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Monday: Isaiah, Hezekiah, and Sennacharib — 113 Comments

  1. Thank God for the biblical accounts of delivery! It astonishes me the fact that every day we can apply the lesson to what is happening TODAY. Are we afraid of the world's condition? Are we afraid that this is the "end of times"? The last phrase of today's lesson says, "God acts in history." We may not know when all of the world's mess regarding this virus will end, but we can be sure that we do have a God Who knows exactly what is going on. Perhaps this is the opportunity you and me should sieze to get our hearts straighten! Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to get our heads up and be happy, because of the signs of Jesus soon return! God never left His people in the dark, He is a loving Father Who always cares for His sons and daughters.

    "We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you."

    Amen!(31)
  2. Amen JC, goes along with a text I read this am.

    Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
    Colossians 4:2‭,3 KJV

    God indeed opens doors.

    Another favorite says arise (out of our dispare/depression), shine(seize the opertunity to let our light so shine before men), for the glory of the Lord shines upon us.
    Isaiah 60:1.

    Amen!(8)
  3. One of the things taught by Deism was that God created the world and then let it alone and was indifferent to it. What a very different picture the bible paints. Of course they had to reject divine revelation in order to adopt that.

    What I like about this account is that I believe we are dealing with a Christophany in Isa 37:36. I believe that is God the Son Himself who came down and personally delivered His people. Doesn't seem so indifferent to me. 🙂

    Amen!(7)
  4. Sennacherib mocked the LORD and threaten His City and His People so the LORD took action:

    Isa 37:35-36 ISV  'because I will defend this city and deliver it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David!'"  (36)  After this, the angel of the LORD went out and put to death 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When Hezekiah's army awakened in the morning—there were all the dead bodies!

    The LORD took action - it was not the natural consequence of Sennacherib's evil ways.

    Amen!(4)
      • Isa 37:36. As Priscilla pointed out, the evidence identifies "the Angel of the Lord" as the pre-incarnate Son of God - the same One who accepted worship from Joshua in Joshua 5:13-15. (Remember that "angel" means "messenger." So a "messenger" from heaven is an "angel," even when he appears as a Man.)

        When the Son became incarnate as Jesus, He lived as an ordinary man, without authority to put anyone to death. However, the same Son who executed judgment before His incarnation will come again as the King of Kings, in power and great glory, to execute judgment. Mark 14:61-62; Rev 1:7; Matt 25:31-43; Rev 11:18. (This is not to deny that sin is self-destructive. By choosing to separate from the Creator, sinners choose death, and the eternal Creator and Judge will finally - after much pleading and effort to save them - give them the fate they have chosen. That is called "judgment.")

        Amen!(5)
        • Thank you for your response Inge, so after everything you just wrote, says that Jesus has not AND will not ever put someone to death by His own hand. Judgement is a sentence not a "divine attack."

          Amen!(1)
      • Benjamin, please explain your question more fully. It is clear that the Son of God when He was on earth and called Jesus did not execute judgment by putting anyone to death. But He said there would come a time judgment would be carried out.
        In John 3:16 He made it clear there are two options - eternal life or perish.
        In His explanation of the parable of wheat and weeds Mat 13:40-42 He said at the end of time the Son of Man will send His angels to gather up the wicked and cast them into the fire. Which sounds similar to what happened to Sennacherib's army.
        So is your question whether the LORD in Isa 37:35-36 was the pre-inarnate Son of God or God the Father?

        Amen!(2)
        • Hello Shirley, in your post you said, "The LORD took action - it was not the natural consequence of Sennacherib's evil ways." And as I'm sure we agree, that Jesus perfectly declare the Father while on earth, so it is okay for me to ask, "when did Jesus ever put someone to death?" Especially as you state by "taking action." As Inge said, God "gives them the fate they have chosen." Which means this is a natural consequence of the choice they have made once they have rejected God completely.
          John 3:16 is a great example that you mentioned, because it does NOT say that whosoever believes SHALL NOT BE KILLED, but perish. Your other example of the wheat and weeds is also a good point to mention. Pretty much the same as John 3:16, being cast into the fire is not being done with force or against their will. It is their desire to be separated from God and so they are. The "taking of action" is God allowing our choice of separation to be carried out.

          I asked my question to your post to bring light to the idea that God or Jesus somehow kills people is a misrepresentation of God's character.

          Amen!(2)
          • Benjamin, who is referred to in Psalm 2:1-12? What does He do in the end? How do you interpret this?

            Amen!(0)
  5. Don't you mean Theophany? I Assume you are talking about Isaiah 37:36. Then also if
    the Son of God is the Lord in this text, then I do believe the Angel of the Lord is an Angel of the Son of God given power to do His biding.

    Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
    Isaiah 37:36 KJV

    Amen!(1)
    • John, it seems that many references to the "Angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament actually refer to the Lord Jehovah/Yahweh (the pre-incarnate Christ) Himself. No created angel ever accepts worship, but the "Angel of the Lord" does accept worship. See Judges 13 (the whole chapter). Now compare Judges 13:3 with Judges 13:15-22. Note that even Manoah recognized the Angel as "God."

      Amen!(2)
      • I read all of Judges Chapter 13 and could not find any verse that pointed out that Manoah and his wife worshiped the angel of the Lord. Nothing in the account implies that this was Yahweh Himself.
        Could you, please point to the verse that you understand to show that they worshiped the angel of the Lord?

        v.19 - Manoah gave an offering unto the LORD
        v.20 - ..'Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground'.
        v.21 - But the angel of the LORD did no more appear...

        To fall prostrate does not constitute worship. The context discloses that they were overwhelmed 'when the angel ascended in the flame of the altar'.

        Amen!(1)
        • Hi Brigitte,
          If you will cite the whole reference, rather than v.21, our script will pick it up so our readers can actually see the verse, as in Judges 13:21-22.

          Note that Manoah equates "the Angel of the Lord" with "God" as in, "Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God."

          Manoah brought an offering which the Angel accepted after saying that it must be offered "to the LORD, aka Yahweh." Manoah may not have totally understood the significance until he saw the Angel/Yahweh ascending in the flames. That caused him and his wife to fall with their faces to the ground (do you see this in the Bible in any other context than showing reverence/worship??)and Manoah to exclaim, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God."

          Also check out 1 Cor. 10:3-5. What does it say about Who was with the Israelites in their wanderings?

          Amen!(4)
          • Hi Otieno: The entire account of Judges 13 is taken into consideration for the several references to this messenger to Manoah's wife, and eventually to Manoah himself. Note in Judges 13 that the man of God, or angel of the Lord, accepted the burnt offing of Manoah and went up in the flame with the offering. Manoah knew that the man of God was the angel of the Lord and then said to his wife, we will die because we have seen GOD. Hence, the man of God, angel of the Lord are references to God in this passage. The pre-incarnate Christ.

            Remember, too, that Jesus says that the Scriptures testify of Him. The Angel that went before Israel, the revelation of the pillar of fire and cloud, Michael the archangel are those testimonies of Christ before becoming a man. All the internal biblical evidence points to this.

            Amen!(0)
        • Come to think of it Abraham was instructed by the Son of God to seek an alternate sacrifice. Geneses 22:11,14-16.

          And Jacob became Israel after an initial unbeknownst struggle with God(implyed the Son of God, also can be implyed the Angel of the Lord). Genesis 32.

          Amen!(0)
  6. I thank and praise the true and living God for His encouragement in the time of need. He has never failed me before and surely He is still in control and will not fail me now. Ellen White says..."We have nothing to fear for the future, lest we forget how God has lead us in the past!" Last Day Events. -- Pg 72.1. Remember where God has brought you from and you'll know where He is taking you to! Be blessed.

    Amen!(6)
  7. Today's question:
    How can you remember that the God who so miraculously deliverd Israel at this time and place is the same God whom you pray to, rely on, and trust in today?

    Answer - by strengthening my faith through reading the Word of God in His holy Scriptures.
    Psalm 102:27,28 - But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.
    Malachi 3:15,16 - ...For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
    Heb.13:7-9 - v.8 ...Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.

    Amen!(5)
  8. Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth. Ecc 1:1

    There were two disciples walking going down the road to Emmaus. Jesus joined and asked them about their conversation. v17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

    v18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

    Are we strangers in this world and do not know what is going on in these times?
    Today question- How can you remember that the God who so miraculously delivered Israel at this time and place is the same God whom you pray to, rely on, and trust in today?

    I found my answer in the bible as well as out of the bible.
    In the bible- Isa 37:1-38, especially 36-38. My God is able, he is merciful but his mercies dont always extends to the wicked forever.
    Out of the bible- Those who apprehend no danger, and think they can work on the same lines in the South as in the North, have no real wisdom. In the South the spirit of slavery is not eradicated; it has only been smothered for a short time. {Lt99-1899.8} “The desire to show their masterly authority over the blacks is still burning in the hearts of many who claim to be Christians, but whose lives declare that they are standing under the black banner of the great apostate. When the whites commit crimes, they are often allowed to go uncondemned, while for the same transgressions the blacks, ignorant, debased, knowing nothing of the Word of God, and scarcely knowing their right hand from their left, are treated worse than the brutes. The demon of passion is let loose, and all the suffering that can be devised is instituted against them. Will not God judge for these things? As surely as the whites have brought their inhuman cruelty to bear upon the negroes, so surely will God’s vengeance fall upon them.” {Lt99-1899.9}

    Amen!(5)
  9. Lest we forget, Hezekiah turned to God in faith and relied on Him to deal with the enemy. Our only hope each day is to do the same.

    Without this faith/action, the story might read differently.

    Amen!(7)
    • I was going to say something similar. Hezekiah HUMBLY turned to God. His prayer was about how the Assyrian king had dishonored God. There was nothing in that prayer that was bold or selfish. Hezekiah laid his request before God, and let God deal with it.

      Amen!(1)
  10. Benjamin, you are absolutely correct the LORD has given all the choice - be connected to Him and live or disconnect yourself and die, either during this probationary period or at the end of the age.

    My question to you is how is their choice "carried out" as you put it?
    What happened to Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-10?
    What about Satan's army after the 1000 years, Rev 20:9 says fire came down from God out of Heaven and devoured them?
    What about at the original Passover, per Ex 12:29 the LORD struck all the firstborn in Egypt without the blood on the doorpost?

    Whether the fire comes from God or He sends His angel to kill them the Bible is clear the LORD is responsible for carrying out the sentence of death, the eternal separation from God.

    Amen!(3)
    • If the only two options are (a) God being the 'causative force' of killing directly Himself, or (b) God sending an angel to be the causative/killing force of 'the sentence of death', then you are correct Shirley - it is one in the same thing and God is responsible for the ensuing death.

      However, if lawlessness is the 'causative force' that brings about the death of those who exercise their free choice to live in accordance with lawlessness (ie out of harmony with the Principles of Life and Living), then God is not the one responsible for the 'sentence of death' that is the inherent consequence of lawlessness. The one choosing lawlessness is responsible. And the forces of lawlessness are the causative force.

      This second view is consistent with the Hebrew idiom of permission as causation that has been previously referred to in this quarter's lesson as a key principle of OT interpretation. I note that the Hebrew and Greek words in the passages quoted above in the posts also support both interpretations. Consequently, they do not rule out the second interpretation as an invalid interpretation.

      This brings us back to another foundational principle of interpretation that was also mentioned this quarter. The role of presuppositions that we each start from when interpreting scripture. If God has to take life away in order for death to occur, then the former position is supported. If, however, life is contingent upon living in accordance with the Principles of Life and Living, then when a person chooses to live in violation of those principles, life is no longer possible. Thus, the person has cut themself off from life - no-one else has taken it away.

      The Bible indicates that God does temporarily restrain the inherent consequences of a person's cutting themselves off from life for a 'probationary' period. However, where provision of this probationary period becomes detrimental, God releases the restraint He has otherwise been providing and the inherent consequences of the person's being out of harmony with life take over. Again, God has not take life away, He has only ceased from restraining the person taking their own life away.

      Perhaps this may seem like mere semantics. However, it is actually a world of difference and is reflective of the core issue that the Great Controversy is being decided over.

      Amen!(3)
      • Phil, of course the the reason is the person's choice, but we are discussing how that choice is carried out - how do the forces of lawlessness cause someone's death?

        You keep saying that the inherent consequence is death, it doesn't make sense. Did God create people such that they drop dead if they disobeyed Him? You are confusing spiritual with physical, confusing why with how.

        However I don't expect you to change your worldview just as you will not change mine because to me your explanation does not make sense but you have convinced yourself it does.

        Amen!(3)
        • "...how do the forces of lawlessness cause someone's death?"

          Lawfulness is the 'mechanism' (via its constituent principles) that enables life. Lawlessness precludes life via creating conditions that are incompatible with life.

          "Did God create people such that they drop dead if they disobeyed Him?"

          Life is only viable if and when the principles necessary for life are adhered to. David confirms this in Psalm 1:1-4. God created people in accordance with this reality. Live in harmony with the Principles of Life and Living and you will live. Choose to live out of harmony with those principles and life is not possible (outside of God's temporary restraint of the inherent consequences of being out of harmony with those principles).

          A motor vehicle is constructed to operate in accordance with laws of physics, chemistry, etc. Because of this, the manufacturer supplies an owners manual that outlines all the principles that need to be followed in order for the car to function and perform as it was designed to. If I choose to disregard ('disobey' if you like) those principles and say put water in the fuel tank instead of the appropriate fuel, what will happen to the car? It will cease to function - the engine will 'die'. Did the manufacturer create the motor vehicle to drop dead if the vehicle owner 'disobeyed' the laws of vehicle maintenance? No, death is the inherent outcome of deviation from being in harmony with that which supports and maintains life. That's how reality operates.

          "You are confusing spiritual with physical, confusing why with how."

          The physical and spiritual domains/dimensions are inseparably inter-related. When God warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 that in the day they ate of the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil that they would die, I believe that it was referring to physical death as a cascade consequence of spiritual death from disconnecting with the Source of Life (God) and correspondingly being out of harmony with that which is necessary to sustain life (Principles of Life and Living).

          "...you will not change mine (my mind) because to me your explanation does not make sense but you have convinced yourself it does."

          That's ok because I am not trying to get you to change your mind. I am only responding to viewpoints raised so that readers can see the various sides of an issue and then go and research things out for themselves - like the Bereans (Acts 17:10,11).

          Amen!(4)
          • Phil, you wrote:

            Lawfulness is the 'mechanism' (via its constituent principles) that enables life. Lawlessness precludes life via creating conditions that are incompatible with life.

            Again, you appear to say that life exists apart from God, according to a "mechanism" and that life ceases as a result of an abstract "lawlessness."

            I don't think you believe what you appear to be saying, although I could be mistaken.

