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Archive for April, 2014

In this world, things which God must suffer to exist often overshadow that which he desires. We don’t always enjoy this world, and we can get many mistaken ideas about God’s will, but he doesn’t like the way things are either. God must even allow us the freedom to doubt him if we are so inclined, and many false beliefs arise in this mist of misunderstanding.

The following verses show a difference between the desire of God, and that which he must allow. Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” In that verse, mercy is the thing desired, whereas sacrifice is something that must exist. Just as we sometimes must do things that we would rather not, so it is with God, and his cross is heavier than ours.

Second Peter 3:9 says the Lord is, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” According to that verse, everyone would be saved if God’s heart’s desire were fulfilled. Many wonderful things simply do not happen because even though God is willing, we are not (Luke 13:34). We need to pray for God to help us in spite of our reluctance.

I’ve been writing about Genesis 8:20-9:17, Noah, and sacrifice in particular, but I’m going to leave that subject for now. Genesis 9:2-6 is about God suffering man to attempt to govern the earth. Those verses hint of civic duty in regard to other people, and of responsibility to God. The idea is for man to become involved in establishing order to offset the natural tendency toward chaos. In the process, man should learn something about God, and about himself.

God desires human beings to exercise self-control, but when that fails, some form of law must come into play. Galatians 3:19 tells us that the law was “added” because of transgressions. Laws and rules don’t make anything perfect (Hebrews 7:19), but they allow society to function. We’ve heard the argument that morality cannot be legislated, and that’s true of the inner morality of the heart which God desires, yet all laws are an attempt to control outward morals.

By the same token, love cannot be legislated, yet God tells us to love. Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40 that all biblical law can be summed up by the commandments to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourself. Commanding us to love doesn’t make it happen, nor is love always an easy thing, but it lets us know where God stands.

Genesis 9:2-6 doesn’t give a lot of rules, but in those verses, God states his opposition to “the shedding of man’s blood.” At the same time, he upholds the right of man to exact judgement rather than restraining it as he did in Cain’s case (Genesis 4:8-15). God suffered the establishment of governments, even though his own blood would be shed in a terrible misapplication of justice under the Romans. The alternative to government is chaos, and “every man for himself.”

In spite of chance, and God’s gracious intervention at times (Ecclesiastes 9:11, and Romans 9:16), history furnishes endless records of injustices forced upon people by those more powerful than themselves. The animal kingdom also suffers under man. In Genesis 9:2-4, which I wrote of in an earlier post, God sanctions the use of animals for food to sustain human life. A commandment is given that the animal not be eaten alive. You might think that such a command would be unnecessary, but maybe we should take a closer look at man’s appetite.

On 3-21-14, there was an article on foxnews.com about animals that are eaten alive by humans around the world, so, this wasn’t something done only when man was less civilized. Debates about animal cruelty are currently occurring over these practices. Man’s dominion is over that of the animal kingdom, but that doesn’t mean that God approves of man’s cruelty.

Genesis 9:2-4 is often taken only as a command against the eating of blood (ref, Leviticus 17:11-12, Hebrews 10:4-10), but I believe in a stricter interpretation of the verse. Without its blood, the animal is dead, and released from further suffering. God cares for all his creation, and his covenant in Genesis 9:12-13, is not only with man, but with all living creatures. One day, when God’s dominion over the earth is finally established, peace will come to our world, and to the animal kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9).

This is a world in transition, and earth’s creatures are transient beings, but this is only the beginning for us; not the destination, and not the end. There is a┬árainbow; the token of the promise of God. I’m praying to write something about the rainbow next, but the truth seems to be as elusive as the rainbow itself.

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