Why Doesn’t God Follow His Own Laws?!

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Why Doesn’t God Follow His Own Laws?!

James R. Aist

“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

Many people want to believe that what the Bible says about God is true, but they will do so only insofar as it conforms to their pre-conceived notions and/or they are willing to accept it as being true. Consequently, they believe in a god that is, at least to some extent, created in their own image. One major stumbling block for many such folks is the fact that God doesn’t always follow the laws that He commands us to follow. For example, in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), God has commanded us to not murder or steal, but He killed all the firstborn children in the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:15) and struck dead a Christian married couple (Acts 5:1-10), and, in effect, He stole the land from the inhabitants of the promised land and gave it to His chosen people, the Israelites (Leviticus 20:24)! So, they reckon, God is breaking His own laws and is, therefore, not the perfect moral being He claims to be. This leads them to the conclusion that such a god is a scofflaw, and therefore not worthy of reverence and obedience, much less worship.

But, there is a fatal flaw in that way of thinking about the God of the Bible. God’s laws were given to mankind for mankind to follow, not necessarily for God to follow. The God of the Bible is the supreme judge of what is right and what is wrong. There is no authority above God to whom one can appeal in order to lodge a valid accusation against God. Moreover, there is no need of someone to judge God, because all of His ways and thoughts are perfect. The psalmist stated it succinctly for us: “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). God is not subject to the laws He has given for mankind to follow. Rather, He does whatever He pleases. God’s perfect ways flow from His perfect, moral nature, whereas our imperfect ways flow from our imperfect, sin nature. Moreover, God forbids us to do some things that He does, even in those instances in which we are capable of doing so. For example, Paul states emphatically,”Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay, says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Judgement, in the sense of condemnation of a person, is another thing that God reserves for Himself. And, we can add the definition of right and wrong to this list. So, you see, God does not follow all of the laws that He laid out for mankind to follow, because He has reserved some functions and actions for Himself alone. He can do that, because He is God and we are not. We would do well to remember that.

The God of the Bible created, and therefore owns, all of creation, including us. He created us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7), in order for us to reflect back to him His glory (click HERE). Therefore, He has every right, even a moral obligation, to reward good and punish evil, as well as to be the sole judge of what good and evil are. And, He does with each human life whatever he pleases, without reproach. We can see this clearly in Romans 9:18, where Paul writes, “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.”

So, whenever we accuse the God of the Bible of wrongdoing, we are deluding ourselves into thinking that we are morally superior to God and are, therefore, qualified to be His judge. But in reality, its the other way around: we will all be judged by God.  So let’s not judge Him because He doesn’t follow all of the laws He has given for us to follow. Rather, let’s make peace with the fact that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). This is the God of the Bible: morally perfect, beyond reproach and judge of all.

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)

What Is Jesus Waiting For?

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What Is Jesus Waiting For?

 James R. Aist

“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were since the beginning of the creation.” – 2 Peter 3:4

Jesus promised that, one day, He would return, do away with evil deeds, punish evildoers forever, and establish His righteous and everlasting Kingdom on earth (Revelation 21:1-8). But, it’s been more than 2,000 years since He ascended into heaven, and still, He hasn’t come again as He promised. So, you may ask, as many others have (e.g., 2 Peter 3:3-4), “What in the world is He waiting for?” In this article I will try to shed some light on the answer to that question. As you read further, please bear in mind that the Bible mentions many things that will happen before the Second Coming, but most of these things do not relate directly to the purpose, or the “end game,” of His waiting. So, please bear in mind that here, I am focusing specifically on what it is that God is accomplishing by having Jesus wait.

To do that, I want to begin at the beginning. The evil that we witness or experience today has its origins in the original sin of Adam, which is commonly referred to as The Fall of Man (Genesis 3). As a result of The Fall, mankind has been separated from God, born with a sinful nature and living in a cursed creation ever since. At some level, all of the evil in the present world can be traced back, directly or indirectly, to this entry of sin into the world. This means that mankind, not God, is the root cause of evil in this fallen world, so, let’s be careful to not blame God for it. God will eradicate evil and restore righteousness to the earth some day.

