The Great Controversy Paradox

“The Lord killeth”—“God destroys no man”

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 1 Samuel 2:6

Versus

"God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself." Christ's Object Lessons, 84.

 

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Having years ago made a study of all the statements of scripture that seem to be outright instructions by God to His chosen people to kill their enemies, and at the same time having provided the answers to the apparent paradoxes via a book placed on this Website under the title Behold Your God, by the late Fred T. Wright, I think it is important that we discuss this issue further at this time.

The internet critics of Ellen G. White, have readily seized upon the following statements by Ellen White to condemn her as a false prophet who directly contradicts the Word of God. In so doing, they seem oblivious to the fact that they are echoing Satan’s charge against God—that He is not subject to, and indeed does not keep His own law. If Ellen White is wrong, Satan and these critics are right. So it goes far beyond Ellen White, to whether Satan or God is right.

And the issue becomes all the more serious when an SDA man claiming to be Elijah directly contradicts Ellen G. White, and I refer to Ernie Knoll. See Ernie’s statement at this link: http://omega77.tripod.com/ernieknollgodkills.htm

It is not my mission to condemn Ernie, or anyone who upholds his teachings, but to defend the integrity of the love of God as the basic fundamental of His character, and to uphold and defend the Spirit of Prophecy gift to the church. That is more important than defending a man who claims to be Elijah, but contradicts both Ellen White and God, and the fact that Ellen White says that the last message to a dying world is God’s character of love. Any notion that He is a murderer and destroyer runs contrary to the very character of God.

The Simple Solution to the Paradox

If there is a simple solution to the apparent contradiction in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy—and other sources that claim to be inspired, we had better understand that solution, and that is the purpose of this manuscript.

What is the solution to the apparent paradox and contradictory position of the Bible and Ellen White that God is love and does not kill any man, when we read scores of examples in the Bible where God is ordering His people to kill their enemies? What about the following statements, just to cite a few examples?

The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 1 Samuel 2:6

 

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. Gen 38:9-10

 

We will deal with the above examples further along in this manuscript.

 

The Principle in the Solution to the Issue as to Whether or not God Kills--Knowing the Unknown by the Known

 

The first aspect of a solution to resolve the paradox, is recognizing and believing the fact that true inspiration tells us that we can deduce the unknown from the known.

"Christ was the greatest teacher the world has ever known. He, the Son of God, came to earth in the form of a man, clothed in the habiliments of humanity, in order that he might reach the comprehension of the young as well as of the middle-aged and the aged. Through his servant David he had declared, “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” In parables drawn from nature and from human life, Christ showed the harmony of the natural with the spiritual. He revealed the unknown by lessons derived from the known. The heavenly was symbolized by the earthly. Natural things were presented as a reflection of the law of his kingdom." {YI May 6, 1897, par. 1}

From the Known to the Unknown—"In His teaching, Christ drew His illustrations from the great treasury of household ties and affections, and from nature. The unknown was illustrated by the known; sacred and divine truths, by natural, earthly things, with which the people were most familiar. These were the things that would speak to their hearts, and make the deepest impression on their minds." {VSS 106.2}

I am going to give you a wonderful example as to how we can do the same thing Christ did—revealing the unknown by the lessons derived from the known, relative to the issue of God killing or not. Here we go:

The Bible says that "God slew Saul." 1 Chro.10:14. I believe He did, but how? He removed His protection from him and Saul had no more protection from his own evil passions or from the Philippines or from Satan himself. This is how God slew Saul.

 

Within a few verses, it says that God slew Saul, and the apparently contradictory verse that Saul fell on his own sword and thus killed himself! Look at this “apparent” contradiction within three verses of the same chapter. Learn the unknown principle relative to the “The Lord killeth” versus “God destroys no man” issue!

 

1Ch 10:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died.


1Ch 10:13 ¶ So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, [even] against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking [counsel] of [one that had] a familiar spirit, to enquire [of it];


1Ch 10:14 And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.

 

How did God slay Saul? He removed His protection and Saul fell on his own sword and slew himself!

 

Key #1—This is the KNOWN key to the entire issue as to whether or not God kills and how He kills. If you will apply this key to every passage in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy wherein it is stated that God instructs killing or indeed apparently does the killing Himself, you need never be baffled by this apparent paradox of all paradoxes in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.

 

Now let’s apply the same principle, the KNOWN key, to the case of Onan:

 

Who killed Onan?

The Bible says The LORD slew him!

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And
the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. Gen 38:9-10.

