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Tuesday: Divine Retribution — 21 Comments

  1. This portion of the lesson counters the doctrine that is embraced by not a few members, who believe that God,personally, does not punish people for sin.
    They believe it is not consistent with the correct concept of the character of God. The belief is that humans/beings just naturally suffer the consequences of their decisions. This concept is a subtle form/spin of deism.
    The study of Job & theodicy is supposed to help readers & members to not be victims of a deist God and yet one can fall into another subtle deist spin by ignoring scripture and formulating a non punishing God.

    • I had not thought of the "God never kills" teaching as a "subtle form of deism," but now that I think of it, I believe you have a point.

      Deism teaches that God created the world and the laws governing it and then left it to its own devices. Thus the teaching that God does not interfere in the life of humanity in direct judgment of sin and sinner could, indeed, be a "subtle form of deism." It limits God's involvement of humanity.

      If this were a form of deism, the consistent corollary would be that God does not interfere in humanity by performing miracles, but I have not seen that taught by those who teach that God never kills. So perhaps it is just a matter of not understanding that God's judgments are also acts of mercy? Otherwise we are left with the awkward scenario of Satan being a very obedient slave of God, always dealing out consequences in exact accordance with God's judgments. But then, that still doesn't absolve God of "killing," because He is certainly responsible for what He commands.

      The bottom line is that a teaching that requires a lot of re-interpretation of Scripture is not likely to lead to a correct understanding of the truth about God.

      • Since most readers here have heard the expression, "we become what we behold", (derived from 2 Cor 3:18)this concept of how involved God is results in how people behave/interact, and how involved they are. In a practical sense...the concept/doctrine that one embraces motivates or prevents them from showing up in people's lives, properly disciplining and/or nurturing their children, and if they are just spectator at church or an active participant. Some have heard how 10% of the people at church do 90% of the work

      • As i write this comment its weeks after this lesson but for some reason i found myself back at this very lesson with more questions than answers. I have recently purposed myself to thoroughly read great controversy. To this effect, I use a study guide to aid my study (BY D. E. Robinson) and I came across an interesting question (specifically Question 9) in chapter 1 Destruction of Jerusalem.

        It reads “When men finally and irrevocably reject God, they thereby choose Satan as their ruler. What kind of master is he? Show that the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish nation was a natural consequence of their impenitence. How does this principle apply to our own time?”.

        It gets more interesting now when you go to great controversy. Commenting on the tide that befall the Jews Ellen White says “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” (Page 36 depending on version) …… and also “The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God’s mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression”.

        As Adventists, we are known for both taking the Bible as whole and accepting the SOP as inspired (i speak for myself on the latter point). In as much as we have the stories of the flood, of Miriam being struck by leprosy (the examples are many). How then do we the strike a balance so as to have a complete and untainted character of God with regards to this subject? Commenting on the book of Job chapter 4 she says “It is very natural for human beings to think that great calamities are a sure index of great crimes and enormous sins; but men often make a mistake in thus measuring character. We are not living in the time of retributive judgment.”. Is there a difference between retributive judgment and retributive punishement. I don’t usually comment much on this forum but i'm welcome for some insights that will put this paradox to light for me

        • Chamunorwa, I think you already supplied much of the answer by the quotations you chose.

          Firstly, as your third paragraph suggests, many evils that result from disobedience are the natural result of God withdrawing His protection from those who have chosen to attempt to live their lives without Him. It's nothing God actively decrees, but it is something He allows in response to humanity's free choice to live without God.

          Yet there are instances, as the rest of your comment suggests, when God actively intervenes with punishment/discipline for wrong choices. It helps to recognize that God sees the big picture; He sees the end from the beginning. And He considers not only each individual life but how that life and His actions towards each person affect the big picture. In Miriam and Aaron's case, God made very clear the Moses was His chosen spokes person, even though Aaron and Miriam also held positions of high responsibility. This was necessary so Moses could lead those 2 million or more people for all those years in the desert. This is a relatively easy example, but there are others where we cannot discern God's purpose but simply choose to trust Him because we know He is trustworthy. That's how Job was able to cope with the suffering he knew he did not deserve. And even at the end, when God spoke to Job personally and blessed him abundantly, He did not explain everything that went on behind the scenes. Job exercised faith. So must we. Saving faith is an implicit trust in God through the good times and the bad. It causes us to behave in the manner that Job did, and if not now, then in eternity we will be able to see the reasons for the suffering in this world. But even now, we can know that much of it is simply the result of sin in this world - of Satan doing his worst to try to cast blame on the character of God.

