Judgment on Man and God
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1991
Edited and expanded by David Sielaff, November 2006
Read the accompanying Newsletter for November 2006
This may appear to be strange title. While we can read in both the Old and New Testaments about God’s various judgments upon mankind, and even about the grand judgment at the end of the age that all must undergo after their deaths, it appears odd to think that God Himself could be judged, as the title of this lecture suggests.
If God could be judged, who would do the judging? Could Satan the Devil judge God? Could angels, either good or bad, judge God? Could mankind as a whole or individually judge God for the things that He has done to mankind and to angels throughout history?
The next question that leads from this point is, judge God for what? Even though God creates both good and evil (Isaiah 45:7), could God be judged for the evil or the bad that He has caused to happen to mankind or angels? Let us face facts. God not only has the power to create good and evil, He actively or passively exercises those creative powers daily in the lives of man.
Recently a major cyclone hit the country of Bangladesh. A news release had an official of that country saying, “God must be angry with us.” The conclusion of that official was why would God punish us with such a devastating cyclone (a hurricane or a typhoon)? Why would God do such a thing unless He had some reason for it? Is God angry with us?
That is not the only thing that has occurred recently. Persistent draught and the consequent famine have been occurring in Ethiopia and Somalia in East Africa. Various powerful earthquakes have occurred around the world. God has been showing forth the power of nature. Even if all of these things are natural, they do not occur without His immediate judgment in an active sense. At the same time, He, with His angels at the controls of everything on earth, could easily cause these things to be more benign.
Why did He allow that cyclone to come into Bangladesh, and kill several hundred thousand people? Some thought they were being judged. Why did God allow that to happen? If these things are just forces of nature, cannot God warn us ahead of time? Why do we have the Weather Service in the United States and in other countries? We want to know ahead of time to protect ourselves from the elements, so we are not hurt by those forces.
Could not God tell every one of us His plans for the future? Five minutes before the great earthquake in San Francisco area about a year ago, no one believed it would happen then. Some on the freeway in Oakland did not believe it because they lost their lives while driving. Were they especially wicked? Maybe they were, maybe not. All of us are sinful. You could say that everything that takes place on earth is a judgment from God and He is punishing us for our sins. If that is the case, why are not all people punished for their sins? There is a lot of sin going on. You are aware of it and so am I. It seems as if some people get off scot-free while others do not. Why are these things happening?
Let us not forget man’s inhumanity to man, which happens all the time. God allows evil to exist everywhere. He could stop the evil that man does to man if He wished. All He need do is to command that man not be inhumane to other men. He could step in on any business deal that is actually to the great detriment of another person or others. He could stop it right on the spot if He wanted to. He could do that with all types of people, and He has the power and the authority to do so.
I shall ask something that each of us should ask. It is something mankind has asked since the days of Adam: is God guilty of crimes against humanity — crimes of commission as well as crimes of omission?
By commission I mean judgments He has ordered to take place and He expects them to be done. When He ordered Moses and then Joshua to kill all the Canaanites and wipe them out to a man, woman, and child, that was a commission given to those two men. They were expected to carry it out. Israel did that very thing as told in the Books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Some people look on what God commanded back there as an act of genocide against a people. They look on it as a criminal act of the highest magnitude and that God ought to be held accountable for what He commanded Moses and Joshua to do. Those two men should be held accountable because of what they did, as recorded in the Holy Scripture.
We have all types of things that God does on this earth. He has done them throughout history. He prophesied in the Book of Revelation and in the Book of Daniel that He will also bring future judgments upon this world when His wrath is put forth. If you want to see chaos on this earth, read Revelation chapters 8, 9, 10 through to the end and you shall see God’s wrath revealed long before He actually does it. He will put it into action against mankind for their evils.
The innocent in these matters are judged just like the guilty. That happens repeatedly, certainly back when the Canaanites, including their innocent babies, were killed. You cannot say that a 3-month-old baby is guilty of anything. The child inherited the sins of Adam (as discussed in Romans chapter 5, a practical and proper theological point by the apostle Paul). However, at the same time you cannot say that innocent babies are guilty of any crime, although these things happen all the time. As it says in the Bible, God creates both good and evil, good and bad. He is in control of everything.
Some people hold God accountable for these things, or at least they have tried to do so. They ask the question, and probably you have asked the question — I have asked it many times: is God guilty of crimes against humanity for things that He has done, by both commission as well as omission? By omission, I mean sit back passively and to allow nature to take its course, through drought, earthquakes, weather phenomena, which harm man. He just sits back and does nothing, apparently, and lets those things go right on happening. These are acts of omission where He could step in and do something, to prevent or minimize the result. Can we hold Him accountable for that? Is He guilty of crimes?
Let me give an example, a fictitious story. We are near Niagara Falls in New York, on the Niagara River. A young boy about 6 or 7 years of age gets too far out into the river current and starts floating down toward the Niagara Falls. Occasionally he gets close to the bank but the current was so fast that people running along the bank could not help him. He grabs on to a log. He is about a mile upstream from the falls. If someone could get to him, he or she could save him.
Here is a man running along the river, able to keep up with the boy. He has in his hand a rope about 30 feet long. Since the log is close to the bank, the man could throw that rope out to him. He could tell the boy to hang on and he could pull him in. But the man with the rope stands there but never throws the rope. The boy is only 10 feet from the shore. He does not throw the rope to the boy.