            Isn't it much simpler and clearer to stick with the biblical language that clearly tells us we were personally created by God (Gen. 2:7) and that He personally sustains our life minute by minute? (See Acts 17:28)

            I know you are doing your best to defend the character of God, but this seems like poor defense to me - making God appear distant from His creation, with life sustained by abstract "lawfulness." The latter, of course, brings other problems in its train. Are the billions of people now alive on this planet kept alive by "lawfulness"? I, for one, don't see it.

            The biblical narrative tells me that God personally created us and is our constant and continuing Source of life. (Acts 17:28) We shouldn't be alive today because our ancestral parents chose to distrust God and thus disconnect themselves from the Creator who is the only continuing Source of life. But He graciously intervened by stepping in to take the consequences of our sin (Isa 53:4-9) to give humanity a second chance at eternal life. That's why *all* of us are alive - law keepers and law breakers like. For that matter, we are all law breakers, thus living in "lawlessness" which "precludes life via creating conditions that are incompatible with life," according to your post.

            I agree with you that God is not arbitrary, as do most of our readers, I'm sure.
            I agree with you that sin brings its own consequence, which is death. (But, as I said above, God intervenes to provide many more chances at eternal life.)
            I agree with you that God does not arbitrarily mete out "punishment," but that the final destruction of the wicked is the consequence of their own choice.

            I disagree when you make statements that appear to suggest that God is not actively engaged in His creation - either in upholding life or destroying life when He deems it to be inimical to His overall plan for this planet. (As in the global flood, Nadab and Abihu, Korah and company, etc.) Your apparent position also appears to be directly contrary to the point of today's lesson which demonstrates that God directly intervened in behalf of His people by destroying their enemies, with 2 Chronicles 32:20-22 being just one example.

            I do not understand a human definition of "love" that makes it appear that discipline and destruction of evil is out of harmony with God's character of love. (Rev 3:19)

            I think if we are going to make headway in this conversation, we need to understand the basis of your convictions - that is why you believe that destruction of evil (and those who cling to it) is not in harmony with God's character. It would help if you would supply scriptural references.

            Amen!(5)
          • Hi Inge

            No, again, I am not saying what you are suggesting. I was trying to present the shortest possible length of post and therefore tried to reply as directly to the point as possible and in a conversational rather than research paper manner.

            Unfortunately the posts that I had written last time you asked me this question are no longer able to be accessed due to apparent technical difficulties with the ssnet page of Wednesday 15th May 2020: Texts and Contexts.

            With respect to your suggestion to provide further clarification regarding God's nature and character and the destruction of evil, I have written extensively on this previously with scriptural support. It is a huge topic so I am wondering which specific aspect you are suggesting I address so that I can keep a response post as brief as possible - otherwise my post will be longer due to trying to anticipate the ifs and buts that might arise and contribute to further misunderstanding.

            Regards, Phil

            Amen!(0)
          • Hi Inge

            "I disagree when you make statements that appear to suggest that God is not actively engaged in His creation - either in upholding life or destroying life when He deems it to be inimical to His overall plan for this planet. (As in the global flood, Nadab and Abihu, Korah and company, etc.) Your apparent position also appears to be directly contrary to the point of today's lesson which demonstrates that God directly intervened in behalf of His people by destroying their enemies, with 2 Chronicles 32:20-22 being just one example."

            I have never said that God is not actively engaged in His creation - and I have repeatedly stated that I am promoting that God is merely being passive.

            I note the statement from the Methods of Bible study document by the General Conference October 1986 referred to in Friday's lesson (bracketed wording mine for the sake of context):

            "...Therefore (according to Hebrew idiom of permission/allowance as causation) the inspired writers of the Scriptures commonly credit God with doing actively that which in Western thought we would say He permits or does not prevent from happening, for example, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart."

            This statement describes my view.

            Regards, Phil

            Amen!(0)
          • Phil, did you mean to say this, or is it a typo?

            I have never said that God is not actively engaged in His creation - and I have repeatedly stated that I am promoting that God is merely being passive.

            (If God is being "passive," He is not actively engaged with His creation."

            I agree with you on basic presuppositions regarding the character of God. Yet there seems to be another presupposition of yours that makes us reach different conclusions. A reply to my narrowly focused question would help:

            why you believe that destruction of evil (and those who cling to it) is not in harmony with God's character.

            Amen!(1)
          • Sorry Inge, I missed your post.

            Yes, thank you - it was a typo. I meant to say God is NOT being passive. Well spotted!

            With regard to the question about destruction being in or out of harmony with God's character, I find that destruction is the inherent outcome of lawlessness which in turn is the nature and character of darkness. I find a distinct dichotomy reflected in and across scripture whereby all that is good and life-promoting comes from the activity of God (eg Genesis 1, Genesis 2:9, 18, 25; John 1:4,5; John 10:10; James 1:17 at a minimum). Where destruction intersects with God is via God's commitment to freedom. If people choose the way of lawlessness to the point where their heart is irreversibly hardened in that lawlessness (as per Genesis 6:5), then God releases them to the inherent outcomes of that lawlessness (as per Romans 1:24,26,28). Consequently, I do not consider that God is the causative source of destruction when He gives people over to their freedom to embrace the way of lawlessness that inherently leads to perishing/death (2 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 4:3; Romans 6:23).

            There is also the matter of God as non-arbitrary. If God has to cause a person’s demise, then that is an arbitrary action because it otherwise would not have happened if God hadn’t caused it (as Satan insinuated to Eve in Eden). But because a person’s demise is the inherent result of the nature and character of lawlessness as out of harmony with that which is essential and necessary for life, God is not the causative source of demise and is therefore non-arbitrary (as per Genesis 2:17).

            We also have Jesus own testimony in John 17:3-6 that He fully revealed God’s character while on earth. And we find the above-mentioned dichotomy reflected in Jesus life where He undertook no act of destruction.

            I am not expecting others to agree with me - that is just what I am consistently finding the more I dig into scripture.

            If/when you have the time, I am still interested in your view on the question that Benjamin’s raised further below: “If sin is self-destructive and results in death, why does God need to do anything” (other than cease His probationary restraint of this inherent self-destruction, at which point the inherent self-destruction will ensue unto annihilation)? Thanks...

            Amen!(0)
        • The LORD's initial plan was live in a perfect world like the garden of Eden.
          He made a proviso "If you eat of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will die" - what did He mean? That they would no longer have access to the Tree of Life and thus Eternal Life.

          Gen 3:22-24 MKJV  And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man has become as one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever,  (23)  therefore Jehovah God sent him out from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he had been taken.  (24)  And He drove out the man. And He placed cherubs at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

          Eternal Life is the issue and the LORD has given humans a second chance to choose good over evil. The result of not living according to God's Principles of Life (His abundant life) is not physical death but not receiving Eternal Life.
          The LORD is the only one who decides who receives Eternal Life not humans, nor the devil nor some nebulous "force of sin or lawlessness")

          Then in the end by the grace of the LORD His people who choose to love and obey Him will once again have the right to eat of the Tree of Life and receive the gift of Eternal Life.

          Rev 22:14
          (ISV)  "How blessed are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city!
          (KJV)  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

          Amen!(4)
          • Thanks Shirley for your response

            "The LORD is the only one who decides who receives Eternal Life not humans, nor the devil nor some nebulous "force of sin or lawlessness")."

            I find a different perspective: that it is each human who 'decides'/determines whether they will be receive Eternal Life or not when I read passages such as Romans 2:5-8 and 1 Corinthians 4:5.

            Amen!(0)
      • A couple of references to consider:
        2 Peter 2:4-9; 3:5-7,10, and Early Writings, pg 221.

        No presuppositions will change the clear meaning of God's word. We are simply left to choose to believe or not.

        Amen!(3)
        • Thank you Robert, I am perturbed that some twist the clear word of the LORD to suit their theories.
          Could you provide an extract of the quote from Early Writings pg 221, I tried to access it on the EGW site but it only shows 97 pages

          Amen!(1)
          • Hi Shirley, this is the paragraph from EW 221, which I find to agree with Peter from his 2nd epistle, Malachi 4:1, Matt 25:41,46, Ps 37:20, and Eze 28:17,18, just a few of many passages of scripture which could be cited.

            "I saw that the angels of God are never to control the will. God sets before man life and death. He can have his choice. Many desire life, but still continue to walk in the broad road. They choose to rebel against God's government, notwithstanding His great mercy and compassion in giving His Son to die for them. Those who do not choose to accept of the salvation so dearly purchased, must be punished. But I saw that God would not shut them up in hell to endure endless misery, neither will He take them to heaven; for to bring them into the company of the pure and holy would make them exceedingly miserable. But He will destroy them utterly and cause them to be as if they had not been; then His justice will be satisfied. He formed man out of the dust of the earth, and the disobedient and unholy will be consumed by fire and return to dust again. I saw that the benevolence and compassion of God in this matter should lead all to admire His character and to adore His holy name. After the wicked are destroyed from off the earth, all the heavenly host will say, “Amen!”" EW 221

            "The truth of the Lord endures forever." Ps 117:2

            Amen!(5)
          • Thank you Robert, I believe that the LORD has revealed His Character in His Word and how He carries out His Principles of Life and His Plan of Salvation, how he rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked.

            If the Hebrew authors misrepresented His methods of operating, then Jesus had the opportunity to correct people's perception, then Paul & Peter also had the opportunity to correct any misconceptions, then John had visions direct from the LORD which also clearly stated that fire came down from God in heaven and destroyed Satan's army and those not in the Book of Life were cast into the Lake of Fire.
            Finally we have the Spirit of Prophecy clearly stating that God will destroy the wicked. So if the LORD wanted to clear up the misconception He had many opportunities but He did not, so I trust the Word of the LORD as it is written.

            The misconceptions that were cleared up were that the LORD is not arbitrary just killing people at a whim, He gives people a choice, He carefully examines people's hearts, He wants to save everyone but He respects their choice not to love Him and keep His commandments, and accept His gift of eternal life and He decides when to execute judgement either during this probationary life or finally after the 1000 years.

            Amen!(4)
          • Shirley, I can understand Phil very clearly without having had any 'debate' or explanations given to me by external sources, and I still 'agree' with him.

            This agreement is based on an innate understanding - developed and including -, as he said, "foundational assumptions' and, yes, "there is no way around it" when we only employ human language and effort.

            We have a spiritual Power, though, - the Holy Spirit -that coninuously forms and develops, renews our 'innate' understanding; going beyond this limitation imposed through our presuppositions and our finite minds.

            Please, permit me to add the spiritual aspect to our efforts to be 'understood'.
            1Cor.2:4-16
            v.11 - For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
            We can conclude that the Holy Spirit gives insight to each according as He 'wills'; it is an evolving process.

            We have all been asked to accept His Word wholly by 'child-like' Faith to start us out, but it is being devoloped into a mature Faith through insights gained as we walk along this path.

            If we want to 'argue' the finer points of what we understand from studying the Scripture, which is perfectly reasonable, we open up the possibility of an intrusion by the adversary using our passions.

            We appreciate the cautions given to us in the Scripture:
            2Tim.2:23-25 -
            ..And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach...
            2Tim.2:11-14 -
            v.14 ..that they stive not about words to not profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

            Amen!(1)
        • The meaning that seems clear to a person is the one that aligns with their presuppositions (foundational assumptions). There is no way around this because it is not possible to not have presuppositions. Everything you, I or anyone else believes rests upon foundational presuppositions about how life and reality operate, the nature and character of God, the nature and character of Satan and evil, and so on...

          That is why elaboration and exploration of presuppositions is one (among other) of the key aspects of Bible interpretation.

          With respect to the Early Writings quote, I have learned to review the scope of what Ellen White says on a topic. Not surprising, Ellen White displays a developmental progression as she learned across her lifespan - just like we see a developmental progression across scripture from Old to New Testament. Thus her later writings portray a somewhat different slant on some topics to what her earlier writings do.

          Amen!(2)
          • In regard to the simple and straight forward quote from Early Writings, I have read the later writings as well and have yet to see a departure from the earlier writings on this topic, as they are all in agreement with the Word of God and all that it contains on this topic of God's judgment of the finally impenitent.

            We must each choose, and whatever our choice, God will give us the desire of our heart which our works will reveal at last. If lost, we have chosen it, and our rejection of God's grace will leave God with no way to save us. He alone can give life, and He alone can take it away forever. No other being or circumstances has this ability. Scripture makes this very clear. God will have allowed sin to flourish so that all will know of it's true nature, and then must rid His creation of it, along with all who have chosen to rebel against righteousness and the government of God, who is Holy. Yet in all of this He has bought our salvation at an infinite cost to Himself. Can we ever doubt His true motives in the light of the cross?

            Did you notice this last part from Early Writings?

            "I saw that the benevolence and compassion of God in this matter should lead all to admire His character and to adore His holy name. After the wicked are destroyed from off the earth, all the heavenly host will say, “Amen!”" EW 221"

            Can you find any agreement with this?

            Your suggestion that Ellen's understanding was erring at the beginning places suspicion on the Holy Spirit doesn't it? Seems too easy to say, but as of yet, I have found nothing to support the idea concerning this topic(I will only say I have read a lot). "Acts of the Apostles" came much later, being copyrighted in 1911, yet see what is there on pg 73 concerning Ananias and Sapphira and "this signal manifestation of the wrath of God". Does this mean God was angry as we understand anger? Did He forget "benevolence and compassion" at this time? We read that He is unchanging, and remains "just and true" in all His ways. If we don't understand that, we will be at the mercy of every wind of doctrine. Either we trust in the goodness of God or we don't. We believe His word as given, or we don't. Only two sides to this matter.

            Regarding this incident in Acts 5, was Peter acting on his own(does he or any creature have such power?) or was he guided by the Holy Spirit who saw the peril to the church if this great sin was not addressed? Notice the result.

            We must be on guard to avoid going too far when exposing a false idea by replacing it with another which seems better, yet is also false. Isn't Truth is self-evident, and promised to the honest seeker? We may not always understand God's actions, yet the cross reveals His true intentions and He does not change. If we do not have a right concept of His character, government and purposes, we will be at great risk from the suggestions of the adversary.

            Amen!(2)
          • Hi Robert

            "We must be on guard to avoid going too far when exposing a false idea by replacing it with another which seems better, yet is also false."

            I agree with your statement.

            "Isn't Truth is self-evident, and promised to the honest seeker?"

            Yes, Truth is promised to the honest seeker. However growth in Truth perception is progressive and therefore what is self-evident at one point in the growth journey can differ to what is self-evident at another point.

            "We may not always understand God's actions, yet the cross reveals His true intentions and He does not change."

