Behold Your God

 

by

 

Fred T. Wright

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Chapter 9

 

Godís Principles Under Test

 

†††† Such was the nature of the constitution of Godís government as it was in heaven before the entrance of sin. It was idealistic and realistic.

†††† It was a system providing for the absolute happiness, security, and fulfillment of the created ones both in heaven and throughout the universe. It placed at their disposal every needed power in infinite abundance together with full protection from any risk of those powers turning out of their appointed place of service to become agencies of destruction.

†††† This system worked to perfection under the conditions which existed before rebellion began. Every one of Godís subjects served Him with undivided devotion because each had the inner conviction that Godís ways were the only ways of life. They understood that the law was not a code of bondage but a wonderful protection conceived for them in the heart of infinite love.

Thus, no situation ever arose for which the use of force needed to be considered. No killing ever took place, no destruction was undertaken. Nothing arose to mar the perfect happiness of every created being.

†††† It should not be difficult to see that Godís principles of government would and did work perfectly under those conditions. So far, our study has been of that sinless period.

†††† Now the attention must be focused on the drastically changed conditions which developed after firstly angels and then men, exercised their God-given liberty to choose not to serve Him. With intense interest the entire universe looked on to see whether these principles could still operate without modification, addition, or any other changes. Would God find it necessary, after all, to personally execute punishments on those who had rebelled? Would He be compelled to solve the sin problem by exercising His infinite physical power to destroy the wrongdoers who had refused every overture of mercy?

†††† As students and others have viewed history, they have been convinced that the entrance of sin has imposed on God the necessity to take actions He was never obliged to take before. They look at the flood, the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, the plagues upon Egypt, the destruction of the rebels who worshipped the golden calf, the death of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, the liquidation of Sennacheribís army, the stoning of the Sabbath breaker, the adulterer, and Achan, and many other such instances. They read the words used to describe Godís responses and conclude from this that God did exercise force to put down rebellion, that He did punish by His own decision and decree, that He did destroy those who had rejected His last offers of mercy, and that He does not therefore give all men full liberty to yield or withhold obedience.

 

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†††† We recognize that it strongly appears that this is true, but, at the same time, we know that there is more than one way of understanding what happened. When the alternative views are considered, it will be seen that God did not behave as most have thought. It will be discerned that He neither introduced nor resorted to any measures, subsequent to the fall, which He did not employ before it.

†††† The point was developed in the last chapter that God designed His law as a protection to His creatures, not as a means of safeguarding His own position and authority. Therefore, it was emphasized, punishments were not the administration of God, but the natural outworking of casting aside the lawís protection through disobedience to it.

†††† Yet, despite the inspired teachings as to the true nature of the law, there prevails in the world today the concept that the law was made for Godís personal exaltation, His invention to produce and maintain His position of undisputed authority. Therefore, it is seen as a device calculated to exalt One at the expense of the rest.

†††† What is the origin of this teaching? Who was the first to introduce it seeing that it has no foundation in Scripture? Can the answer to this question be found?

†††† The answer is clearly written in the Scriptures wherein it is revealed when, where, and by whom these things were first taught in this world and what the result was of accepting those teachings. The origin and the effect of such teachings will be an infallible guide as to whether they are true or not.

†††† Those representations of the character and purpose of Godís law were first taught on this earth by Satan in the Garden of Eden. He presented them to the original couple with the specific purpose of enlisting them in his rebellion against God and his method was successful. The result is that there has been opened upon this world the flood tide of every sin and iniquity which can be named.

†††† A careful study of what took place in the Garden of Eden will reveal the truth of the above assertions.

†††† God had made the earth, and equipped it with all the powerful life-support systems as a love gift to Adam and Eve. Because He was interested only in receiving from them a service motivated by love, He did not place them ďbeyond the possibility of wrongdoing. God made them free moral agents, capable of appreciating the wisdom and benevolence of His character and the justice of His requirements, and with full liberty to yield or to withhold obedience.Ē Patriarchs and Prophets, 48.

†††† There is no point in saying that one has full liberty to withhold obedience if there is no opportunity to do so. Therefore, God provided them not only with full liberty to withhold obedience but also the means to do so by placing the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the Garden. That was the one tree the Lord did not give them. It was His

 

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property, not theirs. All He asked of them was to respect it as being His. If they could always do this, and teach their children the same principles, then there could never be unhappiness in the world. There could be only perfect trust and security.

