being that in the Old Testament, it’s recorded that God commanded people to kill babies so any day now He might do it again.
Be afraid! Be very afraid!! Pfft.

Unless asked, I’m not going to address in this post why that’s a ridiculous question. However the "presence of evil" issue will never go away. It’s a problem for Christians just as the presence of joy is a problem for those who think that we’re nothing but a mass of firing neurons. After all, when our genes are as selfish as Dawkins says they are, there is no need for joy in order to do what we need to do.

Now, I certainly don’t have a definitive answer for why we have records of God commanding the Israelites to kill “everything” in the enemy cities. However, I do have these thoughts on the issue.

Suppose you need to clear some brush from your land. It’s a big job; an almost overwhelming task. Your neighbour hears you talking about it and he says that he’d be glad to help. Your eyes light up because you know that this guy has a huge brush clearing mower and a huge chipper and rake. You accept his offer, pick a date and agree to meet him there on Saturday. The day arrives and you’re at the site early in the morning. Your excitement mounts as you hear a truck coming up the hill. However, as your friend drives through the gate the excitement melts into deep disappointment. He didn’t bring any of that stuff. All he brought was some work gloves and a heave ho attitude. You get your spades and axes out of the back of your pick-up and with a forced smile you thank him for coming. You pick up the tools that you’ve got and you use what’s available.

As I see it, this is what’s happened with God and us. At the beginning, God gave us all the tools that we would ever need to live and thrive in the paradise that He’d provided for us. For whatever reason, we decided to leave those tools on the shelf and we decided that we'd do this life by brute force.

Now, there is no doubt that most people don’t approve of how God is running the world now. Atheists express rage toward the God they don’t believe in while Christians profess confusion as to why things are the way they are. Buddhists and Hindus say things really aren’t this way and most adherents of other religions work as hard they can to get their god to do things differently. We’re all Monday morning quarterbacks with loads of “insight” into how God should have done things differently. The problem is, we can never know how God would have done things if we’d brought the tools that He'd made available to us. We don’t know how things would have worked out if we hadn’t introduced - no - if we hadn’t invited the presence of evil into our lives and our world. We simply never gave God the chance to let that scenario unfold. We left our tools at home.

So, God works with what He’s got; sinful, selfish, self-centred, corrupt, murderous, hateful, spiteful, grandiose, greedy, ungrateful, sin-filled individuals. Rather than wish it wasn’t so, God uses evil and all these characteristics to carry out His plan of redemption. According to that plan, God has brought the impending defeat of evil and our present salvation to the world through the Israelite people. The Israelites at that time of history in question, had sworn enemies. There were societies that wanted to destroy God’s chosen people. I’ve always wondered if the Israelites are God’s chosen people because they’ve always been hated, or if they’ve always been hated because they are God’s chosen people. If one subscribes to the theory of a universal battle between good vs. evil, and I do, I believe that it’s the latter.

Anyhow, it is never a good idea to set one’s self up as God’s enemy. Now, some believe that those references to God ordering the killing of everyone, even the babies is simply a lie that somehow made it into the Bible. That of course presents all kinds of issues for those who hold to inerrancy etc. Personally, I think that it’s true and accurate. Evil inhabits every single one of us, no one is innocent and evil WILL be defeated, by God, according to His plan.

. Because God is all good, He WILL rid the universe of evil

. Because God is all powerful, He CAN rid the universe of evil

. We still experience the presence of evil

. Therefore just as Jesus prophesied, God can and will rid the universe of evil at a time in the future that is predicted by, appointed by and known by God alone.

If you are God’s enemy, that means that at some point He will rid the universe of you. The reason that He hasn’t done it yet is because He is giving everyone who is going to come to Him in peace and humility the chance to ask for forgiveness. If you want, that opportunity for peace with God can and will be extended to you.

Reality is, God preserves and protects those He loves; be it a nation like Israel or an individual like you. He will do whatever it takes to make sure His plans for you are carried out to completion. This is seen as “Jesus set His face as a flint toward Jerusalem,” so that He could / would endure His own torture and death on your behalf. Whatever it is that we don’t like about this life, God Himself lived it. Unless asked, I’m not going to go into detail here but we need not think that we suffer alone or that God sits on high with smug indifference to our difficulties. He will one day defeat evil and He will do whatever it takes to carry out that plan, even to the point of living out our hardships, tragedies and sorrows to show us that it can be done.

Do you love your children? Show it now by making peace with your Creator.

1 comment:

bubbleup313 said...

Wow I am going through a difficult time in my life and I happened 2 come across your article. Boy did I need that. Thank you 4 your insight. Valerie