            I absolutely agree. I find no evidence of God initiating destruction at the cross - even on those who brutally abused the Son of God. Rather, I see the response to those same people is to offer forgiveness. The lamb that was slain (Revelation 5:5,9) by violence responds with pure compassion and self-renouncing love (John 15:13) - a love that even frees people to slay that lamb that willingly offered up its life (John 10:18).

            "If we do not have a right concept of His character, government and purposes, we will be at great risk from the suggestions of the adversary."

            I absolutely agree...

            Amen!(0)
          • Phil, what Jesus experienced at the cross, what does it suggest? Why did HE go through this experience? The lesson being taught is also revealed in Gen 22.

            I find the answer very revealing regarding what God must do to restore His creation to His original plan.

            Amen!(1)
          • In reply to your question Robert, Jesus was being the second Adam (as per Romans 5) as the Son of God and The Son of Man.

            The first Adam was created with an inheritance of eternal life but lost that (via giving in to temptation to doing things from a self-seeking rather than self-renouncing ‘heart’). The second Adam retraced the same path but did not give in to temptation (Romans 5:19) and therefore retained the necessary basis for eternal life - living a life of self-renouncing beneficence. Thus people can share in the inheritance of the first Adam by indulging a self-seeking ‘heart’ or they can be born again (John 3:3-6) and share in the inheritance of the second Adam via renewal of their heart from self-seeking back to self-renouncing.

            Thus, what got broken in Genesis 3 actually gets fixed. This is what true propitiation means - to actually address the root cause of the problem such that there is no longer a problem. The problem was the exchange of a heart of self-renouncing benevolence for a heart that desires self-seeking self-exhaltation and self-gratification (as per Genesis 3:6). The common notion of Jesus dying to satisfy some alleged requirement of God for a ‘death penalty’ does not actually fix/repair this core issue/problem.

            Amen!(0)
          • Phil, propitiation only benefits those who accept the blood of Jesus as the price for their sin through repentance, and the change that true repentance brings about. This propitiation frees them from receiving the wages of sin, Jesus having "paid" it in full, meaning His sacrifice is sufficient to forgive every sinner. Yet most will not accept this covenant. What will happen to them, while the root problem remains unfixed by their own choice as revealed by their works of unbelief? Every unrepentant sinner chooses to face the justice of God, having rejected His mercy. What Jesus suffered they will take upon themselves, and this will propitiate the "holy, just and good" law of God. Yes, the law demands justice, because God is just, and for those outside of the covenant of grace, they must stand on their own before the judgment which comes to all. These who stand without the blood of Jesus must face the wrath of God(properly understood) as Jesus did, but without the cross. God has made clear their punishment/reward(Matt 25:41,46). I realize some still are troubled by these words, perhaps due to a wrong conception of God's character, government, and purposes. Yet all will acknowledge God's love and justice in the end, including those who are lost. God will be fully vindicated in what He will do, and affliction shall not arise a second time.

            Also, I'm not sure if Jesus was being the 2nd Adam on the cross, as He was standing in for Adam, and every sinner(including you and me) as our propitiating sacrifice, if we receive it by faith. As the sinless One, He stands as the 2nd Adam. When He gained the victory Adam lost, He took his place as the head of the race of all who receive Him, and believe on His name(John 1:12,13). Does this make sense? However, even His death was part of this victory. I guess I'm still sorting out this idea.

            Amen!(0)
          • “ ... propitiation only benefits those who accept the blood of Jesus as the price for their sin through repentance, and the change that true repentance brings about. This propitiation frees them from receiving the wages of sin, Jesus having "paid" it in full, meaning His sacrifice is sufficient to forgive every sinner.”

            Yes, that is what it propitiation is conceptualised as under the presupposition of penal atonement theory. I used to subscribe to this view but upon deeper investigation, have found the fundamental assumption of penal theories to be wanting. Also, God does not need sacrifice in order to forgive. God’s nature is to forgive. That forgiveness won’t benefit most people because of their choice against living in harmony with what is needed for abundant life inheritance, but that doesn’t change God’s inherently forgiving nature.

            Not sure about Jesus being the second Adam on the cross? Consider Philippians 2:8 in conjunction with Romans 5:19. And consider that Satan tried to do exactly the same thing to the Second Adam as the first - tempt Him to exchange self-renouncing for self-seeking. Satan didn’t just tempt Jesus in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry. Satan upscaled things by tempting Jesus to avoid crucifixion. But Jesus met this temptation head on and in doing so demonstrated that he would not abandon living in full accordance with self-renouncing beneficence - even if it cost Him his life (John 15:13). This is how He defeated death - by refusing to embrace self-seeking even if it meant being put to death (Hebrews 2:14; Colossians 2:15).

            Amen!(3)
          • Phil, concerning propitiation, you do know where it comes from, correct? God is offering the propitiation through Jesus(John 3:16, Rom 3:25). God cannot forgive any sinner without it or else why would Jesus need to lay down His life? It was the only way to save sinners, and this propitiating sacrifice only saves those who "repent and believe the Gospel"(Mark 1:15). Notice who is giving this message in Mark 1.

            You wrote: "God does not need sacrifice in order to forgive".

            Jesus' propitiating sacrifice has nothing to do with God being willing, and has everything to do with His "perfect" and holy Law which cannot be changed. There is no other way to be saved from our sin but by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God. No presupposition needed, it is the teaching of God's word. The angel of the Lord only passed over the homes of those sprinkled with the blood of the passover lamb. What does that tell you? What does Genesis 22 teach us?

            Amen!(1)
          • Thanks Robert.

            Yeah, I am familiar with where propitiation comes from - hilasterion being used only two places within the New Testament. The view you subscribe to regarding hilasterion is in accordance with the penal view/theory of atonement and like all views/theories of atonement is based on certain foundational presuppositions. What the blood functionally signifies is but one presupposition, for example. You see the blood as representing a paid penalty. I see it as representing a heart that is committed to living by self-giving love (not sentimentality) even if it means being put to death for doing so: laying down one's life (John 15:13). You see salvation/atonement as involving a required 'payment' that is demanded by the law/justice/etc. I see salvation/atonement as actually, functionally rectifying the 'terminal' heart condition that developed within humanity (and which functionally produces the state of "perishing" meaning corruption leading to total ruination from the inside out) as a consequence of what happened in Genesis 3:1-6 (as I have outlined previously).

            There is no getting away from the reality that all views (yours and mine included) rest upon baseline presuppositions/assumptions which we believe/accept by faith. What you label as the "clear" interpretation of God's Word is as clear to you because of the presuppositions you hold regarding the nature and character of God and salvation etc etc etc. Our English translation of scripture is what it is because of the presuppositions held by the translators when translating/interpreting the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. And conversely, because of the presuppositions that I now hold, what I see in God's Word regarding the nature and character of God and salvation etc etc etc is equally clear to me.

            If there was a 'clear' view of scripture along the lines of what you propose, would not then this quarter's lesson would be redundant because interpretation would not be needed? And would not the need of the field of hermeneutics also be obsolete?.

            Amen!(4)
          • Actually Phil, I came to those scriptures with no presuppositions since I had none to begin with, but I came prayerfully to know the meaning. If you look at the actually ceremony, I believe it becomes clear doesn't it?

            Study the whole process as adequately described, and as John was told by the messenger: "rise and measure the temple...altar...worshipers"(Rev 11:1). This is not a simple word study, but a complete process with specific actions by all who are involved.

            We read "the soul that sins will die", and "the wages of sin is death(for the sinner)", yet God has devised a plan through Christ that allows the sinner to be forgiven while satisfying the justice of the law against the law-breaker. In this context propitiation has a vital and clear meaning, and the entire process(both daily and yearly) bears this out unmistakably.

            Look also at the song of the redeemed wherever you find it in the Revelation, and notice what they say.

            I agree that the process is to recover the sinner from a sinful nature by faith in Christ, and becoming "partakers of the Divine nature" as we see it outlined in the Beatitudes, throughout the Psalms, Proverbs, and many passages such as Zech 3, 2 Pe 1:5-7, etc.

            The process in Lev 16 includes and requires blood. Either the sinner's blood or Christ's in the sinner's stead. Why? Well, as sung by the saved: "Just and true are thy ways thou King of Saints". Without this propitiating blood, pardon/justification for sinners could not exist without abolishing the law.

            This is the essence of the Gospel, and it cannot be touched without peril, for it reveals as nothing else the goodness and love of God, and exposes Satan as the liar he is. God, at infinite cost to Himself, has taken the sinners sentence of death upon Himself, though sinless, and may now justify the sinner and be just in doing so(Rom 3:25,26). This allows the Spirit to fill the life, transforming sinner into the image of God as Adam was before he sinned.

            We are saved "by grace, through faith".

            Amen!(1)
          • I would propose that Hebrews 11:6 illustrates/reflects that it is not possible to be in a position that is free of presuppositions. And this proposal is itself a presupposition.

            You operate from the presupposition that the law demands justice. I operate from the presupposition that the law is founded upon justice, love, mercy, righteousness and so on: that each of these attributes are already inextricably embedded within the law - which is the transcript of God's nature and character and all the works that He has created. Thus, I find that the law does not - because it cannot - 'demand' justice. Rather I find that the law inherently promotes and maintains justice because if a person chooses the way of life, they will live. Conversely, if a person chooses the way of death (Proverbs 8:36), they will at some point perish (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 1:6). Of note, this final perishing is an inherent extension outcome of the trajectory of perishing that a person is already on when they embrace self-seeking (2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15;4:3).

            I have (previously) looked at the detail of the atonement ceremony and I find it portraying a different view of atonement to the view that proposes that a death penalty is required to satisfy justice and therefore 'purchase' forgiveness. Rather, I find that God is not only forgiving in nature (Luke 23:34) - that no payment is required before God can forgive - but that He also works to restore. It is the restoration of the hearts of all who are willing back to self-renouncing love that is the functional propitiation that actually addresses the problem and resolves it.

            Leviticus 17:11 states that atonement is made by means of the life that is in the blood and that the 'life-blood' has been given "to you on the altar" - in other words the life has been offered up in 'sacrifice'. This accords with the doctrine of the Second Adam whereby Jesus as the Second Adam sacrificed himself in the first instance by entering humanity (to bypass the incapacity of someone being born from under humanity being able to effect salvation - Romans 5:14) and exposing himself to the same temptations that the first Adam was exposed to. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus would not let go of living in accordance with the way of life (ie self-renouncing Agape love) and therefore sacrificed himself in the second instance by yielding up his life to death in 'obedience' to self-renouncing love (Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; John 15:13). Because the Second Adam would not let go of self-renouncing love (the basis of abundant life), He retained the 'right' to life as the Second Adam.

            Thus humanity has two Adam's with two inheritances. The default inheritance under the first Adam is death (Romans 5:14) - death by perishing as per above. On the other hand, the inheritance offered by the Second Adam is abundant life (John 10:10) which becomes the inheritance of all who are born again (John 3:3-6) - meaning they have their hearts realigned/renewed from self-seeking back to self-renouncing Agape (the way of life) - and, like the Second Adam, hold on to self-renouncing love no matter what (Revelation 2:10).

            There is nothing that I can find in the atonement ceremony or in the Song of the Redeemed in Revelation that is at odds with what I have briefly (possibly too briefly) outlined. As much as you find what you see to be the clear teaching of scripture, I too find what I have outlined above to be equally 'clear' to me. So where do we go from here in terms of a particular view being clearly presented by scripture?

            Amen!(0)
          • Phil, explain Numbers 15:36 if your presuppositions are correct. Even a casual reading of Exodus will reveal Divine instructions for executing transgressors of the law. I know you prefer to see God differently than scripture reveals on this matter, but what do you do with these facts? Do you not see mercy and love in all of God’s dealings With man?

            If sin itself will destroy the sinner, why the Divine laws of intervention? Under the test of God’s word certain suppositions are exposed as inaccurate.

            Amen!(1)
          • Yes Robert, there are a string of incidents starting in Numbers 11 following (as I have acknowledged previously in a reply to you) that on the surface appear contradict my presuppositions. And as I have mentioned, there are a complex array of factors at work in these situations (that together form a sequence of situations) that are by contrast very sparsely commented on in scripture. And as I have also mentioned, the Adaptation/Accommodation principle is but one key principle that is of central relevance to interpretation of what is going on. However, because you believe that I am off-track in my interpretations and that I am in fact flying in the face of a clear view of scripture, I am aware that what I have overviewed will likely serve to further confirm your assessment of where I am coming from.

            I do have a couple of related questions for you. I do admit these are confronting question, but the passage we are discussing is nothing short of confronting. Have you viewed a stoning (or a realistic re-enactment of one)? NOTE: I do not advise anyone to do so as it is very confronting. In the instance that you already have done so, what was your reaction to seeing it take place? Could you participate in it? If so, what would be your reason for doing so? Should you elect not to answer those questions, I fully respect that.

            Amen!(0)
        • The Jews had forged their own fetters; they had filled for themselves the cup of vengeance. In the utter destruction that befell them as a nation, and in all the woes that followed them in their dispersion, they were but reaping the harvest which their own hands had sown. Says the prophet: “O Israel, thou hast DESTROYED THYSELF;” “for thou hast fallen by THINE iniquity.” Hosea 13:9; 14:1. THEIR SUFFERINGS ARE OFTEN REPRESENTED AS A PUNISHMENT VISITED UPON THEM BY THE DIRECT DECREE OF GOD. It is thus that the great deceiver seeks to conceal his own work. By stubborn rejection of divine love and mercy, the Jews had caused the protection of God to be WITHDRAWN from them, and Satan was PERMITTED to rule them according to his will. The horrible cruelties enacted in the destruction of Jerusalem are a demonstration of SATAN'S vindictive power over those who yield to his control. – Great Controversy pg. 35.3 (emphasis mine)

          Either Ellen G White contradicts herself or there is an issue with interpretation. There are multiple cases of this in the Bible as well, this is why non-believers see the Bible as contradictory, but the Bible is NOT neither is SOP, the issue is interpretation.

          Amen!(2)
          • I don't believe that any of us participating in this blog would argue that what happened to the Jews after rejecting Christ was by a direct decree of God. Rather, it was the natural result of their rejection of God in rejecting Christ.

            In science, we refer to anecdotal accounts - accounts that may be true but do not prove a point either way. You mention incidents in which people clearly brought consequences on themselves without any direct intervention by God. These are stories/anecdotes that do not prove that God *never* intervenes to destroy evil and evildoers.

            As Phil said, presuppositions are important. So may we hear your presuppositions that make it so important for you to argue that God never punishes or destroys.

            I will share my presuppositions: God's character is summarized as being self-renouncing love. That is, His activity is marked by self-giving. He does not arbitrarily punish or destroy. But He promised that He will destroy evil and all that cling to evil so that those who trust Him can live for eternity in harmony and love.

