- Religion and Philosophy
Is the God of the Old Testament a God Who loves War - 2
In the first part of this article, I discussed two principles by which we can have an idea of the God of both the OT and the NT. These principles are: God is the Author of the Bible, both the OT and the NT; and God does not change.
The first tells us that the whole bible was written by men but the message is from God Himself. This message is expressed in man's language so it can be understood by man himself. The second tells us of a God who is the same from the days of eternity to eternity; that what He is before is what He is today, and what He will be in the future. His character, standards and the requirements of His government are the same yesterday, today and forever. These facts lend stability to the whole universe, for if He change, that would spell doom for all of His creation.
Five Principles Continued
God is a God of love who hates sin but loves the sinner
In Jeremiah 31:3, God said, “The Lord has appeared of old to me saying: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” It is because of the sins committed by His creatures that He covenanted from the foundation of the world that He would give His Son to die for man so they will be saved. His son Jesus, had agreed to come to this world, should man sin, to redeem him from its penalty which is death. He is called the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:8, that is, in principle He has already died for the sins of everybody who would be coming to this world even before the world was created.
God's hatred for sin is so great that instead of changing His law which man transgressed, and so threaten the stability of the whole universe, He gave His only begotten Son Jesus so that the demands of that broken law could be satisfied while at the same time meet the requirements of His nature, which is love.
God’s infinite hatred for sin is equal only to His infinite love for the sinner “that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” And it was at the cost of the life of the Son of God that He purchased the redemption of man. It was said that even if only one man sinned, He still could have come to save that man just the same.
This giving of His Son for the sins of the world was not a New Testament concept because in the Old Testament, after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God instituted the system of sacrificial offerings which pointed to the death of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. By that system of sacrificial offerings the sinner would understand that it was his sin that caused the death of Someone who would come to die in his stead – and that Someone is no less than the Son of God.
Because of that love, He is very patient with them to give them a chance to repent and amend their ways; but there is a limit to that patience.
This patience Peter expressed so well in 2Peter 3:9,
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
God bore long with the antedeluvians, whose wickedness for 120 years was so great. The record testifies thus,
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 3:5
But however patient our God is, that patience has its limit. In Genesis 6:3, it says,
“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”
For 120 long years, Noah preached to the people of his time calling them to repent but they would not. “They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away.” Matt24:38, 39.
Fifth, God is not only a God of love but also a God of justice. He has to put an end to sin; if in the process their sins are found attached to them, in destroying sin, they also will be destroyed.
“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 4:1 – 3.
Have you ever thought how our life here on earth would have been if there were no justice that governments exercise over their subjects? One meaning of justice is reward or penalty served. If government would not impose any penalty or punishment for crimes committed, that would be tantamount to consenting to the commission of those crimes. The result will be anarchy and chaos, and of course there would be no safety of life or property. The fact that justice will be imposed swiftly is the deterrent to commission of those crimes.
Take the case of Islamic countries where a crime committed is immediately punished by lashes, cutting of limbs or outright execution of the criminal before the eyes of the people. No mercy is expected for the offender, regardless of gender or age. Because of this, people would seldom dare to commit crime themselves. The effect is people dwell in peace.
But God is both a God of love and of justice. Love demands that the sinner live; justice demands that the sinner die. And yet God, in order to satisfy the demands of both love and justice, sent His own Son to die for the sinner so that both demands will be satisfied. This, notwithstanding the fact that the sinner is only worthy of death.
But how about the case of the Canaanites? We shall see next hub.