Still chugging through the Old Testament, though I did get set back about a week. No matter – the important thing is to keep going, because the power is in the Word, not in the doing (though that’s obviously important too).
Anyway, I just finished 2 Kings, and before that was, well, 1 Kings, and then the Samuels, a little bit of Ruth for some respite from the warfare, and then Judges and Joshua before that, and, well, it keeps going till Genesis. But the point is, a lot of these books are filled with some pretty gruesome, bloody warfare and murders. Take 300 and multiply by…a lot. Entire tribes and nations got wiped out because He said some words. On a smaller scale, families and individuals died because of their sin. You burned the sacrifice wrongly. Bam, you’re dead. You mourn for your two dead sons – sorry dude. You rebel… The ground eats you. Seems kinda harsh, doesn’t it? They weren’t even given time to repent!
The really difficult part to grapple with is the fact that the Bible states that God commanded a good many of these things to take place. It’s a huge issue among non-believers… How can God kill people and be good and just and everything you Christians say He is?
I’ll be the first to say I don’t have the answers. But there’s a lot that I don’t understand but still choose to put my faith in. God’s the best of ’em.
We could start by saying that God is sovereign, the He is the Righteous Judge, that He can pretty much do whatever He wants – but remember everything He does is for our own good. These aren’t really convincing arguments to someone who doesn’t believe those things in the first place. I’m not here to make you believe; I don’t think I could do that, if arguments could. I’m just trying to figure this out myself, and this is what I know: Even to me, someone who believes God is who He says He is, the God I read about in the Old Testament seems like the evil twin of the God I read about in the New Testament – until I meet Jesus. See, the thing is, OT God was just upholding the law. That’s what a good judge does. If the law says, do this and you die, then the judge who sentences to death someone who commits that crime is upholding justice. God is a God of justice. He was then, He is now, and He will be forever. I don’t know why He decided to send Jesus when He did – why not earlier, why not later, why at all – but He did. And Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins. The perfect sacrifice – the sacrifice of all sacrifices. That’s why we don’t need to be slaughtering lambs every day and dealing with all the blood and innards…yuck, thank God. God didn’t suddenly change His stripes and decide we no longer needed to die for our sins. The wages of sin is death – always was, always will be. But all those deaths we should’ve died, Jesus died for us.
I don’t think I ever really understood that, but reading through the Old Testament and seeing death as the consequence of sin being carried out so swiftly and literally is helping me to grasp just a little of this great mystery. I should’ve been dead at least 1000 times over. But Jesus died all those 1000 times and more for me. His death covered all the deaths I should’ve died.
Golly gee. (Internally, that’s being translated into some crazy worship and thanksgiving… And externally, that will hopefully be translated into some fruitful living. Because that is the only response you can have to something like this.) Golly gee.