 

We don’t know exactly how “the Lord slew Onan,” but we know that the Bible says that the Lord slew Saul, and it was not the Lord directly slaying Saul at all! So we know that it was the same way with Onan! This is applying the principle of the knowing the unknown from the known in the Bible, so we don’t make the Bible and the Spirit or Prophecy contradict. Every time you read a text or texts saying God kills, you should remember this principle.

The same principle applies in all cases because God does not change.

 

God dealt with Onan the same way He dealt with Saul!!! He removed His presence and Saul KILLED HIMSELF BY FALLING ON HIS SWORD. This is the principle that should be applied in all cases of the Bible where it says God kills.

 

Any Elijah prophet will be in accord with the Holy Spirit gift to the church on this serious issue. That should be an empirical fact!

 

Here is another example as to how the Scriptures are to be understood on this issue:

 

Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord said to David, "Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house..." 2 Samuel 12:11. Now let us read Mrs. White's comments on this very passage of Scripture: "Not that God prompted these evil acts of wickedness, but because of David's sin God did not exercise His power to prevent them." Patriarachs and Prophets, p.739.

 

And yet the language of the Bible is, "I will raise up evil against thee".

 

Here is another example from the same chapter.

 

"The Lord permitted events to take their natural course, and did not restrain Absalom. When parents or rulers neglect the duty of punishing iniquity, God Himself will take the case in hand. His restraining power will be in a measure removed from the agencies of evil, so that a train of circumstances will arise that will punish sin with sin." p. 728.

 

We cannot find stronger language than this, can we? "God Himself will take the case in hand!" Then follows the explanation: "His restraining power is in a measure removed from the agencies of evil so that a train of circumstances will arise that will punish sin with sin."

 

If Mrs. White thus explains the language of the Bible in these cases, the same method must be consistently followed in order for the Bible not to contradict itself and it is the same with her writings. "The testimonies will be the key that will explain the messages given as Scripture explains Scripture." 1 S.M.42.

 

When God's restraining power is fully removed from the agencies of evil, the language of the Bible is that "the wrath of God is complete". Rev.15:1. This is the time when probation closes and "Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent." The Great Controversy, p.614.

 

These same principles are to be applied to all similar passages whether in the Bible or in the SOP.

 

Oh yes indeed! The Lord killeth—but how? That is the KEY! He removes His protection and things self-destruct. But that is only the first principle involved with this issue.

 

The Second Principle of in the Solution to the Issue as to Whether or not God Kills—God’s Plan B When Man Chooses His Own Way

 

This second principle is extremely important to remember. God told His people not to take up the sword when they left Egypt! He freed them from Egyptian bondage WITHOUT THE SWORD, and He intended that they continue to rely ONLY on Him for overcoming their enemies IN EVERY INSTANCE. But what did His people do? Right after crossing the Red Sea and escaping the Egyptian soldiers who were drowned while in pursuit of them, they tarried to retrieve the swords of the drowned soldiers. Later on, they lost faith in God’s promise to fight their enemies for them by miraculous means, and they took up the swords they had retrieved from the dead Egyptians. Thus, they disobeyed God’s command not to kill and relied on themselves for protection.

 

Now here is KEY #2. Because God’s people decided to kill, instead of relying on His means of overcoming their enemies, He instructed them in how to best do what they were going to do anyway. His instructions were in the form of commands so that it appears that God is instructing them to kill—AND HE IS, but only because He has given them the power of choice and they rejected HIS CHOICE FOR THEM. Remember that on one occasion He told them He would remove His protection so that hornets would overcome the Canaanites. But they did not believe God. So he commanded them as to the best way to kill their enemies because they were intent on that course. Because of their disobedience, many Jews died in their wars when they could have all been spared if they had followed God’s plan for them. Instead of God, Israel wanted a King, and God warned them that the king they chose would finally oppress them.

 

The Third Principle in the Solution to the Issue as to Whether or not God Kills—The Civil Laws of Moses

 

KEY #3 The Laws of Man are permitted to supersede the commands of God. God had originally commanded man not to sin. Had man obeyed God and not sinned, killing one another would never have been necessary. Moses first failed by letting the people retrieve the Egyptian’s swords. The people failed again when they continued sinning in other areas, so God instructed him in the only way to keep order in a camp consisting of tens of thousands of people. But that was not God’s fault. That was the result of man’s choice to sin. Such civil laws became entirely necessary to law and order because of sin and the close proximity of so many people in the encampment of Israel. It was because of the hardness of the people’s hearts in disobeying God’s original commands that severe measures became necessary to control them. But this should not be blamed on God and His character. It should be blamed on the people who refused His commandments that were for the best interest of His people. The continuum of sin on the part of God’s people demanded more severe deterrents for sin. Thus, once again, the protection provided by God’s intended means if the people had obeyed Him and not sinned, was forfeited and necessitated other measures when they chose to sin. The choice was always theirs and God would not impose upon their privilege of choice.

