Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible #2
And my soul shall abhor you.
Will not abhor
I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them.
The condition is stated plainly in the intervening verse, the fortieth. If they should confess their iniquity, the Lord's "abhorrence" of them would be changed into mercy toward them. The whole context of these passages is hypothetical.
And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went.
The permission given to Balaam was conditional; "If the men come to call thee," etc. Balaam, in his eagerness, "loving the wages of unrighteousness," does not appear to have waited for the men to call him; instead of this, he volunteered to go with them. Hengstenberg 31 observes that Balaam "immediately availed himself of the permission of God to go with the Moabites, which he could only do with the secret purpose to avoid the condition which had thereby been imposed upon him, 'The word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.'" Again, "since God's anger was directed against Balaam's going with a definite intention, it involves no contradiction, when afterwards his going was permitted."
Keil thinks that God's anger was not kindled till near the close of Balaam's journey, and then by the feelings he was cherishing. A "longing for wages and honor" caused him to set out, and "the nearer he came to his destination, under the guidance of the distinguished Moabitish ambassadors, the more was his mind occupied with the honors and riches in prospect; and so completely did they take possession of his heart, that he was in danger of casting to the winds the condition which had been imposed upon him by God." Hence the divine anger was awakened.
Aben Ezra and Bechayai 32 say that the Lord had already manifested his will to Balaam that he should not go to Balak, but as if imagining God to be
31 History of Balaam and his Prophecies, pp. 345, 372.
32 Menasseh ben Israel's Conciliator, i. 265.
able, he again inquired if he might go, when the Lord, who impedes not the ways of men, permitted it—If, knowing my will, you still choose to go, do so. Hence his actual going displeased the Lord.
Henry: "As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath."
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
It is good for me to draw near to God.
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.
Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you.
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.
1 Timothy 6:16
"Obviously, the expression "draw near to God" is not to be taken in the literal sense. In relation to an omnipresent being there can be, strictly speaking, nearness, no remoteness. God is as near to one as to another. We "draw nigh" in a figurative sense, by prayer and devout meditation, by engaging in spiritual communion with him.
Psalm 10:1 and Lamentations 3:44 express a degree of impatience that God does not instantly appear, that he sees fit to leave his people temporarily in affliction.
Isaiah 45:15, Delitzsch renders, "Thou art a mysterious God," and says the meaning is, "a God who guides with marvellous strangeness the history of the nations of the earth, and by secret ways, which human eyes can never discern, conducts all to a glorious issue."
Ezekiel 20:3 was addressed to men who, while cherishing hypocrisy and wickedness in their hearts, attempted to inquire of God. Such inquirers he ever sternly repels.
First Timothy 6:16, "Dwelling in light unapproachable," is a statement of the unquestionable truth, that no mortal can literally approach God, endure the ineffable splendor of his presence, or fathom the mysteries of his existence.
No one of these texts intimates that men may not draw near to God, in the only possible way—by penitence and prayer; no one of them denies that he is accessible unto all that "call upon him in truth."
All seekers find.
If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
1 Chronicles 28:9
I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.
I am sought of them that asked not for me, I am found of them that sought me not.
He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Some do not find.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.
Strive to enter in at the straight gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.
Andrew Fuller 33 remarks: "Seeking, in Matthew, refers to the application for mercy through Jesus Christ, in the present life; but in Luke, it denotes that anxiety which the workers of iniquity will discover to be admitted into heaven at the last day. . . . Every one that seeketh mercy in the name of Jesus, while the door is open succeeds; but he that seeketh it not till the door is shut will not succeed."
The text from John was addressed to the unbelieving Jews who would not seek Christ, at the right time, nor with the right spirit. Hence, their future seeking would be unavailing. Alford: "My bodily presence will be withdrawn from you; I shall be personally in a place inaccessible to you."
These texts contain nothing whatever to debar those who seek the Savior at the proper time, and in the right way.
(YES IT IS SEEKING WHEN CALLED BY GOD; IF YOU ANSWER THE CALL YOU WILL FIND. THEN SEEKING IN THE WRONG WAY YOU WILL NOT FIND - Keith Hunt)
Early seekers successful.
Those that seek me early shall find me.
Some fail to find.
They shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.
These two texts, as the connection evinces, point to entirely different classes of persons. The text from Proverbs 8 is taken by many commentators as applicable to the young who seek God. Zockler 34 says the word here rendered "seek early," coming from a noun denoting the morning dawn, "signifies to sees something while it is yet early, in the obscurity of the morning twilight, and so illustrates eager, diligent seeking." In this opinion, many critics substantially concur. 35 On this hypothesis, the sense is, "Those who seek me in youth shall find me."
(I LIKE THE "ILLUSTRATES EAGER, DILIGENT SEEKING" FOR GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS CALL WHEN YOUNG OF AGE - Keith Hunt)
The other text, in the first chapter, rendered by Stuart, "They shall earnestly seek me, but they shall not find me," contemplates obstinate and hardened transgressors. They are described 36 as "fools" and "scorners," are said to have hated knowledge, to have not chosen the fear of the Lord, and to have despised all his reproof. The two texts may, therefore, be paraphrased thus: "Those who early and earnestly seek, shall find me; but impenitent rebels who, in the hour and from the fear of retribution, earnestly seek, shall not find me." Properly explained, there is not the slightest collision between the two texts.
God's attributes revealed
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
They are unsearchable
Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
His greatness is unsearchable.
Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
There is no searching of his understanding.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Neither of the affirmative texts intimates that God can be weighed or measured, or the depths of Deity explored by mortals.
34 In Lange on Proverbs 1:28.
35 So B. Davidson, Noyes, Parkhurst, Umbreit, Opitius, Stockius, Moore, and Frey.
36 See verses 22, 29, and 30.
Psalm 19:1 asserts that the heavens above us, the "upper deep," adorned with sun and moon and stars, "Forever singing, as they shine, 'The hand that made us is divine," are a proof and illustration of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of the Creator. They thus declare his glory.
Romans 1:20 merely implies that the invisible attributes of God, particularly his eternal power and divinity, are clearly revealed in his works. Aristotle has a strikingly similar observation, "God, who is invisible to every mortal being, is seen by his works."
Stuart: "God's invisible attributes, at least some of them, are made as it were visible, i.e. are made the object of clear and distinct apprehension, by reason of the natural creation."
His wonders recounted
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
Hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.
Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them they are more than can be numbered.
These affirmative passages are not to be rigidly interpreted. It is idle to explain the language of emotion according to a strict literalism. David neither asserts nor implies his ability to enumerate and set forth all, in the absolute sense, of God's wonderful works. His meaning is: To the extent of my ability I declare thy marvellous deeds. None of the foregoing texts impinge upon the unsearchableness of God, as to his essence and mode of existence.
God seen many times
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Na-dab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel.
Not seen by man
And he said, Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live. Exodus 33:20
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire.
And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.... And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
Exodus 33:11, 23
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
No man hath seen God at any time.
Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
The King eternal, immortal, invisible. 1 Timothy 1:17
Whom no man hath seen, nor can see. 1 Timothy 6:16
Some of the cases mentioned in the first series of texts—those of Isaiah and Daniel, for example—were visions, in which men "saw" the Deity, not with the physical eye, but with that of the soul. In most of the instances, however, something more real and objective seems to be intended. In some cases, it is said merely that "God" was seen; in others, an "angel" appears, who is identified, during the process of the narrative, with Jehovah.
