Pastors Report - 24 Aug 2018

Is God Fair?

"Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens." (Romans 9:18 NKJV)

A Recent Email:

I recently received a lengthy email from a lady who was most indignant over some of the standards and laws she discovered in the Old Testament. Here is a segment of what she had to say:

There's several laws of Moses that are very horrible regarding women and rape. One law states that a woman who is raped has to marry her attacker. That's really lovely considering that a large amount of rapes end in a brutal death for the woman who is raped.

Another law states that if a husband even thinks his wife committed adultery on him he can have her sent to the priests and have her head shaved and she's forced to drink some sort of a poison potion that may cause her to miscarry her baby. Can you say cruel and unjust ? I'd never let my daughter be treated that way.

Every story I read in the Old testament involves a man who didn't love his daughters and then God calls him wonderful and the apple of his eye. It does make me mad. Let's take Lot, called righteous Lot in the New Testament. Never mind the fact that he threw his daughter outside to be raped. I guess that didn't matter to the apostle Paul when he called him righteous Lot.

I was never told these things before I got baptized. I'm just glad that we live in a society that views women as more than just a possession to be owned.

Get The Facts:

Firstly we need to get the facts straight about the incidents she highlights:

But the lady who writes does have a point. There are many laws found within the old Testament that are exceedingly strange to our Western minds – and evil actions taken by men who God later labels as righteous – what about them? How do we reconcile such things with a loving God who only wants the best for each of us?

The key point:

Although we are forced to recognise life is temporary – that for all of us it will eventually come to an end – more often than not we push such thoughts out of our minds, as this physical chemical existence that we currently enjoy seems so real, so permanent. After all, it is the only one any of us has known. But what is God's perspective of it?

  • Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
  • For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
  • As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
  • For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
  • But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; (Psalm 103:13-17)

When looked at from the Eternal's viewpoint – the only truly realistic perspective – this 'shadow' existence we have is barely here at all. Things simply do not centre on us – but on the Eternal, as explained in Isaiah 40:6-8. For that reason the main point that we all must keep at the forefront of our minds – when dealing with almost any question that may come up – is: WHAT IS GOD'S OVERALL AIM? What is He trying to achieve? What is this world He created really about? Why is it here? What is its purpose – from God's perspective, not our own? Only when we begin to examine existence from the Eternal's perspective – rather than our own – do the really deep and sometimes disturbing questions of life begin to become clear.

Aversion Therapy:

And central to all such answers is God's Plan as revealed through the Holy Days – a deliberately hidden framework that effectively lays out the stages in the Gospel of the Kingdom/Family of God and the place of mankind within it. And the present stage we find ourselves within is very much Satan's world (II Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). The present age began with the incident of the Two Trees ... the time that mankind chose the wrong one - a decision which would impact on the rest of humanity - but was allowed by God to do so, for an incredible overall purpose.

God doesn't want robots! A family of 'yellow pencils'. He wants family members with their own personality and strengths ... but never again another Satan, so we must be totally convinced of the error of the wrong way. The wrong tree with every twist and turn of its various branches. The numerous ways of "get" - i.e. Satan's way, the carnal way - and He will make it clear to us all the wisdom of His actions.

  • The LORD God proclaims: How much more if I send all four of these terrible acts of judgment—sword, famine, wild animals, and plague—against Jerusalem, to eliminate both humans and animals?
  • Yet a few survivors will be left. Sons and daughters will be brought out to you. When you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the evil that I inflicted on Jerusalem, for all that I brought against it.
  • Seeing their ways and their deeds will bring you some consolation, because then you will understand what I've done, and that I didn't do any of these things without cause . This is what the LORD God says (Ezek 14:21-23 Common English bible)

This 6000 year unhappy reign of Satan is just about to culminate in the greatest time of trial the world has ever known – and if Jesus Christ were not to step in, the very planet itself would once again become lifeless – tohu and bohu – the inevitable destination of choosing the wrong tree.

  • For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
  • And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:21-22)
God's Plan for Women:

When God first made man, he made them both male and female and it is recorded that: "God saw everything that he had made and, behold IT WAS VERY GOOD"! (Genesis 1:31) But once Adam and Eve had made their choice to follow Satan and his way of selfishness, the relationship that God had designed as "very good", with the husband being the leader by caring and loving his wife, became cursed. With husband and wife both merely out for whatever they could get, the woman, being physically weaker and designed to bear and breastfeed the children, would naturally find herself at a disadvantage in the contest – and so it has been, just as God predicted, "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." (Genesis 3:16)

As the population increased, this "battle of the sexes" became enshrined in civilisations across the world – including those around the time of Moses and the emergence of ancient Israel as a nation. It very much became an intrinsic part of the aversion therapy mankind had to experience following his choice at the incident of the two trees. God therefore was not about to try and fix it at that time – that would only come later when Satan was removed – but rather worked within the carnal customs of the day and within the national laws and judgements... largely curbing the excesses of the period for the betterment and protection of women as the weaker party.

