OUR WORLD AND gOD'S WAYS Published week of SEPTEMBER 5, 2020
We know according to the Scripture that God hates sin. He will not contend with the sin here on this earth forever. This can be evidenced from a sampling of true stories from the Bible. First, in God's divine holiness and judgment, He destroyed every living creature on the earth (except for Noah and his family) with a fierce flood of water and anger (Genesis 7). Secondly, because of the peoples’ wickedness, God rained down burning sulfur to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). Third, God’s instructions to His people when they took possession of the Promised Land was to drive out every living thing so that they wouldn’t be tempted to worship their false gods (Numbers 33). This is just a sampling, but there are are many more similar events throughout the history of God’s people.
These passages are sometimes used in an attempt to disprove God’s existence by saying a real God could not be so cruel and ruthless. I have also witnessed religious people misuse these passages, to condone hateful attitudes and actions towards certain people. Then there are well-meaning Christians who will even try to explain God’s actions by saying, “That was the Old Testament,” as if God has somehow changed between the Old and New Testaments. By now, I think you know what I am going to say next . . . all of these responses are grievous misuses of God’s word. The first blames God for man’s actions. The second manipulates God for man’s actions. And the third denies the very nature of God.
God is not cruel or hateful; and He has not changed from the Old to New Testament. However, He does hate sin. If all of the aforementioned passages are read in context, God’s patience, grace and kindness are evident, along with His wrath. God gives opportunity after opportunity for repentance. He also warns people of His coming judgment. God takes no delight in destroying that which He has created for His glory. Why would He?
But listen carefully, His love for people does not trump His wrath against sin. Both are equally part of His character. Does He love all people, even His enemies? Yes. Does He hate sin and all who do evil (see Psalm 5:5)? Yes. Does He long for all people to repent and be saved? Yes. Will He punish those who do not? Yes. He cannot forego either His wrath or His grace. If He did either, He would cease to be God.
These are the mysteries of God that are unfathomable, as Job 11:7 asks two questions, “Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” The implied answer is that we cannot understand all of His ways, nor should we seek to. But we do know that God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, and wants all men to repent and live. (Ezekiel 18:32).
“Dear Lord God. Your ways are far above my ways and there is so much I cannot understand. Lord, I will do my best to trust your Word and cling to it, knowing that You desire for all people to repent and live. Please use me today to show others Your love for them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”