But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Why does God continue to allow evil to continue when He has been planning to end it all along? My response to that question would be that He will end it when the time comes. So now we have arrived at the topic of this article: What is Jesus waiting for, anyway? I believe the Bible provides an answer, and I will try to explain it, but I can’t promise that it will satisfy you.

About the Second Coming, Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness. But He is patient with us, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In context (2 Peter 1 and 3), “any”, “all” and “us”, refer specifically to born-again believers (2 Peter 1:1), the elect of God (2 Peter 1:10), so that a fuller exposition of the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 would be, “…He does not want any (of His elect) to perish, but all (of His elect) to come to repentance.” Peter is saying that Jesus will not come again until all of His elect have repented and have been saved.

And Paul struck a similar note when he wrote, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26a). The phrase “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” is rendered a little differently in the various English translations, but I believe that the New Living Translation captures most clearly the full intent and meaning of the phrase thusly: …”until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.” Thus, when the full number of Gentiles has been saved, then the partial hardening of Israel will be lifted, all Israel will be saved and end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming.

Taken together, then, these two verses tell us that what Jesus is waiting for is the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect. And, from God’s perspective, this is, indeed, a very good reason for Jesus to wait, don’t you think?

There are a couple of related and supporting verses that also  should be noted here. One is Matthew 24:14, where Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” How does this relate to the topic at hand? Here’s how: It is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world that will result in the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect, so that end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming. The other verse is Romans 8:19-21, where Paul wrote, “The eager expectation of the creation waits for the appearance of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The “appearance of the sons of God” will not be completed until the salvation of all God’s elect is accomplished, because these are “the sons of God”. Thus, the creation also is eagerly waiting for the same thing that Jesus is waiting for. Following that, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth”, and “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.”

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

 

Spiritual Encounters with God: Dreams

Spiritual Encounters with God: Dreams

James R. Aist

‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” – Acts 2:17

Introduction

This article is the second in a short series on “Spiritual Encounters with God.” The first article in the series is about visions and voices (click HERE). This time, we will focus on dreams that God uses to illustrate spiritual lessons. I’m usually not one to read a lot either into or out of dreams, as some are want to do, but there are two of my dreams that stand apart from all the rest. They made a deep and lasting impression on me, and, at the time, I knew almost immediately that they were illustrated lessons that God wanted me to learn. So, I paid special attention to them and wrote them down right away.  Among Pentecostal and Charismatic believers, such personal, revelational encounters with God are commonly referred to as “Rhema.” As you are reading, please keep in mind that God interacts with each of His born-again children however He chooses, and one’s lack of a corresponding spiritual encounter with God does not rule out the validity of another’s.

The first dream came to me in 1991. In the dream, I was at a party, celebrating a great research accomplishment of mine that had gained considerable notoriety in the media. The partygoers were all abuzz about it, and I enjoyed listening to their excitement and their lavish praise for the “one” (me) who had done this great thing.

At first, no one recognized me as the one who had achieved this outstanding accomplishment. Then, someone identified me and shouted out, “There he is; he’s the one who did it!” Everyone was very impressed, and they all turned to gaze at me. Suddenly, someone across the room shouted, ”Quiet, I’m getting a message.” After a brief pause, people began to ask him, “What was it?” He turned, pointed straight at me and said, dramatically, “He is powerful!” Then they all “ahhhh-ed” in unison and turned to gaze at me, again.

At that moment, something welled up inside of me as if to take me over, to reveal itself, and I was as if transformed, no longer in control. I was surprised at what was happening to me and at what happened next. I rose up (levitated) high above the crowd, stretched out my arms and, with a fierce look on my face, let out a mighty roar that caused the whole place to shudder. The purpose of this performance was to display my awesome power, frighten them and gain control over them. It seemed to work, and I was feeling evil, haughty and superior. And, I was enjoying it.

Before long, however, I began to regain control of myself. Almost instantly I became very upset with what I had done, and I was condemning this show of power for self-exaltation and desiring fervently to, instead, proclaim the power of God, not of me. So, I started declaring, over and over, “God is powerful, God is powerful…” to somehow counteract the evil thing I had just done.