It is beyond question that God-—-as a spirit—as he is in himself-—is never visible to men. In what sense, then, may he be said to have been "seen"?
He might assume temporarily, and for wise purposes, some visible form in which to manifest himself to his creatures. Cases of this kind are termed "theophanies," in which, as Hengstenberg 37 says, God appears "under a light vesture of corporeity, in a transiently-assumed human form." This seems in some instances the best solution.
He might be seen, as we may say, by proxy—in his accredited representative. This explanation is a very ancient one. In the Samaritan Pentateuch in the narratives of divine appearances, it is not God himself—-Jehovah—who is mentioned as the Person appearing, even where this is the case in the Jewish
37 Genuineness of Pent. ii. 370.
text, but always an Angel. 38 So, in the Chaldee Targum, Jacob's language stands, "I have seen the Angel of God face to face."
It is a striking fact that, in many instances, this "representative Angel" claims for himself divine honors and purposes, and accepts divine worship. 39 Respecting the nature and rank of this celestial messenger, opinion is divided. 40 Augustine, Jerome, the Romish theologians, the Socinians, Hofmann, Tholuck, Delitzsch, Kurtz, and others, hold that he was a "created angel" who personated Jehovah, acted as his proxy or nuncius. We know that it is not uncommon for a monarch to depute some nobleman to act as his proxy or representative for the time being with all needful powers and privileges.
The early church, the old Protestant theologians, Bush, Hengstenberg, Keil, Havernick, Lange, Wordsworth, with others, hold that this Angel was the Logos, the second Person in the Trinity, who temporarily assumed the human form, and thus "foreshadowed the incarnation." In this manner God was seen in his Son. On any one of these hypotheses, there is no difficulty, for God was seen, and yet not seen.
In his infinite and incomprehensible essence, as we have just said, Jehovah is seen by no mortal; but in a theophany, in his representative Angel, in the Logos who is "the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person," the "King eternal, immortal, invisible" has often been seen.
Little need be said concerning the specific cases above mentioned. The Lord spoke with his servant Moses "face to face," that is, familiarly. Two men may speak face to face in darkness, neither seeing the other.
As to Exodus 33:23, Keil says: "As the inward nature of man manifests itself in his face, and the sight of his back gives only an imperfect and outward view of him, so Moses saw only the back, and not the face of Jehovah."
Andrew Fuller:41 "The difference here seems to arise from the phrase 'face of God.' In the one case, it is expressive of great familiarity, compared with former visions and manifestations of the divine glory; in the other, of a fullness of knowledge of this glory, which is incompatible with our mortal state, if not with our capacity as creatures."
Murphy: "My face is my direct, immediate, intrinsic, self. . . . My back is my averted, mediate, extrinsic self, visible to man in my works, my word, and my personal manifestations to my people."
38 Bleek, Introduction to Old Testament, ii. 393.
39 See Genesis 18:10,14; 22:12; 31:11, 13; Acts 7:30, 32.
40 Lange on Genesis, pp. 386-391.
41 Works, i. 674 (edition in 3 vols.)
Bush: "Nothing could be more expressive than the mode adopted to convey the intimation, that while a lower degree of disclosure could be made to him, a higher could not." An important truth is couched in highly symbolical language.
As to the apparent collision between John 5:37 and those passages which represent the voice of God as heard at times by men, 42 the citation from John may be taken as asserting that no mortal ever saw the form or heard the voice which is peculiar to God. Or, as Alford suggests, the language may have been intended to apply to those persons then present, "Ye have not heard his voice, as your fathers did at Sinai; nor have ye seen his visional appearance, as did the prophets."
On either interpretation there is no difficulty.
(ALL SOMEWHAT MADE COMPLICATED. THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THE GODHEAD IS MORE THAN ONE PERSON. THE ONE WE CALL THE FATHER, HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN OR HEARD BY ANYONE. THE ONE CALLED THE SON OF GOD, JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SECOND MEMBER OF THE GODHEAD, WAS THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. HE IS GOD AS THE FATHER IS GOD. HE APPEARED AT TIMES IN HUMAN FORM TO MAN, SO COULD BE SEEN AND TOUCHED, SPEAK TO, HAVE A MEAL WITH, MEN/WOMEN; AND WAS SEEN IN HIS GLORY STATE BY MOSES BUT ONLY HIS BACK, AS NO MAN CAN SEE THE GOLRY FACE OF GOD AND LIVE, AS MOSES WAS TOLD. HE ALSO APPEARED AS BEING CALLED AN ANGEL. ALL THIS PROVED BY MY STUDIES ON THIS WEBSITE. AND THE GODHEAD WAS SEEN IN VISION AS DANIEL SAW; IN THE MIND'S EYE OR LIKE A DREAM VISION - Keith Hunt)
Similitude of God seen
The similitude of the Lord shall he behold.
No similitude visible
And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude.
The first text refers to Moses, the second to the people in general. He saw certain manifestations of God which they were not permitted to see.
God the Author of evil
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.
Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you.
Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
Not the Author of evil
A God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil.
42 See Genesis 3:8; Exodus 19:19; Deuteronomy 5:26; Job 38:1.
Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.
Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it ?
Shall there be evil in a city, Lord hath not done it?
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33
"Evil," mentioned in the first, second, third, and fifth texts, means natural, and not moral evil, or sin. Henderson says, "affliction, adversity"; Calvin, "afflictions, wars, and other adverse occurrences."
When Pompeii is buried by the volcano, Jerusalem destroyed in war, London depopulated by the plague, Lisbon overthrown by an earthquake, Chicago devastated by fire; it is God who sends these "evils" or calamities.
In Psalm 5:4, "evil," as the parallelism shows, is iniquity; in Jeremiah 29:11, it means punitive displeasure.
As to Ezekiel 20:25, the "statutes" which were "not good" are variously referred.
Calvin, Vitringa, and Havernick say the customs and practices, the idolatrous and corrupting rites, of heathenism, to which God gave over the Jews as a punishment for their ungodly disposition.43
Fairbairn: "The polluted customs and observances of heathenism." Wordsworth: "These evil practices are called 'statutes' and 'judgments,' in verse 18, like the 'statutes of Omri' in Micah 6:16."44 Umbreit and Kurtz say, "the liturgical laws which Jehovah prescribed, but which the people abused for heathen purposes."
We know that abused blessings may prove the heaviest curses. May not the meaning be that these "statutes," though good in their original design and adaptation, proved "not good" in their result, through the disobedience of those to whom they were addressed? Are not Paul's words, "And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death," 45 explanatory of the text under consideration?
Wines 46 takes the meaning to be, laws not absolutely the best, but relatively so. This view of the meaning and force of the text is confirmed by the words of our Savior. He has told us that Moses tolerated divorce among the Jews, because of the hardness of their hearts. If the Jews of Moses' time had been less hardhearted, several of his statutes would have been different. These statutes
43 Compare Psalm 81:12; Romans 1:24-25; 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
44 Compare "statutes of the heathen," 2 Kings 17:8.
45 Romans 7:10.
46 Commentary on Laws of Ancient Hebrews, p. 119.
were intended to meet special exigencies, but were not designed for universal application.
Solon, being asked whether he had furnished the best laws for the people of Athens, replied, "I have given them the best that they were able to bear."
