Summary: Short messages having to do with freedom in Christ, and how that freedom is being interpreted today.
THE CRY FOR LIBERTY
38. The Monster of the Old Testament
One can see just how far liberty can be taken when one views the wild rantings of “liberal” scholarship. They are not a new phenomenon. We have forever had unbelief among us. But it is always fascinating to see just how far human blindness will lead men into the ditch of perverseness.
To the “liberated” scholar, the Scriptures are fair game for any of their theories. One ongoing theme is that, the God portrayed in the pages of the Old Testament, is a monstrosity. He kills innocent children. He is selfish and tyrannical. Jealous. All forms of bad character forbidden to humans are demonstrated by the Hebrew God.
So says the free thinker. Free from this Tyrant and any judgments He may have in store for them. Since this God does not exist except in the mind of the Jewish prophets, there is nothing for them to fear, so they talk on.
Their concept can be handled on a number of fronts. One hardly knows where to begin. Let’s start with Jesus. We assume they believe Him to be in some way a representative of truth. So, are we to take His comments about a coming judgment, the fires of hell, the damnable ways of the Pharisees, and a host of other negative comments, as bad-hair days, copyist errors, or what? He is after all, New Testament, at least in the sense that His stories follow Malachi.
There usually is an excuse for everything negative in the Bible. Which leads us quickly to another line of questioning. By whose standard and scholarship shall we determine the truth? If those who are calling God a monster are to be followed, then have they become the new canon? Is there to be no established truth at all? Are we really at sea?
When Jesus said “The Scriptures cannot be broken,” was this also a statement subject to modern criticism? Can we start nowhere in laying a case against people who do not play by any rules?
If the God of the Hebrews is a monster, then are the people who forever disobeyed Him to be considered justified? And if therefore obedience to the law is no longer a factor, what is the sacrifice of Jesus all about? If of course there was such a sacrifice. Surely we must all just muddle our way through, doing the best we can, and hopefully whatever God is there will see that we tried. And if we did not, there is no eternal punishment anyway?
What a way to live. What a way to believe. How liberals need our prayers and a demonstration of the power of the living God in their lives.
For the record, no, God is no monster. Those who think He does seriously offensive acts have not yet formulated a proper concept of sin. Or of holiness. If God is as holy as Scripture portrays Him, and He is, then sin must be as awful as Scripture portrays it. And judgment for that sin must be as needed as God deems.
It’s an oft quoted example, but no one faults the doctor for being violent against cancers and tumors and rashes. There are things which must be judged and judged thoroughly. God’s mercy waits. His mercy is everlasting. He has not rewarded us according to our deeds. That’s what the Old Testament also says.
How long did He wait for Canaan’s corruption to fester on earth, while his people wandered in a desert without a home?
How long had humanity bungled its way through idolatries of all sorts before God finally took the ultimate of awful steps, the killing of His own Son!
Yes, take a look at that awhile. You call it Child abuse? The ravings of an ancient Deity who looks much like his human creations? Kill your own Child, will you? Why, in Heaven’s Name? For attention? For display? Why do you do these awful things, God of Abraham?
I do them, He would tell us, because your sin against Me is even more awful. I am holy. I am spotless. I cannot abide sin in my presence. I am the only God. I can see no other gods served but Me. I have a right to all of this. I am here. I am. Who are you to come against me? Who are you to say that my ways are unfair? What worlds have you created?
And you missed something, He would add. You who call Me a monster have missed the tenderness of My love in that “Old Testament”. You have ignored what I said through men like Hosea. How, when Israel was a child, I loved him, and called him out of Egypt. How I taught him to walk. And healed him. I drew him to Me with gentle cords, with bands of love. I fed him, cared for him. How could I ever give him up?