God prepares as trouble looms
As you go through this life and do the things that you do have you ever wondered how we ended up here in this mess, in a life that does not make any sense. After reading through the Bible I feel that I have picked up on some of the reasons why things are the way they are, we obviously cannot be here for no reason and it was obvious to me that God takes this reality very seriously.
Some people have a problem with some of the things that God does to mankind in the Bible and their immediate reaction is usually to say some bad things about God and say that this is one of the reasons why they would not want to follow Him. The one thing that they seem to refuse to do is to see things from God's perspective and realise that He has gone to a lot of trouble to get us this far. From what I am seeing it seems as if making independent beings, that have a free will, is a hard business. First God made the angels knowing that some of them would eventually rebel, He obviously had the choice not to make them, but he must have felt that it was worth doing and also decided to plan ahead for what was going to happen. When Satan's rebellion finally came, God was obviously ready for it as we see in Revelation 12:7-12 where it says "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." and we see here that He had decided in advance that Michael would handle the battle while He would just be an observer.
God prepares again
Then comes the part that we are involved in, the creation of this earth and mankind. God knew that this one would be a lot more involved so He made the preparations again as we see in Revelation 13:8 where it says "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." and we see here that God always likes to prepare things in advance of the event. When I read the Bible I get the impression that God was not expecting anything too exciting from Adam, if we read Job 1:8 where it says "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" we see here that God was quick to big up Job in front of Satan, but if we read Romans 5:14,19 where it says "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." we see that Adam does not seem to get any exciting reviews. As you read through the Bible you can see the differences in God's reactions to His different servants and this should give you a clue as to what is the best way to behave in order to get a rave review from God.
One big problem that a lot of people have with God is the fact that He can bring forward the judgement of anyone that He wants to because He is the final judge. Before the children of Israel were afflicted in Egypt, God informed Abraham of what He was going to do in Genesis 15:13,14 where it says "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance." and we see here that God already knew what He was going to do to the Egyptians, all these years before, and He also decided to bring forward their judgement and the result shows that they had done some bad things in their time.
God judges with righteousness
People seem to think that God is just destroying people indiscriminately, but He bases His judgements on how righteous the people are in a nation. To learn about this point we can read Genesis 18:20-33 where it says "And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 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? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place." and we see here that God does take into account how many righteous people there are in a land before He gives the go ahead for its destruction.
If we also read Genesis 19:20-25 where it says "Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." we see that the city that Lot escapes to is saved because of him and that Sodom cannot be destroyed until Lot has departed.
God's hope for His people
We can see what God was after for His people in Exodus 19:3-6 where it says "And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." and we see here that He had some high hopes, but the people, as we can read in later books in the Bible, decided to fulfil their own selfish desires and take advantage of the help that God was giving them, thus leading to their own almost eventual destruction. At no point did God ever deal unrighteously with Israel, but He might have given them the odd trial or two like he does with all of His servants (you can read more about this in my article entitled "Are You Being Sold the Right God") and it seems that there are a lot of people about who take exception to being tried, but they need to realise that God does not have a choice, because how else can He find out whether or not you will end up being like Satan? If God allowed unrighteous people into His kingdom then the place would be a mess and it would be difficult for Him to wipe away peoples tears from their eyes. There are also people who think that they can behave any way that they want as long as they do not break God's law, but they seem to have avoided reading quite a bit of the New Testament like 2 Peter 1:4-11 where it says "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." and we read here how God expects us to behave in order to receive the proper knowledge about Him and to avoid failing, but you can also see that a person who does not have these characteristics will also be lacking in the knowledge of God; this is also a good way of working out whether someone is a false prophet or not. We also have to realise that God wants the church to be like a sample of what the kingdom of Heaven is going to be like, imagine someone going into the church and finding a bunch of grumpy, selfish and ignorant people, they would then think that God is ok with people being like this in His kingdom. We know though that this is not the case because of how Jesus and the disciples behaved and the original church was also full of kind loving people who cared about each other and about their local community as well.
When it comes down to it, God does not even like having to punish us as we see in Ezekiel 33:11 where it says "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" and we see here that He would much prefer it if we just give up on the sins that we think are pleasureful in this world and begin to behave in the way that God wants us to so that He can treat us kindly on the day of judgement. We know also that God will even suspend normal business in heaven while He pours out His harshest punishment on us, while we are still alive, as we can read of in Revelation 15:5-8 where it says "And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled." and you should note also that God will dress His angels in the best clothes even when He is at His harshest, this could indicate that the concept of dressing His heavenly servants badly does not exist with God because He can only do righteous things (basically the humans deserve the judgement that they will be getting, but the angels have not sinned so why should they wear bad clothes while executing that judgement).
Judgement from God already?
I just also recently received some bad news about the church that I go to, one of the visitors, who has been coming for a few months now, was scared away because he did not like a comment that was made by one of our church brothers and he also said that he did not like the looks that he was getting from some of the other church members. After he spoke to me I tried to persuade him to have some food at the church again, while trying to assure him that everything was ok because God was on his side, but he actually seemed to be too scared to face the looks from the church members again and decided to give it a miss that day. I have thought about what he has said and realised that if God had decided to speak from his mouth, when he gave that declaration, then that means that this church has just effectively received a death sentence and I have no idea how I am going to break the bad news to them. The review that the visitor gave to our church was quite bad and he mentioned how the love that he felt at another church was much better and this probably explains why so many other visitors have disappeared from among us.
So what should we do? Carry on with things how they are now and allow God to give us a deadly surprise on judgement day? Or should we wake up and inform people that their behaviour is not right and if their church is disliked in any way by the local people then they had better repent and start behaving properly now before it is too late. So remember church people our survival depends on how God and the outside world sees us, not upon how we see ourselves, we can wear fancy suits and pretty dresses, but this does not hide the obvious problems that we might have. So we had better start caring more about how things are from God's point of view, when it comes to our behaviour, so that we do not have to get a dressing down from Him on judgement day.