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God bends things. He makes things crooked.

I don’t want to mess your day up too much, but since I must deal with certain truths, I thought I may as well include you on this, um, unique journey with God that you and I are on. This is the first passage we shall consider:

“Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:13–14). 1

The word “crooked,” עָוַת, has a negative meaning in the Old Testament except in a very few places like this one from Ecclesiastes 12:1–3: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed…”

I don’t know why the translators of the ESV and NIV rendered עָוַת as “crooked,” instead of “bent,” as the NET Bible and the NASB do, but I’m not sure it affects how we are to view this turning-our-world-upside-down text.

God bends things, and we cannot make them straight.

As mom used to say, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Many of us Christians think that God does only good things according to what we consider good, in our natural understanding. Therefore, He would never cause nor allow a hurricane, a catastrophe, or a disaster to bend things, to make things negative and difficult for us. He is, after all, a God of love. And love would not behave in this way.

So, let me say this straight up: Such a view of God in not biblical. Strum through these passages and let’s see if we can hear what may be a sour tune from our perspective:

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

“Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6).

In spite of these plain truths, however, I will tell you with sadness that many Christians reject such passages, saying “That’s the Old Testament. Things are different in the New Testament.”

Well, then what should we Christians do with Ananias and Sapphira? We can read about it in Acts 5:1-10, which is, um, in the New Testament. The Lord took their lives because of their deceit. And here’s what happened soon after that incident:

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:11–15).

Good, wondrous, miraculous things happened after God took the lives of two believers?

Let’s consider this horrific event in the New Testament:

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Rama, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more’” (Matthew 2:16–18).

The Lord God knew of this event and even spoke through Jeremiah about it. Why didn’t He prevent it?

Look at this Psalm, which refers to Jesus:

“He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth” (Psalm 110:6). This verse surely refers to the end of all things, when Jesus—yes, Jesus—kills people:

“And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20–21).

Is God good?

Yes.

Is He love?

Yes.

Is He just?

Yes.

Is He sovereign?

Yes.

Is He a God who only does good things according to our natural understanding?

No, He is not. He bends things and makes them crooked. He brings calamity and disaster. He brings the earthly existence of people to an end. All these things are done in love, done in goodness, done in holiness, done in supremacy. We Christians must deal with our God in light of these truths.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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DT1970

I’m going to push pause in the series about Jesus’ salt talks and turn to the recent catastrophes in the United States. The devastation caused by natural disasters such as Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, with others to follow, caused and will cause enormous destruction to buildings and infrastructure in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_0304

Do you keep your promises? Your answer to this question should be, “Sometimes.” Oh, I have little doubt some of the readers are scrupulously honest and honor verbal agreements they have made. I’m sure many of you have kept your marriage vows and not cheated on your spouses. You have kept promises made to friends to meet them somewhere, give them something, or help them. However, when compared to biblical standards, not meaning to be harsh, you are not a promise keeper.

You are a promise breaker.

Please hear me out.

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for-blog-6

In response to last week’s article, a friend submitted a passage of Scripture concerning the sovereignty and goodness of God, a message, if preached, he wrote sarcastically, would “fill the pews”:

Read the rest of this entry »

2004-07-10_1522_fromjoewatson-woman-by-the-water

In this series of articles, we have attempted to wrestle through the uncomfortable question if it is God’s will that people do horrendous acts, such as the rape and torture of children, or any other unconscionable deed. However, we have also had to consider the biblical truth that, from God’s perspective, without the righteousness that Jesus has freely given, we ourselves are guilty of crimes, just like the individuals who do the things we abhor. It is a difficult truth to swallow, but swallow it we must; otherwise, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means nothing. The good news is that if we accept that amazing truth, we are free from our despicability. It’s amazing to comprehend, but Christians are now clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Himself. Perfect. Clean. Without guilt. We possess eternal life. Believers in Jesus actually become God’s sons and daughters and will receive an inheritance, of all things. Jesus was punished, we are not. We are, instead, recipients of grace and forgiveness for—everything.

Read the rest of this entry »

2004-07-10_1522_fromjoewatson-woman-by-the-water

Last week’s article dealt with one thought-provoking question: When terrorists strike, is it God’s will? In response to this post, a long-time, well-trusted Christian friend enumerated the questions she often encounters as she talks to people about God:

  1. Is it God’s will that babies and children are raped?
  2. Is it God’s will people are killed by drunk drivers?
  3. Is it God’s will that His children are hideously tortured before being
    raped and murdered?
  4. Is it God’s will that women have abortions?
  5. Where does our “free will” begin and God’s will end?

Read the rest of this entry »

2004-07-10_1522_fromjoewatson-woman-by-the-water
This week’s blog post begins with a provocative question: When terrorists strike, are they doing God’s will?

Before we come up with an answer off the tops of our heads, let’s think about this for a moment and ask a question concerning the nature of God. “Is there anything the Lord cannot do?” Biblically, the answer to that question is, “No.”

Stay with me.

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for-blog

I appreciate how Christians all over the world try to add meaning to what used to be a beautiful religious observance that has “magically” been transformed into a greed-filled, money-making extravaganza, filled with false gift-induced joy. I guess this shouldn’t surprise us, knowing the nature of mankind.

Christians read the wonderful accounts in Matthew and Luke at Christmas time, as they should. They talk about the shepherds, Joseph, Mary, the angels, the kings from the East, the star, and the stable. All good stuff. However, one monumental truth that is not emphasized should be, and if and when it is, will take the misty, warm stories about the birth of Jesus and turn them to jaw-dropping, fall-to-our-knees truth.

Read the rest of this entry »

p1030892

Is the Christian God good?

Some will say that He is not good at all. They will bring up the biblical truth that He committed genocide against the Canaanites. It’s right there in the Old Testament. In more recent history, He allowed the slaughter of millions of Jews during World War Two. He allows all kinds of atrocities. If Christians or Jews, such critics say, declare He is all-powerful, then He must be uncaring, because if He is caring, He would have prevented such cruelties; but He didn’t. Therefore, He is either impotent or uncaring. He is one or the other. We can’t have it both ways, they say.

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flower on thistle

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul told the Christians that he had asked the Lord to take away a “thorn in the flesh,” a “messenger of Satan” sent to “harass” him in order to keep him from becoming conceited because of the “surpassing greatness of the revelations” that had been given to him (2 Corinthians 12:1-8).

The Lord denied Paul’s request to remove this satanic messenger and said this interesting thing:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).1

What does God’s grace have to do with denying the removal of a satanic messenger? Doesn’t grace mean God’s unmerited favor? Really? It is God’s unmerited favor to allow this thorn from the devil to remain?

Was God thinking clearly?

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