Divine Commands

Mountain View

A post from Carlos here: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/in-the-line-of-fire/40930-is-it-only-the-goodness-of-god-that-leads-us-to-repentance#comment-1044791910


Hello Warrior. How do you find perfection in a totalitarian worldview that calls for your annihilation for circumstantial reasons? I’ve found it impossible to reconcile God’s supposed goodness with the command of his holly book. Thousands of passages that portray a bipolar, self-centered, angry, selfish god from the bible, commanding the slaughter of thousands for reasons that he then contradicts a few pages later. How is Leviticus 20:13, or Samuel 15:2-3, or Chronicles 15:13 an act of goodness? I don’t want to live under a moral code defined by this framework of goodness.

If the passages above are a demonstration of his wrath and judgement, then this god is pretty evil. I would submit that many other worldviews suggest a more effective approach to defining a moral code.

Can anyone find a context in which the 3 passages above (just a couple of examples out of thousands I’ve found in the bible) can be acceptable as any kind of moral code? I haven’t. Please enlighten me, please take me out of my ignorance. I just can’t see it.

Many times my Christian friends and family reply with “well, but Jesus reset all that in the new testament, so the message from god is really about goodness and love”. So for millions of years god waited to “save” mankind, until 2,000 years ago he said “they’ve suffered enough, let’s save them”? This means he was either incompetent or evil. I don’t want that sort goodness or love either.

If we focus on today, according to the Bible millions of children that die before they are baptised, and billions of people that happened to be born in a different culture where other religions are the norm, will spend an eternal agony of suffering while burning in hell. I don’t want that kind of goodness either, and refuse to live my life under that blurred ideological prism.

I believe the more likely explanation is that the bible is a book written by bronze age men. I suggest we shouldn’t have a conversation about morals with the prism of 1st century ignorance. Let’s have a 21st century conversation about issues that affect this world.

Thanks for reading.


Hi Carlos,

First off, I think the Holy Spirit is working on you man. These questions you are asking is burning you and you need a satisfactory answer. This comes from the Holy Spirit – otherwise it would just not bother you and you will happily go on with your life. The fact that you are reading articles on this Christian forum and even commenting with your doubts and questions – means you are shouting for help. I want to encourage you to keep doing this – there are answers to your questions – and they are exactly the right questions to ask.

So I am going to try to address your questions, and this post become quite long – but please bear with me.
Where necessary, I am  going to refer you to articles on my blog (https://j2god.wordpress.com/) – where I also answered some of these questions – to my own satisfaction at least.
Hope that you will make the effort, to read what I refer you to and reserve judgement till the end. Understanding these things is like building a castle, and if the foundation is wrong it will not stand. So here it goes:

– “How do you find perfection in a totalitarian worldview that calls for your annihilation for circumstantial reasons?”

Look, we find perfection in God and Jesus. This world is fallen wicked place, cursed and immersed in sin. Which is why we require a redeemer to reconcile us to God, and we need the Holy Spirit to come live in us and make us new – to break us from this curse and sin and overcome the flesh. This is the only way we become pleasing to God, and we avoid His righteous wrath and judgement. This is called the Gospel and I for one find it the most amazing most beautiful most perfect thing in the world!
It is the farthest thing from a Totalitarian worldview! You have free choice whether to accept this or not.
Reading the rest of your post, I think I get what you mean by “calls for your annihilation for circumstantial reasons”. I see this as referring to the commands given to Israelites when they had to conquer the promised land and basically had to wipe out entire tribes. I’ll address this further below.

– “I’ve found it impossible to reconcile God’s supposed goodness with the command of his holly book.”