This story illustrates many things happening in the world today. The man refuses to help the boy when he could, clearly and plainly. The boy loses his grip on the log, goes over the Niagara Falls and is killed. Such things happen all the time. This story is fictitious but I ask you this question, could that man who had that rope, who could have thrown it to the boy and rescued him, was he guilty of any crime for not throwing it out? That is a matter of debate but I imagine a court would convict that man of some high crime against humanity for not helping the boy. The man morally should have tried to rescue the boy. He had the rope to do it and it would not have meant any harm to him whatsoever. He could have pulled the boy to safety.
What does this have to do with judgments upon God? Is God guilty in a situation like that, if there was no one around and this boy got into this situation and prayed diligently for help but went over the falls? God did not rescue him when He could do so easily. That would be an act of omission where God or maybe the angels looked down and did nothing. 1
This boy found himself in the stream going toward the falls. As he goes downriver, he prays to God, he goes over and is killed. I ask you, where was God when all this was going on? Can God be held accountable for not helping that boy, just as the man with the long rope could be guilty when he could have helped?
Let us say a Christian religious leader controls 40 acres of land in a large city. Part of it is the church grounds, but this man controls other buildings. He rents them out to business firms. Most are reputable, but in a corner of these 40 acres, this man allows a house of ill fame to exist there. It is well known to police and everyone that this is where prostitutes ply their trade. This man is religious. He does not like prostitutes or immoral actions. He preaches against such things from the pulpit. I want to use a fictitious religious man to show that he shows himself to be righteous and does not want mankind to be involved in nefarious activities.
This man rents this spot to this house of ill fame where prostitutes ply their trade. He knows it, and the law cannot really get anything on him, but everybody knows it. All this man has to do is to give them 30 days notice, as required by law. Once he finds out what they are doing on his property that he absolutely controls, then if those who give him money to support his organization would say, why do you allow this to happen right on your territory which you can control? They might not be too happy about giving him money in the future, when he gets up in the pulpit and on the radio and television and says that we should not have such things going on in the world. However, right there on the property he controls these things go on. A man who would do that, if he controls those 40 acres of this fictitious example and allows that house of ill fame to continue on as long as they pay their rent, is a hypocrite.
Let us get to the point. Do you know who owns this earth, every bit of it? It is owned by God the Father. It was created by Christ Jesus, according to the apostle Paul (Hebrews 1:3, Revelation 4:11). Both of them are in complete and utter control over everything that happens. It is their property. Do you know what they allow to exist on their property that they could get rid of in an instant? They would not even have to give 30 days notice. All the houses of prostitution could be eliminated immediately. All the organized criminal enterprises dealing in narcotics, murder, and things of that nature, are continuing all over this world, which is completely owned and controlled by God.
Satan the Devil is in charge of the world itself, but overall God the Father has the complete say. So does Jesus Christ. They allow all the houses of ill fame to continue. They allow all the other degrading things that are happening in this world to continue. All they would have to do is snap their fingers. They could get rid of all of it — in an instant — if They wanted to. It says in the Bible that They do not like things like that. It says that mankind (you and me) should not be participants in evil. None of us has any authority whatsoever to participate in any evil. God may allow it to go on, but are we given license to do those things? By no means. We are told just the opposite.
What about this man controlling the 40 acres? It might take him 30 days to get rid of it, but we would call him a hypocrite if he did not do so. We would call him a criminal if he persisted in it. In no way could that man be right. But God the Father and Christ Jesus own every bit of this earth, every inch, and they allow worse things to go on, on their property. They condemn those acts, but they go on and on. Can mankind hold God guilty for not acting? Can man blame God for the evil that is going on? Many people do, but the evil goes on all the time.
Look at the situation with Moses and Joshua that I spoke about earlier. When you look at the commands that Christ Jesus, under the name of YHWH in the first person, gave to Moses and Joshua to do, they were severe indeed. The Canaanites were certainly in need of judgment. There is no question about that. The things they were doing, even with their own children, sending them through the fire of Moloch, exposing them to the elements, they were doing all types of things that were absolutely wrong.
When it comes down to judging adult men and women, that is one thing, but when it comes to infants and children, that would be another. Nevertheless, we find a commission that God gave to Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites, and they carried it out:
“Rise you up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon [east of the Dead Sea]: behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle.”
Here God Himself is saying go to war. I do not like war; it is a messy business and I want no part in it, if I can help it. I do not want you to have any part in it either, on an individual or a collective basis. Still, we find here that God was telling Moses and the Israelites to “contend with him in battle.” That is war, and God does a lot of war. You find it in the Book of Revelation and in various other places. Here is what happens:
“This day will I begin to put the dread of you and the fear of you upon the nations [the gentile nations] that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of you, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of you. And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying:”
Here are the “words of peace” that Moses was commanded to speak to Sihon:
“Let me pass through your land: I will go along by the high way, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. You shall sell me meat [food] for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet.”
Sihon and others knew what happened to the people of Edom and they seemed to agree (verse 29):
“But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord your God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into your hand, as appears this day.”
