God is Not a
What has been studied so far of the
revelation of God’s character as provided by Christ and the cross, is only
the barest beginning of what may be learned of God through this means.
Volumes could be written on Christ’s life as the unfolding of the Father’s
character, and the temptation to write at much greater length on this aspect
is very strong but must be curbed when consideration is given to the purpose
and limited scope of one volume.
All that can be
learned beyond what has already been presented is a deepening and expanding
of it. There will be no necessity to abandon or revise the position already
laid down, or the great verities unfolded. There can be no mistaking the kind
of Heavenly Father introduced to us by the Saviour in every act and word of
His ministry. It is the picture of a God filled with love and compassion,
Whose mercy endures forever, Who does not condemn or destroy but seeks only
and ever to save. As a king, He is different from any earthly king. As a
judge, there is no other like Him. No earthly ruler or empire provides us
with an illustration of this great and wonderful God.
But this is not how
we have viewed Him in the Old Testament, There we have seen Him as a stern
God Who maintained His authority by superiority of power and knowledge. We
have seen Him as One Who spelled out His law as the symbol of His authority and called upon men to obey it as a test of their loyalty. Thus, even
though unwittingly, we have seen Him as a self-centered God. We have failed
entirely to see the provision of the law as a love gift to save us from
destruction. Therefore, we have failed to see God as One in Whom there is no
Having seen the
nature of the law in this light, it has been natural to conclude that when
the plagues fell upon Egypt, the fire upon the Sodomites, the flood upon the
world in Noah’s time, and every other such incident, God was demonstrating
that He was not to be ignored, trifled with, or disobeyed. We looked upon God
as personally upholding His position and authority. The utter destruction of
the many or the few as the case may be, we have regarded as a just act on God’s
part to terrify the remainder into obedience and thus into personal favor
with God. Anyone who stops to think about it will quickly see that, unless he
has been converted from it, this is the concept which he has held.
But it is not the view of God which Jesus
Nor it is the picture of God which
It was an altogether different God of
Whom Jesus came to speak.
Are we to hold two
differing views of God, one as presented in the Old Testament and the other
as proclaimed by Christ?
God forbids that.
He sent His Son with the commission to reveal Him as He is and thus to sweep
away the sad misconceptions developed prior to the appearance of Christ. Therefore,
we cannot hold two conflicting views of God, justified by categorizing each
different view as meet for different situations. God is the same yesterday,
today and forever. He never changes. Sin has not and cannot change Him. It
could not change Him unless it should become part of Him. That it has never
done and never will do. Lucifer, angels, and men never destroyed until sin
entered. Sin changed them. Then, they became destroyers. When the religion of
Christ truly takes hold of a man, he ceases to be a destroyer. It is as
simple as that.
God has never
sinned, therefore He has never destroyed.
If we cannot hold
any other view of God than that presented by Christ, how are we to understand
God’s actions in the Old Testament? The majority will object that the
pictures in the Old Testament are so clear
that it would be impossible to view God in any other than the traditional
This is exactly
where the mistake has been made. There is more than one way of looking at God’s
actions in the Old Testament. Viewed through the colored lens of human preconceptions,
it seems that there is only one way—the
obvious way. But this is not so. Furthermore, when the implications of the
standard view of God as held in the past are considered, then God is
characterized in the worst possible light.
The time has come, therefore, to
reconsider God’s ways in the Old Testament. This time His actions will be
studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary and which flowed
from the life and lips of Christ.
A beginning might
be made almost anywhere in the Old Testament wherein are recorded numerous
incidents where God appeared as an actor in the human arena. The starting
point chosen will be the story of Pharaoh, ling of Egypt.
The story is well
known to Bible students. It has been told to us from our mother’s knee.
The mighty Pharaoh,
in his day the greatest king in the world, stood defiantly athwart God’s purpose
to release His people from Egyptian bondage. But when a certain point of time
was reached, the Lord called Moses and sent him with a message to the king.
He was commanded to set the people free with the warning that should he refuse,
plague after plague would descend upon the hapless Egyptians.