          • To Inge Anderson and Chamunorwa: My red-faced apology for accidentally touching \"dislike\"! For both of you, I meant to click \"Like\". (Yes, yes, I need to trim my nails.) Frankly, I wish the \"dislike\" choice would be eliminated; if I don\'t like something I just don\'t need to click \"Like\".

          • Update: The problem with the Like/Dislike counter is fixed - sort of. That's because Inge can modify a bit of code without quite understanding it. So there's a lot of garbage code left.

            If there's anyone reading this who understands a bit about PHP code in WP plugins and is willing to help out now and then, please contact us. We need help!

        • Chamunorwa, God does not act capriciously or without first giving warning(Amos 3:7), as in the flood which came after 120 years of faithful warning being given.

          I'm not sure what you mean about having a "complete and untainted character of God with regards to this subject". If God were in any way unjust, Satan would be the first to come out of hiding and present his complaint to all creation, but the fact that he remains hidden and works to deceive and accuse without showing his true self, speaks to God's perfect justice and untainted character. There is also a whole universe witnessing everything, and they have rejected Satan as the evil one as a result, while remaining loyal to God. They are not fooled by that which deceives most of this world's inhabitants. They see everything as we can also see it if we walk by faith in obedience to all God has given us to obey. Disobedience is the veil that allows men to believe lies(2 Thess 2:10-12).

          As for God's part in what takes place, does anyone really think God needed to goad the Romans into hating and destroying Jerusalem and it's obstinate people? If one reads the historical account, the Jews stirred up the wrath against themselves well enough, and without God's protection, it was easy for Rome to find occasion to control their insurrection, and were finally pushed into doing what they never intended to do, merely acting as the ungodly will act. God foresees and knows how men will act and has revealed to His servants "those things which must shortly come to pass"(Rev 1:1). God has only revealed what comes, and is not the doer. Yet He has also told us what HE will do and WHEN He will do it, all the while entreating every sinner with the Gospel of salvation. No one will suffer retributive judgment and it's just punishment without having first been warned.

  2. The friends of job, did not fully understand the true and real character of God. Instead, they only had little knowledge. But we see again, Job having that understanding about how God almighty is, and his true characters, did not even listen to the friends advice or consolations. For he knew, what they where talking were but empty words. God does not bring judgement on people just there and then for wrong doing. What is the purpose of his comming judgement? His judgement will come when he appears in the clouds of heaven. For he is a just God who who does not condone sin.

  3. God is God. And will not change, in all our africtions HE is God, even the time His Lovely SOn JESUS CHRIST. Was giving His life on the cross for our Sins Still HE is God

  4. True Jim, God will bring every deed to Judgement and evil will suffer its measure of wickedness as in the flood. But we must note that even in Sodom his anger towards the city was exercised after means of salvation (Jonah also) therefore in his judgement mercy abounds. But a time is coming when the full wrath of God shall be poured undiluted Revelations 14:10-11. And this is the 3rd Angels message, lets not comfort people in lies hiding impending judgement, Let us tell the world as we are transformed into the likeness of Christ that 'Another storm is coming' prepare for the Bridegroom cometh

  5. In all our remembering of God's actions, remember that He is first and foremost merciful, longsuffering and full of grace!! He saved Sodom thru Abraham long before His strange act of destruction was brought on them!!(when the five kings took Sodom and Lot captive, Abraham, God's servant, rescued everything from "the enemy"!!) God demonstrated mercy and grace before He was forced to destroy for the sake of His children's safety!!

  6. God does punish, but he punishes the sinful, he does not punish those who keep his word. The thing is we as humans can't read minds thetefore, we don't know who have sinned or not. So when we see things happening to someone, it is not our place to throw stones. We should be working on ourself even more, to make sure we are doing the right thing.