"When divine wisdom," observes Montesquieu, 47 "said to the Jews, 'I have given you precepts which are not good,' this signifies that they had only a relative goodness; and this is the sponge which wipes out all the difficulties which are to be found in the law of Moses."
Whichever interpretation maybe adopted, none of the above texts, nor any others when properly explained, sanction the revolting proposition that God is the author of sin.
(GOD IS SAID TO CREATE EVIL ETC. BECAUSE GOD ALLOWS ALL THINGS IN THIS PRESENT AGE OF MAN. GOD IS THE ALMIGHTY, THE ONE WHO IS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING, AS ALLOWING OR PERMITTING ALL THINGS THAT THIS PRESENT AGE OFFERS. SO IN THAT SENSE GOD TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL THINGS. HE COULD STOP ANYTHING AT ANY TIME, IF HE SO DESIRED. BUT HE DOES NOT IN THIS AGE OF MAN AND SATAN. GOD DID ALLOW CERTAIN LAWS LIKE EASY DIVORCE UNDER MOSES, LAWS NOT THE ULTIMATE BEST, BUT ACCOMMODATED THE PEOPLE FOR THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEART. HE ALSO AT TIMES HANDED PEOPLE OVER TO LAWS, CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS, OF THE SPIRITUALLY BLINDED MINDS OF MEN AND NATIONS - Keith Hunt)
I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.
The anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man.
For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.
Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen.
God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth.
Free from jealousy
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.
For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.
Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before [jealousy]?48
Jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
The words "jealous" and "jealousy" are each used in a good and a bad sense. 49 Applied to God, they denote that he is intensely solicitous for his own character and honor, that he does not tolerate rivalry of any kind. An infinitely wise and holy Monarch cannot be indifferent as to the loyalty of his subjects.
Keil regards the terms as implying that God "will not transfer to another the honor that is due to himself, nor tolerate the worship of any other god"; and Bush, as denoting "a peculiar sensitiveness to everything that threatens to trench upon the honor, reverence, and esteem that he knows to be due to himself. The term will appear still more significant if it be borne in mind that idolatry in the
47 Spirit of Laws, B. 19, c. 21.
48 Zockler says the original word denotes here, not "envy," but plainly "jealousy."
49 "In the Hebrew, jealousy, envy, zeal, and anger may be expressed by a single term, [Hebrew given]; Fuerst and Gesenius.
Scriptures is frequently spoken of as spiritual adultery, and as jealousy is the rage of man so nothing can more fitly express the divine indignation against this sin than the term in question." According to Newman, 50 the phraseology brings to view "the great principle essential to all acceptance with Jehovah their God; namely to put away the worship of all other gods. This is constantly denoted by the phrase that 'Jehovah is a jealous God;' and out of it arose the perpetual metaphor of the prophet in which the relation of God to his people is compared to a marriage; the daughter of Israel being his bride or wife, and he a jealous husband. Thus also, every false god is a paramour, and the worship of them is adultery or fornication."
Hence, even in the estimation of this sceptical author, these expressions are not derogatory to the holiness of God.
Does not tempt them
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.
God tempts men
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.
Genesis 22:1 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
2 Samuel 24:1
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The Hebrew word "nissah," tempt, in the first text, means as Gesenius says, "to try, to prove any one, to put him to the test."
It is used in reference to David's trying Sauls armor, 51 and the queen of Sheba's testing the wisdom of Solomon. 52 The meaning therefore is, as in the old Genevan version, "God did prove Abraham."
Bush: "God may consistently, with all his perfections, by his providence, bring his creatures into circumstances of special probation, not for the purpose of giving him information, but in order to manifest to themselves and to others the prevailing dispositions of their hearts." God put Abraham to the proof before angels and men, that his faith and obedience might be made manifest for an example to all coming generations.
As to the second text, it is sufficient to say that God ordered or allowed such influences to affect the mind of David as should lead to a specific wrong act so
50 History of Hebrew Monarchy, p. 26.
51 1 Samuel 17:39.
52 1 Kings 10:1.
resulting in needful chastisement. Yet the ultimate end in view was the welfare of David and his people.
It should be added that, according to Lord Arthur Hervey, 53 the passage should read, "For one moved David against them." This translation would seem to change the whole aspect of the passage, and to make the numbering of the people the cause, rather than the result, of the divine displeasure.
Keil:54 "The instigation consists in the fact that God impels sinners to manifest the wickedness of their hearts in deeds, or furnishes the opportunity and the occasion for the unfolding and practical manifestation of the evil desires e£ the heart, that the sinner may either be brought to the knowledge of his more evil ways and also to repentance, through the evil deed and its consequences; or, if the heart should be hardened still more by the evil deed, that it may become ripe for the judgment of death. The instigation of a sinner to evil is simply one peculiar way in which God, as a general rule, punishes sins through sinners; for God only instigates to evil actions such as have drawn down the wrath of God upon themselves in consequence of their sin."
"Lead us not into temptation," either "Do not suffer us to be tempted to sin; or, if "temptation" here means trial, affliction, "Do not afflict or try us." Such, in substance is Mr. Barnes's view. God "tempts," tests, or tries men, but always for wise reasons, and with a good motive; he never places inducements before men merely in order to lead them into sin. His ultimate object is always good.
(LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION - TRIALS OR TESTING - TO CORRECT US. IN SIMPLE LANGUAGE WE SHOULD PRAY THAT GOD WILL NOT HAVE TO PUT US IN TRIALS AND TESTS, BUT THAT WE WILL BE EVER HUMBLE AND QUICK TO SEE AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT BEFORE GOD, HENCE THE LORD DOES NOT HAVE TO CORRECT US IN TRIALS BECAUSE OUR HEART AND MIND IS TOO HARD. AS DAVID SAID, "CORRECT ME LORD BUT NOT IN YOUR ANGER LEST I BE BROUGHT TO NOTHING." A SUPPLE MIND TOWARDS GOD'S WAYS MEANS LESS REBUKE AND CORRECTING FROM GOD - Keith Hunt)
God, a respecter of persons
And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.
And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them.
2 Kings 13:23
Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.
Does not respect them
A great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.
There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
2 Chronicles 19:7
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
For there is no respect of persons with God.
God accepteth no man's person.
Your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
The Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work.
1 Peter 1:17
53 In Bible Commentary.
54 Commentary on 1 Samuel 26:19.
The first series of texts implies a righteous and benevolent "respect," based upon a proper discrimination as to character; the second series denotes a "respect" which is partial, arising but of selfish and unworthy considerations.
The Hebrew expression, "nasa panim," in Deuteronomy 10:17 and 2 Chronicles 19:7, is to be taken, according to Gesenius, "in a bad sense, to be partial, as adjudge unjustly partial or corrupted by bribes." Fuerst gives, among other definitions, "to take the side of one with partiality.." In both of the above texts, the connection makes it clear that this is the correct interpretation. The corresponding Greek term "prosopolepsia," expressing concretely the same idea, 55 and occurring in some modification in all but one of the New Testament citations, conveys an unfavorable meaning, uniformly implying partiality.
There is therefore no collision between the two series of texts, inasmuch as they refer to widely different kinds of "respect."
The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands.
A God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord.
Fury is not in me.
God, an angry God
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
The fierce anger of the Lord is not turned back from us.
The Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
The "anger" ascribed to God in the scriptures is, as Rashi says, "the displeasure and disgust" which he experiences in view of human conduct. Let any one seriously reflect as to what must be the feelings of an infinitely wise and holy Being in regard to sin, and he can scarcely be at a loss to appreciate the meaning
55 See Hackett on Acts 10:34.
of the term, "anger of God." Prof. Tayler Lewis 56 has the following remarks: "Depart in the least from the idea of indifferentism, and we have no limit but infinity. God either cares nothing about what we call good and evil; or as the heaven of heavens is high above the earth, so far do his love for the good and his hatred of evil exceed in their intensity any corresponding human affection." The Being who loves the good with infinite intensity must hate evil with the same intensity. So far from any incompatibility between this love and this hate, they are the counterparts of each other—opposite poles of the same moral emotion. "A religion over whose portal is inscribed in letters of flame, 'I am Holy' can without risk represent God as angry, jealous, mourning, repenting. Scrupulosity, under such circumstances, is the sign of an evil conscience." 57
(SIMPLY: GOD IS ANGRY AT SIN; AND GOD WILL SHOW NO ANGER WHEN PEOPLE REPENT, HE WILL SHOW MERCY AND KINDNESS - Keith Hunt)
God, susceptible of temptation
Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
They that tempt God are even delivered.
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples.
Cannot be tempted
God cannot be tempted with evil.
Men are said, in the Bible, to "tempt" God, when they distrust his faithfulness; when they brave his displeasure; when, challenging him to work miracles in their behalf, they presumptuously expose themselves to peril; also, "by-putting obstacles in the way of his evidently determined course."58
The quotation from James, as it stands in our version, simply asserts that there is nothing in God which responds to the solicitations and blandishments of evil; it presents no attractions to him. He is not allured by it in the slightest degree.
Alford, DeWette, and Huther, however, render, in substance, "God is unversed in things evil." With either rendering there is no discrepancy. 59
God is just
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
All his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
The LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Hear now, 0 house of Israel: Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
56 In Lange on Genesis, p. 288.
57 Hengstenberg, Genuineness of Pent. ii. 327.
58 Alford on Acts 15:10.
59 On supposed sanction of Human Sacrifices, see under Ethical Discrepancies.
As to Matthew 13:12, Barnes says: "This is a proverbial mode of speaking. It means that a man who improves what light, grace, and opportunities he has shall have them increased. From him that improves them not, it is proper that they should be taken away."
Alford: "He who hath—he who not only hears with the ear, but understands with the heart, has more given to him. . . . He who hath not, in whom there is no spark of spiritual desire nor meetness to receive the engrafted word, has taken from him even that which he hath ('seemeth to have,' Luke); even the poor confused notions of heavenly doctrine which a sensual and careless life allow him are further bewildered and darkened by this simple teaching, into the depths of which he cannot penetrate so far as even to ascertain that they exist."
Drydens Juvenal furnishes a fine parallel to this text:
"Tis true poor Codrus nothing had to boast; And yet poor Codrus all that nothing lost."
Stuart says that Romans 9:11-13 "refers to the bestowment and the withholding of temporal blessings."
John Taylor, of Norwich: "Election to the present privileges and external advantages of the kingdom of God in this world; and reprobation or rejection, as it signifies the not being favored with those privileges and advantages."
Barnes: "He had preferred Jacob, and had withheld from Esau those privileges and blessings which he had conferred on the posterity of Jacob."
That temporal privileges and blessings are very unequally distributed, no one can deny. The fact is patent to the most casual observer. "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?" If this fact constitutes an objection against the justice of this world's Governor, it is an objection which the infidel is as much bound to answer as is the Christian. The truth is, the All-wise Sovereign has an unquestionable right to bestow his favors as he sees fit.
(GOD GIVES SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL BLESSINGS AS HE SEES FIT TO WHOM HE SEES FIT, AND WHEN HE SEES FIT; SOMETIMES JUST AS HE WILLS; OTHER-TIMES DEPENDING ON THE MIND-SET OF PEOPLE. IN HUMAN TERMS IT MAY BE LOOKED UPON AS LOVE AND HATE. THE HUMAN WAY OF EXPRESSION OF GOD WORKING HIS PLAN IN THE PHYSICAL AND/OR SPIRITUAL LIVES OF PEOPLE - ANOTHER HUMAN WAY TO PUT IT WOULD BE LOVE AND LESS-LOVE - Keith Hunt)
Punishes for others' sins.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.. .. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor … And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger.
What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?
Does not thus punish
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die … The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
The righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds.
As to the case of Canaan, it cannot be proved, though often assumed, that he was cursed for the misconduct of Ham, his father. Bush thinks that Ham's gross disrespect or contemptuous deportment toward his aged parent became, "under the prompting of inspiration, a suggesting occasion of the curse now pronounced. . . . Noah therefore uttered the words from an inspired foresight of the sins and abominations of the abandoned stock of the Canaanites."
Keil: "Noah, through the spirit and power of that God with whom he walked, discerned in the moral nature of his sons, and the different tendencies which they already displayed, the germinal commencement of the future course of their posterity, and uttered words of blessing and of curse which were prophetic of the history of the tribes that descended from them." The reason why Canaan alone of Ham's sons was specified "must either lie in the fact that Canaan was already walking in the steps of his father's impiety and sin, or else be sought in the name 'Canaan,' 60 in which Noah discerned, through the gift of prophecy, a significant omen; a supposition decidedly favored by the analogy of the blessing pronounced upon Japhet, 61 which is also founded upon the name."
Lange thinks that Noah's malediction is "only to be explained on the ground that, in the prophetic spirit, he saw into the future, and that the vision had for its point of departure the then present natural state of Canaan."
Aben Ezra, 62 Rashi, the Talmudists, Scaliger, and others, with Tayler Lewis, hold that Canaan too saw Noah in his exposed condition, and that he committed a cruel and wanton outrage, or some unnamed beastly crime, upon the person of the sleeping patriarch; and that this vile indignity drew down the severe denunciation upon him as the actual offender. Prof. Lewis 63 assigns the following reasons for this opinion: The Hebrew, rendered "his younger son," cannot refer to Ham, who was older than Japheth, but means the least youngest of the family, and hence is descriptive of Canaan. The words "had done unto him" mean something more than an omission or neglect. The expression is a very positive one. Something unmistakable, something very shameful had been done to the old man in his unconscious state, and of such a nature that it becomes manifest to him immediately on his recovery. "There seems to be a careful avoidance of particularity. The language has an euphemistic look, as though intimating something too vile and atrocious to be openly expressed. Thus regarded, everything seems to point to some wanton act done by the very one who is immediately named in the severe malediction that follows: 'Cursed be Canaan.' He was the youngest son of Ham, as he was also the youngest son of Noah, according to the well-established Shemitic peculiarity by which all the descendants are alike called sons." This explanation is equally plausible and natural.
On either of the above hypotheses, Canaan was punished not for others' misconduct, but for his own; hence the charge of "injustice" in the case is without foundation.
As to Exodus 20:5, we may say that Jehovah "visits" the iniquity of the fathers upon their children, in that he permits the latter to suffer the consequence of the sins of the former.
He has established such laws of matter and mind that the sins of parents result in the physical and mental disease and suffering of their offspring. The
60 That is, "the submissive one"; Keil.
61 "Widely spreading," so Gesenius.