            I further presuppose that sin is self-destructive and that separation from God naturally results in death. Yet God has given all humanity probationary life so that they might have the chance to choose to trust Him, based on the evidence of His demonstration of love.

            Now yours?

            Amen!(3)
          • Inge, if I may, I will utlise this opportunity to briefly offer some of my presuppositions so you can see where the similarlties and differences lie.

            I presuppose that:

            God's character is summarized as being self-renouncing love. That is, His activity is marked by self-giving.

            God does not arbitrarily punish or destroy. But He has enlightened us to the reality that evil is inherently self-destructive/life-precluding (John 10:10) in nature and character (ie lawlessness 1 John 3:4), therefore, all that cling to evil will come to destruction when the grace and mercy-based probationary restraint to such is eventually ultimately released (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8; Revelation 7:1). God has enlightened us about the inherently self-destructive (via life-precluding) nature and character of evil so that those who trust Him can live for eternity in harmony and love (2 Peter 3:9).

            Sin is self-destructive and that separation from God naturally/inherently results in death. Yet God has given all humanity probationary life so that they might have the chance to choose to trust Him, based on the evidence of His demonstration of love.

            Amen!(1)
    • Hi Shirley, thank you for the response I was looking for it yesterday under the original post and did not scroll down to the bottom 🙂

      Yes, what did happen to Ananias and his wife? The account in Acts says that Ananias "fell down and gave up the ghost" and with Sapphira it says, "she fell down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost.' In both of these instances I don't read where God struck them down and killed them. If you can find that please advise that I may be corrected.
      Of course the follow up question is HOW did they die or how it was CARRIED out? And we can discuss that, but for this event I just want to show that the biblical account does NOT say it was God who killed them.
      Another great event to discuss is Satan AND his army after the 1000 years. The fire that comes down from God. There are 2 other instances where fire came down and destroyed people. One was in the story of Job and I know we agree that this fire came from Satan, even though the messenger said it was from God. The other is when Elijah called fire down from heaven and consumed the captains and their 50 in the book of 2 Kings. And we see later when James and John wanted to destroy the Samaritans because the rejected Christ, they were reminded of Elijah's story and wanted to do the same. And what did Jesus tell them? That He came not to destroy, but to save men lives, and He also said that they didn't know what spirit they were of. They thought they were of Elijah's spirit which was God's, but they were wrong.
      And now at the end of time we see fire again coming from Heaven as if from God. So the question is, Will this fire be from God or have we been given evidence from scripture on 2 other accounts and that it will be played out the same way?

      Finally, you mention the original Passover. So you are attributing the role of destroyer to God? So God is pretty much saying I am trying to save you from myself. Obey me or I will kill you. The wages of sin is death and God does not pay those wages, this is why the gift of God is eternal life.

      This is great topic of discussion that I believe needs to be had among Christians, mainly the SDA's who are given the last message of mercy to the world. I know you may not be satisfied with what you have read, but this is much bigger than a back and forth on a chat platform as I'm sure you would agree.

      You have stated that whether fire comes from God or He sends an angel, it is clear that God is responsible for carrying out the sentence of death. But throughout the Bible, Satan is called the destroyer NOT God. God is life and how can life bring death. What is wrong with sin if sin itself has no consequence? It seems according to you that the only thing wrong with sin is that God destroys you for it, but if He doesn't then we can live joyfully in sin, because nothing will happen to us. Sounds like saying, "you shall not surely die"

      If you have gotten this far, I thank you even if you disagree. Okay I'm going to stop typing. God Bless!

      Amen!(5)
      • Hi Benjamin

        Not sure if you are aware of the point of Bible interpretation contained in the document referred to in Friday's lesson .
        I raise it because the principle contained within it affirms robust scriptural support for the view of God you are proposing...

        Point 4p in the document states:

        "The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to misconstrue certain kinds of statements, it is important to recognize that they were addressed to peoples of Eastern cultures and expressed in their thought patterns.

        Expressions such as "the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh" (Ex. 9:12) or "an evil spirit from God . . ." (1 Sam 16:15), the imprecatory psalms, or the "three days and three nights" of Jonah as compared with Christ's death (Matt. 12:40), commonly are misunderstood because they are interpreted today from a different viewpoint.

        A background knowledge of Near Eastern culture is indispensable for understanding such expressions. For example, Hebrew culture attributed responsibility to an individual for acts he did not commit but that he allowed to happen. Therefore the inspired writers of the Scriptures commonly credit God with doing actively that which in Western thought we would say He permits or does not prevent from happening, for example, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart."

        Amen!(2)
        • Yes, Phil exactly, I see what you are saying, I haven't read that reference as of yet, but it really does offer a supporting explanation to that view.

          Yes, I am also aware of the idioms used by the Hebrew culture that speaks almost backwards to how we speak. But the language can still be understood by how we use idioms/metaphors today in our culture. For those who believe that God destroys based on the Bible, because of how its written, they would have to believe that an actor needs to literally "breaks his leg" before auditioning!

          If the Bible was written today, the succeeding cultures will be confused with phrases such as, "barking up the wrong tree", "a hit dog will holler", etc. But they would need to understand our culture today and not apply the words literally, but according to our understanding.

          Thank you Phil for bringing more light to this! God Bless!

          Amen!(1)
        • Phil, take a lump of soft, wet clay and a piece of hard wax, and place them both in the sun. What will happen on a hot day?

          Did the sun that melted the wax harden the clay or does the sun simply not prevent the clay from hardening on it's own?

          Would Pharaoh have hardened his heart against God if God had never sent Moses to command Pharaoh to let God's people go, sending the plagues to show Pharaoh His Divine power?

          Didn't God show another king similar evidence of His power, but with a different result in the end(Nebuchadnezzar)?

          Same sun shines on the wax and the clay, different results.

          I agree that God did not purpose to harden Pharaoh's heart, or anyone's, yet what He does will reveal our true faith or unbelief, our humility or pride. Through Him "the thoughts of many hearts" will be revealed, as prophesied by Simeon at Jesus' dedication in the temple.

          Amen!(5)
          • Robert, after reading your post to Phil, I couldn't help but comment.

            For the most part you seem to be in agreement that God does not destroy people actively by His own destructive hand. The only issue I see in your example is that whether its clay or wax, God did not FORCE the consistency of either. We CHOOSE to be wax or clay not God and when God shines which He is only able to do being both the SON/SUN of righteousness, our choices determine our response to Him. And we see this in the account of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. God did not destroy Pharaoh, he destroyed himself.

            Since all God can do is Love, because He is Love, this would mean that "He "destroys" by trying to save."
            You wouldn't say that because God knows that someone will not repent, He should just remove His protecting hand from their life immediately, No this is not right. But you can say that as long as God mercy was there AND rejected it was only causing destruction to come upon that person eventually. Judas remained with Christ until he finally at last rejected Him for good and DESTROYED himself. Jesus mercy was always made available to him, but this mercy rejected was also evidence against Judas that ultimately caused his destruction.

            Amen!(2)
          • Thanks Benjamin for your input. You picked up on the same point I was going to respond to. It was not God who determined one lump to be clay and the other wax. Each lump was free to become wax or clay.

            Robert, It was the nature and character of the respective lump that determined the response that would come about in the course of exposure to the sun (John 3:18-21).

            Amen!(2)
          • Benjamin and Phil,
            So the sun has nothing to do with softening the wax or hardening the clay? Is this what you are both saying?

            The clay, if left in the earth where it comes from will never harden except from the effect of the sun. I believe we must conclude likewise with the wax. If not, then we are left to rid ourselves of our inherent unrighteousness.(?) Does this follow the teaching of God's word?

            It is my conclusion that the word of God is not being understood in some way, yet the physical example is clear isn't it, and both the wax and the clay are effected by the sun's influence. The sun (or any fire of sufficient heat) only reveals the true nature of the substance, and it will never fail to do so. It would remain unchanged otherwise.

            What I believe is being misunderstood is the Love of God, and how it is manifested in a sinful world. It seems God is being defined as something other than how He defines Himself. If the truth of God's word is not seen, human arguments and entreaties will be unable to correct a false view. The truth remains to be discovered by all who seek it with their whole heart. This is the promise of God.

            Lastly, Benjamin, do you really believe Pharaoh or Judas have destroyed themselves because of their actions and the results? Do you not believe in the 2nd resurrection of the lost, and what will follow it according to the Word of God? While we might destroy our bodies, only God can bring a final end to any soul He has created. He is the true and only Sovereign. Just look at most societies on this earth and see how justice must be served by those in authority, and this order comes from God. Why would God ordain this if it is not His way? God's Word makes very clear that "every work" will be brought into judgment, whether good or evil. None will escape even if they could kill themselves 10,000 times. Only God, who alone creates, can destroy the life He has brought forth. His creation stands until He removes it, even though it dies a temporal death. God has His reasons for this arrangement, and we need only to trust Him who has proven He is trustworthy.

            Departure from Truth is a bottomless pit as depicted in prophecy.

            Amen!(3)
      • Could you please clarify one thing: When Elijah called for fire to come down from heaven to destroy the captains and their fifty men (2 Kings 1:9-11), who sent the fire Elijah called for to destroy the captains and their soldiers?
        (From reading your comment above, one could conclude that Satan did Elijah's bidding and brought the fire. Do you really mean to say that??)

        Amen!(3)
          • In Job, the context clearly indicates that the destroying fire came from Satan.

            So are you saying that the fire Elijah called down on the soldiers also came from Satan? That is, Satan aided the prophet of God in establishing his God-given authority?

            Amen!(1)
        • Inge, you ask what are my presuppositions, okay.

          First I believe God is Love and there is NO evil in Him. Also, God is light and there is no darkness in Him. I believe that Life CANNOT bring death or kill, because basic understanding tells us that Life can only bring life. Light cannot bring darkness within itself.

          I believe that the wages of sin is death. And that God does not or cannot pay those wages, because He is Life. I believe that satan is the destroyer, who came to steal, kill and destroy. Nothing that kills comes from God, because He is Life.

          I don't believe that God can be above His Law, because He is the Law, it is a transcript of His character. For Him to act contrary to its principles for ANY reason is to act contrary to Himself. And most importantly, God changes NOT, so whatever God has done in the past He MUST do in the future.

          Inge, you said "I further presuppose that sin is self-destructive and that separation from God naturally results in death." Are we in agreement? If sin is self destructive and results in death, Why does God need to do anything????

          And I just want to add that I don't believe the bible is anecdotal. The accounts are true and reliable and are important to our understanding of God's character. God cant destroy by FORCE one day and then just ALLOW destruction another day, because God changes NOT.

          Amen!(2)
          • Thank you very much for your response, Benjamin. I will try to understand just one paragraph at a time. You wrote

            First I believe God is Love and there is NO evil in Him. Also, God is light and there is no darkness in Him.

            Certainly I agree that God is love and that there is no evil in Him. But then I don't believe that elimination /destruction of evil is evil. In fact, destruction of evil is necessary that good may prevail. Destruction of evil is necessary that the earth may be restored to its originally created perfection.

            Thus, the destruction of evil is *good* and an expression of God's character of self-renouncing love.

            I believe that Life CANNOT bring death or kill, because basic understanding tells us that Life can only bring life.

            Ummm... are you equating "life" with God Himself?

            As I see it, God is the Author and Creator of life. The biblical view is that the Creator is outside His creation. (There are other philosophies that identify God directly with His creation.) John tells us that Christ had life within Him and that His life was "the light of men." John 1:4

            Can you supply scriptural backing for what you mean to say?

            Thanks.

            Amen!(2)
          • Benjamin - allow me to comment on one of your personal pre-suppositions when you stating that "God is Love" but did not include Justice.

            We often, by simply summerizing God's character by saying 'He is Love' leave out to mention that His Justice is balanced out by Love.
            Everything written about in the scripture revolves around the need of man to gain righteousness. First it was to be established by obedience to the law as given by Moses, now we are able to obtaine it through faith; but it still is the same requirement.

            Not including that God is also Justice and requires righteousness distorts the clear Image of God as established in the Scripture. He is a loving and mercyful Judge, but still uses His established Law to judge us by. Faith in Jesus is accepted as a substitute.

            There is an initial deficit needing to be overcome when we approach Him by Faith. He requires our repentance, the acknowledgement of our lostness when He finds us in our sinful state, and only a whole-hearted desire to be accepted and 'hide' under His Wing's Authority will open our eyes to see the guiding Light.
            We have to accept this requirement to assure ourselves of His guiding protection.

            Yes, no evil is in Him and His Light is His rightousness for mankind to know Him by. Perfect Righteousness expresses God's divine form of Love.
            God the Father was willing to combine His Righteousness with the form of Love that humans understand; He gave us Jesus to safe us from eternal separation from Him.

            He has passed the authority to judge onto His Son. Now man can be saved through Jesus' work of Faith. Though God's Justice required Jesus' death, God's Love, invested in Jesus, raised Him from the dead.
            God's Gift of Love to mankind.

            Perfect Righteousness is still required from the believer, now available to us by Faith in Christ's Righteousness.

            Prov.3:11,12 ; John 5:19-27 ; Acts 17:31 !

            Amen!(1)
          • Inge

            “ Certainly I agree that God is love and that there is no evil in Him. But then I don't believe that elimination /destruction of evil is evil. In fact, destruction of evil is necessary that good may prevail. Destruction of evil is necessary that the earth may be restored to its originally created perfection.

            Thus, the destruction of evil is *good* and an expression of God's character of self-renouncing love.”

            I may potentially be in agreement regarding the above position, but I would need to clarify a couple of details with you to ascertain this.

            Consequently, I look forward to your view on Benjamin’s question “If sin is self-destructive and results in death, why does God need to do anything” (other than cease His probationary restraint of this inherent self-destruction, at which point the inherent self-destruction will ensue unto annihilation)? I added the last bit to avoid the ‘merely passive’ misunderstanding).

            I am aware you said you will respond to Benjamin bit by bit, and I am looking forward to Benjamin’s response to your clarification request too.

            I have found the exchange thus far very beneficial to better understand the details of where various people are coming from.

            In anticipation... Phil

            Amen!(2)
  11. Inge, we both know that what Benjamin said does not mean that Satan did Elijah's bidding! I will 'take a stab' 🙂 at helping to separate the 'who','why' and 'what'.

    We know from Scripture that the Heavens are filled with created Beings, the 'Army of God/the Hosts of Heaven', established and send forth for the express purpose to execute His Will and continuesly praise Him.

    We can not imagine or ever will comprehend the managerial or organizational setting of Heaven's leadership and its 'citizens', but we know that all of them are employed in the Service to administer His Authority. We can read about this in detail in the book of Revelation.