Then I woke up, still repeating “God is powerful”, until I sensed that whatever it was within me that took control of me had been defeated, and it was clear to me where I really stood with respect to God. I was very fearful of that hideous “thing”, the thing that had manifested itself through me and wanted to control other people through a sinister display of supernatural power.

The next day I recorded this dream in my journal and set about to understand the meaning and purpose of it. The dream indicated and confirmed to me that something despicable in me was seeking dominion over others for evil purposes. It was seeking to substitute itself for God, through me. Clearly, it was an evil spirit, a spirit of pride. The dream was a warning to me to not succumb to pride, and to doggedly resist the temptation to pride until it was overcome and no longer had any control over me. It was a sobering and frightful experience, and a good lesson for all of us.

The second dream came during the winter of 2006-2007, and I believe it was also from God and of spiritual significance. I was an onlooker in the dream and right there on the scene, as the events unfolded.

The scene was an open field among rolling hills, with patches of trees lining the perimeter. A heavy set, scruffy looking, bearded man was in charge of the proceedings. He ordered his henchmen to strap an alligator to the underbelly of a nearby gigantic, scaly, rotund, dinosaur-like beast, using two thick, heavy, elastic bands, and they did. When I inquired what was going on, he explained to me that the alligator has to learn to obey.

At that he commanded the beast, “Go!”, and the beast began to run swiftly through the countryside in great and powerful leaps, with the alligator strapped tightly to his underbelly. As he ran, the back of the alligator rubbed back-and-forth against the hard, sharp scales of the beast’s underbelly with each leap, because of the elasticity of the bands. After just a few leaps forward, the beast’s scales had torn through the tough hide of the alligator and were ripping away at his flesh. The alligator was in such horrific pain and terror that he cried out repeatedly in a loud voice, as if to plead for mercy, but the beast would not stop until he had completed a wide circle through the countryside, as prescribed. I was terrified, watching helplessly as the poor alligator could do nothing to prevent the process from being carried to its gruesome, painful and bloody conclusion. The henchmen then freed the alligator and sent him on his way, writhing in pain. As for me, I was aghast at what I had just witnessed and too afraid to say anything.

Then I woke up and began to ponder in my heart what the meaning of the dream might be. After a brief period of pondering, I conceded the obvious: the dream was a stern warning to me, to turn away from my besetting sins and obey God. If I don’t, I will be the alligator, and I will learn to obey…the hard way. So, I resolved, right then and there, not to become the alligator!

Now let’s compare this dream and its interpretation to 1 Corinthians 5:5, “…deliver him to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus.” Sobering, isn’t it? God is so serious about our sins that he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for them. So, let’s learn from the alligator and get serious with God about obedience, OK?

(You can find more of my biblically oriented articles if you click HERE)

The Forgotten “WHYs”

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The Forgotten “WHYs”

 James R. Aist

“We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22)

Why is there rampant evil and suffering in a world created by a sovereign, loving and perfectly moral God? In other words, why do hatred, murder, so-called acts of God (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fire, etc.), lying, stealing, betrayal, pride, greed, poverty, injustice, racism, suffering and political corruption abound, if a good God created the world to be “very good”? Inquiring minds want to know why.

It occurs to me that, as life on this planet becomes seemingly more and more fraught with evil of one kind or another, it is God who is being blamed for these various trials and tribulations. I suppose that is partly due to the fact that the God of the Bible is all-powerful (omnipotent), and could, at least theoretically, put an end to all of it at any time, if only He really wanted to. Although much of human suffering is actually a direct result of human choices and actions, far too few of us are willing to take responsibility for our part in it. It is too convenient to just blame God and acquit ourselves of any wrongdoing. We may ask “Why?”, and then quickly point a finger at God.