You find it impossible, because you do not really believe there is a God yet. If you really believed there is a God, then whatever God says goes. You are are also belittling God, and treating and evaluating him in human terms and as a human.
I mean if a fellow human gave me command and told me to jump up and down for 5 mins for no other reason that his pleasure – I’d tell him to go entertain himself somewhere else…
But if God gave me such a command things change – I’d be like “How high Lord?” or “Can’t I do it for 10 mins if it gives you pleasure?”. If there really is a God, it does not matter whether His commands are good or not. You follow it – or you disobey it at your own peril. Luckily for us, we are dealing with a God here that is perfect in every way. And we are not perfect – yet He does not just condemn us all or send us all to hell, or just wipe out the entire earth and start over with a bunch of robots preprogrammed to believe and follow Him no matter what.
No! In His splendour and majesty and goodness He created this world with freewil, so we can choose for Him or against Him.
And freewill is necessary for love to exist. If there is no choice or freewill – there cannot be true love. And He gives each of us that choice.
And he made a way for us to be reconciled to Him through the blood and the cross of Jesus. Since we are so sinful and imperfect God’s perfect righteousness cannot stand us. He requires retribution and punishment for our sins and imperfections. And this is where Jesus paid the price for us – He became the perfect sacrifice that totally reconciles us to God. All we have to do is believe it and in Him.
Now unfortunately, most people choose against Him. And this leads to all kinds of sin and atrocities in this world – but it is better than the alternative – to have no choice and become a robot in universe where true love does not exist…
You get my drift?
God is perfect and good, and so is His commands – even if we do not understand them all the time. You need to look for the fault in your own reasoning – you dare not blame an all powerful God for this?!!

– “Thousands of passages that portray a bipolar, self-centered, angry, selfish god from the bible, commanding the slaughter of thousands for reasons that he then contradicts a few pages later.”

I take it you are referring to the slaughter God commanded Israel with the conquering of the promised land.
Yeah I also struggled with this one, until I realised the following.
Lets assume there really is a God. So then there really is beings called angels and Cherubs. Now we are told in the Bible, that satan used to be the covering Cherub of God. The highest Honour and most splendid being in all creation. Yet, sin was found in Him because of pride, and He fell taking a third of the Angels with him. We are also told in the Bible, that some of these Angels had sex with women which gave rise to the nephilim or giants on the earth. We are told that this interbreeding became so bad – that only Noah was found pure before God – which is why God had alternative but to flood the entire earth and start over. So this is how much God hates these abominations.
Now we are also told, that even after the flood it happened again! Angels again started interbreeding with women, and gave rise to Giants (Goliath is an example).
So then I believe that God is perfectly justified in giving the command – for very specific tribes to be wiped off the map, because I believe that they had interbred with fallen angels again. This also explains why women and even children had to be executed.

– “How is Leviticus 20:13” “an act of goodness?”

[Lev 20:13 NKJV] 13 ‘If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood [shall be] upon them.

This is a law given specifically to the Israelites before the cross. God chose and separated a specific nation for Himself. This nation had to protected and kept pure, so that Jesus could be born at the right time, through the right lineage as prophesied. So this means a whole bunch of laws and regulation was put in place – so that they would be protected from themselves and so that the nation would would not incur God’s wrath. As I told you above, God hates it when His creatures turn against their own nature. So as God hates it when angles fall and interbreed with women, I think the same applies when men turn against their God ordained nature and has sexual intercourse with other men.
You also need to realize that they were still in the dispensation of the law. The law was all they had to protect them and keep them “relatively” sinless. Today we are in the dispensation of Grace – we now have the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sins and turn us to God – to help us overcome the flesh and live sinless lives that are pleasing to God.
So in the old dispensation of the law – the punishment had to be severe enough to really motivate people to follow it, which is why they were put to death for breaking certain laws.
So I think it was an act of goodness of God to institute a law like this, to prevent the people (and the nation) from incurring His wrath.

– “How is Samuel 15:2-3” “an act of goodness?”

[1Sa 15:2-3 NKJV] 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek [for] what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 ‘Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”

Well, according to http://bibleencyclopedia.com/amalekite.htm:
“We are uncertain of their origin, for they do not appear in the list of nations found in Genesis 10. They do not seem to have had any relationship with the tribes of Israel, save as, we may surmise, some of the descendants of Esau were incorporated into the tribe.”
“The first contact with Israel was at Rephidim, in the wilderness of Sinai, where they made an unprovoked attack and were defeated after a desperate conflict (Exodus 17:8-13 Deuteronomy 25:17, 18). On account of this they were placed under the ban and Israel was commanded to exterminate them (Deuteronomy 25:19 1 Samuel 15:2, 3).”

[Deu 25:17-19 KJV] 17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; 18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, [even] all [that were] feeble behind thee, when thou [wast] faint and weary; and he feared not God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee [for] an inheritance to possess it, [that] thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget [it].

So according to the bible, God gave the command to exterminate the Amalekites because:
a. They made an unprovoked attack to the Israelites from the rear, slaughtering the week and feeble that were travelling there.
b. They did not fear God.

