Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Does God allow evil? How do we read the Bible?

Friends,


A few days ago I received an email from someone asking for an opinion on an essay by Richard Murray titled: Satan: Old Testament Servant Angel or New Testament Cosmic Rebel?

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this essay tremendously and what follows is my opinion based on what I have experienced firsthand from a loving Father.

Let me try to summarize the essay:

Richard argues the point that there exists a problem in the body of Christ to differentiate, distinguish and discern good and evil from each other. He cites the old testament writers as the main culprits in that they did not have a clear understanding and revelation of God's goodness. In an effort to explain evil things that happened in their lives, they attributed it to God who either permitted satan to execute these evil actions or committed these atrocities Himself. The devil functioned as a sort of a "Luca Brasi figure to the Godfather"  to them. Richard takes a firm stand against these ideas and promotes that "EVERY TIME YOU READ THE WORDS "GOD" OR "LORD" IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, MENTALLY ADD THE FOLLOWING BRACKET RIGHT NEXT TO IT-- [JESUS OR SATAN]. Then apply the New Testament light and love you know, along with inner Holy Ghost promptings, combined with the sweet stirrings of a sanctified conscience, all bolstered by the mind of Christ which all Christians now freely possess. THEN, look at THE BRACKET and discern whether the act, event, or statement recorded in the Old Testament is more consistent with the nature of Jesus OR the nature of Satan. Make your call, insert the right name, AND THEN you will rightly understand the Scripture in question.".  

To this I say:

I am in agreement with most (if not all) of what he writes. Not many people are prepared to say what he is saying these days for a number of reasons, but mostly because of confusion and deception in the body of Christ. This is the work of the enemy, to deceive and lie and confuse and I'm reluctant to say that the institutional church allowed much of this. Interestingly, the Bible uses the picture of Babylon for confusion. Babylon literally means confusion by mixture. The Hebrew pictograph for בָּבֶל or Babylon is even the more interesting and depicts: the whole of the house controlled.

The bottom-line is that God is good and that God is good all of the time. When God revealed His character to Moses in Exodus 34:6 He said who exactly He is, that He is who He is: merciful and gracious, patient and abundant in goodness and truth. Nothing bad. Nothing remotely bad. Anything contrary would certainly be the characteristics of the adversary. We see the fullness of God's character manifested in Jesus who perfectly reveals the heart of the Father. And so I agree with Richard.

A lot of what Richard says makes sense in terms of the old covenant concept of good and evil. Much what he says can be substantiated from the Word itself. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. Even on this statement a whole variety of beliefs and doctrines have been formed over the years. I will, however, not go into these save to say that everybody has his or her own interpretation on what exactly he or she understands by inspired Word of God.

My own position has been formed and reformed by the teaching of the Holy Spirit and in spending time with Abba Abba through the years in this regard. I am currently at a place where I take the Word as a fundamental Truth, as God's Word penned by man, as Father's heart (Jesus) revealed to man and to be guided always by the Spirit of Truth as explained below. So, I am at a point where, if the Word says it was evening and morning, I take it that it was evening and morning exactly and the Holy Spirit will always provide additional revelation pointing to Jesus. If God says that He annihilated the Assyrians and send an angel to destroy 185 000 of the enemy (satan) in one night, then that is exactly what He did. And I would know that there exists a deeper meaning that the Spirit of God will reveal to me some way or another.

What about so-called contradictions in the Bible?

When ever you come across one of these contradictions, you should know that the contradiction does not come from God but is likely to be:
  1. A translation error - because of inaccurate translation from the original text (this is why you should preferably study the Word from a direct translation and stay away as much as possible from any interpreted translation); 
  2. Interpretation error because of language and cultural specific circumstances or merely out of ignorance (see case below);
  3. Punctuation error - original text did not have punctuation;
  4. Human error - the word was correctly given by God, but humans still had to write it and even the writers of the books of the Bible could err. It is for this reason that it is not good enough just to know what the Bible says, instead it is wise to know what the Word of God also says. The Word of God reads like a holograph and you are bound to have a take on the matter from a different angle in another verse somewhere else in the Bible. Take the example of Jesus when he was tempted in the desert. The devil tempted Him by quoting from the scriptures, but Jesus responded in every instance saying that the scriptures also says ... (here the argument of Richard Murray is very relevant); or
  5. The crux of the matter is much deeper than what appears at surface level -  this will require you spending more time with God asking His Spirit (of Truth) to reveal the fullness of the matter to you.
In each of the above cases it is the best for you to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the matter as you dig deeper.

Let's take one case-in-point of such apparent contradiction:
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2Sa 24:1
Against:
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. 1Ch 21:1
Both these verses from two different books in the Bible describe the same event. In the first instance we read that the anger of the Lord was kindled, which is a separate part of the sentence from he moved David. The translators even inseted a comma between the two parts of the sentence. However, it is often interpreted in this way: the anger of the Lord was kindled and the Lord moved David. But that is not what it says. Looking at he moved David we should understand that the word "he" is in unspecified (unidentified) form here. We can not automatically assume the he refers to God. So we need to know what the Word also says and read 1 Chronicles 21:1, which clarifies it perfectly.

Who moved David?

I like the bracket idea that Murray comes with when reading the old covenant. I do the same, but my bracket says: always orientate yourself to where Jesus and the cross stands in relation to the part you are reading. The cross changes everything. It is the place where God did satisfy All of His wrath. The cross is the definitive point between the old covenant and the new testament, between death and life, between darkness and light. Not the white page in the Bible separating the two.