I am not claiming to know fully why it is that God allows such evil and suffering to continue in this present age. But the specific questions I want to address here are 1) “Did something happen in the Garden of Eden that changed the dwelling place of man from a utopia to a dangerous, burdensome and painful abode?” and 2) “Who is really behind all of this suffering?” Of course, the answers to these questions are not a mystery to those of us who are familiar with the Word of God (the Holy Bible) and believe what it says. But the younger generations are increasingly looking everywhere except the Bible to find answers to these important questions. And if God even enters their process of searching for answers, it is ultimately to blame God, rather than to seek real answers where they may be found; i.e., in the Bible. So, let’s see if we can shed some fresh light on this question and stop “passing the buck” by blaming God. If you really want to know “why” there is so much evil and suffering in this world, then here are some of the “WHYs.”

The Perfect Beginning

Let’s begin at the beginning. The God of the Bible, the One who created the Universe, is, in fact, morally perfect. And, as one would expect, His finished work of creation was also perfect (complete and without flaw), as attested by His description of it as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The first two human beings, Adam and Eve, were also created as morally perfect creatures. They apparently had a close, personal relationship with their Creator, being accustomed to walking and talking with Him in the cool of the day, as implied in Genesis 3:8-10. They had no knowledge of good or evil, and all was well in the Garden of Eden. But then, something went terribly wrong. To fully understand and comprehend the impact of what was to follow, we must bear in mind that Adam and Eve, as the first human beings, were representative of all humans who followed, including us. As progeny of Adam, we have inherited the kind of world he left for us.    

Remember “The “Fall”!

“Satan lured Adam and Eve to compromise one single act, one slip of holiness, and from there he has brought unspeakable carnage to the human race and to the earth.” – John Eldredge, “The Utter Relief of Holiness”

One day Adam and Eve were persuaded, by the lies of Satan, to disobey God, thus committing what is known as the “original sin.” They were no longer morally perfect, having fallen from their morally perfect condition, and they had to be cast out of the presence of the holy God because of it (Genesis 3:23-24). This changed everything, as Adam and Eve soon learned that there is a big price to be paid for disobeying God. And we are still paying this price today; we have inherited, so to speak, from Adam a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. That, my friends, provides a basic explanation for what we commonly refer to as “man’s inhumanity to man”, which includes such things as hatred, murder, lying, stealing, betrayal, greed, racism, poverty and injustice.

And there is another dimension to the consequences of the Fall, as eloquently explained by David Limbaugh in “The Emmaus Code”: “…the one thing that best revitalizes my faith during intermittent moments of doubt is, paradoxically, the pervasiveness of evil, suffering, and despair that we see all around us, and the inexplicably twisted values that increasingly define our culture. This unfathomability of the human condition, this perverse moral inversion we witness, this willing abandonment of logic and distortion of the language, cannot possibly be understood, in my view, apart from the Bible. Without the Bible, none of this makes any sense to me, but with it, I see how sin entered the world in the fall and how it has corrupted God’s perfect creation.” So we can see that the inexplicably twisted values, the perverse moral inversion, the willing abandonment of logic and the distortion of the language, which so many of us have run up against in trying to resist the liberalism and progressivism that increasingly define our culture, are also consequences of sin entering the world in the Garden of Eden.

The “Curses”

In response to this original sin, God pronounced curses on the Devil, on Adam and Eve, and on the whole of creation (Genesis 3:14-20). Not only were Adam and Eve (and us, by extension) banished from the presence of God, but Adam would now have to eke out a living by hard labor and the sweat of his brow, and Eve would experience greatly multiplied pain in childbirth and submission to her husband. But, perhaps the most significant curse of all is that Adam and Eve (and, by extension, us) were to suffer both spiritual death (separation from God) and physical death (return to dust, Genesis 3:19).

Even the ground itself was cursed because of Adam’s sin, for from now on it would bring forth thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17-18) in place of edible food. In this regard, the Apostle Paul had this to add: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:20-22). And so here we have the basic explanation for so-called “acts of God” (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, etc.) and, most likely, for political corruption as well: the whole of creation is being subjected to “futility”, to “slavery to corruption”, to “groaning” and to “travailing in pain.” We may not know for sure everything that Paul is referring to here, but we do know for sure that it is all bad and all a result of sin entering the world.

But, there’s even more to it than this, much more.