 

The Fourth Principle in the Solution to the Issue as to Whether or not God Kills—The Sanctuary—Thy Way O Lord is in the Sanctuary

 

Key #4 Because man chose to continue in sin, many evils accrued. For example, spiritual, mental and physical health began to deteriorate from the moment Adam and Eve sinned. Because Adam and Eve sinned, the Lord instituted the blood offering of a Lamb to teach the magnitude of the results of sin, and that ultimately THE LAMB would have to offer Himself if man was to have any hope of another chance to eternal life.

 

When a person had to take the best of their herd and kill it, that was to teach a stiff-necked people the results of sin—that all sin kills, and that if permitted long enough, it would destroy the universe it is so pervasive. Think of the technical potential man has created to destroy and the fact that God’s Word says man would annihilate himself if He did not intervene. Think of how man is destroying this earth.

 

The Sanctuary service involving animal killing and sacrifice was innovated to teach man the heinous results of sin, and that such sin would eventually kill man’s Saviour, Jesus, but even that did not work in putting a stop to sin. The only thing that can remedy sin is the love of Christ indwelling the heart of man. Can we blame the killing involved in the Sanctuary service on God? Nay! We can blame only man’s intransigence and willingness to yield to the temptations of Satan rather than heed the instructions of His Maker. Satan is the author of all murder and killing by being the author of sin that results in death. Sin equals death, and the blame for all death can only be laid at Satan’s feet and those who choose him as their master.

 

For man to blame God for death in any way, is to sanction Satan’s ways over God’s.

 

God’s design of the universes included all that was necessary for the best welfare and the utopian circumstances of all creatures. Any violation of any of the factors contributive to those utopian conditions is sin. Sin automatically destroys the highest ideals God intended for all creation. It is a law of the universes that God is as a consuming fire to sin and sinners. The very glory of God’s essence, substance, Spirit, is so antipathetic to sin that it consumes sin. That’s just a law of His character of love. Why is it love to have a character and Being like that? Because sin is the antithesis of love and destroys love. Where sin abounds love wanes to the degree sin proliferates. So it is the ultimate act of love that God is as a consuming fire to sin, and this fact contributes to the love, happiness and best welfare of all created beings.

 

"To sin, wherever found, “our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29. In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. Jacob, after his night of wrestling with the Angel, exclaimed, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Genesis 32:30. Jacob had been guilty of a great sin in his conduct toward Esau; but he had repented. His transgression had been forgiven, and his sin purged; therefore he could endure the revelation of God’s presence. But wherever men came before God while willfully cherishing evil, they were destroyed. At the second advent of Christ the wicked shall be consumed “with the Spirit of His mouth,” and destroyed “with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The light of the glory of God, which imparts life to the righteous, will slay the wicked." {DA 107.4}

 

So does God kill? Does God destroy? Does God violate His own Law—the very transcript of His character, His essence, His substance, His Spirit, His nature? The most satanic answer to this question would be yes. The most God fearing response to this question is an eternal NAY!

 

Anyone who says that God kills or destroys, is repeating the dirge of Satan against God. Oh yes, the Lord killeth! But how and why? By removing His protection because He cannot Himself dwell in the presence of sin. The glory of His presence destroys sin, but He is not a murderer and does not destroy anyone. Those who disobey His plan for the best welfare of the universes destroy themselves, just as Ellen White said. Never be even tempted to believe that God kills. It is Satan and sin that kills. And if God intervened every time disaster occurs to prevent death, we would never be convinced that Satan is the destroyer and a murderer from the beginning! We are so much like Pharaoh that God has to let sin run its course for us to admit that it is Satan’s ways, SIN, that kills. And in the end, all will fall at Christ’s feet and admit this fact, although it will be too late for most!

 

Additional Ellen White Statements That God Does Not Kill

“The Saviour in His miracles revealed the power that is continually at work in man's behalf, to sustain and to heal him. Through the agencies of nature, God is working, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, to keep us alive, to build up and restore us. When any part of the body sustains injury, a healing process is at once begun; nature's agencies are set at work to restore soundness. But the power working through these agencies is the power of God. All life-giving power is from Him. When one recovers from disease, it is God who restores him.
Sickness, suffering, and death are work of an antagonistic power. Satan is the destroyer; God is the restore.” {MH 112–113}