62 See Conciliator, i. 33.
63 In Lange on Genesis, p. 338.
drunkard bequeaths to his children poverty, shame, wretchedness, impaired health, and not infrequently a burning thirst for strong drink. The licentious man often transmits to his helpless offspring his depraved appetites and loathsome diseases. And this transmission or "visitation" of evil takes place in accordance with the inflexible laws of the universe. Obviously "injustice" is no less chargeable upon the Author of "the laws of nature" than upon the Author of the Bible.
Even if the above text conveys the idea not only of suffering, but also of punishment, yet the language, "unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me," indicates children who are sinful like their parents. Hengstenberg: 64 "The threatening is directed against those children who tread in their fathers' footsteps." Plainly children are intended who imitate and adopt the sinful habits and practices of their parents; hence, being morally, as well as physically, the representatives and heirs of their parents, they may be, in a certain sense, punished for the sins of those parents. Bush: "The tokens of the divine displeasure were to flow along the line of those who continued the haters of God."
As to the case of Achan's sons and daughters, Canon Browne 65 says: "The sanguinary severity of Oriental nations, from which the Jewish people were by no means free, has in all ages involved the children in the punishment of the father." Many, however, think that Achan's sons and daughters were simply taken into the valley to be spectators of the punishment inflicted upon the father, that it might be a warning to them. Some explain the execution upon the ground of God's sovereignty, and his consequent right to-send death at any time and in any form he pleases.
Keil and others hold that Achan's sons and daughters were accomplices in his crime. "The things themselves had been abstracted from the booty by Achan alone; but he had hidden them in his tent, buried them in the earth, which could hardly have been done so secretly that his sons and daughters knew nothing of it. By so doing he had made his family participators in his theft; they therefore fell under the ban along with him, together with their tent, their cattle, and the rest of their property, which were all involved in the consequences of his crime."
The "proverb," Ezekiel 18:2, implied that the sufferings of the Israelites, at that time, were not at all in consequence of their own sins, but exclusively for the sins of their ancestors—a false and dangerous idea, fitly rebuked by the Almighty.
64 On Genesis of Pent. ii. 448.
65 In Smith's Bib. Diet., Art. "Achan."
Slays the righteous with the wicked.
This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north.
Spares the righteous
Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God … When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.
Now the just shall live by faith.
The first texts do not teach that God, regardless of character, cuts down the evil and the good together. The two classes may be alike in the external circumstances of their death; but they are totally unlike in their destiny. The righteous are, at death and by death, "taken away from the evil to come." 66 It may be the greatest possible blessing, the highest mark of the divine favor, to a good man to be summarily and forever removed from the sorrows and impending evils of earth to the ineffable bliss and repose of heaven. The second series of texts refers to spiritual, and not earthly life. Since the two series of passages contemplate things entirely different, there is no collision between them.
(IN GOD DEALING WITH A NATION, WITH ISRAEL, AND THE PUNISHMENT TO COME ON THEM, THE HUMAN, AS HUMANS LOOK AT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS, BOTH WOULD SUFFER THE SWORD. YES IT IS TRUE, SOMETIMES IN PUNISHING A NATION WITH THE SWORD, SOME TRUE SAINTS OF GOD ALSO SUFFER DEATH. SO IT HAS BEEN DOWN THROUGH HISTORY. SO IT WILL BE AT THE END OF THIS AGE, AND DURING THE LAST GREAT TRIBULATION, SOME SAINTS WILL GIVE THEIR LIVES FOR THE TRUTHS OF GOD - Keith Hunt)
God witholds his blessings
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Bestows them freely
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him.
66 Isaiah 57:1-2.
The limiting clauses of the first three texts, "hands full of blood," "ill behavior," and "asking amiss," show clearly why God withholds his blessings in these cases. Moreover, the connection in which the last two texts stand evinces that these texts were not intended to be of universal application. They contemplate those persons only who "ask in faith." 67 Everyone that asketh aright, receives. The principle upon which God, in answer to prayer, bestows his blessings is thus enunciated: "If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us." 68 It should be added that such limiting clauses as the above are, in order to make out a contradiction, dishonestly suppressed by those writers who engage in the manufacture of "discrepancies."
Hardens men's hearts
And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might show these my signs before him.
And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.
O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
They harden their own hearts
But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them.. .. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
Exodus 8:15, 32
And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants.
Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?
1 Samuel 6:6
And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel.
2 Chronicles 36:13
Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.
67 See James 1:6. 681 John 5:14.
We may premise that the rejection of truth and the abuse of blessings tend ever to "harden the heart." God, therefore, by making known his truth and by bestowing his blessings, indirectly "hardens" men's hearts; that is, furnishes occasion for their hardening. Thus, the divine mercy to Pharaoh in the withdrawal of the plagues at his request became the occasion of increasing his hardness. When he saw that there was respite, that the rain and hail and thunder ceased, he hardened his heart. 69 In brief, God hardened Pharaoh's heart by removing calamities, and bestowing blessings; Pharaoh hardened his own heart by perverting these blessings and abusing the grace of God.
Theodoret: 70 "The sun, by the force of its heat, moistens the wax and dries the clay, softening the one and hardening the other; and, as this produces opposite effects by the same power, so, through the long-suffering of God, which readies to all, some receive good and others evil; some are softened, and others hardened."
Stuart, 71 concerning Pharaoh: "The Lord hardened his heart, because the Lord was the author of commands and messages and miracles which were the occasion of Pharaoh's hardening his own heart."
Dr. Davidson: 72 "This does not mean that he infused positive wickedness or obstinacy into the mind, or that he influenced it in any way inconsistent with his perfections, but that he withdrew his grace, allowed the heart of Pharaoh to take its natural course, and thus to become harder and harder. He permitted it to be hardened?
Keil, on Exodus 4:21, observes: "In this twofold manner God produces hardness, not only permissive, but effective, i.e. not only by giving time and space for the manifestations of human opposition, even to the utmost limits of creaturely freedom, but still more by those continued manifestations of his will which drive the hard heart to such utter obduracy that it is no longer capable of
69 See Exodus 8:15 and 9:34.
70 Quaest. 12 in Exodus.
71 Com. on Romans, Excursus xi. p. 483.
72 Sacred Hermen., pp. 545-546.
returning, and so giving over the hardened sinner to the judgment of damnation. This is what we find in the case of Pharaoh."
As to Sihon, Deuteronomy2:30, God providentially arranged circumstances so that the malignant wickedness of his heart should develop and culminate in "hardness" and "obstinacy," bringing upon him merited destruction.
Bush, on Joshua 11:20: "God was now pleased to leave them to judicial hardness of heart, to give them up to vain confidence, pride, stubbornness, and malignity, that they might bring upon themselves his righteous vengeance, and be utterly destroyed."
As to the ancient Jews, God hardened their hearts, in that by his providence he sustained them in life, upheld the use of all their powers, caused the prophets to warn and reprove them, and placed them in circumstances where they must receive these warnings and reproofs. Under this arrangement of his providence, they became more hardened and wicked.
Delitzsch, on Isaiah 63:17, remarks: "When men have scornfully and obstinately rejected the grace of God, he withdraws it from them judicially, gives them up to their wanderings, and makes their heart incapable of faith. . . . The history of Israel, from chapter 6 onwards, has been the history of such a gradual judgment of hardening, and such a curse, eating deeper and deeper, and spreading its influence wider and wider round."
Barnes, on John 12:40: "God suffers the truth to produce a regular effect on sinful minds, without putting forth any positive supernatural influence to prevent it. The effect of truth on such minds is to irritate, to enrage, and to harden, unless counteracted by the grace of God. And, as God knew this, and knowing it still, sent the message, and suffered it to produce the regular effect, the evangelist says, 'He hath blinded their minds."'
