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Welcome to my blog! I hope to be a resource to help you in your walk with God. Now more than ever we need to get back to the basic fundamentals of moral living and take a stand for what is right and truthful with God as our ultimate authority. His Word is reliable and preserved and can be trusted, so that is the basis for my advice and teaching. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or topics you would like me to cover. I look forward to sharing what God has placed on my heart. See my website at http://www.dawnfoss.tateauthor.com and http://www.dawnfoss.com/ for books and music I have written that will enrich your life!

Ezekiel 22:30: "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none." Let's stand in the gap together!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The holiness of God - #3 of 6

This is the third part of a six-part series by Dr. R.C. Sproul on the holiness of God.  I have put the link below, but also typed up some notes as I listened to it.  I recommend listening to it, because as I've said before, he has a way with words, and articulates things so clearly and with such passion.  He sets things straight that get muddy in our culture.  This message here is one of my favorites, because so many times we hear the words, "That's not fair!"  We look down our noses at God as if He is unholy and unjust to allow things to happen, to pour His wrath or judgment on someone.  We have the audacity to accuse Him of injustice.  Please read below for a very clear presentation of Holiness and Justice. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/holiness_of_god/holiness-and-justice-3257/?


#3 – Holiness and Justice

In the 18th century in the American frontier, a recurring motif in the Great Awakening was: man is very, very, very bad, and God is very, very, very mad. Emphasis on sinfulness of man and wrath of God. 19th century had a dramatic reaction: well, man is not quite so bad and God really isn’t quite so mad, focused on the goodness of man and love of God. Beginning of 20th century a response to that reaction: crisis theology because it borrowed the term from the Latin word cresis: judgment.  If we are to take seriously the biblical portrait of God, we must take into consideration the wrath of God.  

In the Old Testament there are certain times and places where people felt there was an irrational expression in the character of God Himself. His holiness and righteousness were present, but there was a defect in His character.  The "shadow side" of Yahweh. Some even referred to it as an element of the demonic.  They felt it displays itself by sudden unprovoked manifestations of whimsical, capricious, arbitrary anger. 

Passages come to mind such as the beginning of Leviticus 10 when Aaron’s sons added incense and offered unauthorized fire. The fire consumed them and they died before the Lord.  How did Aaron react?  Here he was, a high priest who had a ceremony into the priesthood, wearing garments for glory and beauty, and then his own sons were also consecrated for the priesthood.  They were young clergy who tried a little adolescent type prank, result of immaturity, and without warning or rebuke, God strikes them dead instantly.  Aaron goes to Moses, "What’s going on?  Are these the thanks I get for my service? It's a small transgression – what kind of God does this?"  Moses said to Aaron: “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said among those who approach me I will be regarded as holy, and in the sight of all the people I will be honored.” And Aaron held his peace. God said, "Do you remember when I established the priesthood, consecrated you for these holy tasks?  It is not negotiable that before the people I will be treated with reverence."  When God spoke Aaron shut up. 

Another example was Uzza the Coathite.  The ark of the covenant was kept in safe keeping until it would be restored in its place in the sanctuary.  There was a celebration as they transferred it in the city, and people lined the streets, danced and sang. The ark of the covenant was placed in an ox cart. As it was moving down the road, one of the oxen stumbled, and the cart tilted and it looked like it would slide into the mud and be desecrated. Instinctively, involuntarily Uzza stretched forth his hand to protect the throne of God from falling in the mud.  God didn’t open up the heavens and say, “Thank you, Uzza!” No, as soon as his hand touched it, God struck him dead.  To give some background, the tribe of Levi was set apart by God to care for the temple.  Each family within the tribe of Levi was given a particular task. Coath was one of Levi’s sons. Their task or life’s vocation was to take care of the sacred vessels.  They were trained on how to treat it. Never, ever, EVER were they to touch the throne of God (the ark of the covenant) – one of the things they had to know. God said, If you touch it, you will die.  Why was it transported on an oxcart? Loops were there so they could carry it with sticks on foot.  Here was the problem: he assumed that his hands were less polluted than the dirt.  The earth was being dirt, obeying God’s laws, doing what dirt is supposed to do.  The hand of man was what God said “I don’t want that on this throne.” 

List of capital crimes – over 30 offenses for which God commanded the death penalties, for homosexual acts, adultery, child being unruly in public, capital crime for a Jewish person to go to a fortune teller.  How blood thirsty, we might think!  The New Testament has a spirit of mercy and love.  

Here is the key to the whole matter: the real mystery of iniquity is not that a holy, righteous God should exercise justice, to punish willfully disobedient creatures.  The real mystery is why this God through generations tolerates rebellious creatures who commit cosmic treason against His authority.  Even though there are 30-something capital offenses in the Old Testament, that doesn’t represent a cruel and unusual form of justice at the hand of God but already a massive reduction in capital crime.  Remember the rules at Creation: God breathed into dirt the breath of life, put man in the highest status on the planet, the greatest blessing and gift of life, and stamped his holy image on that piece of dirt.  But the law was: The soul that sins it shall die. All sin is a capital offense. Not just death after 70 yrs. old.  Adam and Eve were told about the forbidden fruit: "the day you eat of it you shall surely die."  Not spiritual death alone the day they transgressed the law of God.  The day that you eat you die biologically; it’s over.  Who can convict a holy, perfectly righteous Creator? Out of sheer mercy He is giving blessing.  Is there anything wrong with God extinguishing a creature who has the audacity to challenge His authority to rule His creation?  

What is involved in the slightest sin?  We in essence say, "My will has a right that is higher than the rights of God."  It is terrifying that people think committing abortion is a moral right. God never has given the moral right to do that. What will happen when someone stands before God and says I had the right to do that? Where did you get that right? They are saying, "I defy the authority of God, insult the majesty of God, and challenge the justice of God."  We are so accustomed to doing that and so careful to justify our disobedience that our consciences have been seared. We disobey and think it’s no serious matter. God, instead of destroying mankind in that act of revolt, instead reached out and extended mercy. Instead of justice He poured out His grace.  

There is a history of repeated episodes of manifestations of God’s gracious forbearance and merciful forgiveness to people disobeying Him day in and day out.  The swift and sudden exercise of justice we see is perhaps because God finds it necessary to interrupt His normal pattern of forbearing his grace and mercy to remind us of His justice.  Gives us time to repent, but instead of repenting we exploit it and think God doesn’t care if we sin, or if He cares there is nothing He can do about it. We are challenging the Almighty! We become so accustomed to God’s normal pattern of grace and mercy that we not only take it for granted but we begin to assume it, demand it, and if we don’t get it we are furious!  We say, "It's not fair!"  

Understand the difference between justice and mercy. The moment you think God owes you mercy, remember by definition mercy is voluntary. He is never obligated to be  merciful to a rebellious creature. He doesn’t owe you mercy. He said, "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy."  A holy God is both just and merciful, never unjust. There is never an occasion when God punishes an innocent person.  He doesn’t know how to be unjust. Thank Him that He knows how to be nonjust. Mercy is nonjustice, not injustice.  Don’t pray for justice; He might do it. If He deals with us with justice, we would perish as swiftly as those in the Bible, like Uzza, Aaron’s sons, and Ananias and Sapphira, Lot’s wife, etc. We live by His grace and mercy, and let’s never forget it.

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