God of Love, or Death..?

exodus-scene-6Recently I was invited to chime in on a post on the question of miracles and the Bible. My main response included a fairly long list of the examples of humanly inexplicable miracles found in both the Old and New Testaments. The author responded with what I thought was a very thought-provoking comment, which after thinking about it I decided probably deserved further exploration. He says:

1.) Plagues to kill thousands of people
2.) Parting the Red Sea to drown thousands of people
3.) disintegrate a city’s massive stone walls using only trumpets to kill every living thing in it
4.) make the sun stand still in the sky and prolong the day so they can kill more people
5.) make earthquakes happen, so that they rip the earth into a chasm which swallows up our enemies
6.) trigger massive meteor showers that will utterly destroy entire cities

These wouldn’t be miracles from a God that I could ever consider worshiping.

You are entitled to your opinion but you might want to drop the 6 examples above when you are out witnessing for Jesus.

This is an interesting question… Would it really be better to drop examples like those above when telling people about Jesus? Should we just focus on Jesus’ teachings on “loving our neighbor” etc., and try to whitewash the Bible as best we can? I certainly grew up being familiar with enough church circles who more or less attempted to do this very thing, in one way or another. Downplay the “scary” God of the Old Testament, all the wars, death, “weird stuff”, and just try to boil it all down to as simplistic an idea as possible in order to coax someone into saying the “sinner’s prayer”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging people from making simple prayers of repentance in faith. What I’m saying is simply that all of that stuff IS in there, and like it or not, you have to face it. Atheists are quite fond of bringing up what they believe are incredibly damning examples of this “genocidal God” who they regard as being oh so terribly cruel and unfair in causing the deaths of so many people, in so many ways…

The thing is, the Bible is essentially an epic war story. From beginning to end, it outlines the story of Creation, the Fall, and Redemption, in the context of a great spiritual battle between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Darkness.

warinheavenThe many examples of people being killed by war or plague in the Old Testament simply cannot be rightly understood outside of this broader spiritual context. People such as the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Greeks, the Romans, etc., etc., all of these peoples/nations were living under the worship and “covering” of their various pantheons of pagan gods, and under the influence of their demonic spiritual “princes” were constantly in opposition to the nation which God had set aside for Himself. The spiritual and physical battle lines can be understood to be very much intertwined when looked at from this perspective, and so it must be emphasized that nowhere in the Bible do we ever see God simply deciding to go wipe out some populace somewhere who were minding their own business, simply because God was like some bored sadistic child wanting to entertain himself by burning ants with a magnifying glass.

According to the Bible, the conflict did not originate in the Garden of Eden, but in the realm of heaven, involving an angelic individual named Lucifer who became proud and sought to take the Throne of the Almighty for himself. Whether we like it or not, all of humanity has been thrust into the epicenter of this cosmic battle, and ultimately every single one of us must choose which kingdom’s agenda we will serve. There is no “opting out”. No neutral parties in this war.

Like I said, many objections to the God of the Bible involve these questions of how a loving God could possibly kill humans who people who have rebelled against Him or the people He chose to implement his purposes. This has honestly never been much of a philosophical thorn in my side. It just hasn’t. Such arguments really couldn’t even be made in the first place if an omnipotent, omniscient God was actually as petulant and tyrannical as is being suggested, because you be fried by a lightning bolt the second you were about to open your mouth to criticize him.

Instead, I admit I have struggled FAR more with the simple question of why God would allow a majestic, angelic being such as Lucifer to Fall from Heaven and then wreak havoc upon the human race in the first place. My own human faculties would seem to think that it would’ve saved us all so much pain and heartache if he had just tossed Lucy into the pit or the lake of fire right from the start and just gotten it over with! Wouldn’t that have been so much more logical God, and saved us all so much hassle…?? Jesus wouldn’t have had to die, no need for a Flood, or a “Passover Lamb”, or Armageddon, or any of it. We’d all still be blissful nudists drinking fruit smoothies in the Garden, right?

But of course, that’s not what God elected to do, and instead He allowed the serpent to wind his way in there, and kick off this whole war, which someday will finally end when the “Seed of the Woman” destroys the “Seed of the Serpent”. The God of the Bible allows lots of seemingly unnecessary evil to persist longer than we would think makes sense, not only with Satan in the Garden, but with the Watchers who came down on Mt. Hermon, who are then later not destroyed, but instead imprisoned in a place called the Pit, or the “Abyss”, held in chains until a time in the future when they will once again be let out.
Again, to me this is one of those things that I must simply confess I don’t understand the full reasoning behind God’s decisions, but I simply have to trust it. God has allowed the Kingdom of Darkness to have dominion over this world, up until a point in the (near) future when the entire epic of world history will culminate in a very intensely climactic conclusion. In that time, there will once again be some seriously “Old-Testament-style” plagues and distributions of mass-death, yet just as it was in the days of Old Testament, it will not be something that anyone is left without a means of escaping…

In the modern political climate of the “war on terror”, we constantly hear about this idea of “winning hearts and minds”, and this is exactly what the Bible declares this epic War of the Kingdoms is ultimately all about. The Winner of this War was decided 2,000 years ago, when He laid down His own life and took it up again. We all have now have this pathway open to us, if we are but willing to lay down our own lives, in order to take them back up again. This is a battle that is ultimately fought, and won, by letting go. Letting go of your own little crown, your own little self-determined right to rule over your own life, your own definition of “morality”, your own ability to shape and harden your own conscience as it suits you. That is essentially the manifesto of the Fallen Cherub himself, the one who entices humanity into questioning God’s goodness, God’s wisdom, God’s love. Satan is the true god of Death, not Yeshua.

