I really don’t understand God. Now, this might be a Captain Obvious moment, but it is on my mind right now. Our church is reading through the bible, out loud, in marathon fashion. I signed up for Monday morning, and when I got there, the previous person was finishing up with Joshua, so I ended that and started Judges. A lot of bad stuff goes on in Judges. While there is a whole lot of “and the people did evil in the sight of the LORD”, there are also a lot of things God said and did that don’t fit my ideas of who He is. You can’t read it any other way than he ordered people killed, and even arranged things to teach the Israelites about war.
Jg 3:1 Now these are the nations which Jehovah left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan;
2 only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as beforetime knew nothing thereof:
We see God as dealing with us as individuals. That is how He is portrayed in many circumstances. In the old Testament, His relationship with humans is focused on nation building, so that the things that benefit that end get His blessing, even if men are killed for it. When you take into account that His view of things is eternal, so that even if we suffer and die, that is but a moment prior to eternal life, it does put things in a different perspective. However, we don’t have that perspective. No one has come back from the other side to say, “Here’s how things look from the other side.”
Now, I have heard people say “I can’t believe in a God who would let x happen.” Which I think is a very confused statement. Similar to, ” I can’t accept weather that has tornadoes in it.” Does your accepting or believing change what is? If I don’t believe that tornado is coming, will that make it not happen? Far better to say,” I can’t understand a God who lets “x” happen.”
Some people think that God changed between the old and new testament, or that the God of the old and new are not the same one. Outside of the fact that most mainstream Christian denominations don’t believe that, it doesn’t make sense. If you read the new, Christ is clearly talking about the God who created all, and that is the God of Genesis.
Some people just shrug and say, “we live in a Genesis three world.” Which is true. The third chapter of Genesis is when the fall happens, and once that occurred, everything changed. That statement seems to gloss over the mind numbing depth of evil that occurs here on a daily basis. Reading the old Testament shows you God is no stranger to what is going on here. He is also strangely silent when it comes to commenting on it. Read chapter 19 of Judges. Did the woman pray as she lay on the doorstep dying? Did she curse her husband, safe on the other side? I’m sure there are those who would say she deserved it, since she was a concubine and “played the harlot”. I think that is a pathetic argument in light of her fate. And how about all the men who raped her? If you read on, they die too, but when I think of an omnipotent God, none of this needed to happen. I know, I know, “free will”. Is it any wonder that he just wiped most of the people out in the flood? And before you start the argument, “he created us, so how can he get mad at us”, look at us as parents. We create our kids, and we still expect them to behave, because we know they are capable of doing so. We are capable of being good, extraordinarily so, yet we hurt each other in ways big and small, on a daily basis.
It is obvious that Christ’s coming changed the world. If it were not for him, we might still be doing things like what goes on in that chapter of Judges. By that I mean thinking it is ok to sacrifice your wife to save yourself. I truly believe it is his influence that changed the world. I just heard on the news last night that Turkey has taken a strongly Islamic turn, and the murder rate of women has risen 1400%. Obviously, through Christ, God has changed the hearts of men. And it is Christ. Our world did not become the place where caring for others, protecting the vulnerable and defending women and children was common until Christ’s influence was felt. Even if you didn’t believe, once His principles became the norm, you risked public censure and criminal proceedings if you violated His standards. This doesn’t mean that there is no violent crime in Christian nations. Far from it. However, there is the common social pact that agrees that such things are wrong and need to be punished. The change that Christ wrought in the world is not a black and white one, but rather a matter of degree.
If you feel this blog article is rambling and disjointed, well, I guess that means I did a good job of outlining my thoughts on God. Like I said, I don’t understand Him. There are many times when I wish he created us without the violent streak. It wouldn’t have stopped us from having free will. And maybe he didn’t put it there, but if you want to argue the devil, well, God allowed him his sway over us, so in essence it all comes back around to God.
Before you say “see, we need to eliminate all religious belief, that’s the source of all the killing and hate”, we tried that with fascism, communism, totalitarianism, etc. You can see how peaceful those non-religious belief systems were. (That’s sarcasm for those who don’t know their history, look up Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, etc, etc.) “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” It really doesn’t seem to matter what the prevailing belief system is, we, as a group, are violent and nasty.
Do I have a point to this? No. I was hoping that as I wrote, my thoughts would become more coherent, that things would make more sense. In the end, it is up to each of us to keep our noses clean, and to follow after God as individuals. That is expected of us, that much is clear in the Bible. The rest, well, maybe it will make sense someday.