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Friday
May182012

God, You're Bein' Way Too Tough Here!

“If God, like a cosmic Mr. Rogers, 'loves you just the way you are', demanding neither faith nor obedience, then why bother with Christianity?...If all religions...and no religion...lead to God, one might just as well watch TV.”
--Dr. Gene Edward Veith

* * * * * * *

A friend recently asked me to explain a passage in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus (Chapter 26: 27 ) in which God warns the Israelites that if their idolatrous and willful disobedience persisted, He would curse and punish them “....to eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.”

I pointed out to my friend that this particular divinely delivered hypothetical scenario (v. 27) was a conditional warning . It was, in fact the fifth in a series of hypothetical , conditional warnings delivered earlier in the chapter:

“If you will not listen …......(v. 14)
“If after all this you will not listen...... (v.18)
“If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen.....(v. 21)
“If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile to me...(v. 23).
“If in spite of this you still do not listen...but continue to be hostile to me.....(v. 27)

After each warning clause, God spelled out increasingly more uncomfortable consequences.

The picture here is of a just and long-suffering God making a vitally important point to a blind, proudly rebellious, stubbornly persistent and foolishly self-destructive crowd.

It was a “Watch out! What goes around comes around!”-teaching moment.
One might even liken it to “karma “.... with a Personal, covenant-keeping touch.

The Bible calls it consequence for obstinate, persistent and willful Sin..

My friend, though, was incredulous, shocked and offended by the language of Leviticus 26: 27. After all, what kind of “moral” God would say such uncomfortable and scandalous things!

But there is an even MORE scandalous pronouncement in the Bible that has everything to do, really, with that same "curse" (ie., Divine punishment and death for disbelief and subsequent... willfully repeated ...unrepented Sin). .......The apostle Paul helped to clarify this new scandalous pronouncement in Galatians 3:10-14 when he began to write:

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse.....”

Jesus , addressed the very same scandalous curse in the Gospel of John when he spoke to the puzzled but honestly inquisitive, religious Pharisee, Nicodemus, about "earthly" and "heavenly" things (John 3: 9-21). ....

Jesus teaching Nicodemus, (Gospel of John, Chapter 3) Rembrandt sketch

“.....And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3: 14-15)

Not only did Jesus answer Nicodemus, He also solved the riddle that a befuddled Socrates struggled with centuries before:

"It may be that the Deity can forgive sins, but I do not see how."
--Socrates

Christians, indeed, worship a scandalous God.......scandalously Holy and scandalously Merciful. He is a scandalously Righteous God whose Justice and Holiness certainly do offend the mortal, incredulous flesh. But his amazing Grace and Mercy salve...and save... the believing, eternal soul.

Moses...healing in the desert (Numbers 21:8-9)

* * * * * * *

God, You're Bein' Way Too Tough Here!

(Dial Those Ten Commandments Down)

 

Surely, God, we're not THAT “guilty”!
Why this scandal!?....Why this curse!?
Why this unfair condemnation!?
Why this Death...this Cosmic Hearse?

Why so mean, God ? ….So judgmental!
Where's your sense of humor, man!?
Why must you, God, be so “Holy”....?
Can't you be a bit more bland?

What's this nasty talk of “Sin”, God...?
What's your problem ?!....What's the deal?
Don't you know the shame you're causing?
And the guilt you make us feel!?

* * * * *

We just voted...Get a life, God!
We've decided...You must go!
We're fed up, and you're the problem....
Straighten up!....WE run this show!

Take a hike, and..... Hey! Good riddance!...
We were never that impressed.
Man, you blew it with that temper
AND you flunked our “Good-God” test!

If we thought there really was one,
We would send you straight to hell!
Your morality's atrocious...
Get a clue ….It doesn't sell!

That's right, God...We're just not buyin'!
Your theology's a mess!
Your demeanor's most disturbing...
Bow before us, God....Confess!

If you want to make some progress,
Ask progressives just like us!
God, we want to help you out here...
Just make friends! Avoid a fuss!

Don't you want some more good buddies...
Chums 'n' pals to make you smile?
Just repent and say you're sorry...
Drop that tacky “holy” style!

We've got research we could show you...
Tolerance of “sin” is key....
Bend the rules, man,...Try UN-”holy”
Find true popularity!

God, you're being way too tough here!
Dial those Ten Commandments down!
God, Thou Shalt Not Speak So Harshly...
Or we'll run you outta town!

We can't tolerate your tactics!
Or your “High and Mighty” way!
What you need's a darn good scourging...
What is Truth?....Ha!...Make our day!

Or, perhaps..we'll crucify you!
Maybe then you'll toe the line!
Sin? Oh, please don't make us laugh so!
We don't need your blood and wine!

* * * * *

We can't handle, Lord, this scandal,
Lest You give us eyes to see!
Touch us...heal us...make us whole, Lord.
Give us Grace to see Thy Tree.

Christ on the tree , (sketch) Eugene Delacroix

* * * * * * *

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away....
There is no fear of God before their eyes....
“.....no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3: 10.....20)

* * * * * * *

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3: 16-17)

* * * * * * *

“'Twas I that shed the sacred blood;
I nailed him to the tree;
I crucified the Christ of God;
I joined the mockery.
--Horatius Bonar (1808-1889, Scottish hymn writer)