The king did
refuse. The plagues came until the king’s power was broken and he was obliged
to release the captives.
In studying this event,
the average person sees God as the Almighty One Who power is limitless.
Backed by the power and the right to do so by virtue of His position as
Creator and Ruler of the Universe, He rightly and justly orders Pharaoh to
release the Israelites. But Pharaoh is defiant
and is prepared to resist God’s power. This, it is generally
accepted, leaves God with no option but to obtain by force what the king will not surrender willingly. People
generally do not question either Gods justice or right in dealing with the
monarch as they see Him doing.
outpouring of destruction on Egypt, and the king’s steady resistance of this
pressure until the very end, is seen by most as being a contest of power
between God and the king. They see it as physical
power versus physical power. They do not doubt that God will win, for He
has the greater power, and, in the end, after a protracted struggle, He does.
In viewing this as
a contest between two great powers, people see the plagues as direct
instruments wielded in the hand of God against the hapless Egyptians. They
see the flies, the lice, the frogs, the hail, the murrain, the darkness, the
boils, etc., as God direct work. These things were sent upon the Egyptians, it
is believed, because God decided that this was the way they should be
humbled. Then, having decided it, the Lord specifically gathered these forces
and directed them against His enemies.
Nor is this all.
Because the Lord desired to really show the nations of the world that He was
not One to be trifled with, He raised up a Pharaoh who was unusually tough,
defiant, powerful, and resilient. Such a king, because he would fight
doggedly to the very end, provided God with the opportunity to manifest how
great He was, whereas a weaker king would have given in before the Lord had
the chance to demonstrate the full range of His judgmental powers.
The same situation
exists in the world of human contest and combat. A world champion boxer will
not enter the ring with a novice or amateur. The man whom he fights must also
be of championship class so that the champion can demonstrate his skill,
strength, and endurance. If his opponent was so inexperienced and weak as to
go down with the fist blow, then the champion would be deprived of the
opportunity to display the full extent of his skill and power.
Let the reader
pause here and carefully consider the picture of the Egyptian episode as
presented above. Such a check will certify that this is the way in which most
people view God’s behavior there. Furthermore, when the subject is brought up
for further study, the average person will be surprised that it should, for
he feel that the whole matter is settled, and no other verdict is possible.
That response is an
instant revelation that he has simply accepted this view of God as being
correct. To him, that is unquestionably just what the Scriptures say.
There is no denying
that when interpreted in the usually accepted way, that is what the
Scriptures can be understood to say. For instance, consider such verses as
“And the Lord said
unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother
shall be thy prophet.
“Thou shalt speak
all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that
he send the children of Israel out of his land.
“And I will harden
Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.
“But Pharaoh shall
not hearken unto you, that I may lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth Mine
armies, and My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by
“And the Egyptians
shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, and
bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7:1-5.
“And in very deed
for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee My power; and that
My name may be declared throughout all the earth.” Exodus 9:16.
“For the scripture
saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I
might shew My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout
all the earth.” Romans 9:17.
“The Lord would
give the Egyptians an opportunity to see how vain was the wisdom of their
mighty men, how feeble the power of their gods, when opposed to the commands
of Jehovah. He would punish the people of Egypt for their idolatry, and
silence their boasting of the blessings received from their senseless
deities. God would glorify His own name, that other nations might hear of His
power and tremble at His mighty acts, and that His people might be led to
turn from their idolatry and render Him pure worship.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 263.
“Still the heart of
Pharaoh grew harder. And now the Lord sent a message to him, declaring, ‘I
will at this time send all My plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy
servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like
Me in all the earth. . . . And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee
up, for to show in thee My power.’ Not that God had given him an existence
for this purpose; but His providence had overruled events to place him upon
the throne at the very time appointed for Israel’s deliverance. Though this
haughty tyrant had by his crimes forfeited the mercy of God, yet his life had
been preserved that through his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His
wonders in the land of Egypt. The disposing of events is of God’s providence.