So, for me it is an act of goodness from God, to issue the command to exterminate the Amalekites because it shows He is willing to take revenge / apply justice on my behalf.
I will therefore willingly endure persecution without fighting back or revenge or becoming bitter – because my God is a righteous judge and I can know and trust that they will get their punishment if not in this life, then surely in the next.

– “How is Chronicles 15:13” “an act of goodness?”

[2Ch 15:12-15 NKJV] 12 Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. 14 Then they took an oath before the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams’ horns. 15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.

You are taking this verse out of context. The Israelites willingly submitted themselves to this law, because they made the oath to seek Him with all their heart and soul. And to show their commitment, they were willing to be put to death should they not comply. So this is not a law God implemented, the people themselves did it to show their commitment to God.
God will never force himself on anyone in this life. You have to choose Him and come to Him of your own accord – otherwise there is no free choice, and it is no longer love.

– “I don’t want to live under a moral code defined by this framework of goodness. ”

What is your alternative? You either accept the absolute moral standards of God as laid out by Him in His Word. Or you become your own God. You choose your own morals. So now everything becomes relative, because each is free to choose for himself. Total chaos will reign as everyone will be different. For one person killing someone is fine, for another it is not. For one rape is fine, for another not etc etc.
I would much rather freely choose to have my moral code defined by God’s Word than anything else. Anything else is tainted with sin and corruption – and turns you away from the allpowerful God. He created us and knows best for us. His commands are there to protect us because He loves us!
Yet this is the biggest problem for most people that are not Christians to overcome. They do not want to submit to God’s will. They want to be in charge and choose for themselves. They love their sins too much to let it go, become humble and submit to the creator of the universe!

– “If the passages above are a demonstration of his wrath and judgement, then this god is pretty evil.”

These passages are a demonstration of God’s righteousness and judgement. And no, it does not make Him evil! It makes Him perfect and consistent!
What would you prefer?
That God allows the interbreeding and perversion of the human race with devils and daemons and do nothing about it?
That God should allow the same kind of sexual perversions – people turning against their created nature and lusting after strange flesh – in His Holy set-apart nation Israel?
That God should not accept a covenant willingly made by Israelites, that they would put to death any idolaters found among them?
No, this does not make God evil at all!

– “I would submit that many other worldviews suggest a more effective approach to defining a moral code.”

Oh yeah! Name one!
You know I used to be atheist, but God eventually saved me. You can read my story here https://j2god.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/journey-to-god/
I got saved the wrong way around. I first got convinced that a completely destructive / bad force like Satan really does exist. But that means a God must really exist. It does not necessarily mean the Christian God – so I had to define God for myself and then look into the religions to determine which one is the real / correct one because they cannot all be right!
I tell you now, the only worldview that is logically consistent and morally perfect is the Christian worldview. Go look into some of the other religions – you’ll be shocked what some people believe! Literally fairytales I tell you…

– “Can anyone find a context in which the 3 passages above (just a couple of examples out of thousands I’ve found in the bible) can be acceptable as any kind of moral code? I haven’t. Please enlighten me, please take me out of my ignorance. I just can’t see it.”

I believe I’ve done that with my explanations above. See this article http://www.reasonablefaith.org/slaughter-of-the-canaanites for Dr William Lane Craig’s (I dare say he is the best Christian apologist alive today, and really had a big part to play in my conversion) perspective on the Canaanite killings.

He basically asserts the following:
————
I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements.  According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God.  Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself,  He has no moral duties to fulfill.  He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.  For example, I have no right to take an innocent life.  For me to do so would be murder.  But God has no such prohibition.  He can give and take life as He chooses.  We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.”  Human authorities  arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God.  God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second.  If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit.  How long they live and when they die is up to Him.

So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives.  The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them.  Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder?  No, it’s not.  Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder.  The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.
————

So this allows us as Christians to be perfectly content with the Christian moral code…
Read the rest of the article and some more of the stuff on his website – or even check on youtube for his debates with atheists – truly amazing stuff.

– “Many times my Christian friends and family reply with “well, but Jesus reset all that in the new testament, so the message from god is really about goodness and love”. So for millions of years god waited to “save” mankind, until 2,000 years ago he said “they’ve suffered enough, let’s save them”? This means he was either incompetent or evil. I don’t want that sort goodness or love either.”

What you are trying to do here is to marry the theory of evolution with Christianity. And you are quite correct – they are incompatible. I mean God created the world with Adam and Eve and everything was good and perfect. There was no death initially. Then Adam and Eve sinned and they made the choice to eat of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil” because satan tempted them with the same sin that made him fall – pride – to become like God.