Sihon refused to allow the Israelites to pass by in a peaceful manner as requested. People have wondered, why did this occur? They cannot believe that God would do such a thing. God hardened Sihon’s heart. Sihon did not decide to do this himself. God stepped in, hardened his heart, and Sihon said he would not allow the Israelites to go through. Moses continues the narrative:
“And the Lord said unto me, ‘Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before you: begin to possess, that you may inherit his land.’ Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.”
Verse 34 goes to the heart and conscience of most people:
“And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones [even infants, 2 or 3 months old], of every city, we left none to remain.”
“And the little ones.” They could not have done any kind of crime that mankind would judge. The apostle Paul said they have the sin of Adam on them in Romans chapter 5, but that is a theological matter. It certainly did not mean that they had actual sins upon them that needed such judgments such as this. The adults may have been another matter. No doubt that was the case because we have records of these Canaanites and their evil. They needed to be judged from that point of view. However, even the “little ones” were killed. All types of reasons have been given to justify this act. In fact, He is immune from any tribunal. When God makes up His mind to do something, He will do it. This is what He told Moses, Joshua, and the children of Israel to do, and they went and did it.
After they killed all the people of Heshbon on the east side of the Jordan River, they crossed the Jordan River, and went to Jericho. In Joshua 6:21 it says that the Israelites utterly destroyed men, women, and children and infants of the city of Jericho. Then they went on up higher into the highland area of Palestine and at the city of Ai (Joshua 8:26), they did the same thing there, and wiped out men, women, and infants. They did the same to other cities in the land of the Canaanites throughout the land of Palestine. Read Joshua 10:28–43 and you will see some very sad events that took place in Canaan. It did not stop there. A few hundred years later, God, through the judge Samuel, commanded that Saul the king utterly destroy all of the people of Amalek (1 Samuel 15:3).
All of these things were commands from God. They were “commissions” that God gave the people to perform. Many people have looked upon this God of the Israelites as a very angry God, as a very “bad” God. If they could get their hands on Moses and Joshua today, they and all the others that did them would have been convicted in court completely guilty of crimes against humanity.
Of course, Moses and Joshua were powerful enough at that time to be protected from the others in the world. From that time forward the people of the world began to fear Israel. They knew God must be with them. But in any court of law today, Moses and Joshua would be tried as the worst of criminals. Almost everybody, whether Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, or atheist, all would hold those two men in utter contempt for the things that they did back then in the name of God.
Let us not just concentrate on Moses and Joshua. What about God Himself? He was the one who did all this. He was the one who commanded Moses and Joshua to do it. Not only that, He actually hardened Sihon’s heart and the others, so that his people would resist. Because of that resistance, they were wiped out practically to a man, woman, and child.
Later we find that God did allow some of the Canaanites to exist in the land. Many fled the land, but God is the one who is in charge of these things. Here were commissions given to the people of Israel to do these things, and they did them. Since that time, Israelites in a sense have been suffering the rest of their history. Of course, when the Jews in World War II were annihilated in much of Central Europe, terrible, terrible things took place. We know that. They should never be done, but they were done. Many people said they were getting their just deserts for what they did back in the time of Moses and Joshua. It is silly. It is stupid; it should never be said, but people bring up all types of excuses to justify judgments against people they dislike.
It does not say that Moses and Joshua made up their minds to do those things. God commanded them to do so. What would you and I do? What would you do if you were given a command to do something of that nature? All I can say is I would decline to obey. I know today that I have the teachings of Jesus Christ that He gave to the whole world, which differ remarkably from the time of Moses and Joshua. I also have the teachings of my parents, the teachings of modern society, the good teachings. If I were given such a command to do anything of that nature, I would decline. I would not do it.
Moses and Joshua went ahead and did it. If they would do such things today, they would be found guilty, but so would God, would He not? After all, as far as mankind is concerned, God commanded it. Indeed He did!
Going back a few hundred years before Moses and Joshua, we find in Genesis 18:16–33 that Abraham would not believe that God would do anything like that. He did not believe it. In fact, Abraham argued with God because he knew that God was righteous and could do anything He wants in the earth. Abraham knew that, but the righteousness of God to Abraham meant that He was merciful.
“And Abraham drew near, and said …” Abraham spoke to YHWH who was standing in front of Abraham “Will you also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23). God gave a command for the two angels to destroy all the cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, and the three other cities. The trouble was that Abraham had relatives there. Lot was not a very good man from Abraham’s point of view, but compared to the others he was righteous! (Even the apostle Peter says Lot was righteous, 2 Peter 2:6–9.) Abraham wanted to save Lot, so Abraham began to argue with God. He appealed to God’s sensitivities to righteousness and proper principles.
“Will you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: will you also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from you 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 you.”
Abraham was making an appeal: God, I know You will not be that way. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). He did not want the judge of all the earth doing wrong. Abraham felt that if God destroyed the whole city He would destroy the righteous with the wicked. That was not right. That was how Abraham looked at it. That is the way you and I look at it too.
“And the Lord said, ‘If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.’”
That seems a righteous judgment. Abraham was emboldened. He thought maybe he could go farther:
“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: will you destroy all the city for lack of five?’ And he [God] said, ‘If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.’”
