The Two-Faced God
I find myself wondering whether I fully know God. I hear too many reports about His anger and interactions in commanding mass genocide in the Bible. Then I see God, through the image of Jesus; the God that loves and cares for us and wants only the best for us. Are there two gods I wonder? Is He two-faced? Does the God of the Old Testament connect with the God of the New Testament?
I thought I would write about this and see what transpires, without pulling any punches. Atheists and Humanists jump on this bandwagon and try to knock God off His throne. They say, how can you believe in a loving God who commands His people to sack cities and wipe out every inhabitant: men, women and children.
In the Old Testament kings and leaders repeatedly disobeyed Him. They didn’t fully carry out His commands. In their charity or greed, they spared lives, kept livestock and hid treasure. God’s retribution was swift. We read that whole families were killed because their father had failed to obey God’s command.
God is holy. He is just. He hates sin; desiring obedience to His word. His word is perfect, the best for us – Psalm 32:8. It can be considered arrogant to make a statement like that. God is perfect. We can follow Him without worrying. We don’t need any other instructions. The commandments and law of God are not wanting.
The writer and philosopher, A.C Grayling, who described himself as an ‘afairyist’ rather than an atheist. Said, in an interview with Justin Brierley, the editor of Christianity Magazine, “The world will, after ditching religion, be inclined to work together in a brotherhood-of-man style humanist enterprise,” (Christianity June,2014). Implying that if we remove God from our society then we will do a better job of caring and loving each other than we are doing at present.
Jesus taught and showed us how to live together. We can’t even manage that properly, even with God guiding us. Humanities track-record is not very impressive. We are doing a poor job of looking after the planet and our neighbours, and it’s not getting any better.
God will remove His restraining influence on the earth. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 Paul writes, “Only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” Maybe then humanity will experience hell on earth.
A New Leader
If we try to go it alone as Prof. Grayling would have us do, who then who would society be accountable to, Grayling? Who would guide us, the Humanist Society? Or would we govern ourselves?
The writer, G K Chesterton once wrote, “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” – (Christendom in Dublin, 1933). I see chaos in this, like a ship without a rudder, just blowing where it wills. We continually move the goalposts of legality. Abortion, adultery, pornography, gambling, homosexuality, same-sex marriage. All these were once illegal, now they are legal and acceptable in today’s society; flagrantly flouting and rebelling against God’s authority in His word.
I come back to God’s commands resulting in genocide, mass extermination, sacking of cities, etc. Do we have the answers? I think we do. Man is inherently evil and has been ever since our first ancestors walked upon the earth. No one obeys God. All have disobeyed Him and gone their own way, (Psalm 14:1-3).
God virtually annihilated mankind when He flooded the world, (Genesis 6:5-7). Who deserves to be spared? What merit do we have that we should expect that a just and holy God should spare any of us? Each day we rebel against Him, argue with Him, dishonour Him, anger Him.
Mankind’s audacity and arrogance accuse God of creating imperfect guidelines. We question Him: should He have done this? It would have been better if He had done that. Why did He do that? Who are we, or who am I, that we should tell God what to do, (Job 40:1-3). It is an act of rebellion. We tell God that He is wrong, and then expect, or even ask that He should help us in our weaknesses. Would we walk into any court of the land and say the same thing? I think not.
Much of the time, God leaves us to get on with life. Sometimes He intervenes. He knows the bigger picture. He knew that many of the pagan religions in the Old Testament were dangerous to His people. They were inherently evil. They rejected Him. They chose their own way. They indulged in practices that were abhorrent to Him. They made their choices. They seemed set in their ways and would have led God’s people astray if they had been allowed to integrate. In His grace, to protect those who followed Him, who revered Him, he punished those who fought against Him.
Saved by Grace
His grace spares us, (Ephesians 2:8). Not the reverse: that we deserve to live, so God is wrong to punish us. The truth is that we deserve His sentencing for our disobedience to His word.
Those cities in the Old Testament received God’s judgment. It was God’s people that brought that punishment. With Sodom and Gomorrah, God used the forces of nature, of a broken world. On occasions, He spared whole nations. He is continually working out His plans for His creation.
Do some of our cities, our societies, our nations deserve to be wiped out for their rebellion against God? We see much of God’s grace and patience as we march onwards along the winding path of disrespect and disobedience. In Malachi 3:6, God says, “I am the Lord, and I do not change that is why you have not perished.”
God talks about Himself in Exodus 34:6, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth. Who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”
Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). He is the God of both the Old and the New Testaments. He is the same God, not two-faced. He doesn’t change. We live in a time of grace and forgiveness. How long will it last?