Those who were killed in the body by the God of Israel in the Old Testament had seared their consciences in just such a way, and chose to follow the flesh-gratifying enticements of their false gods, instead of bowing their knee to the true God who demonstrated His own superior might and majesty. We all ultimately face this same judgment ourselves, before the Throne, whether we die a violent death or of old age safely in our beds. The War is already won, but you must pick a side, and you will ultimately choose between the God of Perfect Love or the god of Death…

12 thoughts on “God of Love, or Death..?”

  1. Interesting stuff.

    It’s funny you say the bible is an epic war story, because I call it the greatest love story ever written. That speaks more to the nature of men and women and how we perceive things, however. Just from a literary perspective, the bible is amazing, because it tells a story within a story in whatever genre you speak best. I know a farmer who claims the bible is the greatest book on farming ever written. I would assume men would be more inclined to favor those biblical epic battles and acts of heroism, while I am all about studying the relationships between people 😉

    A couple of things come to mind, those six things listed are all about kill, kill, kill. We perceive death as a great horror, something we spend our lives trying to avoid. I don’t think God perceives death quite like we do. He is on the other side. He just sees us stepping from one side of the equation to the other. He sees the bigger picture, our continuation after death. Also, He suffered and sacrificed to free us of the curse of death, which is the act of a benevolent and loving God with a great deal of compassion for what we experience.

    As to why God did not just toss Satan and be done with it, I suspect it is because we ourselves are on a great journey. We’re in school so to speak. There are spiritual truths we need to learn, there is character that has to be built. We need to progress to the point of actually empathizing with God, understanding, totally knowing why His ways are desirable. We have to come into agreement with God.

    We weren’t in agreement with God in the garden and to this day we are not in agreement with Him.

    Just like kids, parents can bail them out, can warn them of all the dangers, but often kids simply have to learn for themselves. The only way to learn is to experience things, to gain some hands on wisdom that unfortunately often comes from suffering from your own stupidity.

    An interesting post, truth. I’m pretty much in agreement with everything you said.

    1. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about the rather male defined idea of epic battles and heroism. Yes, that has been misapplied all through history, but it’s also a rather good design, having more to do with protection, defense, and survival, rather than exploitation. 😉

      I have written a bit about empathizing with God and I should probably write more. Rather than blaming God when things go wrong, it can help to try and see things from His perspective, as limited as we are in that ability. When it’s not all about me, things just make a lot more sense and sometimes I can catch a glimpse of the wisdom behind what is going on.

  2. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament, which is not a hating but a loving God, though He took some actions which seem cruel for some today.

    May we also remind you that Jesus is the son of God and not like you and many others seem to believe, contrary to the words in the Holy Scriptures, the God son or the God Himself.

    1. You are making the Word in a person. Perhaps you would do the same with other words like wisdom, making it in your god, a god or The God.

      John’s Gospel opening is usually the chief reference on which the pre-existence and deity of Christ are argued. Trinitarians do not seem to see that the apostle is writing his book in the same way as the bereshith where is written that out of the void came the word which was the Voice of God creating. He created the universe and the 1° Adam. When the first man sinned he promised a new or 2° Adam (Jeshua or Jesus Christ). That word spoke or the promise made in the Garden of Eden became a reality some 2000 years ago.

      Yah Chanan writes (John 1:1-3): In the beginning the Word having been and the Word having been unto God and God having been the Word he having been, in the beginning, unto God all through his hand became: and without him not even one being whatever became.

      It does not say Jesus is the God but considers him, like in the bible Apollo, Zeus, Pharaoh, Moses, angels are called god, but we do hope you would not consider them to be the God divine Creator, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah!

      1. Jesus is a very important person for humankind and should therefore be fully respected. Jesus could sin but did not and proofed that a man can follow the Will of God. After Jesus was tempted more than once he gave himself for mankind and really died. God cannot be tempted and can not die.
        Jesus being the sent one from God who brought us salvation does not mean we do have to make him to our god. There is only One True God and that is the one to whom Jesus prayed and to Whom he (Jesus) learned us to pray to: the god of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, which was also Jehovah the God of the apostles and should be our God too.

    2. God, Who does not tell lies says Jesus is His only begotten beloved son, He does not say He is the one standing there in the river Jordan.

      “but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” (Galatians 4:4 ASV)

      “21 Now it came to pass, when all the people were baptized, that, Jesus also having been baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form, as a dove, upon him, and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. 23 And Jesus himself, when he began [to teach], was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the [son] of Heli,” (Luke 3:21-23 ASV)

      We have the impression that you believe that Jesus is the God instead of the son of God.

  3. Good post Truth. You make many good points. God’s holiness, goodness, and especially His justice really gets our cackles up. It’s His position, power and control that we sinners have a problem with. It’s actually His character that we despise. With regard to “pulling the plug”, He sort of did that by cursing our first parents, BUT and this is THE big but along with the CURSE of death is the PROMISE of a savior. Then, as you so nicely laid out, history is understood as a complex battle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. It’s quite difficult understand the GRACE of God away the context. We completely, totally are His property and are accountable. Our very existence presupposes this. Those who remain unrepentant substitute their sense of justice upon God. We are at war until we accept HIS truce. His truce is stranger than fiction.

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