Abraham goes on, what if you found forty? I won’t destroy it with forty. What about thirty? Not with thirty either. Twenty? Not with twenty. Ten? Abraham felt he got as far as he could get. He was bargaining and he got down to ten. Abraham knew that he had probably won the day, because surely there would be ten righteous people. The trouble was, there were not ten righteous. There was only one and his name was Lot. If Abraham had kept on arguing and perhaps he could have gotten God down to one. God probably would have said to Abraham, if I can find one there I shall rescue him and destroy the others. That is exactly what he did. Abraham thought that God would always do right. He will not destroy the good with the evil, but when it comes to the time of the Canaanites God destroys the innocent.
Moreover, look at what happens today. All types of things occur in today’s world and throughout history where the righteous perish along with the wicked. Even when we read in the Bible that God’s judgments were upon the people like the Assyrians, like the ancient Israelites or the Jews when they rebelled against God back in the 6th century before the birth of Christ, the Jews were destroyed right along with the Temple. They went into captivity, man, woman, and child.
The things I am bringing up we all know and wonder about, can God be tried for all of these things? He certainly is doing them. Can God Himself be found guilty? Mankind has often held the fist up against God and said, “Listen, you command me not to do these things. I see all types of things that you allow all the time and they occur on your property? You tell me not to do them, and I should not. But it seems that you allow by either commission or omission the very evils that you tell me not to do.” Do we have grievances against God in all of these things? Many people feel we do.
As far as I am concerned, if God would tell me, as he said to Moses and Joshua, to wipe out a people to man, woman, and child, I would turn it down. I would use the principle of Christ Himself. Christ gave a well-known 1st century proverb, but He graced it with His authority when He said this principle to live by: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is called the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). It is a beautiful rule. That is what I would apply.
I would not want me or my family, the grandchildren I have now, to be wiped out because of the judgments that should come to me. Spare them at least because they are not guilty. That is how I would say it. I would say that also for anybody else. You would too. We have enough of the Spirit of God within us. I would apply this Golden Rule, so I would not want to do those things. I would go by those principles.
However, who was it giving orders to Moses and to Joshua? It was someone speaking in the name of YHWH. It was the Angel of the Lord who appeared in His name. That does not mean that He was YHWH, but He was coming in the power of attorney to speak for YHWH in the first person. We find that time and again in the Old Testament. John tells us that Jesus came in the name of the Father, YHWH. That is how God’s name is attached to Jesus on occasion. Therefore, for you and me I would apply “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Let us go farther than that. There is such a thing as a Platinum Rule. It is one step higher than a Golden Rule; it is The Platinum Rule. Platinum is more valuable than gold at the present time. Here is the Platinum Rule: “Do unto God as you would have Him do unto you.” He is much more powerful than you are, I know, but you should want to perform your services to God as though you were He. How would you act in that case, as far as God is concerned?
I have one more. I can go one step farther to what I call the Diamond Rule. Diamonds are much more valuable than gold or platinum for the same weight. The Diamond Rule is “Do unto God as you would have Him do unto you, if our roles were reversed.” That is, if you were God and God was you (or God was man). In other words, if you had the opportunity to sit on God’s throne, with all God’s power and authority for one day, and God would take your place down here on earth as a human being, how would you treat God on earth as a human being, when you have all the power?
Let us say that would happen for a one-day period. How would you treat Him, now that you have Him as a human being in your hands? How would you judge Him for all of the things He has done since Adam and Eve. All of the commands to Moses and Joshua about wiping out men, women, and children, the infants, how would you handle that now that He is a human being? That is an interesting thing to think about, is it not? That is the Diamond Rule.
When you look at life, God is doing all types of things on this earth right now — on a daily basis — that you and I would not approve of, such as the commands to Moses and to Joshua. Similar things are happening right now throughout the earth with God’s permission. The famine and the drought in Ethiopia and Somalia [as of 1991], God could stop that if He wanted to —instantly. Little children there are suffering and dying to this very day. Little infants are. The same thing happened to Bangladesh with the great cyclone. We will have more of those upsets of nature, which God could, if He wanted to, stop instantly.
Can you bring God to trial? Is it possible? Can mankind put Him in the dock, so to speak? In no way can God ever, ever, ever be brought to trial by man or by angels for what He does, or for what He does not do. God is utterly and completely immune from any type of guilt no matter what He does. I shall show you where God fits into this matter of judgment. We will see, entirely from Scripture, that God is completely immune from all judgments, all trials, all courts. He cannot be considered guilty no matter what He does.
This was illustrated very early in the Bible and throughout the entirety of it. We find the principle completely maintained with consistency. God is the one who is the judge. He can judge man. He can judge angels. He has full power to do so, He sets all the rules and He has the right to do as He pleases in His creation. As far as man and angels are concerned, they have no say in matters whatsoever when it comes to judging God, no matter what He does. It is important that it be the case and it is very important for us to understand this principle.
An early part of the Bible shows this situation about judging God in relationship to man, especially when a man was plagued tremendously by God Himself. God allowed Satan the Devil to do it, but God Himself was not found guilty in any way by this man, although he thought perhaps God should be, because this man had not done any evil. I am talking about the experience of Job. Go to Job chapters 1 and 2.
Job was a very prosperous man who lived in the East before the time of Moses, certainly after Abraham. Job was happy and joyful. He had everything that any man would ever want in this life. His family was around him in every way. He had wealth and prestige. He had all that mankind could desire.