    We consider God's Creation of our earth to be three-dimensional. Physicists can explain other dimensions established through science research, but God's Universes hold also unseen dimensions that are reasoned to be metaphysical.

    Wikipedia's definition:
    Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among (the study of) the natural.

    Could you accept that God formed His Creation in such a way that, build into this creation, is the ability to detect lawlessness - the violation of His established Order?
    This Order - His Law - renders 'judgement' (evaluates) as soon as a violation/disturbance is detected - materially or spiritually.

    'Who' - Heavenly beings respond and carry out the appropriate 'sentence/response'. Archangels are very high in the order of heavenly beings. Michael's and Gabriel's service is described in the book of Daniel and others, other Angels and Beings are assigned differing tasks when interacting with mankind; not always detected/seen by us.

    The response - the 'how' - is a balanced between Justice and Mercy as established by God's Law of Righteousness - what is right and lawful.
    The 'why' is two-fold - to re-inforce and maintain the integrity/rightness of the Law governing all things that are 'made' by God's creative Power and Authority and by this, to assure the continuation and executability of His over-arching Plan of the Salvation of mankind.

    As you see, He is the Source, Author, Maintainer and Executioner of His Universes because all things that exist, seen and unseen, matter and powers are 'made' by Him and therefore subject to His Will and established Order. He Is the Authority as well having the Authority to uphold His Order and Will.

    All things created - living creatures, nature, matter and 'powers', are 'obedient' to His Will and follow the established Order.
    We know of one who did not want to give his loyalty to this Order - Lucifer. He attempted to establish his own order, using his given, extensive but limited authority and failed. Jesus was invested with greater Authority, having the Blessing of God the Father to accept the Reign and Rulership of earth.

    As God decreed, He is using His manifold, created heavenly 'hosts' to execute His judgements. He is therefore always identified as the 'source' of judgement but not its executioner.

    Amen!(2)
    • Brigitte, I was trying to understand what Benjamin was saying. You wrote,

      Inge, we both know that what Benjamin said does not mean that Satan did Elijah's bidding! I will 'take a stab' 🙂 at helping to separate the 'who','why' and 'what'.

      No, I don't know what Benjamin meant. That's why I asked, and his response leans rather strongly towards suggesting that Satan did Elijah's bidding in calling down fire on the soldiers. I trust he will clarify further.

      You wrote further

      Could you accept that God formed His Creation in such a way that, build into this creation, is the ability to detect lawlessness - the violation of His established Order?
      This Order - His Law - renders 'judgement' (evaluates) as soon as a violation/disturbance is detected - materially or spiritually.

      I would not put it that way at all. But I would say this:
      God established His physical creation according to certain physical laws whose violation has predictable consequences. He created humanity to be subject to both His physical laws and His moral law of self-renouncing love. As long as humanity lives in harmony with God's Law, happiness (blessedness, according to the KJV) reigns. Violation of God's laws brings predictable negative consequences sooner or later.

      I do not consider the "creation" to have the independent ability to "detect lawlessness." Nor do I believe that law itself "renders judgment." The wording you used implies independent intelligence to "creation" and to law itself. I see this as the work of God, who is intimately connected with His creation.

      With the rest of your comment I wholeheartedly agree, with a minor point at the end:
      You wrote

      As God decreed, He is using His manifold, created heavenly 'hosts' to execute His judgements. He is therefore always identified as the 'source' of judgement but not its executioner.

      I'm not sure that "always" applies regarding your second point. And I wonder what you are trying to establish by making this distinction, because, either way, God is wholly responsible.

      Amen!(5)
      • Inge, let me clarify the Elijah statement.
        What I am saying is that in the bible there are 2 instances that I can think of that CLEARLY shows who the fire from heaven comes from. 1) Satan in the account of Job 2) and the LORD when Elijah on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal. In one account people and animals were killed, but its was attributed to God. In the other account noone was hurt and it displayed the power of God, because it was from God.

        And there are 2 other instances of fire coming from heaven and one is past(Elijah) and the other is future (after 1000 years). In the account of Elijah, his act was rebuked by Jesus in the NT when James and John wanted to do the SAME thing to those who rejected Jesus. They were upset that Jesus wasn't received. As you stated about Elijah, "the prophet of God in establishing his God-given authority?" Jesus told them that "they did not know what spirit they were of" If they didn't know what spirit they had, it sure wasn't from God. So this tells me that what took place with Elijah was seen differently by James/John and Jesus.
        How are you seeing this event, Inge? Like James and John or like Jesus?

        After the 1000 years, this could be the same type of event. People who refused to receive Jesus, those who rejected Him. Was Jesus showing them that destruction does not and will not come from Him in that way, because He didn't come to DESTROY men lives but to save.

        Now I don't claim to have all the answers, but what I am learning is that God is not the author of death, nor does he cause it. He brings life ONLY, Satan is the destroyer ONLY.

        Amen!(1)
        • So may I conclude that you believe that the fire that Elijah called down on the soldiers was sent by Satan, who thus cooperated with Elijah to establish his God-given authority?

          (By the way, I disagree that Jesus was commenting on the incident of Elijah and the soldiers when He rebuked His disciples for wanting to call fire down from heaven on the Samaritans. The disciples thought they were following the example of Elijah, and Christ made a comment on their spirit, not Elijah's spirit.)

          Amen!(2)
          • Hi Inge, So James and John did think they were following Elijah's example, and they were wrong, but I believe Elijah was as well. In both cases God's authority was slighted and in both cases, Elijah, James and John sought to destroy those who were guilty. Jesus corrected this misrepresentation of God's character by His rebuking statement.

            I do not believe that God was working with Elijah by bringing down fire upon his request to destroy the captains and their fifties. The spirit that Elijah was in, is shown in verse 15 of 2 Kings, "The angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him." If you ask any average reader of the account of Elijah and the captains, they would say that Elijah did NOT look afraid at all, he seemed to be very bold in his actions. But he was actually in fear. If he wasn't in fear, then WHY would the angel of the Lord tell him, "don't be afraid?"
            Elijah was in the spirit of fear, which could be seen as boldness, by many readers of the Bible and even James and John. This is why I believe Jesus said, "ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of" He said this because it was a spirit of fear. This spirit is not of God.

            Ellen G White made a profound statement:
            There can be no more CONCLUSIVE evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to HURT and DESTROY those who do not appreciate our work or who act contrary to our ideas. DA p.487 (emphasis mine)

            Amen!(3)
          • In response to your question concerning Life and God:

            You stated: "Ummm... are you equating "life" with God Himself?

            As I see it, God is the Author and Creator of life. The biblical view is that the Creator is outside His creation. (There are other philosophies that identify God directly with His creation.) John tells us that Christ had life within Him and that His life was "the light of men." John 1:4

            Can you supply scriptural backing for what you mean to say?"

            Yes! I absolutely can supply scriptural backing for equating life with God. John 14:6 expressly says, " I am the Way, the Truth, and THE LIFE (not I have life)."
            To say that God is not life Himself is also like saying God IS NOT Love, that He is just the creator of Love or He is just loving. No God IS Love.
            I agree that Life is within Him, it is because He is Life, the same way He has Love within Him, because He is Love.

            Maybe you didn't understand what I was saying, because I would think that you would agree with that statement.

            Amen!(1)
          • Benjamin, was God working with Jonathan and his armor bearer in 1 Sam 14, or David and Israel in 1 Sam 17? Was He working with Joshua at the battle of Jericho? If so, why not Elijah with the fire from heaven? Read it again and see what Elijah says, and how he acts with the 3rd captain and his 50 men.

            The love of God is beyond our grasp and when we reduce it to the sentimental love many experience in their own lives we will not understand when God reveals His love in ways we think are not "loving". It seems more and more are making this mistake.

            Study the letters to the 7 churches in Rev 2,3, and see how Jesus expresses His love to the churches.

            Amen!(2)
      • Inge, I cleary stated "BUILD INTO this Creation is the ability to detect lawlessness - the violation of His established Order".
        This means this 'alertness' is INHERENT in the design of His Creation. He established it this way by choice.
        There is NO independent ability to decect 'lawlessness' - He is the Source of His Righteousness.

        He created everything to be inter-connected - establishing immediate cause and effect, adjudication and sentencing; tempered now by His Mercy for the purpose of the saving of living souls.

        Nothing created is acting independently from this basic order established through His Will, unless it choses to refuse to give the Supreme Creator its loyalty. It can, because it has free will and with that the ability to choose. (Lucifer)

        This inherent ability to detect 'law-infractions' is part and parcel of His marvelously functioning creation; it is self-regulating/sustaining by its ability to alert the Heavenly hosts which will be dispatched to respond to the infraction.
        (He will hear from Heaven if we repent and pray and heal our Nation).

        Self-regulating/sustaining, because it is the perfect Universe that the perfect Will of the Creator God has brought into existence through His perfect Word; discharging His infinite Wisdom and Righteousness infused with Mercy when responding to any infraction of any kind, designed in such a way as it is 'deserved'.

        Yes, as the Ultimate Authority, God is wholly responsible to see that His Law is executed justly. He, as the Source of His expressed Will, undergirds all things and, as such, He is responsible for the perfect application/administration of His Law and Will.

        His devoted, heavenly Messengers and Powers are eager to demonstrate allegiance to Him by rendering their faithful service.
        He delegated the executive administration of His Creation to created Beings and Powers, established for this purpose; to be the executors to administer whatever is just and effective in the response to a positive or negative infraction.

        God told Moses and the children of Israel as well as Abraham all about the consequences of obedience or disobedience and only asked for their Faith to proof Him faithful to fulfill His Promise and Heaven would respond.

        His Promise manifests in the form of blessings - like rain after a drought or a justicement/correction - like fire from Heaven - always balanced, never arbitrary.

        Amen!(0)
      • Inge, I agree with you that Jesus in His rebuke of the disciples referred to their spirit.

        Jesus gave a good inside with His comment about 'who' wrestles in us for dominance, though. He referred to Elijah's spirit to be God's and questioned the source of the spirit motivating His disciples.

        After reading 2.Kings 1-16 carefully, another interpretation can be established. It was not Elijah who called down the fire to consume the captain and his 50. It was God's response to the challenge by the king and his captains to prove to them that there was still a God in Israel.

        In His response to the damand of the captain send by his king, threatening Elijah with harm, fire was send down from heaven to establish/prove that Elijah is His Servant, that there is still a God in Israel and that this God was Elijah's God.

        God wanted to make a point to King Ahaziah when He sent Elijah to meet the messengers of the King on their way to inquire of Baal-ze-bub, the God of Ekron.
        God declared a sentence, showing that He was still in charge of the destiny of the kings of Israel:
        v.4 - ..Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die...

        Elijah's message from God was to point out that, by asking councel from the local god, the King showed that he did not believe/respect that Israel still had a God that reigned! Because of this exchange on the road, Elijah was afraid to be harmed by the king.
        v.9 ..Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. A thread of a certain consequence when not complying with the king's command was demonstrated by the inclusion of 50 fighters.

        This whole exchange took place in order to establish that there was still a God in Israel.
        v.10 - And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty. IF I be 'a man of God', (which the captain had addressed him as such), then let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and they fifty. And there came down fire from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
        This proved to the captain that he was 'a man of God'.

        In all, three captains 'challenged' not Elijah, they challenged God to proof Himself to show that He still exists.
        Only the third captain, falling down on his knee and showing submission, pleading with Elijah 'to be precious in thy sight' changed this spiritual 'war'.

        God had again established Himself in the eyes of all, to prove that there was still a God in Israel.
        v. 15 - And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the King.

        All we know from this account is that God was on Elijah's side, protected him from king Ahaziah's wrath, established that He was Elijah's God and that there He was still the God of Israel.

        Amen!(1)
      • Hello again, Inge -
        I want to make this post brief, pointing out that, underlying all this conversation of -'who does what and why'- is the fact that God established several Covenants with 'His People'.
        His 'working'-relationship with us is layed out in detaile in His Covenant and the promises -for good or bad- are contained therein.

        Therefore, all our discourse here is really about staying faithful to a legal agreement which both sides entered into freely, knowing all the consequences and the benefits - promises going both ways.
        No need to assign responsibility or causality. It is a matter of choice entered into by the exercise of free will.

        Your blog in response to Benjamin on June 5th, 8:14pm stated: "Rather it was the natural result of their rejection of God in rejecting Christ".
        All nature and things 'natural' are governed by established Law; rejection of God's all-encompasing Law, implies that consequences governing this law will be employed - for good or bad - in our case, as established and accepted in the Covenants.
        So, we understand that 'natural consequences' -again, for good or bad- are still a reflection of God's Law.

        The platform were all this is worked out on is God's Covenant with man; consequences about keeping or violating this Covenant are written about in many places in the Scriptures.
        Some of them are in Exodus 6:5; Ezekiel 16:59-61; Ezekiel 37:36; Jer.31:31-34; all speak of the established relationship between God and man as defined and agreed upon in the Covenant with man. It is a legal document and therefore needs to be honored by both sides!

        The 'new' Covenant, Heb.8:6-13; Heb.12:24; speakes to us from the same perspective - the lawless will be 'punished' based on the consequences layed out and accepted in the Covenant. The consequences for the lawful will be 'rewarded' based on the same.

        James 1:17,18 - ...'God established us to be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures'..
        He bound Himself to us through a Covenant as expressed through the promises - we accept or decline - we live or die.

        Amen!(1)
        • Brigitte, This is in response to you post about me not mentioning that God is Justice along with Love.

          You stated: "We often, by simply summerizing God's character by saying 'He is Love' leave out to mention that His Justice is balanced out by Love."
          Brigitte, I did not mention that God is justice, because, the attribute of love cannot be without justice, this is included in love. I also did not say God is merciful, or compassionate or patient, because this is ALL included in Love by default. The Bible also does not say that God is justice, so I am in good company. 1 Cor. 13 shows us what Love is and the fruit of the Spirit is actually Love.

          You also stated:
          "Everything written about in the scripture revolves around the need of man to gain righteousness. First it was to be established by obedience to the law as given by Moses, now we are able to obtaine it through faith; but it still is the same requirement."
          I would disagree that we need to "gain" righteousness. I also would disagree that it was to be established by obedience to the law. Salvation and Righteousness has ALWAYS been obtained by faith in both the OT and the NT. This is seen in the life of Abraham in Gen. 15:6, "And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he (God) counted it to him for righteousness."

          Amen!(1)
          • Benjamin - I appreciate your reply!
            My response to you was not meant personally. I apologize if it sounded critical of what you wrote.
            I spoke in general terms, sharing that God's righteous Love is often miss-understood when not recognizing that Love finds its foundation in Justice before it is expressed as Love.
            God's supreme Law and His Righteousness are, in my understanding, one and the same; but then there is Mercy.

