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November 14, 2013

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Simon Adler

Having a debate about the devil being God's servant, or, the devil acting of his own will, is actually very unimportant. If you're a Christian then you must believe that God will accomplish HIS will and HIS plan. He already has it all figured out. There is no debating that.

Satan opposes GOD and acts against him with his own will. God is all knowing and all powerful. How can anything that happens not, in the least, be allowed to happen by God's will? If God created the universe and allows a devil, or evil men, or negative events to occur then he is, at least, secondarily responsible through inaction by HIS divine will. And, regardless, God's divine plan will never be altered by the devil, or anyone else.

Of course, that assignment of responsibility can only be attributed by looking at the world through our view of linear time. God's will encompasses all of time. I've heard God's will described as a tapestry - each small event is described as a thread in the rug. God can see the whole rug - which is good (or HIS plan, which must be good, if you believe in God as holy) - but we can only see the threads which may appear as good, bad, disastrous, filled with blessings, etc.

Therefore, trying to determine the devil's position, whether or not free will exists for the devil, or humans, is actually insignificant, because it will never change God's will.

You can not have a God that is all powerful, omnipresent, outside of time, and has a 'master plan,' without coming to terms with the reality that bad things happen. The hard truth is that God allows "bad" things to happen because these "bad" things are threads that fit within the greater tapestry of his plan. I think this better explains the Jewish view. They understood that the world, in reality, is filled with good and "bad" events. If an all powerful God exists, then we have to come to terms with this belief by attributing these events, good and bad, to God's all knowing plan.

Devils, demons, bad men, bad events, sin...it all is allowed to happen under God's plan for HIS ultimate glory in a way that mortal men can not understand.

How else can you logically explain it?


rafael kratka

The best article i ever read on bible!

J Daniel

This article is really good. I too thought the same way for long, but still questions remain. Can God be impotent to permit the evil angel continue to wreak havoc in the world for thousands of years thwarting God divine plans? How can we call the old testament as inspired by God? There is a great contrast between the God Jesus Christ revealed and the people of OT revealed? Can it both be from God? How can our short-term physical sins can have punishment of eternal consequences, if God is just and loving? Even after Jesus came to destroy the work of the Devil, the work of darkness of stealing, killing, and destruction has increased manifold from religions that came after Jesus Christ left the world?

Hermano

“Fighting For God's Nonviolence” at The Evangelical Universalist at

http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=5596

also discusses this article, contrasting it with the ideas of René Girard and his Mimetic Theory. (There are comments by Richard Murray, Kevin Miller, and Michael Hardin, among others.)

Hermano

Please consider “Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?”
at
http://www.evangelicaluniversalist.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=6581

which serves as a pointer to this article.

Blessings.

Liam

Something interesting to consider: Many times Christian people tend to side with the idea that all other religions are of Satan, but i disagree. I don't believe that Yahuah only spoke to Jewish people, especially when all people are his children. I tend to think he spoke with people all over the globe, but just like evidence of corruption in Judaism by Satan I think corruption occurred in other religions as well. That means there is some truth in all religions and the ability for elements to be harmonized with Yahusha (Jesus) as the measuring stick for concepts to be measured against. If it matches with Yahusha's portrayal of Yahuah then it works and if not then it doesn't.

Going one step further, consider that the truth of the nature of God was hidden and change during the middle ages. What entity would benefit from covering the truth? Of course it's Satan, but consider that Zoroastrianism was also lost during the middle ages. If Zoroastrianism was the work of Satan and a tool he would use to knock Christians off the right path, why discard your tool? Chances are Zoroastrianism was not as much of an enemy as most come to think, but probably exposure to evil being done by a different entity all together. This is exactly what Zoroastrianism teaches and the Jews had exposure to this after Cyrus set them free. I tend to think that Yahuah was using the Persians to explain why the evil was befalling the Jews during their exile.

Murray bread

there's Just one life......

Larry Moore

Good stuff Richard and the others who offered comments. Jordan Madison may want to look into the teachings of Dr Caroline Leaf from South Africa. Since you (Jordan) are integrating psych and theology, her research on brain and thought would blend wonderfully for the gestalt you are forming.

Richard Murray

Sorry for the delayed response Adam. Here are my thoughts on Sodom and Gomorrah. Hope it helps.

WHO "REALLY" DESTROYED SODOM AND GOMORRA? WHERE WAS GOD? WHERE WAS SATAN?


In Genesis 18 three men, thought by most commentators to have been angels appearing as men, came to Abram (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre. After the angels received the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah, his wife, the LORD revealed to Abraham that he would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, because their cry was great, "and because their sin is very grievous."(Gen 18:20).

