Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Because He Said So

One of the things that I love about reading straight through the Bible is that it helps to see the personality and character of God in a more complete picture. He becomes a fuller subject, rather than a smorgasbord of adjectives or metaphors that seem to fit in some contexts but not in others.

For example, we know that God is love by 1 John 4:7-13.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

God is a refuge in all times. (Just read the accounts of Joseph, Joshua, Ruth and the Psalms as a starting place to see God's provisions and protections.)

God is mighty in all things. The flood (Gen 7), Israelites exodus from Egypt (Exodus 6-14), battles (Joshua 6, 8, 10 and 12) and the cross (Matthew - John) are just a minute few examples of his power.

And yet he also is able to punish to the nth degree where warranted as seen in the flooding of the earth when all of mankind was wicked, the utter and complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah for their perverse and contrary ways and in Numbers 16 when Korah, Dathan Abiram and 250 others rose up against Moses and Aaron, wanting to claim priesthood too. When they opposed Moses and Aaron, they were actually opposing God and his laws. When God punished those men for their insolence, he allowed the earth to swallow the men, their wives and all their children and grandchildren in punishment, burying them alive (vs 32-33). That just gives me the willies!

And the 250 who where also wanting to be ordained priests without the permission of God?

35 and fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

And it went further when others who saw these things and grumbled that Moses and Aaron killed those Israelites, the Lord caused a plague to wipe out almost 15,000 more people, only stopping because Moses and Aaron where offering incense in defense of the people.

Sometimes God just seems angry and unjust in his actions.

But when starting at Genesis and reading through Revelations, I see a more defining image of him. He's becoming more and more clear in who he is the more I read straight through the Bible. He's not just a God of right and wrong or a God who commands my fear and trembling. He's compassionate, forgiving, fair and he's right to no end just because he is God. Even when my human, fair-minded feeble mind objects to events that seem unjustified, I know that they are just because God deemed them to be. I'm able to step back and say, "Well, I don't get it, but I know that you're God and I don't have to get it."

But the one thing that has stuck in my mind during my reading this time is this: God is faithful even when I am not. The keeping of his promises is not dependent on any actions on my part. Why? Because he said he would keep them and unlike me, he is a God of his word.

I would guess that most of us envision the cross when we think about God's unconditional love. But did you know that God showed his faithfulness and love way before the cross? Just as an example - in Deuteronomy, he took Israelites to the promised land knowing full well they would disobey and turn from him. He knew it so well that he gave the Israelites a song to learn and to teach to their children regarding their disobedience before he let them enter Canaan. He wanted the Israelites to know that he was faithful and just despite their habit of rejecting him and his love.

I don't know about you, but understanding this kind of devotion and love before and after the cross fills me with relief as a Christian because God is who he said he would be. And in that fact is my peace because I know I'm going to fail. But even more secure in my understanding is the knowledge that God will be there to pick me up again, to brush me off, to take my hand and to continue on our way together - just as he said he would do.

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