biblesky.jpg

 

The Character and Justice of God

and

His Strange Act – Part II

 

"In the valley of Jehoshaphat will I sit to judge all the nations round about" (Joel 3:12): "and I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon them, such as they have not heard" (Micah 5:15). "In that day, saith Yahweh, I will smite every horse with consternation, and his rider with madness" (Zech. 12:4). "Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their orbits, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And a great tumult from Jehovah shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour "(Zech. 14:12)

 

 

Click to go to our Home Page


 

 

 

 

Our pursuit in this study is to determine whether or not God destroys His enemies directly or indirectly and whether or not that “strange act” violates His character of love and justice. Why, indeed, would His final “strange act” be referred to as strange if it did not differ in some way from His character of love? Could it be that His strange act of destroying evil and the evil one, Satan, is an act of His love in preserving the faithful inhabitants of earth from utter depravity and annihilation, for eventually, the affects and effects of sin would destroy the universe? That is what Ellen White alludes to in the following statement:

 

“But while inflicting judgment, God remembered mercy. The Amalekites were to be destroyed, but the Kenites, who dwelt among them, were spared. This people, though not wholly free from idolatry, were worshipers of God and were friendly to Israel. Of this tribe was the brother-in-law of Moses, Hobab, who had accompanied the Israelites in their travels through the wilderness, and by his knowledge of the country had rendered them valuable assistance.” {PP 628.2}

 

The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked, emboldens men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain and terrible for being long delayed. "The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act." Isaiah 28:21. To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live." Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, . . . forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." Yet He will "by no means clear the guilty." Exodus 34:6, 7. While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin. "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked." Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. And the very fact of His reluctance to execute justice testifies to the enormity of the sins that call forth His judgments and to the severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor. {PP 628.1}

So we see that God’s “strange act” is really a fulfillment of His character of love in sustaining righteousness and cutting off evil because it would potentially destroy the universe if continued long enough. Also, Ellen White says that the wicked would not enjoy heaven. So God does them a favor by cutting them off. He is actually executing their desired will and last testament. The same principle applies to Satan. He had opportunity to change and act according to the principles that the universe is dependent upon for its very survival, but he chose the path to destruction, so God, as the Executive of Satan’s WILL, merely grants him his wish. He would never be happy in heaven. There is nothing in this granting of Satan’s and the sinner’s WILL AND TESTAMENT that is contrary to God’s character of love.

 

What About the Flood? Did Satan or God Destroy?

 

The wickedness of man was so great, and increased to such a fearful extent, that God repented that he had made man upon the earth; for he saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. {1SP 66.2}

 

  More than one hundred years before the flood the Lord sent an angel to faithful Noah to make known to him that he would no longer have mercy upon the corrupt race. But he would not have them ignorant of his design. He would instruct Noah, and make him a faithful preacher to warn the world of its coming destruction, that the inhabitants of the earth might be left without excuse. Noah was to preach to the people, and also to prepare an ark as God should direct him for the saving of himself and family. He was not only to preach, but his example in building the ark was to convince all that he believed what he preached. {1SP 69.2}

 

   And as the doomed race beheld the sun shining in its glory, and the earth clad in almost its Eden beauty, they drove away their rising fears by boisterous merriment; and by their deeds of violence seemed to be encouraging upon themselves the visitation of the already awakened wrath of God. {1SP 72.1}

 

The people first beheld the destruction, of the works of their hands. Their splendid buildings, their beautifully-arranged gardens and groves, where they had placed their idols, were destroyed by lightning from heaven. Their ruins were scattered everywhere. They had erected altars in groves, and consecrated them to their idols, whereon they offered human sacrifices. These which God detested were torn down in his wrath before them, and they were made to tremble before the power of the living God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, and they were made to know that it was their abominations and horrible, idolatrous sacrifices, which had called for their destruction. {1SP 74.1}

 

It certainly was not the power of Satan that made the people tremble. It was the power of the living God. The rain was not Satan’s fabrication of a weapon of mass destruction! It was God who caused the rain to come down for 40 days and nights! I realize that the above words appear to Kevin Straub as Ellen White misapprehending the character of God in her word choices, but I will take my chances with Ellen White!

 

     After Noah had done all in his power to make every part of the work correct, it was impossible that it could of itself withstand the violence of the storm which God in his fierce anger was to bring upon the earth. The work of completing the building was a slow process. Every piece of timber was closely fitted, and every seam covered with pitch. All that men could do was done to make the work perfect; yet, after all, God alone could preserve the building upon the angry, heaving billows, by his miraculous power. {1SP 71.1}

 

Was it God or Satan Who Caused the Flood?

 

Some independent teachers, like Kevin Straub, are saying that God does not destroy—that it is against His character of love. They thus directly contradict the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church.