[Gen 3:1-5 KJV] 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and YE SHALL BE AS GODS, knowing good and evil.

Anyhow, one of the reasons Jesus had to die for us (atonement) is so that the curse can be removed. If you now try to add millions of years here it means the Bible is no longer inerrant, and therefore it is no longer trustworthy. Now some people get around this by saying it did not really happen and this is just a story. Now the problem with this is that God must then have designed the world with death and sin from the beginning. So then why does Jesus need to die on the cross for us if God made the world this way?

So no, the theory of evolution is just that. A theory. Even up to today, there is no real proof of evolution contrary to what the popular press would have you believe. You need to remember, that if God really does exist, and satan really does exist, then obviously satan will do whatever he can to take as many people to hell with him as he can. What better way to do this, than by convincing the world God does not really exist? And for those that do believe, you make it even more difficult by creating loads of false religions. And given that he has no moral obligations, he can play dirty, and take over the governments, universities, bussiness etc through secret societies. The media and universities then becomes tools he uses to convince everyone that the world created itself over millions an millions of years. Nothing exploded and became everything, and then dead matter magically turned to life, and then life itself intelligently adapts to its surroundings through evolution.

You really have to take a look at http://creation.com/ They provide scientific logical conclusions from the a biblical worldview. When a evolutionist and a creationist get presented the same facts, ie. the same bone structure in different animals, the evolutionist will claim well they must have evolved from one another, where the creationist will claim, no they just had the same Designer. See, we both look at the same facts, yet we interpret them differently according to our worldviews… You can still be 100% scientific and logical and still be a Christian.

– “If we focus on today, according to the Bible millions of children that die before they are baptised, and billions of people that happened to be born in a different culture where other religions are the norm, will spend an eternal agony of suffering while burning in hell. I don’t want that kind of goodness either, and refuse to live my life under that blurred ideological prism. ”

I do not believe you have to be baptised to be saved. Read this article https://j2god.wordpress.com/2013/05/27/115/
I believe you are saved through faith https://j2god.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/justification-by-faith/
Look I also do not get exactly why so many people that never heard about Jesus will go to hell.
My own reasoning suggest the following:
– We inherit our parents sin / righteousness. Everyone stems from Noah. So somewhere along the line, a parent of a guy that never heard of Jesus turned his back on God. And this turning away from God, transfers to his children. But the opposite is also true, a christian parent transfers his faith and blessings to his children.
– God can sovereignly choose whom he wills to be saved. We are all sinful lost people that deserve to go to hell. The fact that God saves anybody, is a testament to his merciful loving nature.
– do you realize that Jesus’s death on the cross paid for the sins of EVERYONE?
[1Jo 2:2 NKJV] 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
So why do people go to hell then?
[Jhn 3:16, 18 NKJV] 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. … 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
You will burn in hell, because you rejected god! And it gets even worse:
[Rom 1:19-22 NLT] 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. 21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.
Even atheists in the deepest part of their hearts know that there is a God. So they are without excuse on judgement day – even though they never heard the gospel…
– We are created in the image of God. This goes much deeper than most people think or realize. As God has the ability to create life, he gave us the ability as well (through children), as He has the ability to take life we can also, as He can save someone by revealing Jesus / His nature, so can we by testifying the gospel. So some people never hear the gospel because we do not tell them…

So no, I totally disagree with your statement. I cannot think of a more splendid, better goodness than the Christian gospel. And it is anything but blurry – to a Christian anyhow. A non-believer’s heart is blinded and they cannot understand it – so yes I suppose for them it will be a “blurred ideological prism”.
[Mat 13:13-14 NKJV] 13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;

– “I believe the more likely explanation is that the bible is a book written by bronze age men. I suggest we shouldn’t have a conversation about morals with the prism of 1st century ignorance. Let’s have a 21st century conversation about issues that affect this world.”
Well Carlos, I sincerely hope you will reconsider. I for one will pray for you, that the Holy Spirit will lift the veil that you might see a clear message of the gospel. I beg of you to keep searching until you find truth.
I challenge you to juest put God to the test. Pray to Him, and ask Him to show Himself to you. If He is not there, then you have nothing to lose, but what if He is – you have everything to gain my friend!

Blessings,

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Posted on 2013/09/18, in Insights / Messages, Salvation, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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