In response, Abraham inquired of the LORD if he would spare the city if 50 righteous people were found in it, to which the LORD agreed he would not destroy it for the sake of the righteous yet dwelling therein. Abraham then inquired of God for mercy at lower numbers (first 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally at 10), with the LORD agreeing each time. (Gen 18:22-33).

Two of the angels proceeded to Sodom and were met by Abraham's nephew Lot, who convinced the angels to lodge with him, and they ate with Lot. Then (not having found even 10 righteous people in the city), they commanded Lot to gather his family and leave. As they made their escape, one angel commanded Lot to "look not behind thee. (Genesis 19:17). However, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with brimstone and fire from the LORD, Lot's wife looked back at the city, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:23-26).

What is going on here? Well, much like the flood, there was a continual increase in the wicked and a continual decrease in the righteous. The Lord here assured Abraham that a mere ten righteous men in the city would allow the Lord's protective presence to keep Satanic destruction from descending. But, there were NOT ten righteous men left. Satan had access to steal, kill and destroy because of the inflating lack of faith in the city. But Lot was righteous, even if only marginally so. For this reason, God sent angels to deliver him out of the coming destruction.

Do you see? God was, like a heroic fireman, rescuing Lot from a soon-to-be burning building. Satan, on the other hand, was calling in the airstrike of his wrath to destroy those he had increasingly corrupted and those who had increasingly quenched and grieved away God's protective presence. The Lord's protective presence had constricted down to just Lot and his family. Satan filled in the vacuum of God's quenched presence with his massive missiles of destruction.

Remember, the Lord's protective presence waxes and wanes depending on the various levels of individual and corporate faith present in those involved. This doesn't happen overnight. Only repeated and rampant quenching of the Holy Spirit can so enable Satan to kill on such a wide scale as this. And how do we know it was Satan who killed here with fire from the sky? Hebrews 2:14 is always the key in this type of question.

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood , he also himself likewise took part of the same ; that through death he might DESTROY him that had the POWER of DEATH , that is , the devil ; And DELIVER them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage ." Hebrews 2:14-15. Simply put, God does not kill. He quickens, heals, protects, purifies and purges, BUT He never kills---- NEVER! It is NOT in His nature, just like lying is not in His character, just like coercion is not in His character, just like cruelty is not in His character.

We know from earlier writings that the Old Testament Saints did not have a full or proper understanding of Satan. They thought the devil was an obedient angel of God lawfully executing God's wrath. They thought Satan was the death angel dutifully carrying out the Lord's instructions, RATHER than rightly seeing Satan as a cosmic villain, the father of sin and lies, a rebel murderer opposed to God on every level. Satan was indeed the death angel, but not in service to God, but rather in open rebellion to him. Jesus repeatedly revealed Satan as an enemy of God, NOT His servant.

The resultant problem was that the writer of Genesis wrongly attributed the works of Satan to God. This was BECAUSE the author had an UNDIFFERENTIATED view of God. He thought Satan was God's left hand. He was wrong. So, we are commissioned as "able ministers of the New Covenant, not of THE LETTER but OF the SPIRIT" (2 Corinthians 3:6), to go back in this Old Testament story and redivide it according to the New Testament truth of John 10:10, which states Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, while Jesus comes only to give abundant life. We are called to DIFFERENTIATE the works of Satan from the works of God. The Old Testament couldn't do this without the indwelling Pentecost of the Holy Spirit. But we can! Hallelujah, we can!

Richard Murray

Thanks FI, here is my article on Ananias and Saphira. Hope it resonates.

"CSI" JERUSALEM: WHO MURDERED ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA?

Were Ananias and Sapphira killed by the Holy Spirit as many claim (Acts 5:1-11)? Well, the passage doesn't even "literally" say that God killed them, so we have to look closer at the passage's subtext to do a fair CSI investigation as to the true cause of their deaths.

Peter asked Sapphira in the literal Greek of verse 9, "Why did the two of you agree to pressure the Spirit?" (Word Study Greek-English New Testament, Paul R. McReynolds, Tyndall, pp. 441 (1999). In other words, why did you two push away the protective presence of God? The implication is clear then that Satan, not God, is the culprit here. Satan "filled their hearts" to lie, then Ananias and Sapphira quenched away God's protective presence with their sin, then Satan filled the vacuum in their hearts with his oppressive condemnation, and they both died.
McReynolds' interlinear translation of 1 Corinthians 10:9 describes this same dynamic. "But not we might PRESSURE OUT the Christ, just as some of them PRESSURED and by the snakes were destroyed." Interlinear translations can be a little awkward to our ear, but they often give us the gold of better understanding Scripture texts.

