The Layman's Bible

Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation

Is God in the Wrong?

People are often shocked by the way that God acts, especially in the Old Testament.  For example, we can read about what the Lord did to the Egyptians, who tried to follow the escaping Israelites through the Red Sea,

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. Not one of them survived (Exodus 14:23-28).

Is God in the Wrong (God Killing Egyptians)God killed all of the Egyptians, all of them.  They were running away and the Lord drowned every last one of Pharaoh’s men.  Not only that, but God’s plan for the inhabitation of the Promised Land included the complete genocide of its native people.  And even more, later when God became angry with Israel, he gave them into the hands of cruel and evil nations.  Even today people wonder if the worldwide economic depression, pandemics, and unusually devastating natural disasters might be a bit of overkill on God’s part.  Maybe he’s being a bit unfair, I mean, we’re only human.

In Jeremiah’s time, the Israelites were facing many difficulties not unlike we are today.  Jeremiah cried out to God again and again in Israel’s defense, but God refused to relent.  We can read one example in Jeremiah 14:7-9,

Although our sins testify against us,
O Lord, do something for the sake of your name.
For our backsliding is great;
We have sinned against you.
O Hope of Israel,
Its savior in times of distress,
Why are you like a stranger in the land,
Like a traveler who stays only a night?
Why are you like a man taken by surprise,
Like a warrior powerless to save?
You are among us, O Lord,
And we bear your name;
Do not forsake us!

Jeremiah, as the main prophet of his day, tried to evoke mercy from God.  He even went as far as calling the Lord’s image into account (which usually works in the Bible).  But the Lord held his ground and answered back,

“Why should I forgive you?
Your children have forsaken me
And sworn by gods that are not gods.
I supplied all their needs,
Yet they committed adultery
And thronged to the houses of prostitutes.
They are well-fed, lusty stallions,
Each neighing for another man’s wife.
Should I not punish them for this?”
Declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
On such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:7-9)

Our Lord felt no guilt for bringing suffering onto his people.  He gave them everything, and they turned against him.  In God’s eyes, he is completely justified, so again we read in Jeremiah 9:7-9,

Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“See, I will refine and test them,
For what else can I do
Because of the sin of my people?
Their tongue is a deadly arrow;
It speaks with deceit.
With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor,
But in his heart he sets a trap for him.
Should I not punish them for this?”
Declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
On such a nation as this?”

Is God in the wrong when he brings disaster?  Has his punishment been uncalled for in the past and is it uncalled for today?  God’s answer is simple, “’Why do you bring charges against me?  You have all rebelled against me,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 2:29).

Does the Lord ask too much of us?  David was a man after God’s heart, and in Psalm 37 he tells us about what the Lord wants from each of us and what will happen to those who follow the Lord and what happens with those who don’t.  He writes,

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
And he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
Trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
The justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
Do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
When they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
Do not fret- it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
But those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land (Psalms 37:3-9).

God says to trust in him and commit your way to him and good things will happen to you; if you don’t, then things won’t go so well.  For a New Testament spin on this, we can read Acts 16:30-31, “He brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household.’”  Trust in our Lord and his son, Jesus Christ, and he will save you.  Is this too much to ask?  Some believe it is.

Is God in the Wrong (Puritains Praying)I think that a big reason so many Americans are turning away from the Lord these days is that they have forgotten our country’s history and have somehow taken God out of what is actually a God-founded country.  Our ancestors (I say this as an “American,” leaving behind my actual ancestry) came to this country in hopes of being able to escape from religious oppression in England, you see, the early Americans wanted to be free to practice their particularly conservative brand of Christianity.  The US was founded by people who wholly feared God and tried to keep his commands to the letter.  As such, God blessed our nation- just like he blessed the people of Israel (a nation also founded by those that feared the Lord).  Moses sang and prophesized about Israel’s future before dying.  He sang of Israel (as though singing about a person),

The Lord alone led him;
No foreign god was with him.
He made him ride on the heights of the land
And fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock,
And with oil from the flinty crag,
With curds and milk from herd and flock
And with fattened lambs and goats,
With choice rams of Bashan
And the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape (Deuteronomy 32:12-14).

This prophecy turned out to be very true, God led his people and while they were under him they flourished greatly.  America, too, was led by God and through God became the greatest nation in the world.

But after God led Israel to greatness, the mood changed.  Moses continues in his prophetic song,

Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
Filled with food, he became heavy and sleek.
He abandoned the God who made him
And rejected the Rock his Savior.
They made him jealous with their foreign gods
And angered him with their detestable idols.
They sacrificed to demons, which are not God-
Gods they had not known
Gods that recently appeared,
Gods your fathers did not fear.
You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
You forgot the God who gave you birth (Deuteronomy 32:15-18).

Israel sold itself into the arms of other God s and began to deny the existence of our God at all (and Moses totally called it before it happened!).  This is where America is too these days.  Moses tells us, “The Lord saw this and rejected them, because he was angered by his sons and daughters” (Deuteronomy 32:19).  The US has gotten fat and has tried to rid itself of God.  Since the US (and ultimately the world) is trying to deny God, he has this to say,

“I will hide my face from them,” he said,
“And see what their end will be;
For they are a perverse generation,
Children who are unfaithful” (Deuteronomy 32:20).

“Very well then,” our Lord says, “Let’s see how they do without me.”  You see, all that is happening today is not a divine hand pressing down, it is a divine shield removed.

Our lord got us this far, and now without him things are getting all messed up.  Do we have any right to complain as atheism, perversion, dishonesty run wild and most people do whatever they see fit?  Look at what is happening in Europe, America!  Just or unjust, God is God and his will wins out.  God is real and he is not happy.  So even today he is speaking to us through his Word, letting us know his heart and hoping against hope that we will come back to him and his Son and get our pride down and do right.  Otherwise there is nothing left to say because God has already said it,

“Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord.
“Should you not tremble in my presence?
I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
An everlasting barrier it cannot cross.
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
They may roar, but they cannot cross it.
But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts;
They have turned aside and gone away.
They do not say to themselves,
‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
Who gives autumn and spring rains in season,
Who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’
Your wrongdoings have kept these away;
Your sins have deprived you of good.
Among my people are wicked men
Who lie in wait like men who snare birds
And like those who set traps to catch men.
Like cages full of birds,
Their houses are full of deceit;
They have become rich and powerful
And have grown fat and sleek.
Their evil deeds have no limit;
They do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it,
They do not defend the rights of the poor.
Should I not punish them for this?”
Declares the Lord.
“Should I not avenge myself
On such a nation as this?” (Jeremiah 5:22-29)

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2013 by in Bible Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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