"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Simple Answers???

During prayer time today, our preacher asked for prayer for those in Japan affected by the earthquake. Which I think would be just about everyone in Japan, in some way or another. During this time, he confidently stated that God did not cause this to happen.


Does he know something that I don't know? No, I am not saying that God is laying a judgment on the people of Japan for something they did or did not do, but can someone confidently and reasonably state that God did not cause this to happen? Again, I am not saying God did, or that He liked it, but can anyone say that God did not do it?

Judges 9:23    And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,  (Who sent that evil Spirit?)

2 Kings 15:5   And the LORD touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the household, governing the people of the land. (Who touched the King?)

Job 2:10   But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Good question! Perhaps one that we do not ask enough!)

Job 42:11   Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold  (All the evil that who brought on Job?)

Isaiah 45:7   I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.  (Who creates calamity?)

Amos 3:6   Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?  (Unless who has done it?)

I am not saying God directly caused this, although that is plausible. But I cannot say that he didn't. I cannot pretend to know the mind of God. Nope, not me. And not any other human either. And even if God did not directly cause the calamity in this case, is He not the designer of the earth that rests on plates so that earthquakes happen?

I guess what frustrates me in all of this is putting God in a little box that we make. What if God came down and revealed "Yup, it was Me, I caused the earthquake." Would that really shake your world? Because for me, if I didn't know He was in charge, working all things for good, that is what would shake my world.


Kansas Bob said...

My take on those OT verses is probably a bit different. Consider this passage from 1Samuel 15:

This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'

I think that it is possible to literally interpret these verses two ways:

1) The passage is literally (and historically) accurate in that Saul and the Israeli army followed Samuel's instructions and committed genocide against the Amalekites. Furthermore Samuel believed what he said was divinely inspired.

2) The passage is literally (and historically) accurate in that Saul and the Israeli army followed Samuel's instructions and committed genocide against the Amalekites. Furthermore Samuel not only believed that God actually spoke to him but in fact God did speak to him and he accurately understood what God said.

Using one view it would be accurate to say that God once ordered genocide (and might do it again).. using the other view one could only say that men once believed that God ordered them to commit genocide.

I think that it is an important difference because of the way that one view portrays God as a somewhat tribal and nationalistic deity that is not concerned about humanity as a whole but just special people belonging to a particular race.

Also, it seems that the writers of Judges 9:23 and 2Kings 15:5 made an interpretation of the events attributing and evil spirit and leprosy to God. Job and his friends had a similar cause/effect view thinking that God and not Satan was the author of events such as these.

I may be off on this but I thought it might be helpful to proffer another view.

Spherical said...

I appreciate your views, and to me it shows that God may or may not have been directly involved in the quake, which was my point. We don't know.

For someone to state "He didn't cause it," I think is a bit presumptuopus. (not sure if I spelled that right)

In other cases, God ordered the Israelites to completely destoy inhabitants of a land they were entering. God does some things that I just don't understand and sometimes might even disagree with. And I just have to accept that He is God and I am not.

Kansas Bob said...

My thinking is that if one embraces the idea that God ordered babies killed in Canaan then it is not too far of a stretch to think that He also ordered the killing of the abortionist George Tiller by Scott Reeder. If you can accept the logic of genocide then anything is possible and all we can tell unsaved friends is that we just have to accept that sometimes God orders things that we cannot understand.

Netting it out, I have come to a place in my theology where I can embrace that God is good and He does good things and there is no darkness in Him. Some, like Muslims, may believe that he does dark things and orders them to be done as well but I do not see a need to embrace that kind of theology.

So I think that, in this case, I would agree with your preacher. To say otherwise would be to insinuate that Christians should trust the perpetrator of a violent act to also comfort the victim of such an act. The logic of it simply escapes me.

Spherical said...

While I understand your reasoning, and the inherent danger of other thought, was not the flood an act of genocide? Some might view the cross as unthinkable act of a loving God.

Also, when it comes to trusting the perpetuator of a violent act to comfort the victim of such an acts, if I punish my child for their behavior, perhaps even spanking them, do I not also want to comfort them and keep them from a great harm. (Maybe not the perfect analogy here, but the best I could think of.)

I appreciate your thoughts!

Kansas Bob said...

Great responses. Thanks. A few imperfect thoughts:

The Flood: Similar to Sodom and Gomorrah in that the action came "directly" from God as a direct judgment on specific people. Earthquakes and tsunamis do not seem to be judgmental in nature.

The Cross: Similar to other events where people sinned but God trumped their sin. In my thinking God would have had people accept their Messiah rather than murder Him. The violent acts of flogging and crucification came from within creation and not from without.

Abusive Parents: Appropriate discipline and compassionate consolation from the parent is always good. Yet parents who are abusive are seldom able to console the child because the child does not see the abuse as loving.

My concern is that we not portray God as temperamental entity like Zeus who gets mad and hurls lightning bolts to earth then feels remorse afterwards and entices people to love him.

Spherical said...

I have been giving this considerable thought, and I don't think there is a simple answer, one way or the other.

We know that the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah were judgments because we are told so. Yet surely some "innocent" children were destroyed in both. And even while the earthquake and tsunamis do not seem to be judgmental in nature, at least not in the same sense as the flood, they are judgmental in that they are a result of the fall. So I think to say that God did not cause them, while maybe not wrong, is simplistic. But perhaps I am overthinking things, a bad habit I have.

As for the cross, while God might have preferred acceptance, he knew it would not be so. "Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him." (Is 53:10) While I see the cross as terrible, I do not see God's role as evil or wicked.

I think our view of God needs to include a "theology of suffering" that doesn't make to much of suffering or too little of God's role, which is hard to define and understand when He does not explicitly tell us what it is.

Anyway, thanks for a lot to think about!

Kansas Bob said...

I agree that it is not simple. I lean more to the simplistic "God is love" Heavenly Father perspective and that probably skews my thinking on these things. But I do understand other perspectives. My thinking is that how a person interprets the scriptures probably depends on how they predominately see God.