Does God have a down on women? Are they in any way regarded as a lesser species by the Eternal God? Not in any way! Man and woman are two distinct members of the same kind – the HUMAN KIND, and ultimately equally destined to become part of the God kind within the Kingdom of God, as brought out in the first chapter of Genesis... "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: ..... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them " (Genesis 1:26,27) But the differences between the sexes are legion. It is not a matter of 'inferiority'. It is a matter of biological and psychological advantages, so both of the sexes can be successful in the roles they were CREATED to perform.

The original husband/wife relationship – described as "very good" by the Logos that became Jesus Christ – was undoubtedly referred to in that way for another truly transcendental reason. It was specifically designed as a type of the divine relationship between Christ and His church. This is also undoubtedly the reason why so many of the Old Testament laws and judgements stressed the importance of virginity, faithfulness, betrothal and legislating against adultery and sexual defilement as they do. They were destined to be preserved down to our day so that we could apply the same spiritual principles to God's church as a pure and faithful bride of Christ.

  • Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
  • For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
  • Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
  • That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
  • That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
  • So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
  • For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
  • For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
  • For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
  • This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:22-32)
Is God Fair?

So ... is God fair? After all, He did harden Pharaoh's heart, didn't He? Was that fair, as Pharaoh then had no choice!

  • For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, , and that My name may be declared in all the earth.
  • Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Romans 9:17-18 NKJV)

And when David sinned by numbering Israel, again, many thousands were slain. Was that fair on them?

  • So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee
  • Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
  • And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.
  • So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. (I Chronicles 21:11-14)

Uzzah died trying to steady the ark, to prevent it getting damaged. Was that fair on him?

  • And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
  • And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (II Samuel 6:6-7)

But all these examples were for an amazing purpose – recorded for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world has come. God has an exceedingly long term view. He knows He will eventually resurrect these people into a Paradise – and at that time offer them eternal LIFE in the Kingdom and Family of God. This includes Pharaoh, all the firstborn that died at that time, plus the army that perished in the Red Sea, plus all the Israelites that perished in the wilderness over the 40 years. It includes Uzzah plus the 70,000 men who died because of David's sin – and all the other Israelites who were alive then who will remember David looking to numbers of troops for his protection rather than to God.

The fact is that David was being worked with by God at the time, to eventually be king over Israel in the future. He was not yet, at that juncture, a man after God's own heart... but the intent was there and by the end of his life – having been moulded and shaped by the Master Potter – both he and we are destined to achieve just that. (sermon: After God's own heart)

Everlasting Joy:

The crunch is that the Son of God, the God of the Old Testament who gave those laws originally, and who was totally sinless Himself – was willing to take on our sins and our sicknesses (with a dreadful beating that left Him half dead)... Now was that fair? Yet both He and the Father regard the necessity of impressing upon our minds the inviolability of God's majestic spiritual law as being utterly vital, if we are to become members of the Family of God – inheriting eternity. Transgression of that law – Sin – will invariably bring the penalty of destruction. Thanks be to both God and Christ for paying that penalty on our behalf and then being willing to pull out all stops to encourage repentance and change in all human beings from the Garden of Eden down till the very end.

As brought out in so many scriptures, God is not out to make us miserable with harsh and unjust laws... to hurt His creation! On the contrary, His desire is to bring as many into Life as possible: " Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?( Ezekiel 33:11)

  • But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
  • The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:8-9)

As Mr Armstrong said to the assembled Australian ministry in 1981:

God gave humans a temporary consciousness for a time of character building. The material goods and physical knowledge we accumulate during this time will be of no use to us in the Kingdom of God. All we will take with us is the character that we build during this brief physical existence. Godly character is the qualifier for LIFE. ( HWA diary – WN 1 June 1981)

And sometimes the most recognisable scriptures in so many 'christian' churches can go straight over our heads, having heard them so often, but now read them in the context of the above;

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
  • For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
  • All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
  • I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
  • The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:8-10)

And this 'abundant life' is not just for the here and now, although adherence to those amazing laws do bring so many physical benefits - for both men and women. But what God has in mind is SO much more – far more than we can grasp, except we are promised that we'll never look back, but will have joy indescribable – for eternity:

  • And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (Isaiah 35:10)