Alford, on Romans 9:18: "Whatever difficulty there lies in this assertion that God hardeneth whom he will, lies also in the daily course of his providence, in which we see this hardening process going on in the case of the prosperous ungodly man."
(IN ROMANS 9 AND CONTEXT OF SPIRITUAL SALVATION, IT IS GOD WHO IS WORKING HIS PLAN OF SALVATION ACCORDING TO HIS WILL; HENCE SOME, THE MAJORITY ARE LEFT IN BLINDNESS, NOT CALLED TO SALVATION, WHILE THE RELATIVELY FEW ARE CALLED AND CHOSEN. GOD'S SALVATION HAS A PLAN FOR ALL MANKIND. SEE MY STUDY CALLED "THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT" - Keith Hunt)
He is warlike
The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
The Lord of hosts is his name.
Now the God of peace be with you all. Romans 15:33
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:33
These two sets of texts present God in a twofold aspect—in his attitude toward sin and incorrigible sinners, on the one hand, and that toward holiness and the good, on the other. He is hostile in respect to the one, and friendly in relation to the other. All his attributes are at war with evil, but at peace with "that which is good." Every good magistrate and ruler sustains a similar twofold relation. His attitude toward law-abiding citizens is a peaceful one, while in respect to evildoers he "beareth not the sword in vain." 73
Unmerciful and ferocious
And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee: thine eye shall have no pity upon them.
And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and three score and ten men.
1 Samuel 6:19
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not: but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
1 Samuel 15:2-3
And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
For our God is a consuming fire.
Merciful and kind
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
God is love.
1 John 4:16
As to the injunction to slay the Canaanites, in Deuteronomy 7, see the discussion elsewhere.74 In respect to the Bethshemites, there is, in all probability, a mistake in the number specified. "Seventy men" is the true reading, with which Josephus 75 agrees. Copyists often made these mistakes, by taking one numeral letter for another which closely resembled it. In our present Hebrew text the words stand
73 See Romans 13:3-4.
74 Ethical Discrepancies; "Enemies, treatment."
75 Antiq. vi. 1, 4.
"seventy men, fifty thousand men." But in several manuscripts the Hebrew answering to "fifty thousand men" is entirely wanting. From this circumstance, and the fact that the town of Bethshemesh could by no means furnish anything like fifty thousand men, Keil and others hold that the expression "fifty thousand men" has rightfully no place in the text, but has crept in, by some oversight, from the margin. 76 But it may be asserted that the element of number does not necessarily come into the account—that the death of one person, under those circumstances, presents as real a difficulty as would that of fifty thousand persons. It is needful to say only that these Bethshemites evinced a profane and sacrilegious curiosity, and disobeyed the most solemn, explicit, and repeated warnings of Jehovah. For example, we read, in respect to some of the Levites even, "The sons of Kohath shall come to bear it; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die"; and "They shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die." 77 The rabbis say that the Bethshemites actually opened and looked into the ark. It was essential to teach the people, at this time, a solemn and effective lesson with reference to the proper mode of dealing with sacred things and of approaching Jehovah.
The reason for the command in 1 Samuel 15 is as follows: When the Hebrews were toiling along on their weary pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan, the Amalekites hung upon their rear, laid wait for them, and butchered in cold blood all who were unable to keep up with the main body. The following is the artless language of the sacred historian: "Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God."78
They did this, says Keil, "not merely for the purpose of plundering, or of disputing the possession of this district and its pasture grounds with the Israelites, but to assail Israel as the nation of God, and, if possible, to destroy it." The Amalekites, as we gather from the narrative, were, in earlier and in later times a horde of ferocious and bloodthirsty guerrillas. It seemed best to the Almighty to extirpate a race so hardened and depraved, so utterly lost to the nobler feelings of mankind. Hence he said to Saul: "Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites." 79 In pursuance of this object, he was ordered to "slay both man and woman, infant and suckling."
76 Lord Arthur Hervey, in Bible Commentary, expresses the opinion that the error arose from the use of numeral-letters; Ayin denoting 70 being mistaken for dotted Nun representing 50000.
77 Numbers 4:15 and 20.
78 Deuteronomy 25:17-18.
79 1 Samuel 15:18.
It is objected that this command proves God to be "cruel." If so, the fact that in numberless cases he slays tender babes, innocent little ones, by painful diseases, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like, militates equally against him. The charge of "cruelty" lies just as heavily against the order of things in this world, by whatever name it may be designated, as it does against Jehovah.
Besides, had the women and children been spared, there would soon have been a fresh crop of adult Amalekites, precisely like their predecessors. Or, suppose merely the children had been saved; if left to care for themselves, they must have miserably perished of starvation; if adopted and reared in Israelite families, they might, from their hereditary dispositions and proclivities to evil, have proved a most undesirable and pernicious element in the nation. It was, doubtless, on the whole, the best thing for the world that the Amalekite race should be exterminated.
(WE DO NOT ALWAYS SEE AS GOD SEES; SOMETIMES WE ARE NOT TOLD ALL THE REASONS AS TO WHY GOD DOES CERTAIN THINGS THE WAY HE DOES THEM. WE DO NOT SEE THE DEPTH OF WHAT GOD SEES, OR THE FUTURE THAT HE SEES; HENCE HIS DECISION TO DO WHAT HE DECIDES TO DO - Keiht Hunt)
The people so severely threatened in Jeremiah 13:14 were abominably corrupt and depraved. In Jeremiah 7:9, they are charged with theft, murder, adultery, perjury, burning incense to Baal, and with idolatry in general. Yet, as the connection 80 clearly shows, the severe threatening above mentioned was a conditional one. They might have repented, and escaped. They would not reform, hence the threatening was strictly carried out.
As to Hebrews 12:29, God is a "consuming fire" in respect to evil and evildoers. According to Afford, the fact that "God's anger continues to burn now, as then, against those who reject his kingdom, is brought in; and in the background lie all those gracious dealings by which the fire of God's presence and purity becomes to his people, while it consumes their vanity and sin and earthly state, the fire of purity and light and love for their enduring citizenship of his kingdom."
His anger fierce and lasting
The fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the Lord, was consumed. Numbers 32:13
Wilt thou be angry with, us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?
Slow and brief
For his anger endureth but a moment.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
See Jeremiah 13:15-17.
The "fierce anger" of the Lord is his intense and infinite displeasure at everything unholy and evil. He is "slow to anger"; for though he feels an infinite abhorrence of sin, yet he bears-long with the sinner, before giving punitive expression to that abhorrence. He dealt very patiently with the Israelites, as their history abundantly shows.
As to Psalm 30:5, Delitzsch observes: "'A moment passes in his anger, a (whole) life in his favor, that is, the former endures only for a moment, the latter, the whole life of a man."
The anger of God ceases upon the repentance of the sinner. In relation to a certain class of persons, that anger is fierce and lasting, but with respect to a different class, it is slow and brief.
Fearful to fall into his hands
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord: for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
2 Samuel 24:14
The first text refers to the case of apostates and other incorrigible sinners; the second to the case of those who are truly penitent. Alford: "The two sentiments are easily set at one. For the faithful, in their chastisement, it is a blessed thing to fall into God's hands; for the unfaithful, in their doom, a dreadful one."
