Do we worship a cruel God?

Posted: November 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

Cruel: 1. willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others. 2. enjoying the pain or distress of others 3. rigid; stern; strict; unrelentingly severe

None of these definitions are adequate to describe what you are accusing God of being. For example, a doctor giving a child a shot or setting a bone is technically “willfully or knowingly causing pain or distress to others.” A parent disciplining a child is likewise “guilty”. We accept these actions, though they may appear to the child as cruel because there will ultimately be benefit and health to the child. Imagine a parent who never disciplined their child, never took them to the doctor, never doctored cuts and scrapes, just because they didn’t want to be “cruel”. That parent would actually be guilty of child abuse!

“Enjoying the pain or distress of others” I challenge you to read the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son and claim that God enjoys the pain or distress of others. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murdering the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings,and you refused!” (Matthew 23:37) Sound cruel? The Jesus would have so much compassion for a bunch of murderers?

Image result for prodigal son

“Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Image result for the passion of the christ

“He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53

Sound like a “cruel” God?

“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 (emphasis mine)

God is not cruel, but he is righteous; he hates sin for what it does to us, not just because it pisses him off. Our sins are not like a teething child on a plain causing a mere “annoyance”; they are self-murder, self-harm, cruelty to others, pride, greed, apathy. You know who is cruel? WE ARE. The best of us are like the Pharisees: “Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they remained silent.

“He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 3:1–6 Today, we see cities sending out cops to arrest people for giving food to the poor on the street or in parks. These are the Pharisees; these are the cruel. In Matthew, Jesus pulls no punches with the religious and civic leaders of his day, who looked good on the outside, but on the inside were full of death and rot:

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous,30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”

So what happens if you remove God from the world, from the equation? Does cruelty suddenly cease to exist? I would say yes; apart from an immovable, objective standard by which we can measure good and evil, both become determined merely on the whim of the individual person. Answer this question: If Man is the final arbiter of good and evil (and the definer of cruelty), the question must be asked: “Which man?” As the passage from Isaiah above says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way…” We think we are so wise, so smart, so “together” and cocksure, but we are really a bunch of sheep without a shepherd, roaming aimlessly around, following other sheep off cliffs, going off by ourselves to be eaten by wolves, bumping into each other…useless. But Jesus “…saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The Isaiah verse continues: ““We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

I do not worship a cruel God. I worship a God who loved me so much that before Eden, before the Fall, before the first atom was laid for the foundation of the universe, he had already provided me a way out, redemption. To reject that gift would be the cruelest thing I could ever do…to myself.

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