Do you see what this Acts passage now describes? Ananias and Sapphira's rampant neglect and disbelief toward God, combined with their fear toward their circumstances, all combined to do the following. THEY PRESSURED OUT THE PROTECTIVE PRESENCE OF CHRIST AND WERE DESTROYED BY SATAN. And just how did Satan kill them? Below, we will see that Satan used his favorite weapons-- fear and condemnation-- to kill these two pathetic people.

But, how do we know God didn't kill them? Because Hebrews 2:14-15 says Satan has the power of death, not God. John 10:10 says Satan kills men, not God. 1 Corinthians 5:5 says Satan destroys the flesh of men, not God.
And actually, the passage doesn't say anybody actually killed them, but they themselves "gave up the ghost" (spirit) AFTER hearing Peter's words of condemnation. It may well be that they feared Peter's words so much that they just surrendered their will to live.

We all know, or have heard of, people who give up on life in despair, some gradually, others in an instant in time. Some "give up their spirit" because of a broken heart, or impending sickness or disaster. Perhaps they were so worried about their sin because it was one of the first of the church age, and they thought it was perhaps unforgivable.

In other words, it appears Annanias and Sapphira were condemned to death. But was this God's will? Was it God's best? Did Peter show them the same grace he himself received when he betrayed the Lord three times in one night? What if somebody in apostolic authority, James or John for instance, told Peter to essentially "drop dead" in the wake of his sin, might he also have given up the ghost?

Did Peter extend God's grace to them to NOT hold this sin to their account, as Jesus did, as the martyr Stephen did, or did he even try to minister repentance to them, to counsel them, to pray for them, to intercede for them, to lay hands on them to be forgiven and healed, or any of the other things Scripture and later Church practice advised?

What about this passage? "Brethren , if a man be overtaken in a fault , ye which are spiritual , restore such an one in the spirit of meekness ; considering thyself , lest thou also be tempted ." Galatians 6:1.

Why, in Jesus' name, was the space to repent NOT offered to Ananias and Sapphira in this situation by Peter?

Matthew 18:15-17 instructs us how to FIRST go privately to one caught up in a trespass, THEN to go with other witnesses if the private correction is not received by the person, and only THEN to bring public confrontation if the person remains unrepentant. And even then, the worse punishment is excommunication, NOT murder.

Do you see? God's way is to confront a sin WITH the goal of restoration and repentance of the sinner, NOT summary execution. Why wasn't this gracious dynamic followed?

Was the spirit of these merciful passages just cited above followed by Peter? No, Peter appeared to quickly and immediately condemn them, after which he basically just stepped out of the way and let the Devil have them. If lying to the Holy Spirit by holding back some of our resources REALLY mandated immediate Holy Ghost execution, then how many of us would still be standing? How many of us would not have been executed long ago? Perhaps the morale of this passage is more about Peter's mercy-deficit than it is about Annaias and Sapphira's faith-deficit.

Peter was not perfect. He had a well known quick trigger when it came to anger or frustration. He was quick to use the physical sword to cut an ear off an approaching soldier. He was also quick to use the verbal sword, such as when he told Simon the sorcerer to perish on the spot along with his money. Perhaps, Peter was also quick here to likewise thrust a murderous impulse here to Ananias and Sapphira.
If Paul had the guts to "withstand Peter to his face" (Galatians 2:11) for possible spiritual error, shouldn't we too have the guts if, of course, the Holy Spirit so leads?

But, didn't great fear come on the church in the wake of these deaths? It can be argued that the "great fear" that came on the church in the wake of this event, and the subsequent healing of the sick from Peter's cast shadow, came more from men wrongly, excessively and fearfully elevating Peter rather than through the exercising of pure faith in Christ.

If we, as part of a young and inexperienced church body, saw a revered leader such as Peter appear to instill such fear that people dropped dead, literally scared and condemned to death, then we too might start to idolize his "shadow." His presence, word and opinion might supplant or displace our faith in Jesus. We might turn Peter into an earthly Pope, kiss his ring, worship his shadow, etc. If people got legitimately healed from Peter's ministry, it was despite Peter's anger, not because of it.

And here is another thought. If the common interpretation is correct that God had Peter denounce Ananias and Sapphira to death for withholding truth and resources from the Holy Spirit, then Church history should be full of famous Christians who likewise verbally struck down and assassinated all the millions upon millions who have, at one time or another, withheld truth or resources from God ever since Ananias and Saphira. In fact, we should still be seeing people regularly executed as a normal part of Church meetings and discipline.

But, that is not the case.