†††† If they could learn perfect respect for anotherís property, there would never be any stealing, adultery, or murder. If they could respect the time belonging to another, there could never be a Sabbath breaker.

†††† This is what the law is all aboutórespect for that which belongs to another. On the first table of the law is the area of respect for that which is Godís, and on the second, for that which is manís.

†††† If Adam and Eve could not respect this tree which God has reserved for the express purpose of teaching them this lesson, then, with the principle of respect being discarded, there could only be murders, thefts, adulteries, and all such terrible outworking in the lives of men and women upon this earth.

†††† They were given the clearest warnings of this in the words, ďBut of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.Ē Genesis 2:17.

†††† It is just as important to see what the text does not say, as to see what it says. It does not say that in the day when they ate of it the Lord would destroy them. It says that they would die. Granted, the text does not spell out the way they would die, and it could be interpreted to mean that they would die at Godís hands.

†††† But Adam and Eve did not understand it that way and Satan knew this. He knew that they understood Godís words to mean that the destruction would be the result of their eating of that tree and not the act of God. Therefore, Satan set to work to destroy their confidence in that interpretation of Godís Word and to substitute it with one of his own.

†††† The certainty that Adam and Eve did understand Godís words to mean that their deaths would come because of their disobedience and not at the hand of a punishing God, is confirmed by Satan himself. This is deduced in the following way. Satan came, not to endorse Godís truth, but to overthrow it. Therefore, his interpretation of that Word was a false one designed to overthrow their faith in the real interpretation. There were only two possible ways of understanding Godís words. They either meant that God would personally kill them for disobeying Him, or they would die as a consequence of their wrong deeds. It is only necessary to ask which of the two Satan denied, to perceive which is the truth, and what he supported to know which is the error.

†††† Throughout that conversation with Eve, Satan worked up to and stressed the idea that there was no danger in eating of the tree. That would not bring death. He insinuated that there was another reason for Godís stipulations, a reason entirely motivated by self-protectionism and self-interest. Therefore, he implied, without directly saying it, that if there was

 

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any death at all it would be Godís directly administered act, not the outworking of broken law.

†††† He was too cunning to confront Eve with this counter-interpretation in the first moments of their contact. Firstly, he must inject just enough doubt into her mind to get her thoughts working in the desired direction. So he asked in an incredulous tone if it was really true that the Lord had denied to a creature so beautiful, intelligent, and worthy as herself, the right to partake of the fruit of the tree. To give more power to the suggestion ď. . . the serpent continued, in a musical voice, with subtle praise of her surpassing loveliness; and his words were not displeasing.Ē Patriarchs and Prophets, 54.

†††† In her reply, Eve misquoted Godís words, thus showing that doubt had begun to form. Whereas God has said, ďThou shalt surely die,Ē she quoted Him as saying, ďYe shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.Ē Genesis 3:3.

†††† The word ďlest,Ē denies the certainty and admits only a possibility. Her use of it transmitted to the serpent the information that her conviction of the nature of Godís law was weakening.

†††† Thus he was emboldened to make a direct attack on the law and the character of the One Who had made it. So he said to the woman, ďYe shall not surely die.Ē Verse 4.

†††† This is the attack on the law. God has said that disobedience to the law would bring death, but Satan was saying that the law could be broken with impunity. He was arguing that there is nothing in the law which affords a protection from death. Such a claim is opposite from the truth expressed by God to Adam and Eve wherein He has said that breaking the law would bring death upon the transgressor. It is the very opposite from the truths expressed elsewhere in the Word of God and as outlined in the last chapter. Eve had the choice then of whether she would believe the truth as God told it, or Satanís proposition. That choice is still ours today. We can either believe that the law is Godís loving provision to enable us to safely enjoy the wondrous blessings contained in the mighty powers He has given us, or we can believe Satanís lie that the law itself is no protection from death.

†††† Having made the assault on the law, Satan follows it with an attack on Godís character. In order to sustain his statement that breaking the law would not bring death, he said that there was another purpose for Godís saying it would. Here are his words. ďYe shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, (margin) knowing good and evil.Ē Genesis 3:4, 5.