He could have placed upon the throne a more merciful king, who would not have
dared to withstand the mighty manifestations of divine power. But in that
case the Lord’s purposes would not have been accomplished. His people were permitted to experience the grinding
cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be deceived concerning the
debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing with Pharaoh, the Lord
manifested His hatred of idolatry, and His determination to punish cruelty
and oppression.” ibid., 267, 268.
These are the
references and statements to which people point as support for their view
that God wielded the powers of force in His own
almighty hands to compel Pharaoh to release the Israelites. To
human minds trained for so long to think of God as doing things man’s way,
the Scriptures provide weighty support to such arguments and views. The
deeper and correct message of these writings totally escapes those whose interpretations
of God’s Word are guided by this concept. It is hoped that what follows will
correct such sad misconceptions of our Wonderful Father.
That which should
alert every mind to the erroneous nature of such conclusions, is the
extremely bad light into which God is placed by them. Such teachings, no matter
how well meaning the teacher may be, nor how deeply sincere his professions
of love for God, are declaring that the ways of God and of criminal
organizations are identical.
Note the following
The agents of a
large criminal organization come to a certain business man from whom they
wish to obtain regular payments. The services they offer are “protection.”
courageously refuses to make these “contributions” whereupon the syndicate
resorts to a tried and proven method of obtaining their objective. They
possess powers of force in the form of destructive weapons. These they now
wield, though they do not, at first, go all the way. They begin by smashing
his plate glass store windows and emptying the displays in the gutter.
This first blow is
relatively mild, but as the owner continues to refuse, they hit him harder
and harder until he is literally pounded into submission.
No descent citizen,
no Christian, can approve of these tactics. All would fear to be subjected to
them, yet, oddly enough, they accept it as perfectly right and just in God,
for that is exactly how they regard His behavior in Egypt.
Here is how the
Almighty is understood to have solved the Egyptian problem. God desired the
release of His people. He came to Pharaoh and demanded this, but the courageous
king refused to obey. In God’s hands were mighty weapons of destruction, and with
these He struck the Egyptian monarch a deadly blow. He did not unleash all He
could have, so as to give opportunity for compliance with His demands.
When this was not
forthcoming, God struck Egypt again and again until the king and people were pounded into submission. Thus the
nation did under compulsion what it would not do any other way.
Anyone who candidly
thinks about the standard view of the Egyptian plagues will recognize that
this is a correct analysis of how God is seen as behaving.
Immediately, it is
evident that his places God in the same class as the crime syndicate. It
means that the methods used by the world’s leading criminals to secure their
ends are those used by God.
realization comes, the question of how we shall relate to it arises. There
should be a great awakening to the need of obtaining a reversed and corrected
view of God’s activities in Egypt.
But this is seldom
so. Marvellous are the powers of the human mind to rationalize. As a sample
of this I cite a conversation held with a highly educated person who
mentioned that God does personally raise His righteous hand in which are held
weapons of destruction to destroy the disobedient. Specifically, the
conversation turned to ancient Egypt.
He agreed that his
view of the situation was that God desired and demanded of Pharaoh the
release of His people.
The king refused.
God then struck a
first blow to show that He was not speaking idly.
The king was not
struck blow after blow until Egypt was pounded into submission.
That is, God
achieved His purpose by the direct use of force when all else had failed.
immediately saw, with great clarity, that criminal organizations use the same
They desire and
The person involved
They strike the first blow to
demonstrate that they mean their threats.
continues to resist.
Therefore, they hit him again and again
until he is forced to concede.
That is, they achieve by force that
which they otherwise could never gain.
I was most
encouraged to see how clearly this man recognized the nature of his belief
about God and that he could see that the syndicate operated in the same way
as he understood god did. I naturally expected him to admit that he had never
quite realized this before and that he was startled to see the real
implications of his belief.
Instead, I was
given a demonstration of the power of the human mind to rationalize.
Unhesitatingly he said: “Of course God
uses the same methods as criminals. What makes the difference is God’s intention. He does it with a good
intention for the benefit of others. The criminal does it all for self.”