So, again, when Peter appears a little too quick on the trigger to tell people to "drop dead" for their transgressions ( Sapphira and Simon in Acts 5 and 8), should we willing to withstand his actions if our conscience compels us?
Do we follow the Holy Ghost or Peter? Jesus or Peter? I honestly can't see Jesus telling anybody to drop dead on the spot. That ain't the way He rolled. Jesus might rattle their religious cage, but He never cursed someone to die on the spot. Be merciful seven times seventy, overcome evil with good, bless your enemy and pray for them that despitefully use you. Don't see "curse them to die or perish on the spot" on that list in Matthew 5:38-48.

And don't get me wrong, I love Peter, but are we to assume he was flawless in his every dealing? Paul sure didn't.

None of us are yet flawless in ministering the mercies of God. After telling Simon to "perish" along with his money, Simon asks Peter to pray for him that the things Peter spoke not happen to him. But, Scripture is silent as to whether Peter then prayed for him. I sure hope he did. I would definitely withstand Peter to his face if he didn't on that issue. Jesus is our model, not Peter.

These are all questions the Holy Spirit wants to minister to us. It is understandable that the infant Church might have less tolerance and patience than a more mature and experienced group of believers. I know when I was newly converted and freshly fervent in the Spirit, my tolerance level for others' unbelief was small. I would have been just as firm and ferocious as Peter. But, with time and maturity, and after suffering through many of my own grievous failures, my patience for people's shortcomings, sins, and failures has exponentially increased. I am not nearly as quick to pull the condemnation trigger as I used to be.

Paul had the courage to "withstand Peter to his face" when Peter was wrong (Galatians 2:11). Perhaps WE should "withstand Peter to his face" in this passage as well. But regardless, one thing is certain. God did not kill Ananias and Sapphira. Satan did. Satan was certainly working lies and crippling condemnation in their hearts, and possibly in the hardening Peter's heart toward them as well which kept him from ministering protective mercy. But, Satan was the true assassin here any way you look at it.

Here are two audio teachings I did on the Ananias and Sapphira issue. They are really worth a listen.

Part one begins at the 7:50 mark of this recording. http://www.thegoodnessofgod.com/01_SESSION_5__2_1.mp3
Part two begins immediately on this recording. http://www.thegoodnessofgod.com/01_SESSION_6__1_1.mp3
SESSION 5 2 1
THEGOODNESSOFGOD.COM

Fi

Thanks for this article Richard. It is like a glass of fresh, cool, logical water in a parched, topsy-turvy desert of Christian thinking! An oasis. You do not mention the story of Ananias and Sapphira in NT times. It has always troubled me since it spreads fear that God will zap us if we lie to him. I know Peter attributes the attitude of their hearts to Satan, but the passage leaves the impression that God dealt with them by snuffing them out. Perhaps the reference to the 'great fear' that seized the church is a clue as to the source? Since God is not the author of fear and he does not use fear to manipulate us into being 'good'? I hope I'm getting it. This Bible is a tricky book to handle.

Adam

Does this also apply to the story of Sodom and Gamora? cause that one has been causing me quite a bit of worry. especially since it's debatable what the moral of the story actually is(some say it's that being homosexual is wrong, others that it's the act of trying to rape people is wrong.i just have a hard time believing god punishes us for for genuinely loving people of the same gender. i myself am a heterosexual but i know quite a few good people who are gay).

Richard Murray

Rene, Thanks for the insightful comments. That it makes you "want to love more" is the very best compliment you could give. Blessings!

Richard Murray

Jordan, I am intrigued by your specialized terminology. As you develop this, I would like to stay in the loop. I am honored and excited the article blessed you. May there be many more revelatory "clicks" to come for both of us. :)

Jordan Madison

Richard, I want to say thank you for posting this. I shared it with a private group on Facebook and posted the following along with the link:

"About five years ago, I set out to try to read the Bible from cover to cover. After I read the story of "god" slaughtering thousands of Israelites because David counted the soldiers he had, I had to put it down. I just could not handle the wrathful, seemingly evil deity the OT portrayed. I've barely touched it since. It is to me almost like a trigger to someone with a spiritual version of PTSD. I remember telling God that if He were really loving, then there had to be a different way to understand these OT scriptures. Well, Brad Jersak's blog, The Clarion Journal, published this essay by Richard Murray a couple of weeks back. I found it after listening to Brad and Michael Hardin do (a podcast) on "the satan." I was beyond floored. I have been thinking through the implications since I first read it and there's lot to digest still, but I believe that God has finally answered my prayer, one prayed in earnest and in the midst of great struggle over 5 1/2 years ago. God is love and in Him there is NO darkness at all!!"