One day there was a Divine Council in heaven and Satan the Devil appeared before YHWH. YHWH said to Satan who was spokesman for the other angelic powers on the earth. In fact, Satan the Devil had been put in charge of the earth yet he had to report to YHWH every so often on what was happening on earth. At this Divine Council God asks Satan, have you seen my servant Job, how he is righteous in all the things that he does, and that he is an upright man. Satan says, no wonder he is upright because you give him everything You possibly could give him. Everything he wants, he has. He is wealthy. He has everything going for him. You take away his possessions and his children; he will curse you to the face.
Satan is putting God to a trial here. This is not in the text, but this is implied. Satan challenges God, what are you going to do about all this? God says to Satan, you can go down take away all his possessions, but you cannot touch Job himself. Notice in this discourse at this Divine Council, who is in charge of everything. God sitting on His throne is in command. Satan the Devil could not do one thing without permission of almighty God.
Satan goes down and you can read the result in chapter 1 of Job. He took away Job’s children by killing them. He took away his possessions. He took away his prestige. He took away virtually everything.
Then in chapter 2 at another time when the Divine Council is held, Satan again appears before God in heaven. God asks, where have you been Satan? He replies, going to and fro in the earth. God says, have you seen my servant Job? He still has not cursed me even though I allowed you to take from him everything that he has, including his children. Satan says, yes, but there is one thing that you have not done to him. Let me touch him himself. (He meant to touch Job with a terrible sickness). Then I know he will curse you to the face. God says, I give you permission to do that, but spare his life.
Again, we see who was in charge. God was ruling from His throne. Satan goes and curses Job with great plagues. The sickness of Job was probably the worst of sicknesses that any man could endure. When he was in this state, his wife came to him and said, why don’t you “curse God and die?” He said, I will not curse God and die. I will not do that because I have not done anything wrong. Why has this all come on me?
He had not done anything wrong. That does not mean that Job was not a sinner like the rest of us, but he had not done anything specific, in his mind, to cause these curses. The first curse took his possessions and his children. The second curse caused him to suffer these plagues. He did not curse God at all, but he could not figure out why God had done what He did. Everyone in the world was suggesting that God is righteous, just like Abraham said, “Shall not the Judge of the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Job expected God to punish the wicked and preserve the righteous, as Abraham said. God must do right, so Job could not understand why these things were happening to him, when he had not done anything wrong to deserve them.
Job began to get advice from the great philosophers and the wise men of the world. There were three of them. One of them was Eliphaz, who was a descendant of Esau, a very wise man, no doubt. Everything he said to Job was based upon this: Job, no matter what you say, that you have not done anything wrong, surely you have. Go and think through your past. I am paraphrasing here. The other two men said virtually the same thing. Then they said it again. Then they said it a third time. Job was not convinced.
Later, a young man was listening to these great elderly philosophers try to teach Job about these things. This man was called Elihu. He was an extraordinary young man. He had the name of God upon him, as though he was as a human representing God himself. Job was told by Elihu, a younger man, the basic principles that God later told to Job. Because he was a younger man, because he was a human being, and because Job persisted in his righteousness, Elihu did not convince him why he was in his sad condition.
In chapter 38 of Job God Himself comes to Job. When He does that, I want you to notice something. Job had been cursed not because of what he had done or had not done. God allowed Job to be tried for reasons that were unknown to him. In no way could he have known why these things were occurring, but Job knew that God was in charge and that God was doing it. He knew that much, but Job could not figure out why.
When God appeared and began to discuss this whole matter with Job to inform him of his position, it is interesting to note what God did not say. God never once gave any reason for Job’s suffering. Here is the first thing that God said to Job.
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me.’”
God is speaking directly to Job. He did not say He was doing these things for an experience that Job needed, or because of some sin he had done, or because he was an unrighteous person and that He thought he was righteous. No, God did not say any of those things. That is what Eliphaz and the others were saying and Job stoutly (and correctly) denied it. God never once said anything like that. From here on, all God said to him were questions that He wanted Job to answer. God’s first question was this:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.”
It is implied that Job listened to every question God asked and he was so stunned by what he heard that he could not answer. The head was actually in motion, no doubt, because Job had to answer some way, somehow, but he answered not with the tongue, because no answer from Job is recorded. He just saw the power of God in action. God then asked Job questions concerning the power of the Almighty God that He knows what He is doing. He is powerful beyond all things:
“Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line upon it?”
The “line” is the measuring line to construct the earth. Here is Job listening. He does not know. Then God says:
“Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof.”
Job, answer me, He says. Job cannot answer God. He has no knowledge of such things.
“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
God asks, where were you at that time? Job’s silence says, well, I was not there.
“Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it. And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors.”
God is telling Job here, where were you when I put up the swaddlingband made up of ice crystals? Just as you find rings around Saturn today, there were rings around this earth in the past. We find this in the first chapters of Genesis. They no doubt were made of ice crystals. God says that He broke up this ring of ice crystals around the earth and they fell to earth when the great flood of Noah took place. That is what God is referring to in Job 38:10. 2
God goes on with question after question for Job. Every question is powerful in the sense that God is the Creator. Never once does He explain why He did what He did to Job. He just says, look at My power. Look at My authority. Look at My wisdom. Look at My knowledge. Where were you when I was doing all these things? Job has to answer: I do not know, I was not there. In other words God is showing His mighty power, His authority, and His ability to perform things that Job, or any of us, could not do if we wanted to, at present, because we do not know how to do it.
