Contradiction #2 – Is God a ‘Man of War’ or a ‘Man of Peace’?

EXO 15:3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.

ROM 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

1. I believe the Exodus verse is more of a translation issue: The Hebrew more literally says “the Lord is a warrior: the Lord is His name.” the word translated as ‘man of war’ is the Hebrew word milchamah which is used 319 times throughout the Old Testament. In many cases it’s used in its plural form and translated as men of war. or Warriors.

Again, the context for this text is poetry, or a song or a warriors bard if you want to call it that. Moses is rejoicing and giving thanks to the Lord that the people had victory over their adversaries.

Romans 15:33; is the closing of a letter to the church residing in Rome. A few thousand years later, and a massive event involving the recent life death and resurrection of Jesus. One would assume that ‘peace/harmony/reconciliation/unity’ (words translated from the same greek word ‘eirene’) is a good word to be used when God’s people came to the realisation of the gravity of God’s act of salvation. An act that changed the way in which God dealt with sin.

2. In today’s age we have many people in authority that have authority over military forces. Let’s take Julia Gillard as an example. (A bad one I know, but it’s late) She gives jurisdiction and authority to Australian troops to operate in Afghanistan. We must all agree that it hardly makes her a ‘woman of war’. In the same way myself, serving as an Army medic, would not say that I am a ‘man of war’ but I can see a need for it, and I am willing to serve in it, in order to serve my country.  I might be a warrior, but most definitely not a ‘man of war’. In the same way, God is not stereotyped as a MAN OF WAR, yet He does wage a war good versus evil. He does give authority (at times) for his people to participate in war both defensively and offensively.

3. So is God a man of peace or of war? In pushing back, I would ask the question, Do peace and war need to be mutually exclusive? In a fallen world with people operating outside of God’s ideal, then there needs to be some form of control measure, there needs to be some form of protection. The bible paints a picture of a pre-fallen world where war wasn’t needed. God had no intention for there to be war. In that context without hesitation, everyone must acknowledge that God is a God of peace. However, post-fall is a little more complicated, man’s greed, lust and selfishness led him into battle after battle. In a wider theology of the entire bible we can see God allowing mankind to make his own decisions and also often giving man what he wants. Their actions come hand in hand with their punishment. (cf. Num 11:31-35 eating quail unto death). When man craves war, God gives it to him. It seems to be in mans nature to create conflict. I think (and correct me if I’m wrong, as I am sure you will) that after man had chosen to make his own decisions, to create his own destiny, it was man who sought out war. The Lord will use even man’s evil behaviour to benefit his Kingdom.

Therefore I think the Lord is a warrior. He has warrior like qualities. He at times supports conflict in order to achieve His aims through men. But I find it difficult to give God the primary characteristic of WAR or WARLIKE especially when His first and most perfect creation was filled with PEACE.

Contradiction #1 – Is God Good ‘To All’ or ‘Just A Few’?

I’ve decided to do something a little different. A while ago I got given a list of contradictions in the bible. I believe that the bible is without contraction. So this is my effort to refute each one. this is for my benefit primarily. But feel free to interact using comments / Facebook / email. I am happy to change things up, or discuss where you think I am wrong. There lots of them, so only a couple at a time. God bless. In red is the supplied contradiction. 

PSA 145:9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

JER 13:14 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.

[Editor’s note: Some readers have raised an objection to this alleged contradiction. They point out that PSA 145:20 states that The Lord keeps all who love Him, but that He will destroy the wicked. In other words, some see no contradiction between “The Lord is good to all” and JER 13:14. Others contend, however, that even if the Lord destroys the wicked he could do so with compassion, pity, and mercy. Further, there are biblical examples that indicate that the Lord is not necessarily “good” or merciful– even to those who are not wicked. One such example is Job. As one reader points out, “If Psalm 145:9 was not a contradiction of Psalm 145:20 or Jeremiah 13:14, it would read something like

this: “The LORD is good to all, except the wicked: and his tender mercies are over all his works, except when He is punishing the wicked.” In any case, the idea that the Lord is good and merciful is contradicted by countless examples in the Bible where God orders the destruction of infants, personally kills David’s infant child, etc.]

1. Psalms are poetry, love songs written to God. In all cultures, both past and present that tends to manipulate the rules of absolutes. One could argue that the Bible should be beyond such rules, but as it is written by man, for man, to accommodate humanity such rules still apply. The bible is divinely inspired and is perfect to serve its purpose in pointing man to Christ. Although this is not the reason this psalm was written (like using a balloon to hammer nails) we can see in the case of Ps145:20 (as is written in the editors note) the contrast between just and unjust punishment. The God of scripture, in His authority has the right to reprimand as He sees fit. To some God will show kindness and mercy, to others He will punish. This occurs according to His discretion. This concept is supported by the rest of the bible.

In the case of Jeremiah 13:14, the book has a prophetic overtone to it, leading to a different form of literary construct. At this point Jerry is predicting the future of God’s justice if God’s people choose to rebel against Him. This hasn’t happened, but will happen if the people don’t obey God.

2. A parallel might be that ‘you wouldn’t allow a son to be involved in the family business if he was repeatedly bringing dishonour to the company by dealing drugs under the company banner. Your consequence might be to sack him, might even be to tell the police.’ In the same way God’s people bring shame to God’s reputation and here in Jer13:14 the consequences for such are outlined.