You have also helped me greatly to try and define what the satan is in the words and language of my own field, clinical psychology. I focus my research on interpersonal neurobiology currently and have formulated some thoughts on how "mind" as an embodied and relational process manifests the satanic when we act selfishly in our relationships. I am big on integrating psychology and theology (or any conciliatory attempt in various fields of knowledge). This view on evil is liberating for me personally and professionally. Thank you so much for sharing your love of God and what He has taught you about Himself! It's contagious :)

Richard Murray

Happy to respond to your two questions Lazarus. :) I have just completed an in depth article I have called the JESUS HERMENEUTIC: THE GLOrY OF ALLEGORY. It will help with some of your questions. Here is the link.
https://www.facebook.com/richard.murray.1840/posts/616465755080145

Now, as to your specific questions, here are my responses.

1) THE INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURES

This leads us to a very important question. What is the inspiration of Scriptures? “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Tim. 3:16. Does the term “given by inspiration of God” mean that God took over the minds of the authors and dictated every word of the Bible in the exact order and sentence structure used? Or, does “inspired” have another meaning.

For instance, Oprah Winfrey was recently embroiled in a controversy about her recommendation of a book entitled A Million Little Pieces, which was allegedly a true story of a drug abuser’s fall and eventual recovery from severe addiction. Although Oprah’s support helped make the book a bestseller, trouble came when certain events in the book were proven to be exaggerated, embellished and occasionally untrue. The author was humiliated and disgraced, although book editors all agreed that there would have been no controversy if the author had affixed the following language to his manuscript - - “Inspired by a True Story.”

In other words, the term “inspiration” doesn’t mandate perfect adherence to historical and literal fact. “Inspiration” allows and acknowledges that the author’s writing has a core motivation based in real experience, but that the author’s limited and unique perception as well as his freedom of expression result in the writing often being non- literal, only partially factual, and on occasion historically imprecise.

For instance, the Academy Award winning movie Braveheart is “inspired” by the life of the Scottish hero William Wallace, yet historians all agree that very few scenes were historically accurate. And yet the movie was deeply inspirational and moving on every level. Does it being factually less accurate take away from its legitimate inspiration? Thebook and movie The End of the Spear both tell the inspirational story of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and several other Christian missionaries killed by Ecuadoran tribesmen, who later became Christians and friends of the martyrs’ families.

Both movie and book claim to be inspired by the true story. Yet, the book and movie don’t contain the literal, blow by blow, word for word, scene for scene, account of the historical event. Nobody could accurately account for every actual word said, every actual sequence of events, every actual tone of voice, every actual emotion\thought \impulse of the people involved. But does it really matter if the story is at all points and times 100% literal and factual? Or, is it more important the story catches the true essence and tone of a special occurrence?

If all we are looking for are just the facts, then newspapers are the highest form of written truth. But, if we are looking for deeper meaning, burning inspiration and compelling motivation, then we must go to a form of writing where the author has elbow room to excite and exhort the imaginations of its readers. Lower forms of these writings include novels, plays, essays, poems and editorials. The highest form of this type of writing is Holy Scripture.

Scripture can be read as a literal-historical document in that it contains much “newspaper” type of information. But the fact that it is also “inspired by God” takes it to another level altogether. This higher level is more concerned with Spiritual meaning from God’s viewpoint than with legalistic literalism from man’s viewpoint.

The prophet Isaiah warned that when the Bible becomes only literal propositions, it will cause the reader to be snared by the enemies of his soul.

“But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” Is. 28:13. The Apostle Paul likewise warned us that reading only by “the letter [literally] killeth” (2 Cor. 3:6).

Most of the early Church Fathers focused on Spiritual reading rather than literal reading. Saint Augustine preferred the non-literal meaning of Scripture as the truest sense of Scripture. So did Clement, Origen, St. Ambrose and St. Jerome. It is only this deeper sense of Scripture which gives proper shape and meaning to the literal. In other words, the literal reading doesn’t dictate what is Spiritual, but rather a Spiritual reading dictates what and when literal reading is appropriate.

Think of it this way. If all we do is read Scripture “literally,” then we can do this without God. All we need is our own natural understanding. This is the very thing God doesn’t want for us. He wants to illuminate and guide us through all Scripture so that we can see where His inspiration burns in these passages. In other words, God would never send us a revelation inspired by Him without also providing that it could only be properly understood by reading it with Him.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus didn’t write the New Testament with His own hand? If He had, then nobody could argue that it wasn’t always literally and historically perfect. And yet, Jesus didn’t do this for a very obvious reason. Had he written the Gospels Himself, then we could read them without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and never question the meaning as being anything other than literal. We would, in effect, idolize literalism since it came directly from the pen of Jesus.