            Yes, our righteousness has its beginning in Faith, but only the act of 'obedience', acting on what we believe in, is the outward evidence of our Faith. The more Faith becomes internalized through applied trust, the more 'natural' our walk of Faith will become.

            Since Faith does not exist in a vacuum, it is meant to have a purpose. By Faith, we give our trust to the God that requires Faith to be experienced - Faith in Him! We give our whole being, all of what we are, into His hands to work in us that what His Law of loving 'righteousness' achieves - Love for our Creator Father and fellow man.

            If there would not be a right or wrong, or if we could find right and wrong on our own, God would not have shown us HIS Righteousness to lighten our path. He actually said that, because we 'know' right and wrong, that we shall surely die.

            Flesh has no 'righteousness' within itself. Yes, God's choice to give us His Love is the divine Gift to mankind and expressed through the act of the experienced Faith of Jesus.
            Psalm 116:5 - Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

            Faith was experienced when Abram left Ur and trusted in the promise of God; when the Children of Israel wandered in the Wilderness, grumbling, God did not destroy them; instead, He established the Sanctuary Service to place His cover of Mercy over their 'lawlessness'; but He was not fully pleased/satisfied. So many of their offerings were for the mitigation of their transgressions, and not enough Love-offerings to balance out 'justice'.

            When they arrived back in the Promised Land, Moses told them about their Covenant agreement and explained the consequences and blessings for their future.
            Yes, ultimately, the 'One that is Righteous' has only 'required' Faith in His Righteousness to prove Himself trustworthy and just; we have decided to trust Him with the Faith which He made available for us to live by, and now we can love Him more and more.

            God has done away with the requirements of the old Law. We still obtain righteousness by Faith, but our Faith is now vested in Jesus' act of Faith - who was obedient to the Law - and declared the work 'it is finished'.

            Amen!(1)
  12. Today I was reading Deuteronomy 4 and noticed Deut. 4:24 which mentioned that God is a consuming fire. The symbolism of God as fire is very interesting. Fire can be very protective and provide warmth, as it did for the children of Israel in the wilderness. But it can also be very dangerous. For the wicked, being in the presence of God leads to destruction as they have no protection and their sin is at odds with God's character. Now obviously God does not expose us to Himself in this way most of the time, or many more people would be destroyed. But could it be that when Elijah called fire on those officers, God withdrew His protection and thus they were exposed to God's fire and thus perished? I don't know for sure, but that is a middle ground between God actually killing them and Satan killing them.

    Amen!(1)
  13. Robert, in each of the cases you presented about if God was working with those individuals, let me ask you: What was God's original plan? Did He ever want Israel to "fight" their own battles with sword and spear? Israel desired to be like the other nations against God's ideal and God allowed these things to take place while still "working" with them to bring them back to His ideal. It can be called the Principle of Accommodation. Even David, the example you bring, shows David himself saying that the LORD does not save with sword and spear. verse 47. Anywhere we see a deviation from God's ideal and seeming success, is not God in agreement with their actions, but God accommodating.

    Just as Israel wanted a king, and this was NOT God's desire. What did God do anyway? He CHOSE a king for them, which was Saul. We need to be careful of thinking that God was having the same desires as Israel at all times. Lastly, David wanted to build a house for God, and what did God say in response to this request? In 1 Chron. 28:3 says, "thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood." If God was "with" David in his wars and in agreement with him, why would we he not be able to build a house for Him?? That would make God seem a bit hypocritical (I hate to use the word next to God's name). David shed blood and I don't believe this was the LORD's way, as seen in His response.

    Amen!(2)
    • Also, Robert, you seem to have misunderstood both Phil's and my point. No, I am NOT saying that, "the sun has nothing to do with softening the wax or hardening the clay." What I am saying is that the sun has nothing to do with our CHOICE to BE wax or clay. Like I said in my comments, The SUN/SON will do what it can only do, and that's shine.
      God does not determine if we will be wax or clay, WE DO. To think otherwise is to slip in a Calvinist view of salvation. We have free will and we can choose to be either wax or clay. I hope this clarifies this issue.

      Amen!(3)
    • Thank you Benjamin for raising awareness of The Accommodation/Adaptation Principle that is yet another vital principle of relevance to sound Bible/Scripture interpretation. This principle along with the Hebrew idiom of causation as permission/allowance are typically given too little consideration and yet have a significant influence upon the process and outcome of interpretation.

      Amen!(3)
      • Hi Phil -
        I read all your posts and just noticed your last post (June 20th) in the apparantly still ongoing dialogue with Robert Whiteman.
        I would like to bring an insight to your and Roberts attention, believing it to be helpful to the discourse.
        Unfortunately, no more direct 'reply' links are available on your post, but I hope that you will still receive these comments.

        You already know that I came to the same conclusion as you as it relates to Salvation and the God who graciously provided a way for us to reunite with Him.
        As a short introduction regarding my insight:
        Two years ago, at a Adventist Campmeeting, I became aware that the text in my KJV read differently from the one the speaker used. I followed up on this observation, but was met with disinterest by anyone I spoke to - leaders and laymen alike.

        The verse in question at that time was: Rom.3:21,22. It speakes to the righteousness of God v.22 "..which is by faith OF Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference.
        The other translations read ..which is by the faith IN Jesus. Noting the significance of the difference, I looked to locate
        other verses speaking of the faith OF Christ.
        I found Phil.3:9; Gal.2:16, there may be others.

        The faith OF Jesus is entirely different from the faith in Jesus. This faith OF Jesus is expressing His *willingness* to sacrifice *Himself*, maintaining His faith in the all-loving Father to keep His promises whiles being tempted to call upon the hosts of Heaven to save Him.

        The faith IN Jesus, points back to us as having to do a 'work of faith' by believing in Jesus. This implies that receiving God's righteousness depends on the firmness or weakness of the faith of the believer to believe IN Christ.

        You can see that the use 'of' and 'in' exposes a great theological difference and changes the understanding by who's faith with are saved.
        As you point out in your always wonderfully detailed comments to Robert, Jesus was the one who layed down His life willingly. His life was not sacrified by or for a God who needed to satisfy a demand for the covering of sin.
        It was God's gift of Grace, made available to us through the faith OF Jesus' that obtained righteousness for us.

        After reading your post today, the significance of the term 'faith OF Jesus' came to mind again. I found a website that expressed the same thoughts I had two years ago when I could not find anyone to understand my concerns regarding the implication of an incorrect translation for the Christian.

        Following is a short excert from this website provided by ThegospelofGod.wordpress.com: The Faith of Jesus Christ - Rom.3:21-26.
        'How was this righteousness manifested? How did God reveal His righteousness in the Gospel? He revealed it by the faith OF Jesus. It was the faith of Christ which brought the righteousness of God to light in the Gospel.
        A glorious truth - but one so often overlooked and neglected by many. This phrase "by faith of Jesus" is very significant, and is one that we find repeated in several other passages of scripture in various forms.
        Most modern 'translations' of the Bible, including the NIV and the NKJV have altered this vital phrase fo read 'faith in Jesus Christ' which gives a very different meaning to the verses.

        I hope to have contributed to you and Robert an insight to further the understanding of our Love of our God and the nature of Jesus' selfless act empowered by His Faith in God.

        Amen!(1)
        • Faith “of” Jesus, exactly! This would mean to reflect him fully as he reflected his Father’s will perfectly.

          This is Rev 14:4,5.

          Amen!(1)
          • Robert -
            To remain faithful was Jesus' free-willed choice. Yes, He reflected His Father's will perfectly, but not through obedience by the flesh, but by His steadfast Faith based on Love.
            He *willingly*, not coersed or demanded by anyone or anything, layed down His life though He could have called upon the hosts of heaven, watching and waiting in anguish the outcome of the event unfold.

            Jesus remained faithful until the end. When Jesus said - "it is finished" - He expressed the state of His faith; He had remainded faithful! It was not 'obedience', it was His Faith based on Love that prevailed.

            He *chose* not to give in to the temptations by the userper at any time during His life - every time He chose to remain faithful He remained sinless.

            His commitment to Faith relied on the promise by His Father to give eternal life to all who remain faithful according as the Will of God had established it. Jesus' love for the Father and for all who seek to be reunited with Him motivated His Faith.
            Selfless Love, not obedience through the flesh, was the motivating factor - love made this obedience possible.

            The Will of God is an established Law, but to live *by* God's Will is an individual, free-willed choice. God does not want that anyone should perish, though He does not any longer demand that our flesh be 'obedient'. This was done so under the law.
            Under the new Covenant, to receive Salvation, we are called to obedience because we love Him - this Love is spiritally based and not by the will through flesh.
            Obedience is fostered by the indwelling Holy Spirit and available to everyone who choses to believe, because God loved us first.

            Matt.3:15-17 - Our Savior came in the form of Jesus, being spirit-filled-indwelled flesh and accepted by the Father; v.17 ..'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased'.
            Christ the Savior came freely to us to be the second Adam, providing a new beginning for mankind. Jesus, by Faith, resisted the temptations assailing His flesh, which the first Adam did not do.

            His Father offered all of us to be our heavenly Father by accepting the new Covenant, that we shall live by *it* - Salvation provided through Faith and not through works.

            Yes, Believers are called to engage in good works, not because they are considered 'right' in our own eyes. God, through the Holy Spirit inspires us to love; now we can be His vessels to pour out and share God's love for mankind in the various forms of good deeds.

            Faith is God's gift to mankind. The Faith "of" Jesus is the same Faith that has been made available by God's Grace to all mankind.
            Jesus' steadfast, immovable Faith in God the Father accomplished that we can now enjoy salvation by remaining faithful.
            Over time, many have been willing to lay down their life under duress and oppression - the act of choosing to die because of the unwillingness to compromise faith, and to live again as promised by God.

            We are all called upon to let *self* die - Luke 9:23-25; Gal.19-21.
            Jesus' act of FAITH assures us that Christ, living in us now by the Holy Spirit, will take the place which the old *self* had once occupied - our heart.
            HIS Faith made it possible for US to walk by faith, to work out our Salvation with 'fear and trembling'.

            Amen!(1)
          • Brigitte, I'm not sure I am following you in this expanded explanation. Why do you say Jesus' obedience was not "in the flesh", but only "by faith based on love"? Does love for God not affect the works of the flesh? Why are we saved by grace, but judged by our works? The inspired James tells us plainly that "faith without works(while in the flesh)is dead". What does this mean to you? Perhaps I'm not understanding you correctly, but your elaboration leaves me with questions.

            Jesus statement of "it is finished" as I understand it was to say "I have finished the work you sent me to accomplish", meaning His sinless life and atoning/propitiating sacrifice (which He prayed He wouldn't have to face, but He accepted God's will over His own to fulfill) was completed as God had willed it to be for the sake of fallen mankind(John 3:16, Rom 3:25). Yet this was not the end of Jesus' "work" for sinners, but it was the completion of the blood offering shown in the types that frees the repentant sinner from his guilt, allowing them to "become the sons/daughters of God". Without this shedding of His blood, He would have nothing to offer in the heavenly sanctuary for sinners, and we would be without hope.

            Jesus faith was real as witnessed by His obedience in the flesh. No one will be saved without this genuine faith manifested by good works. Jesus makes this plain in many of His teachings.

            Yes, a choice must be made at every step of our lives, as Jesus demonstrated by His sinless life. The choice is made through faith which works by love, but it results in deeds of righteousness, as it was by Jesus who "went about doing good".

            Many will say "Lord, Lord", while their works are evil. Profession is nothing to God, only works of righteousness which reveal love for God and our fellow man. Isn't this the point of the 3rd parable in Matt 25?

            You cannot read anywhere in scripture, old or new testament, without being pointed to the "perfect" law/will of God, and being reminded that the sinner must die in his sins or repent and "believe the gospel" of Christ who alone can save us from being sinful. Notice the promises of Revelation 2 and 3 are only to "him that overcomes". Many will claim to believe, but only those who love God and exercise faith will overcome. The scriptures are filled with the message of "obey and live, or disobey and perish". The choice is our to make and our choice will be revealed in our works, which will be judged at last(Eccl 12:13,14, Rev 22:12). This will never change. Adam lost eden and immortality through disobedience, and no one will gain immortality without obedience. Only in Christ can we obey.

            Amen!(1)
    • So, no answer to the questions Benjamin? Ok. Your response appears evasive. Why?

      Since Eve took the fruit and then Adam taking and eating the fruit she brought him, God's original plan has been hijacked and we are living in a reality that cannot be overlooked or denied. God did work in all those incidents mentioned. In some cases God was preserving His people in a world hostile to righteousness. God does, and must destroy where sin is concerned, because if not, "how shall God judge the world?" as Paul writes.

      God's love is infinitely above our ability to understand it, and as often quoted here on this subject: "My ways are not your ways...", and we either trust in the Lord or we don't, regardless of whether we understand perfectly or not. The truth will withstand every effort to change it into something else.

      God will at last bring sin and sinners to an end, and as He has done over the course of human history in this sinful world, it will be brought to an end by Him as plainly stated in His Word.

      Yes, we choose to be wax or clay, but it was God's displays of mercy and grace that caused the proud and sinful Pharaoh to harden his heart against his convictions. God was only revealing Pharaoh's true character by the same means which ultimately softened the heart of Nebuchadnezzar.

      God acts, we choose. Pharaoh's choices led to his destruction at the hand of God, who alone could have parted the sea, and then restored the water to its place which Pharaoh chose to try and pass through to attack the people of God. Had God not acted, Israel would have been taken captive by force and Pharaoh would have remained alive. Correct?

      I'm not sure what you think I misunderstood. Yes, we choose. It's always been that way and no one is debating that question. But Pharaoh did not part the sea. Elijah did not create the fire that destroyed the 2 captains and their 50 men. Joshua did not cause the walls of Jericho to fall. Noah did not create the flood. Lot did not bring down the fire on the wicked cities. Difficult to understand how the clear word of God is so often misrepresented, yet we've been warned about this.

      I have no interest to debate why God wished for Solomon to build the temple instead of David. I can find no support for your conclusion.

      Amen!(1)
      • Hi, Rob. I know this is a long discussion, I wish we all could just sit down and talk with one another with a Bible in hand. I was not being evasive, I just wanted a principle to be established so that when we look at any story in the Bible, that we are to read it from a different lens than the normal God of destruction.
        You say the Word is clear and not difficult to understand but yet it is often misrepresented. If I am reading the Bible they way you propose I will be confused with all of the contradictions. WHO hardened Pharaoh's heart? WHO provoked David to number Israel? WHO brought the evil upon Job? Does God create evil Himself? All these examples have clear verses in the Bible that say 2 different things. Unless we understand the Eastern Hebrew language and mindset, understanding the Bible gets really tough. The example I gave about David building a house for the LORD is very straight forward, but you don't have to discuss if you wish not to. I have really enjoyed the conversations, this topic is very dear and exciting to me.
        Maybe we will see more of each other in future forums. Say hello!
        God Bless

        Amen!(1)
        • “I have really enjoyed the conversations, this topic is very dear and exciting to me.”