3. This text is unsettling because as children we are (sometimes unhelpfully) told that God is all about LOVE, LOVE and more LOVE. Often Christians grow up with a poor understanding of how God responds to rebellion. And that is with ANGER. This undoubtedly leads to people questioning the consistency of God through his dealings with the world. The Jer13:14 text is also unsettling because it moves family members into conflict father and son against each other. The breaking up of the family unit has been a sore point for all generations, because in our human nature it is such basic instinct to protect that. The question then gets asked “even a loving God sees the value of family and why would he mess with that?”. The unsettling answer is ‘God has created all mankind to be in union with Himself as one large family. Jeremiah foretelling of destruction has nothing to do with the issues of mercy, it has to do with the issues of justice. In a pre-Jesus context God directly punishes humans for all their rebellion. And in all cases His punishment is severe. If God were to allow sin to go unnoticed, that would be a contradiction. Find me that example and I will be stuck. Therefore in His perfectly consistent behaviour He punishes the rebellious. Unsettling, but biblical.

Kids are: Disciples in training. Not disciples in waiting.

When I started working at Creek Road Presbyterian Church I was reluctant to enter kids ministry. I felt it was a long way from where I wanted to serve. I’m so glad that I gave it a shot. In fact I have found it to be a time of great growth in my own spiritual journey.

Last term I had a great opportunity to do a Kids Talk as a guest at a Korean Presbyterian Church in Brisbane. It was totally awesome to see such a great community of kids all meeting together and being overly enthusiastic about learning God’s Word.

The Pastor, Matthew Kim, while introducing me raised just his pinky finger and said “You are little disciples”. It was really encouraging that those kids are learning what it means to share their faith at such a young age. Encouraging them to share the gospel and training them for a lifetime of ministry. (Sorry QTC…)

This is a video that was shown at our church earlier this year, and it really speaks for itself.

The children that are in your life are the church of tomorrow. What are you doing to encourage them to be the spiritual leaders that they need to be? These children will be the ones who pass Christ’s church on to future generations.

For more information on this video, or similar resources check out http://www.wymad.org.uk/

The Façade of Prosperity

You may or may not have heard the term prosperity Gospel. So what is it? In a nutshell, it is a message that portrays a God that promises health, wealth and prosperity based on our obedience. It swindles the good news that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was an act of salvation, and it places emphasis on a lie which tells people that God has promised them financial security and physical health.

 

As I have mentioned elsewhere I think that John Piper is a reliable source of biblical wisdom. Below is a video of his strong opinions of false teachings about the message of Jesus Christ. Below that, I have included some links to video sermons of people who, in my opinion, are selling an adulterated gospel message.


Here are a couple of video sermons from well-known preachers that clearly promote a gospel of prosperity. I pray that we will all guard ourselves from this teaching. Please excuse some of these videos in the fact that their up-loader has placed text and audio overtures on them. My goal is not to NAME AND SHAME these people, but rather I encourage you to join me in prayer that these highly influential ministers of Christ will see the truth in His message and will turn away from a message that downplays the true treasures that are found in Christ.

 

 

Look for the lack of scripture proofs, the emotional buy in and the adulterated gospel message. ie: the gospel message is “Be fruitful and multiply”… it makes me cringe.

Justin Bieber: Put God and family first

The king, Elvis Presley began developing his musical talent in a church. More recently pop-sensations such as Britney Spears, Eminem, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber (among several others) have all at some point claimed to be Christian’s that have come under the spotlight of fame and popularity.

The downside to this is any Google search will reveal the explicit controversies that these super-stars have been involved in. From provocative dancing, drugs, sex and indecent exposure to pregnancy scandals and sexual provocative attire. Are these so-called Christians giving the rest of us a bad name? If so, whose fault is it?

I stumbled across an article titled ‘Justin Bieber: Put God and family first’ (10th August 2011) (link here) and it made me ponder on the absolute misrepresentation of Christians in the media. So what the deal? Is Justin Bieber a Christian or not?

Bieber was quoted saying: “I want to say that anything is possible … You got to keep Go

d first and always remember to keep family first. Jesus loves every one of you!”

When the Rolling Stone Magazine asked him about his opinion on sex before marriage he was quoted: “I think you should just wait for the person you’re … in love with.”

These are pretty contrasting views from the teen pop-sensation. Obviously every Christian knows that God’s view on sex before marriage is a little more stringent than ‘waiting for love’. But all this is old news you say…

So I went a little further and dug up an interview with Bieber’s mum whose name is Patty. Patty had some very interesting things to say. When asked about other teen-celebrities being seduced by the cultures of pop fame she answered:

“We need, in this time more than ever, to lift them up in prayer. They are a mouthpiece for a generation. Let’s pray for them, let’s encourage them. Let’s spur them on to the Lord.”

What a great encouragement that is. She doesn’t accuse these young adults of not being Christians, nor does she depict Bieber to be a saint, rather she sends out a ‘call to prayer’. Encouraging all those onlookers who condemn with judging eyes not to kick them while they are down but rather to lift them up in prayer.

My prayer is going to be that God will grant me the wisdom to not judge things beyond my understanding (like the state of sanctification of people I’ve never met). And that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in the lives of Christians who stand in the spotlight of celebrity fame. That He would continue to convict and lead people like Bieber and I will thank Him for the wonderful works that He has already done in these people’s lives.

What defines you? To whose family do you belong? Part 2

[Just a quick edit, if you didn’t read Part one, you can do so by clicking here ]

So, I was sitting in a chapel at the Army Recruit Training Centre in Kapooka, NSW. I was listening to the Padré retell a story of how Jesus and his disciples went from town to town sharing the good news about God’s Son. Read more What defines you? To whose family do you belong? Part 2

What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?

This is part one of my story. It’s about how I came to be a co-heir with Christ.

I was two years old when my parents decided that they could no longer be married. An event that I was oblivious to at the time, and one that would define my childhood. Read more What Defines You? To whose family do you belong?