This “idolatry of the literal” is exactly what happened to the Ten Commandments written by the “finger of God.” Today, millions of Jews and Christians worship the law of God instead of the Spirit of God. They worship the literal rather than the Spiritual. This is why God, in all His wisdom, used imperfect men to write Scripture so that we would have to depend on the Spirit’s guidance to properly read, understand and apply God’s inspiration.

Great Bible scholars like John Calvin noted the occasional human imprecisions and inaccuracies in the Scripture, such as when Matthew 27:9 misquotes Zechariah 11:13 as having been said by Jeremiah, and also when Acts 7:16 erroneously lists Abraham, rather than Jacob, as the purchaser of the sepulcher from the sons of Emmor\Hamor per Joshua 24:32. God is perfect. Men are not. The Bible’s inspiration is perfect. Men’s expressions of that inspiration are not always perfect.

As C. S. Lewis said: "The human qualities of the raw material show through. Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not 'the Word of God' in the sense that every passage in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God.”

Do you see? The inspiration is the key. Just as the shell of a nut “husks” the seed within, so does the literal shell of Scripture “husk” the inspiration of God encased within. Scriptures are divinely inspired truths husked to varying degrees by human perceptions, mis-perceptions and partial perceptions. Let’s consider some examples.

Peter’s revelation that Jesus was the Christ was a perfect human perception of a divinely inspired truth. However, Moses’ striking of the rock in anger was a partial perception of God; part right and part wrong because while God inspired Moses to perform a miracle of provision for the parched Israelites, God did not want it delivered in Moses’ wrathful tone of striking the rock but rather in tenderly speaking to the rock.

Finally, many Old Testament saints totally mis-perceived the inspiration of God altogether, such as when Job attributed evil to God or when David prayed for Babylonian children’s heads to be bashed against the rocks (Ps. 137:8-9).

The bottom line is that Scriptural inspiration does not mean that the men who wrote the Bible had perfect perceptions of God. In fact, Scripture tells us that prior to Jesus, no man had “seen God at any time” (Jn. 1:18; 6:46).

Thus, without the Holy Spirit’s guidance through Scriptures, we are blind to God’s true nature. Even with God’s guidance and inspiration, we still can inadvertently husk His revelation with our own partial perceptions. The thinner the husk of the writer, the closer the literal and Spiritual meanings converge.

The thicker the husk of the writer, the more literal and Spiritual meanings will differ.The key to understanding inspired Scripture is to be an inspired reader. Deep calls to deep. Scriptures say that we too are “living epistles” of God. Only the living Word within us can translate the written Word before us.

2. "What do you think about the other cases like:"

A. DOES GOD REALLY HATE ESAU'S GUTS?

"And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED." Rom. 9:10-13.

I have had more than one person cite these verses to attempt to show that God loves certain men and hates others. In fact, these persons believe that God hates the guts of certain unborn babies whom he has predestined and predetermined to grow up evil. This is sooooo wrong.

FIRST, the word “hate” is used in this passage NOT in the sense of outright emotional hostility or venomous resentment. Rather, the word is used to mean “loving less.” Charles Hodge, one of the the greatest American theologians of the nineteenth century, stated this view in his commentary on Romans concerning this passage, “It is evident that in this case the word hate means to love less, to regard and treat with less favor.”

Hate is certainly used this way in other key passages. In Gen. 29:32- 33 “hatred” is used of Jacob’s feelings for Leah, when in truth the clear meaning of the passage is that Jacob loves and favors Rachel more than Leah. The NIV translates this verse as Leah saying, “I am not loved.” Lk. 14:26 likewise uses the term “hate” in the sense of “loving less":

"If any man come to me, and HATE not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Lk. 14:26. Jesus here is obviously not teaching us to hate our parents, siblings and children, for that would contradict thousands of other scriptures. Jesus is saying we must “love them less” than we do the Lord.

There is not any other verse in the Bible where God is said to hate any individual man, so using this verse to substantiate the view that God hates individual men is dangerously unwarranted. God hates evil deeds, not evil men (Rev. 2:6).

God loves all men. Christ died for all men. Christ offers salvation and forgiveness to all men. But, not all men choose to receive God’s free gift of salvation. But God even loves those who reject Him. Jesus loved the rich young ruler who rejected His call (Mk. 10:21-22). Jesus healed the ear of a soldier who came to arrest Him (Lk. 22:51). Jesus asked forgiveness for all who killed Him (Lk. 23:34).