          Benjamin, I would encourage you to keep contributing to ssnet as there are readers who appreciate your input on the topic that is dear and exciting to you too.

          Amen!(4)
        • Benjamin, you may cite examples where Satan's influence was involved, and there are many, but there are many examples where God was the one working according to His will. Is it an evil thing to protect the helpless from one who would bring them misery and death, while delighting in doing it?

          Do you recall in Matt 12 where Jesus spoke about the difficulty of robbing the house of a strong man unless one first bind him up, then they could spoil his house? What do you understand from this illustration? Who is the strong man and who is binding him up?

          God is "merciful, gracious, longsuffering,...forgiving.... and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation]." All the while, He remains "merciful, gracious," etc. God "so loved the world" that His only begotten son was given(by Him) to spare the world of what Jesus suffered on their account to keep them from the inevitable result of being found at enmity with God. Why this great price for sinners? Love cannot/will not look the other way regarding sin and sinners. God must at last judge the world as the Bible clearly tells us, yet it is His desire to save everyone who will repent and believe the Gospel.

          Answer this: who crushes the serpent's head(Gen 3:15)? Would you consider this an evil act given the circumstances? (Don't pass too lightly over the circumstances that prevail.)

          I understand that God has been made into something He is not by many "christians", theologians, priests, popes, pastors, teachers, etc, yet, God must do His strange act to rid creation of this intruder, sin. Jesus will one day fulfill the Word of God found in Psalm 2(notice also Rev 2:26,27!). He has no choice, and all creation will call Him blessed and righteous once this work is finished and perfect peace is restored throughout all of creation. Notice there in Psalm 2 the invitation to the wicked. God extends His mercy before He will execute justice. This is why Jesus first took on the punishment for sin Himself, that He might save "to the uttermost"(Heb 7:25).
          God expresses perfect love in all He does and must do.

          Beware the trap that has affected many. I've observed where it often leads those who come to believe and support it.

          Amen!(1)
          • Hello Robert,
            You say,
            "Benjamin, you may cite examples where Satan's influence was involved, and there are many, but there are many examples where God was the one working according to His will."
            I believe that if God does not change, then if destruction sometimes comes from God and sometimes He lets Satan destroy, then this is a Change. He either destroys the same way all the time or He doesn't destroy at all, it can't be both. This would be a contradiction, would it not?? Help me understand.
            Your question: "
            Is it an evil thing to protect the helpless from one who would bring them misery and death, while delighting in doing it?"
            My answer: Yes, it's an evil thing. The Bible says God does not take pleasure or delight in the death of the wicked. Please read Ezek. 18:23 and Ezek. 33:11)
            I will look more into Matt. 12, but upon initial surface reading, this has nothing to do with the question, Does God destroy. I don't see Jesus making relation to Himself as a robber, but I need to read it further, so I am not making any conclusive statements about that text.
            You said:
            "Love cannot/will not look the other way regarding sin and sinners."
            I agree, love does not look away. But when we sin, we hide our face from God and we are separated, read Is. 59:2, (there are many other verses that support this as well)
            You said:
            "God must at last judge the world as the Bible clearly tells us, yet it is His desire to save everyone who will repent and believe the Gospel."
            Yes, God will judge the world, just like a school teacher grades a students test. If the student fails, who failed him? The teacher? or himself? who gave him the wrong answers? The teachers judgement is just a confirmation of what the student chose, the student brought his own failure/destruction, not the teacher. If a failed test results in no graduation, this is a natural consequence, not a teacher's active "punishment" upon the student.
            Your question:
            "who crushes the serpent's head(Gen 3:15)? Would you consider this an evil act given the circumstances?"
            God crushed the serpents head at calvary and we will too as stated in Rom. 16:20. This is not a literal crushing, Robert. It is victory over sin, righteousness by faith that crushes, we overcome through the word of our testimony, Rev. 12:11

            Please tell me what is the "trap" that has affected many? I am genuinely curious to where it leads, please advise. I ask myself the same questions, where does this lead?? I am very curious as to your answer, sincerely.

            God Bless!

            Amen!(2)
          • Benjamin, you wrote:

            Yes, God will judge the world, just like a school teacher grades a students test. If the student fails, who failed him? The teacher? or himself? who gave him the wrong answers? The teachers judgement is just a confirmation of what the student chose, the student brought his own failure/destruction, not the teacher. If a failed test results in no graduation, this is a natural consequence, not a teacher's active "punishment" upon the student.

            Your analogy is good as far as it goes. But let's go a little deeper. Is the teacher grading in view of graduation or in view of what the student did or did not learn?

            It seems to me that the teacher's failing grade is recognizing that the student didn't really learn anything. This would normally have natural consequences later in life. (Providing the subject matter was valuable. 😉 ) However, in the meantime, the school imposes a specific consequence that is not necessarily the "natural result" of the failure to learn.

            I believe it is similar in God's plan. Throughout the Bible, He foretells not only the natural consequences of sin, but also how these consequences will be carried out. Remember that, according to natural consequences, none of us should be alive. But God has graciously granted us a probationary time whereby we are sustained by His grace even while we are rejecting His rule over our life. That's not a "natural consequence." Neither is the prophesied final destruction by fire a "natural consequence." even though death itself is a "natural consequence." But "naturally" it would have occurred much earlier, and naturally, the wicked would not have been resurrected to see just why their eternal death is justified. God has told us just how He will end things, and Christ warns us against taking away from or adding to the Word of God by imposing our own views on it. (Rev 22:18-19)

            You have arbitrarily chosen to believe that the God who creates cannot destroy. And you interpret Scriptures through that lens. But that is not in the Bible.

            Amen!(3)
          • Benjamin, Ps 37 elaborates on the final outcome of this earth and all who are in it. The meek will inherit the earth, while the wicked will consume away. Even Satan will be no more. How does this happen? Who does this? Who, outside of God, is capable of such an outcome?

            If God did not cleanse the earth by the flood, who did? Did God preserve Noah and his family or did someone else?

            Yes, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but if He is not the One who brings them to nothing, who is? If it is someone else, why doesn't God save them from him? Yet it is God who says the wicked will be no more, and there will be no place found for them. God is the sovereign of all creation, and He who alone gives life is the One who alone can remove it, but if not, then someone else is above Him.

            Our only safe course is to believe the promises of God, and realize His word means what it says, and this only differs when an obvious symbol is employed, such as 7-headed beasts. If we must change the word of God to fit our ideas, we have no foundation upon which to stand. To say God does not or cannot destroy is to say He is not the Sovereign of His creation, and effectively accuses Him as a liar. This also places doubt on Him being the creator. Who then is above God?

            If you say the devil is the source of the destruction of the wicked, then you either say Satan is above God, or that God, who gave Lucifer life and continues to give life to him, is working through Satan in some way, which acknowledges God as the true source of destruction. Does anyone arrest and prosecute guns, or do we arrest the one who held the gun and pulled the trigger? I conclude from scripture that the Lord alone is able to cleanse the earth of all sin and those who refuse to depart from evil. The choice is theirs, but it is God who will restore the world to it's former sinless state as promised(Rev 21:5).

            The war is between Christ and Satan, not Satan and himself.

            Do you believe this passage from Psalm 145?

            "17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

            18 The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.

            19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.

            20 The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.

            The trap is changing the Word of God, and where it leads will be discovered by all who do this. (See Jer 17:5)

            Amen!(1)
          • "If you say the devil is the source of the destruction of the wicked, then you either say Satan is above God, or that God, who gave Lucifer life and continues to give life to him, is working through Satan in some way, which acknowledges God as the true source of destruction."

            No - neither of these 2 options is the case.

            It is interesting that John makes the metaphor of light and darkness so central to his gospel. Light literally is photons that are defined/described as packets of energy. Metaphorically, light and life are synonymous (eg John 1:4). What is darkness? Darkness is defined and conceptualised as the absence of light. Just as darkness is the absence of light, death is the absence of life.

            God is not working to bring destruction - He is working to avert the ultimate inherent destruction (eg John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9) of those who are already perishing (2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15;4:3). Some will avail themselves of this offer - sadly, most wont.

            No, Satan is not above God.

            And no, God is not working through Satan.

            God is working to bring life to all who will unite with Him and live in accordance with what is needed for life: a living connection with The Source of life and a heart of self-renouncing beneficence that expresses itself in compassion-based actions toward others. Outside of this, life is not viable - it doesn't exist. No-one has to take life away from humanity - humanity forfeits life when it embraces ways that are out of harmony with life. This is what happened in Genesis 3.

            Amen!(0)
        • Can you establish a principle based on truth if you do not acknowledge the truth as it is given? Sitting together to study would only work if there is no bias brought into the discussion, and only if the Word of God is given it's full influence above our own ideas.

          I have examined this "exciting" topic for years/decades, and have seen where it often leads people. I have seen eyes closed to truth with elaborate explanations that remain unsupported by the Word of God and Testimonies of the Holy Spirit.

          The example of who was to build the temple is more straight forward than you seem to realize at this time. You cannot deny the working of God and expect to arrive at the Truth.
          For example, read Ps 106:30,31. How do you understand this?(if your Bible has marginal references you will be directed to Numbers 25 in the event you do not know the story behind these verses in Ps 106. It is important to understand this story. Read Numbers 25 through to the end. Also, look at Numbers 33:50-56. These are just two of many such examples to be understood correctly.)

          Amen!(2)
          • I have learned that passages such as Numbers 25 and Numbers 15 and 16 cannot be properly interpreted without incorporation of the above-mentioned Principle of Accommodation.

            The dynamics of what is going on in experiences like these are not as simple and straightforward as they appear on the surface - especially based on an English translation of the Hebrew text read from the perspective of modern Western society.

            Amen!(0)
          • Hi Robert -
            I can sense your anguish, because you persist in your defense of the God you love.
            Do you agree that we can see/understand/interpret God through different 'lenses' based on our preconditioned minds due to our own life's experiences and the way we processed these experiences?
            Our understanding of our Heavenly Father could also be based on how we 'experience/process' the relationship with our earthly father.

            I took the time to read Numbers Chapter 15,16 and 25, as well as Chapter 33. Yes, they all describe violence in various forms.
            Though God is mentioned throughout as the Power responding to the individual developing situations, the reason/motive for the response is vested in His righteousness - Justice and Mercy. God is not arbitrary, vengeful or temperamental.
            He NEEDS to maintain His Integrity, because through these assaults His Name's integrity (claime of Authority), and with this, His established Law, is being challenged.

            To help understand the context and purpose, 'when/where/why' of these events and to know the God involved as the initiator/responder, requires one to step back and look at these accounts unemotional and with a neutral mind.

            My premise is that the essence of the Creator God is not violence and chaos, but that it is perfected harmony - based on justice and mercy.
            All His actions grow from His desire to establish peace and harmony in the face of great challenges to His Authority.

            His established universal Law of Justice coupled with Mercy provides for the employment of means and agencies to express Himself to assure that 'His Will be done', and not the will of any other power, may this be men or false gods - all being used by the userper.
            His purpose is to reveal Himself, protect and bless the loyal, and to warn and 'punish' the disloyal.

            Israel does not know their God anymore. He needs to establish Himself again as the God of Abraham and the one who saves and keeps His promises. He demonstrates His Authority over other gods when He leads the people of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land to make them His People and to assure their posterity.

            Now He attempts to win their loyalty and love, develop their relationship based on Trust all at a time when everything is still in the stages of great turmoil. 40 years and more go by whiles attempting to build this trust-relationship.
            As you know, in the end, this relationship was offerd to include all those that are faithful to His Will.

            All His acts are motivated by the sole desire to establish in the eyes of Israel an understanding of HIS INTEGRITY, that they can trust Him based on His demonstrated Love - Mercy and Justice; warnings and promises of support, because all power is vested in Him - to either reward or to condem.

            He attempted to engender loyalty from His people, to whole-heartedly accept HIM to be their sovereign, caring Ruler. Experience demonstrated that they can trust His Word.

            This is the overarching theme or context regarding all the events noted in these passages and defines the God that blesses the people that love Him, showes mercy to those that carelessly ignore Him, and punishes those that willingly defy His Authority.

            Numbers 15:39-41 - v.41 I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord your God. He declares Himself to be their God.
            Numbers 16:30,38-40 - the people's open provocation caused a radical response, but God accepted Aaron's atonement and stayed the plague. Mercy mitigated justice.

            Numbers 25:1-18 - again God's Integrity, His Justice and Mercy is being challenged. Israel is going after false gods which God warned would destroy them.
            God's employment of severe and drastic means, familiar to the people in a land embroiled in constand conflict with its neighbors, establishes that this affront to His Authority can not be allowed. The act of Justice comes first, the act of Mercy follows.

            v. 11 - Phinehas .. hath turned my wrath away while he was zealous for MY sake among them (qualifying the act by showing motive), that I consumed not the children of Isreal in my jealousy. Phinehas receives a blessing.

            v. 17,18 - "Vex the Midianites, and smite them; for they wex you with their wiles ....". God's warning and advise is established from His core of Righteousness. His righteous 'anger' is kindled when protecting His Integrity.

            Numbers 33:50-56 - Land belonging to others is being invaded by kings and tribes throughout the ages; this is the way of men.
            But God's plan is motivated by His desire to redeem us; to establishe His eternal Kingdom on earth. He goes about it in the way that can be justified by His righteousness.
            v.53 - God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham.
            v.55 - God cautions them to be aware of the threat arrising from those "which ye let remain of them (,they) shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell".
            v.56 - A forwarning given by a loving God protecting the safety of His chosen People because there is a greater purpose to be accomplished.

            God is just, merciful and kind - the record of His Righteousness is established throughout the ages as written down in the Scriptures.
            When we decide to place our Faith in Him we can trust Him because He has proven to be trustworthy.

            Amen!(0)
          • Phil, so God just went away while His Truth was being translated into another language? He has no control over His Word? The scripture tells us otherwise doesn't it(Ps 33:11; 100:5; 117:2, Isa 40:8)?

            If the word of God is inaccurate as it comes to us, then we are left to depend on whichever human scholar we consider the most reliable aren't we? Since you quote her often, what does Ellen say in regard to this idea?

            Amen!(0)
          • No Robert, God did not go away while the Bible was being translated. God is Sovereign but that does not mean that he controls every aspect in this temporal space. Satan and evil are allowed room to work also. Hence the Cosmic Conflict. Thus Satan is also at work and although God ultimately limits how far Satan is free to operate, Satan is allowed to influence things considerably (see Job 2:3).