Then, with all of this pleading by God Himself to Job, Job was still not convinced! God then brings in two illustrations of animals on the earth at the time, the leviathan and the behemoth. Mankind ought to be able to control the animals, which is what it says in (Genesis 1:28). But Job could not even control those two beasts that God was talking about. Who made those beasts that Job himself could not control as he could a horse or a donkey. God created them.
Even then, Job was not convinced! God discoursed with Job on three different occasions. Finally, after the last occasion Job began to think. All of a sudden, he realized how powerful and majestic God really was. He just had not realized before the awesome omnipotence of this being called YHWH. Now Job was beginning to understand as never before. Right at the last is the conclusion to the whole thing. Here Job finally answers the Lord YHWH by saying:
“I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from you. [As a result of that:] Who is he that hides counsel without knowledge [God’s question to Job in 38:2]? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech you, and I will speak: I will demand of you, and declare you unto me. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job’s repentance was not based upon the fact that he finally found out why he was persecuted and punished by God. That did not even come up. What Job said was this: I now understand the power and the authority that You have, and that You are righteous after all. That was what Job needed to find out.
Then do you know what happened to Job? He was blessed even more abundantly by God even with greater time of life on this earth. That is the rest of the story. Job received blessings at the end. Some people receive blessings, some people do not. In this case Job did.
All those things that happened to Job, he could have taken God to court on this earth, put Him in the dock and say, listen, You have done these things and allowed these things to be done to me and they are wrong! And you know something? Any court on earth made up of human beings, or I would say even angels, would have come to the same conclusion.
Job finally abhorred himself and repented when he understood the power of God without questioning God. In other words Job finally said and finally understood, God, you are immune from any criticism whatsoever. That is it. That is hard for many of us to accept, but that is the case. God is immune from any of man’s criticism, though man may criticize God all he wants.
The same thing is found in the New Testament. Go to the apostle Paul’s writings, which are divine Scripture, to Romans chapter 9. This important section of Scripture explains the same thing. You can go ahead and try to put God in the dock, to put him on trial, but you (all of us, I mean) are not able to get Him tried, because He will not be in any court of law. He cannot be tried. He is immune from it.
“When Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, [Why?] that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him [God] that calls).”
This Scripture shows that God can do things both good and bad to man, not dependent upon works one way or the other. Sometimes He does it by works, but works are not involved in this matter. Paul gives the illustration of Rebecca having twins in her womb. One was Jacob, whose name was to be changed to Israel. The other was his twin Esau (Edom). Before those two children were even born, before they had any bad or good works, God determined blessings on one and curses on another.
That sounds like an evil thing from our point of view. God does not have any right to do that, in our opinion. He should at least let the boys grow up to see if one is good and one is bad. No, that is our way of looking at it. That is the way of Eliphaz speaking to Job. That was the way of the other two philosophers. They said the reason God does these things is that Job has done something bad. That was their judgment. Virtually every man, woman, and child today wants to judge God based on those principles. It is understandable because we are all human beings.
Paul’s illustration of Rebecca bearing twins in her womb, before they came forth out of her, not having done any good or evil, or works of any kind, shows that God by election had chosen them. Paul is giving this illustration because even you and I have been chosen, not by works, but long before our births. In Ephesians chapter 1 it says we have been chosen before the foundation of this world to be what we are today in the grace of God. Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:9, that our salvation and our calling were accomplished in God before the foundation of the world. God is in charge, He knows what He is doing, and He is bringing you and me into His family.
He is putting us through experiences here below to teach us lessons that He knows about. Some of these lessons we may criticize, justifiably from our point of view, but not from His point of view. He is the powerful God in heaven and earth and He will show His love to us, and His concern for us in every way, but it will occur in His way and in His manner of accomplishing it. Paul goes on to speak about these twins in Romans chapter 9:
“It was said unto her, ‘The elder shall serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.’”
Romans 9:12–13 3
This is the way God does things. We are in this world because He put us here. There is no way of getting out of it. This is the way it is. We have divine Scripture to explain these things to us. The outcome is going to be beautiful. It is going to be wonderful. We are being taught to be the very children of God, to be like Christ Jesus Himself, to be like God the Father. We have to learn lessons. He has to create the situations to teach us those lessons, as He is in complete and utter control of all of them. That is the fact.
That is what the lesson of Job is all about. It is hard to take sometimes, I grant you. If you think that I am a strong individual, that I easily take all the judgments that God gives to me, no, it is hard sometimes. However, He has given me blessings. I have had many blessings that I can count right now, many of them. I am thankful to God for them, and you can do the same in your life. At the same time, you can think of many things you would like improved. Paul goes on:
“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated [before they were born]. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?”
That is the first question any human being would say. That is unrighteous. Give the boys a chance one way or the other to see who will be evil and who will be good. In fact the one who was to be considered good, in the first part of his life he was mostly evil. It says in the King James Version, “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” It actually means in the Greek, “Let it not be.” Do not even consider that God is unrighteous, not in this matter. Not at all. God is not unrighteous. You might think He is, but He is not.
“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.”
You may will to show mercy or you may run toward it or you may run away from it, it has nothing to do with the matter. It is God who will show mercy. He can show mercy or He does not have to show it.
“For the scripture says unto Pharaoh, ‘Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens.”