 

And even Satan himself, who was compelled to be amid the warring elements, feared for his own existence. He had delighted to control so powerful a race, and wished them to live to practice their abominations, and increase their rebellion against the God of Heaven. He uttered imprecations against God, charging him with injustice and cruelty. Many of the people, like Satan, blasphemed God, and if they could have carried out their rebellion, would have torn him from the throne of justice. While many were blaspheming and cursing their Creator, others were frantic with fear, stretching their hands toward the ark, pleading for admittance. But this was impossible. God had closed the door, the only entrance, and shut Noah in, and the ungodly out. He alone could open the door. Their fear and repentance came too late. They were compelled to know that there was a living God who was mightier than man, whom they had defied and blasphemed. They called upon him earnestly, but his ear was not open to their cry. Some in their desperation sought to break into the ark, but that firm-made structure resisted all their efforts. Some clung to the ark until borne away with the furious surging of the waters, or their hold was broken off by rocks and trees that were hurled in every direction. Those who had slighted the warning of Noah, and ridiculed that faithful preacher of righteousness, repented too late of their unbelief. The ark was severely rocked and tossed about. The beasts within expressed, by their varied noises, the wildest terror, yet amid all the warring of the elements, the surging of the waters, and the hurling about of trees and rocks, the ark rode safely. Angels that excel in strength guided the ark and preserved it from harm. Every moment during that frightful storm of forty days and forty nights the preservation of the ark was a miracle of almighty power. {1SP 74.2}

 

   And lest man should be terrified with gathering clouds, and falling rains, and should be in continual dread, fearing another flood, God graciously encourages the family of Noah by a promise. "And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth." {1SP 77.1}

 

     What a condescension on the part of God! What compassion for erring man, to place the beautiful, variegated rainbow in the clouds, a token of the covenant of the great God with man! This rainbow was to evidence the fact to all generations that God destroyed the inhabitants of the earth by a flood, because of their great wickedness. It was his design that as the children of after generations should see the bow in the cloud, and should inquire the reason of this glorious arch that spanned the heavens, that their parents could explain to them the destruction of the old world by a flood, because the people gave themselves up to all manner of wickedness, and that the hands of the Most High had bended the bow, and placed it in the clouds, as a token that he would never bring again a flood of waters on the earth. This symbol in the clouds was to confirm the belief of all, and establish their confidence in God; for it was a token of divine mercy and goodness to man; that although God had been provoked to destroy the earth by the flood, yet his mercy still encompasseth the earth. God says when he looketh upon the bow in the cloud, he will remember. He would not have us understand that he would ever forget; but he speaks to man in his own language, that man may better understand him. {1SP 77.2}    

 

     A rainbow is represented in Heaven round about the throne, also above the head of Christ, as a symbol of God's mercy encompassing the earth. When man, by his great wickedness, provokes the wrath of God, Christ, man's intercessor, pleads for him, and points to the rainbow in the cloud, as evidence of God's great mercy and compassion for erring man; also the rainbow above the throne and upon his head, emblematical of the glory and mercy from God resting there for the benefit of repentant man. {1SP 78.1}

 

   The waters had been fifteen cubits above the highest mountains. The Lord remembered Noah, and as the waters decreased, he caused the ark to rest upon the top of a cluster of mountains, which God in his power had preserved and made to stand fast all through that violent storm. These mountains were but a little distance apart, and the ark moved about and rested upon one, then another, of these mountains, and was no more driven upon the boundless ocean. This gave great relief to Noah and all within the ark. As the mountains and hills appeared, they were in a broken, rough condition, and all around them appeared like a sea of roiled water or soft mud. {1SP 80.1}

 

     In the time of the flood the people, and beasts also, gathered to the highest points of land, and as the waters returned from off the earth, dead bodies were left upon high mountains and upon the hills, as well as upon the plains. Upon the surface of the earth were the bodies of men and beasts. But God would not have these to remain upon the face of the earth to decompose and pollute the atmosphere, therefore he made of the earth a vast burying ground. He caused a powerful wind to pass over the earth for the purpose of drying up the waters, which moved them with great force--in some instances carrying away the tops of the mountains like mighty avalanches, forming huge hills and high mountains where there were none to be seen before, and burying the dead bodies with trees, stones, and earth. These mountains and hills increased in size and became more irregular in shape by collections of stones, ledges, trees, and earth, which were driven upon and around them. The precious wood, stone, silver and gold, that had made rich and adorned the world before the flood, and which the inhabitants had idolized, was sunk beneath the surface of the earth. The waters which had broken forth with such great power, had moved earth and rocks, and heaped them upon earth's treasures, and in many instances formed mountains above them to hide them from the sight and search of men. {1SP 80.2}