            On the matter of whether God's word is "inaccurate", it depends of what you mean by inaccurate. God's word is truth (John 17:17). It is not God's truth that is inaccurate - it is our perception of truth that varies in accuracy. Why are we studying Bible interpretation this quarter if no interpretation principles are needed? I am not implying that interpretation apart from the Holy Spirit is all that is needed. Fundamentally, the Holy Spirit is critically needed. And the Holy Spirit has, across time, guided people to uncover principles that help us more accurately perceive God's truth.

            With regard to the process of Bible translation, consider Martin Luther's translation efforts. When he translated, he translated through his presuppositions about things. Some of those presuppositions were inaccurate - but Martin did the best he could at the time. One of the things we see in Scripture is that God uses people despite their limitations - He does not remove their limitations.

            In regard to Ellen White's view on things, she acknowledged there were likely ("all probable") copyist and translator mistakes, but that these should not be a stumbling block to searching out truth. Also, do a search in her writings using the search term 'God the destroyer' and see what you uncover.

            Amen!(0)
          • Thank you Phil, appreciate your response. I have seen what Ellen writes concerning "God as destroyer", but I don't think this is the true discussion. Isn't it about God as the source of life and the Sovereign over all He has created? Let us look at what Ellen has shared in many of her writings such as GC 541, 543, 627, and 672-673, just to share a few from that book. She has also addressed the idea some have promoted(long before our present day) that God does not destroy. Interesting to see the balance on this subject that seems to trouble some people. I agree the wicked choose their own destruction, and yes, God is love, in Him is no evil, and He will find no pleasure in the death of the wicked required to eradicate sin forever. However, some have come to reason that justice would be evil if it results in death, which God never intended to be part of His creation, yet there would be no true freedom if choice was never allowed, and no peace if justice isn't served at last. Again, in Ex 34:6,7 God declares His glory before Moses and we can read for ourselves all that He revealed to him. Could He be righteous without being just with the wicked who seek to destroy the righteous?

            So I'm wondering if you believe all translations need a commentary? Is God's word "incorrect" as it reads? Would the common people of this earth be deceived without having the Word of God explained by, who, learned people? What fallen human do you trust enough to explain God's word and thus, His will, to you? How much higher education would be required to know the truth as God has given it(Prov 22:20,21)? Was a 12 year old Jesus who was home-schooled by His mother able to understand the word of God? Did He posses an advantage over all others? Ellen promotes the idea of accepting God's word just as it reads unless an obvious symbol is employed. IF translators have changed the meaning of God's word into something erroneous, then God has lost control of His word. Is that safe to say? Does this seem reasonable to accept? I feel sorry for any who believe God is unable to keep His word pure, leaving sinners at the mercy of "learned" men. This was/is the claim of popes.

            Perhaps the idea of destroying, as we see it manifested in a sinful world, is being used by some to understand how God would "destroy" sin and sinners in the end? (If not God, then WHO will cause sin and its results to no longer exist? Will Satan do this?! Who or what else could we consider in bringing this about? Remember who the war is between.)

            In the Revelation, chapter 14, two harvests are used as illustrations for what will come to pass. Who is doing this? Who is the One that reaps in the end, and what is being reaped from each harvest? Keep in mind where every breath and pulse comes from, where every life originates from, and how it is sustained until it is at last brought to an end(HOW?).

            Can we see in the contemplation of this theme that we are unable to fully comprehend Him who's ways and thoughts are higher than ours as the heavens are above the earth?

            Illustration: a master builder constructs a beautiful home, but time and lack of maintenance have left it derelict and too hazardous to remain. So this same master builder removes/destroys the once beautiful home and builds a new and even more beautiful one in it's place. Did he do evil in removing the hazardous building?

            Regarding this quarter's lesson on "How to Interpret Scripture", what does the Bible teach us regarding this subject? It would not require 13 week to answer this question from the Bible.

            Amen!(2)
          • Brigitte, my reply is according to how I understood your comment above.

            I can't say I feel "anguish" over anything. I do feel an accountability when it seems the Word of God is being promoted to say what I cannot support by it. In remaining silent, one would appear approving. I know this goes both ways, and I pray that these discussions will lead God's people to a right understanding, as far as it is possible to do so. Some things will only be understood on the other side.

            You wrote: "My premise is that the essence of the Creator God is not violence and chaos, but that it is perfected harmony - based on justice and mercy.
            All His actions grow from His desire to establish peace and harmony in the face of great challenges to His Authority."

            Consider the Word of God which states there was war in heaven, which continues on this earth. God did not create sin or a sinner. This arrived by the choice of the perpetrator who was created with a free will and a clear choice. This invasion has brought suffering and death to many who were innocent, and some who weren't. God paid an infinite price to restore the first dominion, including every sinner who would repent, and in doing so, those who insist to remain in rebellion must need to answer to the Righteous Judge and receive their just "reward"(Rev 22:12, Eccl 12:13,14, Matt 25, parable of sheep and goats) according to their works. God thus works to restore "perfected harmony-based on justice and mercy".

            How can a righteous and faithful Sovereign do anything less?

            The difficulty seems to be in trusting that God is not wicked while dealing with this eternal life-threatening peril that exists. In Daniel 2 it is the Stone that removes all that is represented by the image, by whatever means God has chosen(which scripture often depicts as a cleansing fire). Revelation 14 shows an angel coming from within the temple in heaven with a sharp sickle who then harvests the "vine of the earth"(same general meaning as the metal image of Daniel 2, but including all sinners since the beginning). Simple to draw an accurate interpretation from these and other illustrations of the same event. Or so it would seem.

            Would you consider the surgical removal of a life/threatening tumor to be too violent, and the surgeon as evil? Imagine if you needed such a surgery in a world that had no anesthesia! Or, would you stop a rabid animal from attacking your children? Is there a nice way to do this? What would be your motive? Would you consider yourself evil to save them by destroying the great threat? Would your children, or anyone else, think you to be evil? What would they think if you did nothing in order to be "kind" to the rabid animal(1 Peter 5:8)?

            God made man in His image, and able to choose, otherwise our "love" would be meaningless. This involved a great risk and resulted in the entrance of sin, with all its consequences. This God will need to remove at last, and we are shown that all creation will praise Him for it. This praise will come from holy beings who experience only love, even for their enemies.

            I apologize for my delay in being able to reply any sooner.

            Amen!(0)
  14. I would also like to add Robert that you have not responded to specific questions I asked or to statements that I have shared seeking an understanding from how you view these things.

    I will ask them again:
    You say the Word is clear and not difficult to understand but yet it is often misrepresented. If I am reading the Bible they way you propose I will be confused with all of the contradictions. WHO hardened Pharaoh's heart? WHO provoked David to number Israel? WHO brought the evil upon Job? Does God create evil Himself?

    Also this quote from Ellen G White:
    "There can be no more CONCLUSIVE evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to HURT and DESTROY those who do not appreciate our work or who act contrary to our ideas." DA p.487 (emphasis mine)...Please respond to this statement.

    Also Phil shared this statement from the lesson recommended resource on last friday's lesson:
    "The Scriptures were written for the practical purpose of revealing the will of God to the human family. However, in order not to misconstrue certain kinds of statements, it is important to recognize that they were addressed to peoples of Eastern cultures and expressed in their thought patterns." What does this mean to you, Robert? Are you reading the text in a Western culture mindset or the Bible writer's way?
    What are you presuppositions about God that you are carrying in to the text before you read them?

    Amen!(1)
    • Benjamin, sorry for any delay due to time constraints. These discussions require time to read and respond to.

      Contradictions in scripture are only the product of misunderstanding. With time and prayerful study, these are always resolved. All the questions you ask are answered in God's word. The fact that many remain confounded over them does not prove the scriptures to contain contradictions.

      Your quote from DA 487 is addressing the reaction of James and John to what they felt was an insult to Jesus. This has no bearing on a merciful, gracious, longsuffering Sovereign Creator cleansing His creation from all the effects and results of sin at last, as He promised. This act is not for revenge or done in anger as sinners know anger. I'm not sure why you use this quote for this topic. The context makes it clear in it's meaning.

      As for the cultural "barrier", I have not found the Word of God to be limited to any culture, and it is too bad that some feel this barrier exists. A sincere, prayerful study would show this to not be the case. I hope others are able to see this as well. God's word is written to sinners, and is "profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." So how could it be limited to a specific culture if God is seeking to save sinners from "the uttermost part of the earth"? Any cultural particulars are explained well enough within the text as needed, and they are few and do nothing to obscure the truth from the honest seeker.

      I carry no presuppositions with me when I open the word of God. Do you? If so, why? I obviously disagree with those who insist this is impossible. They are wrong. Read Jer 29:13 and see for yourself. Why do you think Jesus said we are to be as little children? Why does He teach all to "deny himself...and follow Me"? This is all we need to do. This is about faith, not presuppositions.

      Amen!(0)
  15. Here is the actual Assyrian account of the siege of Jerusalem which begins by talking about previous conquests of other nations, and then has a section on Hezekiah:

    As for Hezekiah, the Judean, I besieged forty-six of his fortified walled cities and surrounding smaller towns, which were without number. Using packed-down ramps and applying battering rams, infantry attacks by mines, breeches, and siege machines, I conquered (them). I took out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep, without number, and counted them as spoil. He himself, I locked up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a bird in a cage. I surrounded him with earthworks, and made it unthinkable for him to exit by the city gate. His cities which I had despoiled I cut off from his land and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron and Silli-bel, king of Gaza, and thus diminished his land. I imposed dues and gifts for my lordship upon him, in addition to the former tribute, their yearly payment.
    He, Hezekiah, was overwhelmed by the awesome splendor of my lordship, and he sent me after my departure to Nineveh, my royal city, his elite troops (and) his best soldiers, which he had brought in as reinforcements to strengthen Jerusalem, with 30 talents of gold, 800 talents of silver, choice antimony, large blocks of carnelian, beds (inlaid) with ivory, armchairs (inlaid) with ivory, elephant hides, ivory, ebony-wood, boxwood,n multicolored garments, garments of linen, wool (dyed) redpurple and blue-purple, vessels of copper, iron, bronze and tin, chariots, siege shields, lances, armor, daggers for the belt, bows and arrows, countless trappings and implements of war, together with his daughters, his palace women, his male and female singers. He (also) dispatched his messenger to deliver the tribute and to do obeisance.
    (from M. Coogan, The Sennacherib Prism)

    If the account by Sennacherib fails to confirm the 185,000 dead soldiers, it confirms that the purpose of the assault on Judea was accomplished: to extract tribute and obedience from Hezekiah. Why would the King of Jerusalem choose to run after Sennacherib with massive tribute, if the Assyrians had been crushed in one night? It doesn't make sense. Both numbers--the 185,000 and the 200,150 captives-- seem to be exaggerations, as both Bible and other ancient writers were sometimes prone to do.

    Amen!(0)
    • The "actual Assyrian account' confirms that Sennacherib did not overthrow Jerusalem as he had planned to do. You don't believe that his intent was merely to lock Hezekiah "up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a bird in a cage," do you? Or do you?

      So why did Sennacherib not overthrow Jerusalem? The Bible provides the answer. God intervened by causing a great slaughter in the camp of the Assyrians, leaving 185,000 dead.

      Isaiah 37 provides an unusual amount of information in meticulous detail. But you say the number of dead is "exaggerated" because the account of Sennacherib does not mention it, and he claims that Hezekiah chased after him with tributes.

      Am I correct to assume that you place the account of the Assyrian Sennacherib on the same level as the Bible? Either or both may be using exaggeration to their advantage. They may or may not be telling the truth ... ?

      Do you or do you not believe that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with the Bible?

      Do you or do you not believe that God intervened directly in the history of Israel?

      As for me: You just demonstrated to me that false narratives by the media either controlled by the state or choosing to speak for their party of choice are nothing new. 😉

      In stark contrast stands the Bible which faithfully lists the faults and mistakes even of its heroes. The same Hezekiah whose prayers God answered in such a dramatic manner, as recorded in Isaiah 37 and Isaiah 38 is portrayed in Isaiah 39 as indulging his pride by showing off his wealth to enemy envoys who had come to find out what caused the celestial phenomenon accompanying the answer to Hezekiah's prayer. Not only was that a perfidious response to God's graciousness, but it was also utterly foolish from a political perspective. The nation would reap the result from his faithlessness and foolishness. You'd never read that sort of thing in accounts by Sennacherib or other secular leaders.

      Amen!(3)
  16. Jordan River, Kings 18:13-16 when Sennacherib first came up against the fenced cities of Judah (before the second siege of 2 Kings 19:6-35) Hezekiah did pay tribute.
    V.14 says Sennacherib received 300 talents of silver, 30 talents of gold...

    Amen!(0)
  17. The comments above raised the issue of the "Faith In Jesus"/"Faith of Jesus" translation. It is worth noting that the original Greek expression is: "pisteōs Christou Iēsou" and translates literally "faith Christ Jesus" some of the lexical references give the implied preposition "from". The original Greek does not give a preposition so the use of "in" or "of" is quite possibly a reflection of the theology of the translators. I do not have a quarrel with the "of" translation but it illustrates the issue of basing a doctrinal position on a particular translation. And as a footnote, I rather like the "from" that the lexicons give the passage - but that is probably a reflection of my own theological views.

    Amen!(5)
    • Hello Maurice, yes, as you shared, that is how it reads in the original text. For me, it works with both "in" and "of". Jesus said that without belief "in" Him, the sinner "shall die in your sins"(John 8:24). Faith "in" Him will lead to a life that will live as He lived, work as He worked, being our Example in both faith and living. In fact, He said those who follow Him will do "greater works than these"(John 14:12). As Jesus "went about doing good", so will those who follow wherever He leads.

      He tells us that as He was sent into the world, He sends us into the world. His good works glorified God, and so will ours(Matt 5:16). Yet without (faith "in") Him, we can do nothing(John 15:5).

      Jesus' faith is best illustrated by His prayer in Gethsemane: "Not my will, but Thine be done". We must have this faith "of" Jesus ourselves.

      Amen!(1)
      • Robert, not to belabor the point any further, my effort to clarify the 'of' versus the 'in' (Rom.3:21) - the knowing through who's faith God's righteousness was imparted to us -, our faith or Jesus' faith, was at the heart of the point I attempted to make.

        Yes, our faith in Jesus opened our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit which will now lead us into all truth and inspire us unto all good works.
        I will leave it with this and withdraw from discussing this matter further. The Holy Spirit is much better equipped to deal with interpreting Scripture than human language can.

        Amen!(0)

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