I also agree that the old covenant does not contain a full doctrine on satan because people living in the old did not have the ways and means or power to resist him, whilst we do! I wrote on this in my series Inherited Authority to Rule Part-1Part 2 & Part 3. I do believe that, even today, we need a fuller revelation and more time spent on the goodness of God rather than giving much time to any doctrine of the devil.

There is something, though, about goodness and evil that we need to also understand. Goodness (and evil for that matter) is a very, very subjective matter and depends fundamentally on where I stand and where (with whom) I position myself. Remember Jesus said those who are not for us are against us?

I want to explain something that I learned from the Father's heart. The best I know how to do this is from a childlike perspective. So, here goes: 

My Father is good and always good. He is the strongest Daddy there is. He always wins. He always loves me. He will do anything for me (and He did so by even sacrificing His only begotten, beloved Son, Jesus so that He could adopt me). He is all powerful. He is almighty. He is the best Daddy ever. He is the loveliest. He is a very fair Daddy. He is always just. He is always right. He always protects me. He is a Mighty Warrior. He is always victorious. He always gives me the best gifts as much as I want. He always comforts me and secures me. He is Perfect. He is always the same. He always stays with me and never leaves me. He is the BEST DADDY for ever and always!

In order to look after me, my Daddy will not think twice to thump the enemy. He will bash him up good. And He did. He will do anything to comfort me, to protect me and provide for me. He hates those who hate me. He destroys whatever rises up against me. My Daddy has anger and wrath against whatever wants to hurt (kill) me, whatever wants to take away (steal) from me, whatever wants to destroy in my life. As His child, He has given me His power to take action against these when He exposed the enemy at the cross through what Jesus did. This is His goodness towards me!

Do you see my position? If I was in the camp of the enemy, I'd be afraid of my Daddy ... very afraid!

From where I am standing (in Christ) God is good, always, no doubt. From where anyone is standing outside of Jesus, in other words either working on his own or with the devil, this is bad news and what God does will considered by those as bad, not good, evil, etc. That is why, as a Christian, as a son of God there is no other way - you can only and will only proclaim God's goodness. But looking from the other end it is difficult, if not almost impossible to see and experience God's goodness. 

I say 'almost' because God has made a way. It is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel is the power of God onto Salvation (Jesus). It changes ones vantage point entirely and forever, if received. This is the good news. The goodness of God (Jesus). And it is by the Goodness of God that repentance comes Rom 2:4. The verse says: Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 

Repentance?

To be of the mind of God Who says I no longer see your sins and transgressions and inequities, who says He sees you holy and sanctified and washed clean before Him, justified (just as if I never sinned). Outside of this I move in what is called the law and I am ultimately responsible for my own fate. The law requires judgement. It requires justice. It requires a verdict. The verdict is either punishment (even if you transgressed in one offence) or acquittal (if ever you would be able to succeed and be compared with Jesus and that is impossible) - all this comes about tough our own making, our own choice and of our own decision as to with whom we take a stand. 

At Sinai the Israelites did choose not to have a personal relationship with God. Rather, they chose to have Moses to be a mediator between them and God. They also chose the law instead of a personal relationship of love and grace. What they did not consider was that the law (any law) demands justice. Before the law people committed all kinds of sins, even killing one another without consequence. 

Shortly after making this choice for the law ... shortly after the law was given, there is an incident where these people of the law put the law to the test. A man collecting firewood on the Sabbath was brought to Moses for judgement. Moses inquired from God and the LORD [you see Richard's bracket wont work here because we know exactly who the LORD is here. It is יְהֹוָה identified by His very personal, and to the Jews unspeakable, Name] said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. Num 15:35. God did not kill this man. He merely stated the obvious demand from the law. The law always demands a verdict. It demands conviction. It has no mercy. The law operates by invoking fear!

But Grace is the very free gift that makes us righteous and in Jesus God says: For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Heb 8:12- 13

The only way we can ever fall from Grace is when: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Gal 5:4

You see, we can not deny that the law demands judgement (on sin). If we do, God will not be a just God! God had wrath against sin. God dealt with sin on the cross! His full wrath came on sin. It came on Jesus, our Substitute! If we deny Jesus, we embrace the law and make ourselves wide open for a justified wrath against sin that Adam brought into this world. If we embrace the law instead of Jesus, we demand justice by our own acts of righteousness.

In Jesus ALL sins, all afflictions and curses and punishments were dealt with completely, utterly and forever. He made us forever righteous!

Aren't you so glad and grateful we are in Grace and not under the Law?

Following through on verse 16 that Richard Murray quotes, I just love the way that John, the beloved disciple who laid his head on Jesus' bosom, declared our position in Christ: Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love [Jesus]; but perfect love [Jesus] casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1Jn 4:17 - 18

So, yeah, I agree Jesus showed us exactly what we were up against when He destroyed the works of the devil. Yet, He went all the way to restore onto us the power to have dominion on earth and to take authority and rule over our circumstances and in the earth as such ... and to have a holy wrath ourselves against sin - proclaiming His Gospel, casting out demons, healing every sickness, mending every relationship problem, etc.

I like the way Richard Murray sees God and His true nature towards us, who not only believe, but also walk in His power, stay in His Rest and allow Him to complete the perfect work that He began in us. HalleluYAH!

u r blessed!
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