Laughs at sinner's overthrow
I also will laugh at your calamity: I will mock when your fear cometh.
Has no pleasure in it
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
The persons addressed in the first text are obdurate despisers and scorners who have persistently rejected God's admonitions. So, when calamities overtake them, he contemptuously rejects their prayers, which have no trace of penitence in them, but are the offspring of base fear. On this passage Stuart comments as follows: "I shall henceforth treat you as enemies who deserve contempt. . . . The intensity of the tropical language here makes the expression exceedingly strong. Laughing at and mocking are expressions of the highest and most contemptuous indignation."
The second text refers to persons who, though sinful, were less hardened and in a more hopeful condition than the former class.
A God of Justice
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
The Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
2 Chronicles 30:9
God's justice is not restricted to what is termed "distributive justice," which gives to every man his exact desserts, leaving no room for the exercise of mercy. The divine justice is that "general justice" which carries out completely all the ends of law, sometimes by remitting, and at other times by inflicting, the penalty, according as the offender is penitent or otherwise. Every wise parent and ruler employs general justice, securing the great ends of government by punishing offenders, or by showing mercy, as circumstances may warrant. The following is a striking passage: "Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work." 81 From this text it would seem that, in the Psalmist's view, mercy and justice are so far from being incompatible, that the one attribute is dependent upon the other. "Thou art merciful, for thou art just." Hengstenberg: "He must have lovingkindness, inasmuch as it is involved in the very idea of God as the righteous One, that he recompense every one according to his work, and therefore manifest himself as compassionate to the righteous, while he destroys the wicked."
He hates same.
Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.
Is kind to all
The Lord is good to all.
The word "hate" is used here, as often in scripture, 82 in the sense of to love less. If one person was preferred to another, the former was said to be "loved," the latter "hated." Henderson observes: "As the opposite of love is hatred, when there is only an inferior degree of the former exhibited, the object of it is regarded as being hated, rather than loved."
81 Psalm 62:12.
82 See Genesis 29:30-31; Proverbs 13:24; also Luke 14:26, compared with Matthew 10:37.
God cannot lie
The Strength of Israel will not lie.
1 Samuel 15:29
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie.
Sends forth lying spirits
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shall persuade him, and prevail also; go forth, and do so. Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.
1 Kings 22:19-23
The whole declaration of Micaiah, in the passage, is a highly figurative and poetical description of a vision he had seen. Putting aside its rhetorical drapery, the gist of the whole passage is that God for judicial purposes suffered Ahab to be fatally deceived. Bahr: "Because Ahab, who had abandoned God and hardened his heart, desired to use prophecy for his own purposes, it is determined that he shall be led to ruin by prophecy. As God often used the heathen nations as the rod of his wrath for the chastisement of Israel (Isaiah 10:5), so now he uses Ahab's false prophets to bring upon Ahab the judgment which Elijah had foretold against him."
A. Fuller:83 "That spirit to whom thou hast sold thyself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord now desires thee as his prey. He that has seduced thee into sin now asks permission of God to deceive thy prophets, that he may plunge thee into destruction; and God has granted him his desire. And that which Satan is doing for his own ends, God will do for his. There is as much of the judicial hand of God in a lying spirit having misled thy prophets as of readiness in the evil one to entangle and seize thee as his prey."
(AGAIN, GOD ALLOWING EVIL AND DECEPTION, TO GO FORTH, BECAUSE HUMANS ARE ON A MIND-SET TO DO EVIL AND SIN, SO PUNISHMENT WILL COME TO ALL WORK, IN THE LONG-RUN FOR GOD'S WILL, JUSTICE, AND WORK, IN THE WORKING WITH HIS PEOPLE THROUGH THEIR HISTORY, SO ALSO BRINGING TO PASS THE OFTEN PROPHETIC MESSAGE GOD SENT OUT TO HIS PEOPLE, IN WARNING ADMONITIONS - Keith Hunt)
83 Works, Vol. i. p. 620.
Keil: "Jehovah sends this spirit, inasmuch as the deception of Ahab has been inflicted upon him as a judgment of God for his unbelief. But there is no statement here to the effect that this lying spirit proceeded from Satan, because the object of the prophet was simply to bring out the working of God in the deception practised upon Ahab by his prophets. . . . Jehovah has ordained that Ahab, being led astray by a prediction of his prophets inspired by the spirit of lies, shall enter upon the war, that he may find therein the punishment of his ungodliness."
Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing.
Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord.
1 Samuel 16:2
O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed.
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
Even him, whose coming is after-the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a He: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness..
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
On the text from 1 Samuel, Calvin says: "There was no dissimulation or falsehood in this, since God really wished his prophet to find safety under the pretext of the sacrifice. A sacrifice was therefore really offered, and the prophet was protected thereby, so that he was not exposed to any danger until the time of full revelation arrived."
Keil: "There was no untruth in this; for Samuel was really about to conduct a sacrificial festival, and was to invite Jesse's family to it, and then anoint the one whom Jehovah should point out to him as the chosen one. It was simply a concealment of the principal object of his mission from any who might make inquiry about it because they themselves had not been invited."
It is our privilege to withhold the truth from persons who have no right to know it, and who, as we have reason to believe, would make a bad use of it. Lord Arthur Hervey 84 well observes: "Secrecy and concealment are not the same as duplicity and falsehood. Concealment of a good purpose, for a good purpose, is clearly justifiable; for example, in war, in medical treatment, in state policy, and in the ordinary affairs of life. In the providential government of the world, and in God's dealings with individuals, concealment of his purpose, till the proper time for its development, is the rule, rather than the exception, and must be so."
Jeremiah 20:7 is rendered by Davidson 85 thus: "O Lord, thou hast constrained me, and I was constrained."
Henderson: "'Thou didst persuade me, O Jehovah, and I was persuaded.' The prophet alludes to his reluctance to accept the prophetical office, which it required powerful inducements from Jehovah to overcome." Naegelsbach, in Lange, gives a similar version.
Ezekiel 14:9, which refers to idolatrous prophets, exhibits the fact that when men, without divine authority, set up as prophets, God, in order to expose the falsity of their pretensions, "deceives" them; that is, he so orders circumstances that these prophets will utter false and foolish predictions, which by their failure shall disclose the true character of their authors, and overwhelm them with shame and disgrace.
(GOD KNOWS THE HUMAN HEART; PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR; THEIR HEART TOWARDS GOD IS NOT TRUE; SO FALSE DECEIVERS ARE ALLOWED BY GOD TO COME, AND DECEIVE; HE GIVES THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. BUT INDEED THE PEOPLE WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DECEPTIONS THEY DESIRE AS WELL AS THE FALSE PROPHET. IT IS WE REAP WHAT WE SOW. ALL WILLFUL DECEIVERS HAVE THEIR OWN PART IN TEACHING DECEPTIONS, ALONG WITH THE DEMONIC FORCES WHO ARE EVER IN THE GAME OF DECEPTION - Keith Hunt)
As to the last text of the second series above, observe the description of the persons contemplated by it. The "deceivableness of unrighteousness" is in them; they neither love nor believe the truth, but have "pleasure in unrighteousness." They deliberately choose error. As they prefer falsehood and delusion to truth, God gives them their choice in full measure. With a judicial purpose, he gives them what they love, together with all its fearful consequences. 86
Alford: "He is the judicial sender and doer; it is he who hardens the heart which has chosen the evil way."