SECOND, Paul uses Jacob and Esau in the Romans 9 passage above to represent God’s election of NATIONS, not the election of individual MEN. Paul was addressing the arrogant presumption of nationalistic Jews who believed Israel was the only chosen nation (people) of God, regardless of their corporate level of faith.

Paul’s purpose in this chapter is to show that election is now NOT by nation but by INDIVIDUAL faith alone. Paul in these verses is tracing back the historical development of Israel as God’s chosen nation (people). In Romans 9, Paul acknowledges the Israelite nation as the blessed recipient of “the adoption , and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came” (Rom. 9:4-5). He then traces back the call of God through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is in this process that Paul quotes with regard to Jacob and Esau: "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Rom. 9:11-13.

Paul quotes verse 12 from Micah 1:2-3. These verses in Micah are clearly referring to Jacob and Esau NOT as INDIVIDUALS but as the NATIONS of Israel and Edom. That Paul was referring to the call of a nation (Israel) rather than the call of an individual in these verses is highlighted in the following passage from F. F. Bruce’s commentary on Romans 9:11-13.

"‘The elder will serve the younger.’ From the birth oracle to Rebekah (Gn. 25:23). The prophecy relates not to the individuals Esau and Jacob (for Esau never rendered service to Jacob) but to their descendants; it relates to the long periods during which the Edomites were in servitude to Israel or Judah (cf. 2 Sa. 8:14; 1 Ki. 22:47; 2 Ki. 14:7; etc.).

‘Jacob, I loved, but Esau I hated.’ From Malachi 1:2-3, where again the context indicates it is the nations Israel and Edom, rather than their individual ancestors Jacob and Esau, that are in view. The way in which communities can be so freely spoken of in terms of their ancestors is an example of the common oscillation in biblical (and especially Old Testament) thought and speech between individual and corporate personality (cf. exposition of 5:12-21, p. 120, n. 1). Israel was the elect nation, and Edom incurred the wrath of God for its unbrotherly conduct towards Israel in the day of Israel’s calamity (cf. Ps. 137:7; Is. 34:5 ff.; Je. 49:7 ff.; Ezk. 25:12 ff.; 35:1 ff.; Ob. 10 ff.)." F. F. Bruce, Tyndall New Testament Commentaries, Revised Edition, Romans, p. 182.

The nation Israel sprang from Jacob and the nation of Edom sprang from Esau. Interestingly, in Amos 8:11-12, Edom is used figuratively to represent the Gentiles. Romans 9 seems to echo the use of Esau as a symbol of the Gentile nations by starting off comparing and contrasting Jacob and Esau, and then concluding by comparing and contrasting Israel and the Gentiles.

This allows for the possibility that this whole passage is dealing with the calling of Israel versus the calling of all the Gentile nations, and how their respective favor\disfavor from God has now essentially flip-flopped with each other. (Rom. 9:25-26, 30-33). All the Gentile nations are NOW favored through faith in Christ, while national Israel has reaped DISFAVOR from God because of their corporate and continual unbelief. But even that will change when national Israel is grafted back into favor as they become jealous of the nation of faith which fills the earth. (Rom. 11:11-30). Then ALL will be one in Christ!

Paul’s point in these verses is that Israel’s election as a chosen nation was already determined in Rachel’s womb. The Edomites were not God’s chosen nation, even though they too were Isaac’s seed. The key reason Edom could not be God’s chosen nation was that Jesus was not in their seed. God loved Esau less not because Esau was an evil baby in Rachel’s womb. God loved Jacob more because he carried the seed of Jesus in him. God did ordain that through the protected seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. all the nations of the world would be blessed through the birth of one seed - - Jesus the Christ (Gal. 3:16).

Science is settled on the point that fraternal twins, which Jacob and Esau were, come from entirely separate sperm and eggs. Thus, there was a world of genetic difference between Jacob and Esau, a difference large enough to ultimately spawn two entirely separate nations. Only one of these nations had the exact genetic input to produce the destined seed of Jesus - - Israel.

God had promised Abraham his seed would bless all nations, but God also promised that the chosen seed would come from the people which would come to occupy the specific boundaries of the promised land. (Gen. 13:14-18; 15; 17; Acts 17:26). Esau and Edom could never fit this bill, thus only through Jacob and Israel could the blessed and prophesied seed come - - the seed of Jesus.

Nonetheless, God still greatly loved Esau and the Edomites as individuals, even if they did not stand in corporate favor with God. That God loved Esau and the Edomites is established by Isaac’s blessing of Esau (Gen. 27:39), the inclusion in scripture of Edomite genealogies (Gen. 36; 1 Chr. 1), God’s apparent siding with Edom against the Moabites (Amos 2:1-2), and, most importantly, the clear injunction of Dt. 23:7, “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother.”

