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December 01, 2015

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I think this is objection to Christianity quote-mining, and is importing an assumption about how one would like a god to be, rather than learning about the God of the Bible, who is both holy and loving. Sometimes, judgement is for the purpose of chastisement. (Hebrews 12:3-11)

>> He wasn’t a magical charm to ensure battle victories for His favorite team. The God of the Old Testament is concerned about something greater than tribalism.

Isn't that the truth! This was the lesson of 1 Sam. chapter four. Trucking the Ark of the Covenant into the battlefield yielded nada. The problems of a corrupt priesthood and abuse in worship are handled quite nicely, though.

The concept is the matter of the "sacred" and how it is determined, not by the worshiper but in the manner God presented Himself to the worshiper. Those who fail to see this can make as many as 40 mistakes in comprehension.

"The odd thing is that just a couple of points earlier, the author says the Israelites just invented a tribal god that favored them, but this point seems to contradict that."

That's because the author's presupposition is causing him to use "uneven weights" in his reasoning in order to draw false conclusions that he wants to be true.

But indeed these kinds of challenges betray false presuppositions. Even without the previous contradictory challenge, the author fails to recognize that God's own revelation to us in the words of Scripture answers this question in spades. From as early as the Pentateuch, God promises that a lack of faithfulness will result in suffering. Before suffering happened throughout Israel's history God often sent prophets to warn of it and promised future deliverance. As late as the Apostles, we are told that even following Christ faithfully will result in suffering.

Our suffering serves to illustrate the deliverance provided by a suffering God and point to a faith that doesn't necessarily result in immediate material blessings. But rather we see blessings that we do not deserve in the midst of suffering, and should even see the suffering itself as a blessing. This observation points to the reality of the Messiah, not just for a moment in time, but in a way that transcends all time.

[By the way, this is why we heartily repudiate the prosperity gospel.]

This doesn't mean that we go out and seek to suffer as though that were the end rather than the means. We seek to reveal God in all righteousness. We often fail. So whether we fail and deserve to suffer or succeed to some degree and suffer in the pattern of our perfect and righteous Lord, the true Christian rejoices because God is accomplishing this end by means of our suffering.

My son had a lot of problems adjusting to his bike when we removed his training wheels. He either wanted them put back on or me running alongside of him with a hand on the back of his bike seat. Interestingly though, he did not want one of my hands on the handlebars. He wanted to steer where he wanted to go, he just never wanted to fall. But, for him to really learn to ride his bike, I had to let go of the seat. I had to let him crash into the massive shrub thicket in front of the neighbor's. I had to encourage him to get back on the bike and keep pedaling. It didn't mean I was choosing to love the shrub more than my son. I had a goal in mind bigger than the scrapes and the owies and the band-aids mom had to put on hands and knees. If I didn't let him take risks and fall, he would never take that next step toward maturity.

I also had to ingrain into him the RIGHT kind of fear. If you fear falling over on your bike, you will swerve and turn trying to stay upright. Even if a car is coming down the road, if you're more worried about falling over more than the ton of metal coming at you, you are likely to do what it takes to stay upright even if it puts you in the path of a much nastier, more fatal danger.

Fear keeps us from danger. We need to learn to fear REAL dangers, and thus learn how to protect ourselves.

The people of Israel constantly feared the other nations around them. This often led them into acting like the nations around them. They struggled to learn that what they really needed to fear was SIN. When the prophets lecture the Israelites on their shortcomings, God doesn't upbraid them for their lack of victory in battle. He calls them out on their lack of justice.

God chose the nation of Israel in Genesis chapter 12 when he calls Abraham. A few pages earlier, in chapter three, the Bible describes for us a problem in the world God made: sin. Sin shattered our relationship with God, and our relationships to each other and to the world God had made. In the next few pages we see just how bad people get right out of the gates. In chapters 6-11 God goes the route of wiping all the "bad" people out and saving the one guy, and his family, that still seem to get it. But, very quickly, Noah and his family leave the ark and the sin problem is still there. People are still rejecting God and using and hurting one another.

So we get to chapter 12 and God calls a man and builds that man's legacy into a nation. The goal is still to solve the Sin Problem, to restore mankind's relationship with God and with each other. God spends most of the next two millennia hammering into that nation what it means to be a people who are holy (living in a restored relationship with God) and righteous (restoring right relationships between one another). That way when his final solution to the Sin Problem, God Himself in the person of Jesus, shows up, they would be ready.

So the lost battles to other nations don't matter. They are not a sign that God has chosen the other nation, they are a sign that the REAL battle is about something other than geopolitics. Even though the Jews were conquered by other countries, they are still there. The Empires of Babylon and Rome ceased to exist thousands of years ago. The Jews are still there. The other nations turned out to merely be thorny thickets on the side of the road that sometimes God had to steer them into to teach them to avoid the Sin Semi barreling down the road.

"A Real God Wouldn’t Have Let His Chosen People Suffer Defeats"

He doesn't. If we understand what the Scriptures teach about "God's people" and the spiritual nature of true victory, they (we) have always overcome evil being united to Christ by the New Birth. We see this as early as Abel, Noah, Job, Abraham and others of like faith.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5)

The physical judgments on sin including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD were not carried out on God's people, but on His enemies. Any collateral damage or physical suffering on God's people is not wrath and only works for our good.

God allowed sin to enter and unfold in our lives to let us see how much we don't want something so evil to control us ever again. It must all play out so that we never want to taste of the tree of knowledge of good and evil again. Eve chose disobedience and tasted the forbidden. And we are given the choice whether we really want it or not in our own lives. It is a decision each man and woman must make for themselves.

Life can go one of two ways: Either it gets better or it gets worse. I hope it gets better. God never promised it would be a piece of cake but he did say he would be there through it all and never leave us. He never promised to win every battle for us but he did say he would be there to help us back up when we fall. We can not do this without him.

Mersfinnigan@gmail.com
Read Isaiah 8:28: all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

This basically means for me that he can change any negative situation and turn it around for our good because he is that powerful, good and loving

I think of the book of the Bible Hosea and how often God forgives us in our rebellion against him because he loves us. I will pray that we stop rebelling against him.

Someone commented about their child learning to ride a bike to explain which reminds me of an instance concerning my daughter when she was only about three. She didn't want to hold my hand when we were going down a small hill. Every time I reached for her hand she said "no mommy, I do it on my own",so reluctantly I let her. When we reached the bottom and in the process she roughly made it down herself she reached and took my hand and with a big smile walked the rest of the way with her hand in mine.

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