I have come to find that writing through the Scriptures benefits me in that it forces me to slow down and reflect. I am in the process of writing through Deuteronomy and this passage cause me to take a pause Deuteronomy 4:26-27.
I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that you will quickly perish from the land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not live long there, but you will certainly be destroyed.
The Lord will scatter you among the peoples and you will be reduced to a few survivors among the nations where the Lord your God will dive you. (CSB)
This was a promise to the Hebrews in which God eventually upheld. He promised to almost completely obliterate them if they allowed sin to rule their lives. Especially if that sin was the worshiping of idols. For some this is not the Sunday school version of Jesus they remember but nerveless this is the God of the Bible. Does that bother you? Are you thinking of reasons that cannot be and seeking to explain it away?
Does God bring horrible destruction upon his own people?” The Biblical answer is, yes.
Many unbelieving part time theologians like to point fingers at this harsh God of the Old Testament. In his book, “The God Delusion” atheist Richard Hawkins says it like this.
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Is this true? Do Christians worship this hate filled god? The Biblical answer is most assurdely, no. Often these accusers leave out why God does things and who He is. God held his own people to a higher standard than the nations around them. The Israelites where to be a beacon to the rest of the world. They were to bring peace and joy to the dark, twisted, and depraved cultures around them. God desires all of men to be saved and to the knowledge of truth (1Tim. 2:4). Sadly we do not live in a perfect world but in a world filled with disobedience to God’s loving ways. Interestingly the Israelites more frequently turned into the cultures they were to reach with the Gospel (good news) of Yahweh than effect them with God’s message. Does this sound familiar to our world today?
What is fascinating is how Yahweh allowed the Israelites to fall deeper and deeper into their treacherous sin. He would allow them to worship man-made gods, sacrifice their own infants, and preform horrendous sexual acts in pagan temples. What we find is God will allow His people to choose sin and allow that sin to bring them to a point of almost complete destruction. This truth speaks volumes to the Christian American culture of today. The sexual sin so many Christian men hide from others so often leads them to a path where they loose so much, even their families. It is not that God desires families to be split or sin to grow but he does allow it. Many have seen how the gossiping and hateful lips of believers can cause tragic church splits or lead others to depression. The Scriptures are clear that if we choose to roll around in sin, God will allow us to choke on it.
God is not just turning a blind eye or simply allowing the destruction of the Israelites but he is the one who is in full charge of it. To say he is just turning a blind eye shows a lack of knowledge of the text in Deuteronomy. God promises he will bring destruction on his people if they decide to live in sin. He is not the one who brings sin into our lives but he allow it to do its work.
How far is too far?
Honestly the Creator of all could completely wipe us out and still be justified. God would still be a holy God even if our sin completely obliterated us (it is what we deserve). That is why the love of Christ is so incredible. God is justified in letting our sin destroy us but thank the Lord he saves us from it’s complete work. If we love Him he will not leave us to our own devices. We worship an active, loving, and merciful Savior. Reading through Deuteronomy 4 God gives a detailed description of his faithfulness. God is extremely patient with this new generation of Hebrews in that he reminds them of his goodness and amazingly promises to always be available, even in their sinfulness (Deut. 4:30-31)! God goes on to give a highly convincing speech on why he is the God to follow. In essence he says to the Israelites, “What Egyptian or pagan god proves his faithfulness and love like I do?”. The answer is, no god. No false god in the Old Testament would have ever justified or proved themselves to their worshipers. Yahweh’s mercy and grace in this piece of scripture is jaw dropping in its context.
God’s discipline those he loves and so His discipline proves his love. Hebrews 12:5-6 teaches us how we are to view and understand God’s discipline.
My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives. (CSB)
I wrote this because I do not want to take the Lord’s discipline lightly but at the same time I need to understanding he loves me through it.
God uses sin as a tool?
What Deuteronomy shows is that God can actually use sin as a disciplinary tool! Wow, God can turn something he hates into something He can use to bring us back to Himself. That is not to say God plays around with sin but he will allow it to cripple us to a point in which we come crawling back to Him. Some might say, “does that not encourage disobedience among believers if God allows this much sin but there to save ?” Not if you have actually lived through raved disobedience where everything was taken from you or your sin had been completely exposed to a world of excited viewers. There is nothing we hate more than being caught in our own mistakes and our sin coming back around to take a piece out of us.
What should you take from this?
Do not mistake a God given trial with sinful disobedience. Sometimes we are going through impossible and destructive times because we are living in disobedience. God will bring destruction into our lives because his love is too strong to leave us there. It is also vital to remember bad times do not always equal disobedience. What pulls me through a trial or disobedience is that God is here to guide me at anytime if I come back to Him. We do not need to go on a internal hunt to find out if a current circumstance is because of sin or a trail from God. No matter if it is a God given trail or sinful disobedience seeking God will pull us through both. The closer I draw to Christ the more aware of my sins I become. The closer I draw to Christ the more courage I have to walk through trails. Therefore you are to draw close to Christ and let him guide you through difficult times.