These mercies toward Esau and Edom hardly support the view that God hates their guts. They were certainly less favored corporately than was Israel, but God continued to love them dearly, for that is His nature. God is love and God loves all men.

Israel was only chosen as a nation because it carried the seed of Jesus within it. Abraham received this seed by faith from the Lord when he believed God for the miraculous birth of Isaac. Thus, it was God’s election of Abraham’s seed made possible through Abraham’s faith in receiving the MESSIANIC PROMISE for the nation of Israel. That hallowed promise is simply this: the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Once Jesus arrived and imparted His righteousness to mankind, then no longer was a national election needed. Faith had come to all nations. The Holy Spirit had come. His bride, body and church had arrived. No longer was there Jew or Gentile, but one new man (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:12-15).

Similarly, we are not the elect because God loves us more than other men. We are of the elect because we have received the seed of Christ into our being through the exercise of our faith. "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, ACCORDING TO THE FAITH OF GOD'S ELECT, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:1-2).


B. SPIRITUAL EXEGESIS OF ISAIAH 45:7

Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all these things."

Step 1) God sends a "divine impulse" to Isaiah. Satan is not involved in the original impulse. Thus, the original impulse IS "inspired" by God in totality. 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

Step 2) The divine impulse is not in any human language, and so the impulse must be processed by Isaiah through his mind and heart. Here Satan CAN be involved in "distorting" the TRANSLATION of that original divine impulse into human language.

Step 3) Because the Old Testament saints had an undifferentiated view of God, this further affected their ability to perfectly translate the original divine impulse into human language. The original divine impulse here contained information about BOTH the good things God does and the evil things He does NOT do (the evil which Satan does, in other words). Isaiah 45 says many wonderful things about God, but also a few "by the letter" misattributions, wrongly translated ideas about God which should have been EITHER attributed to Satan OR denied as being from God.

Step 4) As we now read Isaiah 45, both in proper context and by the Holy Spirit, we are compelled to "reverse-engineer" any verses inconsistent with God's New Testament character revealed in and through Jesus Christ. We spiritually "reverse-engineer" the troubling passage back to the original divine impulse, and then retranslate the verse with New Testament light. The result will be a redividing of the Scripture to better conform to our better New Cevenantal understanding of the goodness of God.

Step 5) Below is the new reading with just a slight "reverse-engineering" adjustment that reveals Jesus' nature. Doesn't this passage now become beautiful and full of glory!

"I am the LORD , and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun , and from the west , that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. ****** I create the light , and in me is no darkness ******[per 1 John 1:5] . *********I make peace , and cause no evil******[per James 1:13-17] : I the LORD do all these things. Drop down , ye heavens , from above , and let the skies pour down righteousness : let the earth open , and let them bring forth salvation , and let righteousness spring up together ; I the LORD have created it. " Isaiah 45:5-8.

Lazarus Soeharto

What a view!

This reconciles most of the problems about the inconsistency and integrity of God's nature as demonstrated in OT vs the revelation given by Jesus in the NT.

However, there are still many questions to address, such as:

1. How we should view the bible as divinely inspired? Clearly we can't take it as it appears and says so, it is not either literal nor according to our own/human logical/reasoning, but in light to what Jesus revealed and demonstrated in the gospel.

2. What do you think about the other cases like {BRACKET} loves Jacob but hates Essau (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13), or {BRACKET} forms the light and darkness (Issaiah 45:7). It was said by the same person.

Perhaps they need to be addressed as well.

Rene Lafaut

I really like the point about God not having an agreement, or deal with devil. Sort of like Satan and his minions can set up shop and get all the bad people deceived and in the end the bad people and devil's kingdom get chucked into hell. Sort of an agreement. But truth be told: God wants to undo the devil's works, and is willing to fight for people with love, care, and compassion like there is a chance they can be won over... like it isn't all determined already in the future... like there is hope... Like God cares for each of us... and it makes me want to love and fight for people like God does. Thanks for hitting that point home for me. What the devil means for death, God means for waking us up: Like there is a battle going on... the more intense the temptation the more we know there is evil... and good in our hearts and we need to choose. God does not delight in seeing anyone perish.

Rene Lafaut

Love the idea that God's Kingdom is opposed to the devil's... And that Jesus came to un do the devil's works. Makes me to want to love more... And sets me free from all that foreknowledge/predestination bunk... thinking... We are all made in the image of God and therefore our true home is with Him. We have hope... Very little is written in stone... things are being determined now. Anything that propels us to love more deeply is a breathe of fresh air...

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