 

God saw that the more he enriched and prospered sinful man, the more he corrupted his way before him. These treasures, which should have led man to glorify the bountiful giver, had been worshiped instead of God, while the giver had been rejected. {1SP 81.1}

 

    Coal and oil are generally to be found where there are no burning mountains or fiery issues. When fire and water under the surface of the earth meet, the fiery issues cannot give sufficient vent to the heated elements beneath. The earth is convulsed, the ground heaves, and rises into swells or waves, and there are heavy sounds like thunder under ground. The air is heated, and suffocating. The earth quickly opens, and I saw villages, cities and burning mountains carried down together into the earth. {1SP 82.1}

 

     God controls all these elements; they are his instruments to do his will; he calls them into action to serve his purpose. These fiery issues have been, and will be, his agents to blot out from the earth very wicked cities. Like Korah, Dathan and Abiram, they go down alive into the pit. These are evidences of God's power. Those who have beheld these burning mountains pouring forth fire, and flame, and a vast amount of melted ore, drying up rivers and causing them to disappear, have been struck with terror at the grandeur of the scene. They have been filled with awe as though they were beholding the infinite power of God. {1SP 82.2}

 

     These manifestations bear the special marks of God's power, and are designed to cause the people of the earth to tremble before him, and to silence those who, like Pharaoh, would proudly say, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" Isaiah refers to these exhibitions of God's power where he exclaims, "Oh! that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence." Isa. 64:1-3. {1SP 83.1}

 

According to Kevin Straub, God does not directly destroy man for that would be against His character of love. Kevin thereby directly contradicts God and Ellen White.

 

     "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers. Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him." Nah. 1:3-6. {1SP 83.2}

 

     "Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them." Ps. 144: 5, 6. {1SP 84.1}

 

     Greater wonders than have yet been seen will be witnessed by those upon the earth a short period previous to the coming of Christ. "And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke." "And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." "And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." {1SP 84.2}

 

Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

 

Rev 16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, [every stone] about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. 

 

     The bowels of the earth were the Lord's arsenal, from which he drew forth the weapons he employed in the destruction of the old world. Waters in the bowels of the earth gushed forth, and united with the waters from heaven, to accomplish the work of destruction. Since the flood, God has used both water and fire in the earth as his agents to destroy wicked cities. {1SP 84.3}

 

     In the day of the Lord, just before the coming of Christ, God will send lightnings from heaven in his wrath, which will unite with fire in the earth. The mountains will burn like a furnace, and will pour forth terrible streams of lava, destroying gardens and fields, villages and cities; and as they pour their melted ore, rocks and heated mud, into the rivers, will cause them to boil like a pot, and send forth massive rocks, and scatter their broken fragments upon the land with indescribable violence. Whole rivers will be dried up. The earth will be convulsed, and there will be dreadful eruptions and earthquakes everywhere. God will plague the wicked inhabitants of the earth until they are destroyed from off it. The saints are preserved in the earth in the midst of these dreadful commotions, as Noah was preserved in the ark at the time of the flood. {1SP 84.4}

 

Compare Kevin Straub’s teachings (below) with the above:

 

“We must eliminate from our thinking this dual-natured God Who sometimes punishes by letting sinners reap the results of sin and other times cutting short the natural process and violently intervening in a primary sense, to act in retribution and vengeance.”  The Sulphur of Sodom and the Character of God By Kevin Straub, Apr. 26, 2009.

 

I cannot but deem the actions of God in the Flood as violent intervening in a PRIMARY sense! Thus, Kevin reduces the justice of God into a sentiment rather than an eternal principle. The justice of God must always and FOREVER be relative to His agape love which is based on principle, not feeling or sentiment. Only those who come to love God out of true self-sacrificing love and faith, based on what He did for them in His sacrifice for them, rather than fear of His sure retributions upon sin will be saved. What happened in the flood was retribution for disobedience. What happened to Korah and party was retribution for disobedience. There is no way out of that fact!

 

The True and Valid Greatest Proof Demonstration of God’s Character of Love and Justice

 

"Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as His crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin.

In the gift of the Spirit [HIS LIFE--THE SOUL OF HIS LIFE], Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow....

The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail....

It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church." E.G. White, Review and Herald Articles, May 19, 1904, vol. 5, p. 42.

 

If a person is well versed in the highest good, crowning gift that heaven can bestow, he/she will readily discern that the most compelling thing about God’s love to the worldling is displayed in the Incarnation sacrifice of His Son Jesus, rather than whether or not God inflicts punishment directly or indirectly and/or whether or not we bring punishment upon ourselves by disqualifying ourselves for the protection of God because of our sinning. There should be no doubt in any mind of any professing Seventh-day Adventist, that the former position is endorsed by Ellen White.