  7. We truly live in a world différant then the one we find they were living in. Being candid was to them, very acceptable. At times they did see God deal with sin directly, ( as when David's servant got struck down, in front of everyone, for touching the ark from falling over.) but people today have being defying God much bolder then that yet God still shows restraint. Yet God will deal with them when he decides to do his strange act of judgment. Then that will be the time for us to spend a 1,000 years to check the books, of why and how he did so.

  8. It all boils down to that common saying LEAVE ALL JUDGEMENT TO GOD. Our eyes cannot see the spiritual warfare and our small mind can't begin to understand. All went well for Job in the end the same cannot be said for Sodom and Gomorrah

  9. We are living in the time that is like the Sodom and Gomorrah era where our thoughts/ if not most of us are evil continually. We need to be the few who God finds favour in- though not easy, its possible through the power of the Holy spirit.

    The 3 friends pointed out the Just side of God, but through the story of the flood and Sodom/ Gomorrah, we see the both sides ( just and grace). We have hope. We have lots of examples from the past to enable us handle the present and the future i.e reference point.

  10. I love the story of Sodom and Gomorrah; it is the Perfect story of the demonstration of God's love and mercy toward this sinful world. First, I love the fact that God Himself, the Lord Jesus, come down from Heaven with His angels to get an eyewitness account of the evil of these cities before He destroys them. He didn't need to do that; He is God, he already know the evil that was going on in those cities. But He did it, came down from Heaven, because He wanted to show His love for them, and to give them one more chance to repent; or He would not have told Lot to go get any other family members and get them out of the city too (that was their opportunity to repent and leave the city as well). Abraham and Lot knew who the Lord and His angels were, without any introductions, and they immediately became to served them. The men of the cities may have still had time to serve the Lord as well, to recognize Him, to repent, and ask for forgiveness.

    Also, remember that in Amos 3:7 says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." Abraham was the closest to a prophet in his time, so that's why the Lord (Jesus) came to him to reveal His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. He didn't have to do tell Abraham anything, but He wanted us (in the 21st century) to understand who He was then, and that He is the same God now; He is the God of mercy and love. The fact that He came down here to personally save Lot and his family from disaster tell me of His abundant love for Lot and Abraham.

    We have remind ourselves to see God's love and mercy in every disaster, for there will be many other disasters before His returns. Job's friends should have reminded Job of this, that God's mercy is always mangled in with every disaster in our lives. We also have to remind ourselves that God is still on the Throne waiting over us, and He is still able to keep us evil. We still need to remind ourselves daily to repent of our own sins, and pray continually for God's help and guidance to overcome our sins, until we either are eyewitnesses of His Second Appearing or as we wait for Him in the grave. May we all meet each other on that GREAT Day!!!

    • I think you mean
      \"God is still on the Throne waiting over us, and He is still able to keep us FROM evil.\". Simple typo...

  11. As Christians, we should reflect back on what Paul says in Romans 8:28 in regards to what happens. Many a times we see examples for people who did sin in the bible but ended up making it up with God in the end.

    Happy Sabbath

  12. I believe these God-fearing men had a good knowledge of the flood, and most, if not all, of the stories that predated them now written in the Genesis account. The flood was too big for them not to know of it when not that far removed from the event themselves. Yet, when did God ever bring calamity upon the wicked without warning? When did He bring His powerful judgments against the unrepentant just because He felt like it? All that God did in the flood, the Tower of Babel and the wicked cities of the plain were to intervene on behalf of the faithful who would have gone extinct without God's interposition. Job was not a threat to others and never had warnings and entreaties from God concerning any wickedness in him.

    There is a clear difference between Job and the other "judgments" from God. No one questioned the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, yet no sin of Job is every brought to light by his friends. It seems clear that they had some serious misunderstandings about God that led them to their wrong conclusions. What else could it be? If we misunderstand God, something is wrong in our search to know Him. Perhaps such a search is actually lacking, as we are content to accept the conclusions and teachings of the "experts" rather than have a personal experience. Now why would that be the case???


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