Before I dive into the answers to the questions posed in the previous post I should say that this blog is not sufficient for detailing the depths of the answers to these questions. You might ask, “then why did you open this can of worms to begin with?” Good question. I would rather address questions in the best way possible with the tools available than to pretend the questions aren’t there. I live my life asking big questions. I can’t not see problems when I read books, when I read the Bible, when I consider God (this is why I don’t usually sleep well!). So I think its worth chewing on these questions and exploring the answers.
The answers (I believe) reflected in the Bible to the two questions the last post closed with are simply yes and no. Yes, there are things that God values more than physical human life. No, we should not measure God against a standard of good that we create. Both of these answers may be unexpected, jarring, shocking or upsetting. Yet I believe the Bible teaches them both clearly.
Lets look first at what God values more than physical human life. Notice that “physical” is a key word in that sentence. 2 Peter teaches us that to God, “…a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:5). So God, who sees well beyond our limited perspective on our limited time here on this earth is much more concerned with our eternal location, and state than our temporary one here on this earth. That just makes sense. Yet its hard for us to get our heart and mind around because the here and now is what we tend to focus on the most. Jesus said it this way, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28). Some take that verse to be referring to Satan. It doesn’t, it refers to God. Only God has the power to take physical life and spiritual life away. In other words, losing our physical life on this earth is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Not by a long shot. So with that being said physical life is still a huge value to God. He created it, He created it good, He commanded that it not be murdered or unlawfully taken away from anyone. So, what is a higher value to God?
1) Remaining faithful to God is more important than physical life. (Hebrews 11, Revelation 2:10)
Many martyrs have given their physical life instead of denying their faith in Jesus. Paul said it appropriately, “for me to, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
2) Love is more important than physical life. (Romans 5:6-8)
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13
3) Justice is often valued over human life. (Exodus 32:25-28, Acts 5:1-11)
The fact is that sometimes justice demands the taking of physical human life. This is why God ordered the first death sentence to Adam and Even for their sin. (Genesis 3)
Many say that God has often violated the most famous of His 10 commandments “You shall not kill”. The problem with that accusation is that isn’t the command. The command was “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). God Himself also commanded the taking of human life for the offense of murder (Exodus 21:12-14).
The really tough question comes out when you speculate on what may have been the eternal destination of those who God killed in scriptures like we referenced in the last post. Especially for those who certainly did not follow after the one true God, but were engaged in idolatry. Without delving into an explanation that would be much longer than what this post could contain I would refer you to Romans 9 for further study.
Now onto the second question.Is ‚Äúgood‚Äù as we understand it a standard that we should measure God against? The reason I say no is simply because you and I are not good. So how could we think that we would be able to grasp any understanding of good outside of the character and actions of God. In Luke 18:19 we find Jesus saying to the rich young man “why do you call me good?….No one is good -except God alone.” Now while Jesus was inferring that He is both good and God, He was also pointing out clearly that you and I are not. The only way that you and I have a standard for good is because of what God has revealed to us through His word and His character. Therefore we cannot construct our own version of good apart from God and try to measure His character, or actions against that standard.
Therefore if God does something it is most certainly not evil. God cannot and does not sin, He never violates His character. Yet, we see throughout scripture God using the evil behavior of people to accomplish ultimate good. This is never more clear than in the cross itself. I’ll close with this quote by John Piper from his book, Spectacular Sins and their global purpose in the Glory of Christ.
“At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace. God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil.”
If you want to study further on these amazingly difficult questions I recommend reading, The invisible hand of God by RC Sproul.
Tags: old testament