Let me answer your question with a question: having read the Old Testament, do you really still have that image of a LOVING God?
I’ve read it many times, and I honestly do NOT get the image of a loving God, at least not during The Law (Old Testament times). At all. I believe that’s basically some fluffy marketing image that is stuck on some people’s minds.
God never changes and did not change from the Old Testament to the New. Try this, next time you read through the Old Testament, take note of each time God forgives the Jews for their horrendous sin, and covers their iniquity. Of course, He is only able to do this because of the redemptive work of Jesus actually covers the sins of God’s chosen people in the past as well as the future.
The major problem though is how people view God’s revelation of Himself in the New Testament. They get their fluffy theology from bumper stickers, Christian t-shirts and the odd verse used out of context. God’s love for us is only ever spoken of in terms of the cross. That is how he loves us.
Here are some passages for those who think God somehow ceased to be wrathful towards sin, and a righteous and just judge in the New Testament:
Jesus Said in Mathew 10-28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (The Him in this passage is God)
Jesus also said in Luke 13:22-28:
And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.
Acts 2: 1-11
"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things."
Romans 2: 5-11
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness?indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”
Excellent post! I am in agreement as to the teaching of the entire Bible. It is indeed difficult to fathom how and why God allows “good people” to suffer, but study His Word and the answers are right in there.
Some points to consider:
(1) Job was spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel (Ezk. 14:14,20 and by James in the N.T. James 5:11) as a literal, historical figure. Therefore the Bible presents Job and what happened as a literal story, albeit poetic in nature. There is nothing in the text that demands that we take this in any other way, but literal.
(2) “Why does God allow good people to suffer.” This is always a difficult question, but we need to examine what God’s Word says about “good people.” Consider this:
a) Psalm 14:1-3 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. ?The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. ?They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy?: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
b) Psalm 53:1-3: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. ?God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. ?Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
c) Ecclesiastes 7:20: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
d) Isaiah 64:6: “But we all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…”
We could go on and on and on. The point is that because of the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we are all born sinners and the stain and curse placed for that sin is transmitted to us all.
We should never look at the difficulties that were guaranteed to fallen man as something to blame God for. The fact that God doesn’t consume the whole lot of us now, is a testimony to His love and grace. The fact that He delivers any of us from our difficulites and trials – as He did Job – is also a testimony to His infinite love and care of us.
As to why God gives us a choice to love Him or not, to this I say we need to look at the picture that the Bible portrays as His relationship with us. The relationship between God and man is that of a Father and Son. Do any of you Fathers want your son to love you because you make them love you? Would you feel good if they, like a robot, would come to the door when you come home and chant “Daddy I love you,” “Daddy I love you…” in a monotone robotic voice? Or do you prefer that your kid loves you naturally because he wants to love you? Don’t you prefer if your kid comes to the door and runs and hugs you because he naturally wants to love you? Same thing with God. He could have made robots, but as Prof. X pointed out then we would have no choice at all and why would God, like a Father, want us to love Him because He made us?
It is our choice to love Him even though in this life we will have difficulties. The awesome aspect of God is that He has provided a means whereby we may be saved from the curse of sin and death, and even have hope during our most dark hours. That way is the atonement for sin made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the tree of Calvary. If any man places his or her complete faith in Him and Him alone – we too may have the peace of God and joy even through adversity. [b]
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Will you let Him into your life? [/b]