The Prince

In trying to understand why evil and suffering are so rampant in the world, we mustn’t overlook the one who started all the trouble in the first place: ol’ “slew foot” himself, Satan. When Satan rebelled against God, he was cast down to the earth (Job 1:7 and 2:2, Isaiah 14:13, Luke 10:18 and 1 Peter 5:8). And, as part of the curse on Satan following Adam’s original sin, God said “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring” (Genesis 3:15). This is why the Bible refers to Satan as “the enemy of our souls” (Psalm 143:3). For the time being, he is the Prince of this world (John 14; 30) the Prince of the air of this world (Ephesians 2:2), meaning that he has power and considerable influence over worldly affairs, including the affairs of mankind. Jesus said of him that he comes only to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10). And Peter warned us to “Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Rest assured, then, that the devil, Satan, and his minions, are ultimately behind much, if not most, of “man’s inhumanity to man.” The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). While man’s sinful nature is clearly at work here, Satan is hard at work also, usually behind the scenes, to encourage, amplify, multiply and reward our sinful deeds.

The Promise

At this point, you may wonder if this morally perfect God will ever set things right and restore His Creation to its original, perfect condition. The answer is, “Yes, He will eventually do just that.” God promised to do this when He said to Satan “…he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15), a clear reference to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the offspring of Eve. When Jesus came the first time as the sacrificial Lamb of God to pay the price (death) for our sins (John 1:29), He set this restoration process in motion. When he comes again, He will complete the restoration by judging all of mankind (Matthew 25:31-46) and rewarding each, even Christians (2 Corinthians 5:10), according to his deeds – whether good or bad – and ushering in a new heaven and a new earth where justice, righteousness and peace will prevail forevermore (Revelation 221:1-8), to the glory of God.

The Waits

“Justice delayed is not justice denied.” – Raymond F. Culpepper

But, you may ask, “If God intends to restore His creation to its original, perfect condition, why is He waiting so long to do it?” There are actually two questions here: 1) “Why did He wait so long to send Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to pay the price for our sins?”; and 2) “Why is He waiting so long to send Him back as the Lion of Judah to conquer evil and establish His perfect Kingdom here on earth?”

I am not aware that the Bible clearly addresses the first question directly, but it does talk about “the fullness of time” and “the time is fulfilled” in reference to the timing of Jesus’ First Coming (Galatians 4:4-5; Mark 1:14-15; and Ephesians 1:7-10). And, in reference to the timing of His Second Coming, Jesus said “It is not for you to know the times or the dates, which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” So, we can surmise that God, in His sovereignty, set the timing of Jesus First Coming in order to best fulfill His divine plan of salvation. Personally, I am inclined to speculate that God was waiting until His relationship with His chosen people, Israel, had been fully and firmly established and formalized before bringing Jesus onto the scene bodily, so as to fully verify Jesus as the promised Messiah and to facilitate the rapid establishment of the Christian church.

This brings us to the second question: “Why is God waiting so long to send Jesus back as the Lion of Judah to conquer evil and establish His perfect Kingdom here on earth?” This is also a tough question to answer fully. The Apostle Peter, however, offers this explanation: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). But, who is the “everyone” to whom Peter refers here? I believe the Apostle Paul has provided a clue: “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). Taken together, these scriptures seem to imply that God has a particular number of persons in mind to be saved, and He will not complete the restoration until that number of people has been saved. This may be a new teaching to some, and it may seem harsh, but keep in mind that if God does not, at some point in time, close the door to heaven, then the end time events will never be completed, because, for one reason or another, there will always be people who are not yet saved.

Summary

One need only look to the Bible to get a basic understanding of why evil and suffering are so rampant in today’s world. The fall of man, original sin, the sin nature of man, the resultant curses and the Prince of the air of this world (These are the forgotten “WHYs”) have all conspired to put the world in the godless, degenerate and immoral condition it is in. But God is already in the process of restoring the world to its original, good and moral condition through the initial work of Jesus on the earth and the continuing work of His disciples, including you and me. When Jesus comes again and the “full number” of people (as determined by and known only to God) has been saved, He will complete the process.

Are you one of those people God will save? What are you waiting for? Stop running from God, and let Him save you today!

(To read more Bible Teachings by Professor Aist, click HERE.)