†††† He offered an altogether different reason for the framing of the law, from the purpose envisaged by God. He represented God as One Who was deeply concerned lest any of His creatures should ascend to a position of equality with Himself, so that the glory, honor, and power which He had previously enjoyed as His own special privilege, would have to be shared with others.

 

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†††† While God had not told them, and for very good reason, Satan insinuated, there were in that tree certain magical properties which would project those who partook of it, into a gloriously superior station in the universe. While God had not revealed this to them, Satan continued, He certainly knew about it and was desperately afraid that they would partake of the tree and thus become equal with Himself. In order to be secure from such a terrible contingency, He had invented the device of putting into them a fear of eating of the tree.

†††† This was the base from which Satan would later develop the teaching that it is God Who destroys. There was no need to take this teaching all the way then, for he could accomplish the objective of the moment without doing so. Having once established in Adam and Eve, the idea that God had invented the teaching that disobedience to the law would bring death in order to safeguard His own position, it was one more logical step to believe that God would destroy. In fact, it is illogical to think otherwise.

†††† If God was the kind of being who would stoop to inventing a lie in order to safeguard His own position, and should that lie be discovered and the people do the very thing He had commanded them not to do, then He would not quietly acquiesce to sharing His throne with them. He would naturally resort to other measures to accomplish the same purpose. The point is that a being of the character Satan represented God to be, would be unable to do anything else. Deception having failed, He would be driven to use the only other weapon availableóforce. He would enter into direct physical conflict with those who sought to climb into His place, and in the end, when even that failed, He would have to liquidate them.

†††† In the Garden of Eden, Satan assumed the role of interpreter of Godís words. Adam and Eve accepted that interpretation and partook of the forbidden fruit. By this means they sought to make themselves equal with God. Instead they ushered the human race into the long and fearful history of suffering and death which has been the portion of sinful man. Throughout that dark period, God has been working constantly to restore the lost condition, but through it all, Satan has continued to offer himself as the interpreter of Godís actions and words to men.

†††† The result is that men have come to see God as One Who is constantly seeking to preserve His position and power by physically going to war with man and destroying him if he will not yield to Godís authority. In this, Satan has been extremely successful, for the vast majority of mankind, both in and out of the churches, firmly believe that the destructions which have wasted this world are the handiwork of a God Who is determined to assert His authority and preserve His position.

†††† It is from these errors that the truth of God is to deliver us and it is the purpose of this book to assist in such deliverance. Before us lies the choice as to which we shall believeóthe truth of God which reveals that Godís law is His wonderful provision for the blessing of every one of His children, or

 

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Satanís lie that it is a cunning device to serve the interests of God at the expense of His creatures.

†††† Thus, from the sure Word of God, comes the revelation of the time and place where, for the first time upon this earth the idea was advanced that the law of God was a measure instituted to assure Him of His rights, and that, therefore, disregard of it would not bring death as a direct consequence.

†††† That time was at the very commencement of human history and the place was the Garden of Eden.

†††† Likewise, the instigator of these ideas is unmasked.

†††† He is the devil, the enemy of God and man.

†††† Furthermore, the sad outworking of the acceptance of those ideas has been witnessed with terrible clarity throughout human history. All the misery, frustrations, suffering, disease, and death, are directly traceable to that teaching.

†††† What more evidence than this is needed to reject such philosophies entirely and eternally? This is more than enough. Thus, in reality, it is made a simple matter to decide what the real truth is on the subject. The author of this book together with those whose support made its production possible, emphatically reject Satanís arguments. We see God in an altogether different light from that which the devil would have us view Him. That law is Godís love gift to us, wonderfully designed to protect and preserve and to make available to us the highest opportunities of progress and development.

†††† While we are now aware of who authored these rebellious ideas, we are to understand that this does not explain how God worked these principles out in every one of the difficult complications introduced by the sin problem. But a foundation has been laid upon which such comprehensions can be built. It will now be possible to approach every situation, knowing that the devil will continue attempting to cloud the mind with the erroneous view of what God did, exactly as he did in the Garden. There will now be the blessed tendency to reject such an interpretation and search further for the real one.

†††† That foundation being laid, the time has come to study Godís behavior, as far as it can be understood, during the interlude of sin. May the Lord assist every reader to prayerfully and patiently wrestle with these deep problems until the truth is fully clarified in the mind unto righteousness.

 

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