God hardened the heart of Sihon in Moses’ time. Sihon’s people were wiped out, man, woman, and child. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart when Pharaoh wanted to let the Israelites go, but God stepped in and said this cannot happen because it shall not fulfill My will the way I want. So God stepped in and hardened his heart. Next comes man’s judgment in verse 19. It is perfectly good and it is exactly the judgment I would give. Paul knew it and it was the one Paul would give, by nature, from a human point of view:
“You will say then unto me, ‘Why does he [God] yet find fault? For who has resisted his will?
That is true. It seems like God finds fault with us all the time. He wants us to repent of this, repent of that, do this, do that, and He is mad at us all the time, so it seems. Paul was saying the normal thing that a man would say, “Why does he yet find fault?” with us. He steps in and does a lot of these things Himself.
“Nay but, O man, who are you that reply against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, ‘Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he said also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”
God makes up His mind which way He wants to go, and He just does it. Man has no recourse because God is immune from any type of court action by mankind or by angels. That is a fact, and it is important that it be so. Evil things happen all the time. God allows them to occur. Can man still in some way bring God to court for his so-called crimes against humanity, for the things that are happening today in Bangladesh and in Ethiopia and in your own hometown, or to you personally, or to me. Can He be brought to court?
First, let us see how God the Father deals with mankind’s sins against Him, and then we can find out how we can deal with God’s “evils,” if we want to call them that. That is perfectly proper. Evils from God have been against us. If you want to find out how God deals with our sins and our evils that we have done toward one another and toward Him, well, I will show you the answer in a moment. If we can find out how God deals with our sins and our evils, you will also find out how man can deal with the things God has done to man. It is in the Scripture.
We have to look at this carefully. Let us see how God the Father deals with mankind’s sins or evils against Him. You will then be able to see how we can deal with all of the things God has done to us. Are we going to get Him in the dock? Wait and see, because in the same manner by which He deals with us, we can deal with Him. Believe it or not.
Read this passage and then we can begin to understand how God deals with us. God is fed up with us and our ways, and He says we are just sinners and that is the way we will continue being. The apostle Paul is developing that theme in Romans chapter 5.
“And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost [Spirit] which is given unto us.”
That is the introduction about the love of God. Paul begins demonstrating this love that God has for us. He is rescuing us so we will be on His right hand one of these days sitting on a throne, where Jesus Christ is at the present time. He will exalt you: man, woman, and child (however, the children will grow up), to be in the same condition that Jesus Christ is in now. He is working out a plan here on this earth to accomplish that beautiful and majestic promise that He has given. God does have a love for us. He loves us, absolutely, with an infinite love.
Paul wanted to make that statement first before he got into the means by which God allows Himself to be reconciled to mankind, because we are all sinners. How does God deal with this?
“For when we were yet without strength [weak], in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Christ died for you. Sins lead to death. Your sins lead to your death. But who is it who died in your place as a substitution for you? It was Jesus Christ. God the Father sent His own Son, the Creator of heaven and earth, as it says in Colossians chapter 1, to come on to this earth to die. He did not die for the righteous. Christ “Christ died for the ungodly.” You know what? That is what you and I are — ungodly. That was what Paul was, Peter was, James was, and Abraham, and everybody, Adam, all ungodly. God died. That is, Christ died as God, because God is a rank. That is what it is in the Old and the New Testament. Christ died as God “for the ungodly.” Not for righteous people. He died for you, for me, and for all in the world who are ungodly. He paid the penalty for our sins.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends his love toward us, …”
Paul shows the love God has for mankind, for you and me personally: “in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Not only are we ungodly, but we are sinners and in the state of unrepentant sinning, He died for us. We were not made righteous first, walking the straight and narrow, and repenting. While we are sinners God, Christ, died for us. Now look at the reconciliation here:
“Much more then, being now justified [made righteous] by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Do you know when the reconciliation of God to man took place? It was when we were still God’s enemies — when we were sinners, ungodly. We were a mess. God looked at mankind and said to His Son Jesus Christ (an agreement made before, because Jesus Christ, as the Lamb, was slain before the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8): go down, bear their sins while You are alive, while You are on that tree of crucifixion. Die for them when they are ungodly and unrepentant, when they are sinners and unrepentant, when they are my enemies and do not like Me. I shall reconcile Myself to them through You. That was how it was done. That is how it is done.
Jesus Christ as a substitute took your place. He lived for you on this earth. When He was circumcised as Paul says, in Colossians 2:11, you were circumcised. God the Father recognizes that you were circumcised in Christ. When He was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry, you were there being baptized at the same time, because He was the substitute for you (also Colossians 2:12). When He lived on the earth here for the 30 years, He was here, He was living as a substitute for you, and he was pleasing the Father in everything that He did. When He finally died on the tree of crucifixion, Paul said He died there with him as did I and so did you. When He was resurrected from the dead three days later, legally, you were there also. When Christ after death went through the judgment in heaven, because we must all stand before the judgment seat of God after death (Romans 14:10), God the Father looked at Him and said, Son, come right over here and sit on My right hand. That is exactly what He did.
You are legally sitting on the right hand of the Father in heaven, because that is where Christ is. You are in Him and He is in you (Ephesians 2:6). You are now legally sitting in the heavens through Christ, because Christ is now the substitute for you. Soon it will be a reality in the resurrection from the dead where you will actually — and literally — be in the same condition that Christ Jesus is in now, as when He was resurrected.
