Behold Your God




Fred T. Wright

Click to go to our Home Page






Chapter Twenty-One

God is Not a Criminal



     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 self-centeredness.

     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 held.

     Nor it is the picture of God which Christ presented.

     It was an altogether different God of Whom Jesus came to speak.

     What then?


Page 221


     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 light.

     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


Page 222


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.

     The dreadful 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 the following:

     “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.


Page 223


     “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 great judgments.

     “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


Page 224


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 comparison.

     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.”

     The businessman 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.

     Once this 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.


Page 225


     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 intimidated.

     Therefore, God 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.

     My friend immediately saw, with great clarity, that criminal organizations use the same methods.

     They desire and demand.

     The person involved refuses.

     They strike the first blow to demonstrate that they mean their      threats.

     The subject 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 means.


Page 226


     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 55:8. 

     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.

     “Earthly kingdoms 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.


Page 227


     “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.

     Everything done 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.

     The evidences 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 righteousness.


Click here for Chapter 22


Click here for the Table of Contents to all Chapters