Ellicott: "The words are definite and significant; they point to that 'judicial infatuation' into which, in the development of his just government of the world, God causes evil and error to be unfolded, and which he brings into punitive agency in the case of all obstinate and truth-hating rejection of his offers and calls of mercy."
84 In Bible Commentary.
85 Introd. to Old Testament, Vol. ii. p. 435.
86 See South's Sermon on Falsehood and Lying, Works, i. pp. 192-203. Also, Miiller, Doctrine of Sin, ii. pp. 413-415 (second edition).
Habitation of God
Dwells in light
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.
1 Timothy 6:16
Dwells in darkness
Then spake Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
1 Kings 8:12
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Clouds and darkness are round about him.
The meaning may be that that in which God dwells is "light" to him, but "darkness" to us. The morning sun, which is light to the eagle, is darkness and blindness to nocturnal animals.
A better explanation, perhaps, is the following: Imagery of various and widely diverse kinds is employed in the scriptures to set forth the attributes of God and his immeasurable remove from finite conditions and creatures. Where two or more figures are employed to illustrate the same idea, we should look for the common features of resemblance or common point of comparison. In the case before us, both of the figurative expressions—"unapproachable light" and "thick darkness"-—set forth vividly and equally well the unsearchableness of God in relation to his creatures. This is the point which, in the present instance, the sacred writers intended to illustrate and beyond this their language should not be pressed.
(GOD'S ESSENCE IS LIGHT; PURITY; BUT TOWARDS MAN HE ALSO DWELLS IN ANYTHING BE IT THE SUNLIGHT, OR CLOUDS OF DARKNESS; BE IT THE RAIN OR THE STORM; BE IT THE SKY OR THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA. FOR MAN GOD CAN DWELL ANYWHERE. BUT WHERE HE LIVES, IN HIS HEAVENLY THRONE, THERE IS ONLY PURE GLORIOUS LIGHT - Keith HNunt)
Dwells in chosen Temples
And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice ... For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
2 Chronicles 7:12,16
Does not dwell there
Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
Howbeit, the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.
Observe, first, that God does not promise to "dwell" in the temple. He says he had chosen it, not as a residence, but as a "house of sacrifice." So Solomon understood it, for he says: "But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?" 87 The promise that
87 2 Chronicles 2:6.
the name, heart, and eyes of Jehovah should be there, meant simply that he would regard the house with peculiar favor, and manifest his power and grace in it. It is to be noted, secondly, that the whole promise was conditional, as is explicitly stated in the following verses: "But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations." 88 As the conditions were not complied with, the promise was of course not binding. The quotation from Acts merely affirms that the infinite, omnipresent Spirit is not restricted to any one locality, or confined to any single place of worship.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy.
Dwells with men
And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2 Corinthians 6:16
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
An omnipresent Being may do both-—-dwell in eternity, and with men too. The "omnipresence" of God is his power to develop his activity everywhere at once. Hence, in this view, the passages present no difficulty.
2 Chronicles 7:19-20. Kimchi and Rashi give this explanation of the case.
Dwells in heaven.
Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
Dwells in Zion
Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion.
In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwellingplace in Zion.
To a mind capable of comprehending the meaning of the term "omnipresence" these texts are seen to be in perfect harmony. Most simply, yet sublimely, is the idea expressed by the inspired prophet: "Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord." 89
Position God assumes
There will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
A different one
The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.
This is a fair specimen of the trivial, verbal discrepancies which certain infidel writers palm off upon their careless or ignorant readers as cases of real contradiction. Of course, no person of candor and common sense would think of interpreting the language literally. The figure "sit" brings graphically to view the deliberateness and impartiality with which God judges men; the term "standeth" represents him as in the act of executing his judgments.
(FIGURES OF SPEECH AS GOD EXECUTES HIS JUDGMENTS UPON ALL PEOPLES; HE CAN DO IT IN ANY POSITION AS FAR AS THE WAY HUMANS COULD LOOK UPON IT. COULD HE SIT AND PLEAD AS WELL AS STAND AND PLEAD? OF COURSE! IT IS THE POETIC WAY TO TEACH THAT GOD CAN DO ANYTHING IN ANY POSITION WE HUMANS MAY WANT TO THINK - Keith Hunt)
Law of God
A law of liberty
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Tends to bondage
These are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage.
The "law" of the first, is not identical with the "covenant" of the second passage. The former refers to the norm or rule of life contained in the gospel. It is Christ's law of love, purity, and liberty as embodied in the Sermon on the Mount.
Alford: "It is the law of our liberty, not as in contrast with a former law of bondage, but as viewed on the side of its being the law of the new life and birth, with all its spontaneous and free development of obedience."
On the contrary, the "covenant" is the Mosaic law, with its complicated and burdensome ritual. This gendered to bondage. Ellicott comments thus: "'Bearing children unto bondage' i.e. to pass under and to inherit the lot of bondage." Peter terms it a "yoke," which "neither our fathers nor we were able to bear." 90 As, therefore, the two texts refer to entirely different things, there is no collision.
(ONE IS THE LAW OF LIBERTY; THE TEN COMMANDMENTS; OUT FROM ITS CONDEMNATION, WE CAN OBEY IT UNDER GRACE. THE COVENANT FROM SINAI - TRYING TO GAIN SALVATION BY OBEYING THE OLD COVENANT IS IMPOSSIBLE, DOING SUCH AS NOT POSSIBLE, AS IT WAS NEVER INTENDED FOR SALVATION, WOULD ONLY LEAD TO BONDAGE OF NEVER BEING SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS - Keith Hunt)
Law is perfect
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty.
It perfected nothing
For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.
As in the preceding instance, these texts refer to different things—the former to the Christian, the latter to the Mosaic, law. Besides, were the same law intended in both cases, it would by no means follow that a perfect law necessarily secures perfect obedience.
Observance tends to life
Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth these things shall live by them.
Tends to death
Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live; and I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord.
And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
90 Acts 15:10.
The first two texts affirm the general principle that obedience secures felicity, but do not say that any human being renders this obedience, in the full and perfect sense. The words, "if a man do," are merely hypothetical.
Ezekiel's words, taken in their connection, are explained by Kimchi 91 in the following manner: As the Israelites did not choose to observe the comparatively mild statutes of God whereby they might have lived happily, he substituted other statutes, so different from the first as to render it impossible to live under them, by subjecting that disobedient people to those enemies who instituted violent and rigorous laws against them. That is, the "statutes not good" were not the Mosaic statutes, but those of heathen tyrants and oppressors, to whom, from time to time, God delivered the Jews in punishment of their sins. 92
The commandment which was fitted and intended to secure life, Saul, through transgression, found to result in death. Our criminal law, which makes hanging the penalty of the crime of murder, is designed for the preservation of life. But the murderer who is tried, convicted, and executed under that law finds it a law "unto death."
The quotation from Galatians maybe paraphrased thus: "If there had been a law given which could"—under the circumstances, "which could"—-amid the limitations, frailties, and imperfect obedience of humanity, "have given life." The law requires perfect obedience, in order to life. But it is absolutely certain that man does not, and will not, render this obedience; hence the law cannot give life to him. No law, as such, can give life to sinners. In brief, we may say that the first series of texts implies that the design and normal tendency of the law is life; the last, that, through mans imperfection and disobedience, the actual result is death. Hence, there is clearly no discrepancy.
TO BE CONTINUED