“In that case,” I
replied, “you are saying that the end
justifies the means used.”
He stoutly denied
this, though the fact was inescapable that his argument was exactly that.
Here it is in simple terms.
The means used by
the criminal were unjustified because the end was selfish. The same means
used by God were justified because the end was unselfish.
One this line of
reasoning has become established, any crime can be justified. During the Dark
Ages millions of fine people were martyred on the basis of this rationale.
The end can never justify the
Let every true
child of God forever reject such a philosophy. There is no place for it in
the ways, character, and government of God’s church. God has never worked
like this and never will.
All His ways are
ways of righteousness and peace.
Any belief that God
and the criminal use the same methods must be forever denied by the testimony
of God Himself, when He said, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Isaiah
Do we believe God?
Shall we hold to a plain, “Thus saith the Lord”?
Then we must deny
the long-held traditional view of God’s behavior in Egypt because it makes
God’s ways to be the ways of wicked men.
There is no issue
in regard to God’s intentions versus the intentions of criminals. With few
exceptions, every person would admit that God intends only good, while the
motivation of wicked men is purely selfish and cruel. There is no question
about this, so much so that this book is not even involved with discussing or
proving that the intentions of God and man are different. They are different.
This we accept as a fact.
What this book is
devoted to proving is that the methods of God and of men are different. It
aims to develop the unshakable conviction that God’s men are different. It
aims to develop the unshakable conviction that God’s words in Isaiah 55:8, 9. Mean exactly what they
say. It will demonstrate that the methods used by God when dealing with those
who oppose Him are not different from man’s ways in only some respects: they
are totally different. No
resemblance between them can be found.
God is not a God of
force. This is a weapon he never uses.
“God could have
destroyed Satan and his sympathizers as easily as one can cast a pebble to
the earth; but He did not do this. Rebellion was not to be overcome by force.
Compelling power is found only
under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His
authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these
principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth and
love are to be the prevailing power.” The
Desire of Ages, 759.
“The exercise of
force is contrary to the principles of God’s government. He desires only the
service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or
authority.” ibid. 22.
rule by the ascendancy of physical power; but from Christ’s kingdom every
carnal weapon, every instrument of coercion, is banished.” Acts of the Apostles, 12.
“In the work of
redemption there is no compulsion. No external force is employed. Under the
influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will
serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ,
there is the highest sense of freedom.” The
Desire of Ages, 466.
“God does not
employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from
the heart.” The Mount of Blessing, 77.
The message of
these statements is clear. The use of compelling power is found only under
Satan’s government. Herein lies at least one great distinction between the
way of God and the ways of Satan and men. The only course they know by which
to build their kingdoms and achieve their ends is by employing force. If God
builds His kingdom by using compelling power, as so many believe, then His
and man’s ways are the same. But they are not. Man rules by compulsion. God
does not employ this means at all. Therefore, the standard view of what God
did in Egypt is a false one, needing to be replaced by another.
While it is sound
Scriptural truth that God did not use force to obtain the release of the Israelites,
or other objectives at any time in history, it cannot be concluded that He
was neither present nor active in the Egyptian situation. He certainly was
there, working with great intensity and purpose, but along very different
lines from those generally supposed.
An entirely new and
correct understanding is now needed of the role played by God that will
harmonize with the following principles:
God must be seen as doing only that which
Christ lived and taught.
He must not be seen
relating to this problem as sinful man would relate to it, e.g., y using
force to solve it.
must be in righteousness. As the law is the definition and limitation of
righteousness, and as God’s character is the transcript of the law, then all
that God did must be within these principles. As the law says “Thou shalt not
kill.” Then God did not destroy or kill in the land of Egypt.
Any teaching or
view which sees God as operating other than within these limits is erroneous,
and must be rejected as such. It is not the teaching of Christ and is
therefore of the devil.
argued here call for a restudy of the Egyptian incident. The long-closed case
must be reopened and a new verdict obtained—one which will indeed reveal God
as He is—
The Lord our
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