 

This should be empirical in light of the fact that even if it were proven that God does not inflict punishment, He could still be hated by the wanton unbeliever because of His (God’s) withdrawing His protection which one might construe as punishment however indirect.

 

Though the Spirit of Prophecy speaks most aggressively against the errant notion of eternal punishment and its evil results in turning men to hate God, Ellen White still extols the sacrifice of Christ as the “highest good, crowning gift that heaven can bestow,” and the highest motivation in causing man to love God and to discern God’s love for man, is directly related to the “highest good, crowning gift that heaven can bestow, the sacrifice of Christ’s Holy Spirit life and soul for the purpose of overcoming all known sin and restoring man to the image of God. Properly understood, this greatest of gifts is also the most motivating paradigm related to a knowledge of God’s character of self-sacrificing love which is the most compelling factor in making one love God in return.

 

However, that “highest good crowning sacrifice,” is not fully understood, so therefore it cannot be fully appreciated. Thus the lack of love for the Father and the Son, who both felt the pangs of that eternal sacrifice.

 

Anyone who proposes to motivate man to love God from a premise that God is so loving that He does not inflict punishment (whether or not God does that) is operating on a premise of fear rather than love. He/she is trying to convince others that God is to be loved and not feared because He is so loving He does not destroy sin and sinners. That is a lie and misrepresents His character of justice. His justice cannot be separated from His love and that is precisely what Kevin Straub does in his treatise on God’s character—he separates God’s justice from His love, and since His law is His character of Justice as well as His character of self-sacrificing love, the one cannot be separated from the other.

 

The premise of self-sacrificing love, which is the paradigm God operates from, is the only valid motivation of love that God accepts. The fearful will not be saved just because they accept the notion that God is love because He does not destroy, directly or indirectly. That is not a powerful enough basis for lasting and meaningful love. Love must be based on the principle of agape self-sacrificing love.

 

Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. 

 

Luk 21:11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 

 

Hbr 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 

 

Hbr 10:31 [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

 

God fully teaches us In Hebrews 10:26 and 27, that if the gospel of self-sacrificing love does not do the job, there is nothing left but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour His adversaries. But that fear cannot be the decisive motivating factor for serving God, because fear is not related to self-sacrificing love. By the threat of Hebrews 10:27 and 31, God intends that man shall fear if they do not love Him enough to obey Him. He is the one who said: “If ye love me keep my commandments.”

 

Only by a correct knowledge of the Godhead can one appreciate the “highest good, crowning gift that heaven can bestow.” Only that gift to man can properly motivate him to love and obey all of God’s commandments.

 

If you would desire to better appreciate the highest good, crowning sacrifice that heaven can bestow, read the following book by Bruce Bivens:

 

The link to Bruce’s original manuscript copy is:

Click here for Bruce Givens' Book on the Godhead and the Holy Spirit Versus the Trinity Doctrine

The link to my reproduction of Bruce's book is:

http://omega77.tripod.com/bivensholyspirit.htm

Ellen White lists the Godhead as one of the pillars of Adventism, to wit:

Godhead as a pillar doctrine -- Personality of God and of Christ Landmarks: "Those who seek to remove the old landmarks are not holding fast they are not remembering how they have received and heard. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove the pillars of our faith concerning the sanctuary or concerning the personality of God or of Christ, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift without an anchor." {MR760 9.5}

The personality of God and/or Christ has everything to do with the sacrifice of the Incarnation of the Son of God. This issue is a LANDMARK—PILLAR doctrine said Ellen White.

Kevin Straub says:

Who Pays the Wages of Sin?

 

“In light of all that we have learned with regard to how God deals with sin, the principles of His government (non coercion, freedom of choice, love) and especially what happened at the cross (God withdrew from the Sin-Bearer and left Him to second death; He did not kill Him), there is no possibility of understanding that God fabricates WMD and then proactively triggers them, standing “toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression.”

 

The wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life.  God does not pay sin’s wages; it takes care of itself.” The Sulphur of Sodom and the Character of God By Kevin Straub, Apr. 26, 2009.

 

God says:

 

Hbr 9:16 For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

 

Hbr 9:17 For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 

 

If the wages of sin takes care of itself, there need have been no death Atonement by the Testator, the Son of God—Jesus  Christ. So in saying that God does not pay sin’s wages for us, wipes the entire Christian economy in one fell swoop! There was an eternal death to something. Read Bruce Biven’s book to find out the truth about the true Trinity, the true sacrifice that was made for man; the only knowledge by which man can properly love God and be motivated to obey Him. If Bruce Bivens’ book won’t motivate one to love and obey God for the right reasons, nothing else will. [To be continued in Part III]

 

God bless,

 

rwb