“We cannot know how much we owe to Christ for the peace and protection which we enjoy. It is the restraining power of God that prevents mankind from passing fully under the control of Satan.
The disobedient and unthankful have great reason for gratitude for God's mercy and long-suffering in holding in check the cruel, malignant power of the evil one. But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejectors of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan. The destruction of Jerusalem is a fearful and solemn warning to all who are trifling with the offers of divine grace and resisting the pleadings of divine mercy. Never was there given a more decisive testimony to God's hatred of sin and to the certain punishment that will fall upon the guilty.” {GC 36.1}

“Satan is the destroyer. God cannot bless those who refuse to be faithful stewards. All He can do is to permit Satan to accomplish his destroying work. We see calamities of every kind and in every degree coming upon the earth, and why?
The Lord's restraining power is not exercised. The world has disregarded the word of God. They live as though there were no God. Like the inhabitants of the Noachic world, they refuse to have any thought of God. Wickedness prevails to an alarming extent, and the earth is ripe for the harvest.” {6T 388–389}

Men have become bold in transgression. The wickedness of the inhabitants of the world has almost filled up the measure of their iniquity.
This earth has almost reached the place where God will permit the destroyer to work his will upon it. The substitution of the laws of men for the law of God, the exaltation, by merely human authority, of Sunday in place of the Bible Sabbath, is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal Himself. He will arise in His majesty to shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity, and the earth shall disclose her blood and shall no more cover her slain.” {7T 141.1}

“God keeps a reckoning with the nations. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. Those who work evil toward their fellow men, saying, How doth God know? will one day be called upon to meet long-deferred vengeance. In this age a more than common contempt is shown to God. Men have reached a point in insolence and disobedience which shows that their cup of iniquity is almost full. Many have well-nigh passed the boundary of mercy. Soon God will show that He is indeed the living God.
He will say to the angels, "No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy. Let him work out his malignity upon the children of disobedience; for the cup of their iniquity is full. They have advanced from one degree of wickedness to another, adding daily to their lawlessness. I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work." {RH, September 17, 1901 par. 8}

“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.” {DA 759.1}

Here are more emphatic statements by Ellen White that God does not kill. Though there are many texts in the Bible that “appear” as though God is doing the killing, it is sin and separation from God and His protection that permits Satan, the murderer from the beginning, to do the killing. And though it sounds as if Satan is destroyed by God at the end of this earth, it will be separation from God that results in the destruction of this world and all unrepentant sinners, as was the case in the flood.

"God destroys no one." Testimonies, Vol. 5, 120.

"God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself." Christ's Object Lessons, 84.

“I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then, if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course, independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan’s decided attacks upon them.”    {LDE 242.1}

“It is Satan’s power that is at work at sea and on land, bringing calamity and distress and sweeping off multitudes to make sure of his prey.”—Manuscript Releases 14:3 (1883). {LDE 242.2}

“God will use His enemies as instruments to punish those who have followed their own pernicious ways whereby the truth of God has been misrepresented, misjudged, and dishonored.”—The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 136 (1894). {LDE 242.3}

"God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejecters of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protections from the malice and enmity of Satan." The Great Controversy, p. 36.

“I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection.[After] repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan's decided attacks upon them. {LDE 242.1}

“The apostle John in vision heard a loud voice in Heaven exclaiming, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." [Revelation 12:12.] Fearful are the scenes which call forth this exclamation from the heavenly voice. The wrath of Satan increases as his time grows short, and his work of deceit and destruction reaches its culmination in the time of trouble. God's long-suffering has ended.

Why?

The world has rejected his mercy, despised his love, and trampled upon his law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation, and the Lord withdraws his protection, and leaves them to the mercy of the leader they have chosen. Satan will have power over those who have yielded themselves to his control, and he will plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.” {4SP 440.3}

 

To better understand this all important issue as to who kills, download F.T. Wright’s book Behold Your God, from my Website. Read the chapter on the flood first. It is positively amazing.

 

“Those who wait for the Bridegroom’s coming are to say to the people, “Behold your God.” The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them. {COL 415.5}

 

While the god of the Islamics advocates the murder of Christians, the true God of the universe is not a God who kills in violation of His character of love. Ellen White says that the law is a transcript of His character, and the Bible says:

 

1Jo 4:8  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1Jo 4:16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

1Jo 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

 

May we all understand that a God of love does not kill. He killeth but not in the sense we generally understand as killing. He does not violate His character of love, His commandments. He “killeth” by removing His presence which cannot dwell in the presence of sin because His nature is as consuming fire to sin. God is love and it is love that kills sin.

 

If anyone else has what they believe to be important contributions to this issue, send them to me and I will publish them on my Website. Send them to rsbeauli@telusplanet.net

 

—rwb