What did God do to reconcile Himself to man? He looked at man down here and said they are a bunch of sinners, they are ungodly, and they are My enemies. Go down there, Christ, and be a substitute. I will put all my judgment that I saved up after death for them, I will put it on you, and they will come out scot-free. Someone has to pay the penalty for sin, but Jesus Christ took your place.
God the Father reconciled Himself to man by Jesus Christ wiping out your sins. He is now reconciled and He is happy with you, and He loves you. Everything Christ will inherit and does inherit, you shall inherit because God has reckoned that someone has paid the penalty for your sins and He has made up with you.
Paul carries on this theme of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. In verse 10 Paul brings up a judgment scene. We all wonder about the judgment that we will go through. Every one of will go through it. God judges us, we cannot judge Him, so it seems.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.”
2 Corinthians 5:10
I would be in stark terror of anything of that nature as far as Ernest Martin is concerned. “Knowing therefore the terror [fear] of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Paul said he would be in the same condition. You will stand before the judgment seat of Christ or of God the Father and answer for your sins. You will have to do it, or, someone will have to do it for you. Do you have a substitute? Yes, you have a substitute; I have a substitute. We have someone who has done it for us. That is where Jesus Christ comes on the scene, and it is most important that we realize what the basic teaching of Christianity is all about. He goes on to say: “For whether we be beside ourselves …” (2 Corinthians 5:13). What he will say shall appear crazy to many people, but:
“It is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”
2 Corinthians 5:13–14
He is talking about all humanity here. Christ Jesus came to fulfill a role for all humanity, not just you, just not me, but everyone. Going on:
“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. ... Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. [That is the way it should be for us.] And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:15, 17–18
What is that reconciliation? To have a reconciliation, you must have it in two parts. If you have enemies, you cannot be enemies by yourself. You have an enemy when you are at loggerheads with someone. In a reconciliation you make up, where both of you are back to being friends. God on His part has made friends with you through the death of Christ on the tree of crucifixion, and Him living the life for you as a substitute.
“And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
2 Corinthians 5:18–19
Though they have been sinners, ungodly, and enemies, God on His part has made up with the whole world (and all of us) by the death of Christ on the tree of crucifixion. Paul goes on:
“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
There is one verse that I left out and have not yet commented on. Paul up to this time has been talking about the reconciliation of God to man. God has been angry with man because of all the sins man has done against mankind and against God, and there is a great judgment coming in the future. Well, that judgment has now been handled by Jesus Christ, if you are attached to Him. The whole world is involved in this, Paul says, when we were enemies, when we were ungodly, when we were sinners. In fact, it says that He does not impute our trespasses to us any more. He has imputed them to Christ Jesus.
This is the reconciliation from God to us. He has made up with us on His part. That is how much He loves us, Paul says, by making up with us when we do not deserve it. Paul comes along and says that there is one thing for us to do. Yet, even in that God must help us.
“Then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead [for Christ’s sake], be you reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
If God has reconciled Himself to us when we are ungodly, unrighteous, sinners, and when we were (and are in some cases) enemies, when we have trespasses galore, if He has been willing to make up with us through the death of His Son who was like God in the flesh, Immanuel on this earth, now Paul turns it around. He says we should be “reconciled to God.” It means, through the same power, that through Jesus Christ, God made up to us. Through Jesus Christ we have to make up to God now, or “forgive” if you want to put it that way, even God Himself.
Do you know that God the Father has forgiven you of your sins? It is not because you or I have given up on them, but He has done it through His Son Jesus Christ. He forgives us through His son. All of these things that God has done to us (we think) that are bad, terrible, things that have happened in your life, things that happened in the earth today, God showed His love to us by making up with us and forgiving us through His Son as a substitute.
Do you know that God’s Son also acts as a substitute for you so that you can, if you feel you have to, forgive even God for the things you think He has done wrong to you? Believe me, He cannot be taken to court. He is immune from court, but do you know what He does? He allows us, mankind, to take out all our grievances, if we want to, against Him by God being here in the flesh, Jesus Christ the Immanuel. If you feel you must take it out against God, take it out against Christ because He is the missing link, not only between God down to us where God forgives us our sins, but we can then embrace Christ Jesus, look upon Him and take out all our judgment upon Him if we want to.
That is exactly what the world did back there some 1900 years ago, and the world that did that (Caiaphas the High Priest and the others who were Jews at the time living there), put him through the trial of the Sanhedrin, put him up there on the tree of crucifixion, and do you know what? The whole world (represented by the Jewish leaders) then said, we will take it out on You. It was Immanuel, Jesus Christ with the rank of God on Him, suffering all the pains that mankind wanted to put on God.
Believe me, God is immune from any trial, but if you wish to take it out against God in any way, there is an example right there to do it. If you want to reconcile yourself to God, God has forgiven you through the death of Jesus Christ on the tree of crucifixion. When Paul said, “be you reconciled to God,” if you have any grievances against God, take them out on Christ Jesus because, while He was there on the tree of crucifixion (and even before), mankind spat on Him, they hit Him, they mocked Him, they were intimidating Him, and finally they persecuted Him to death on the tree of crucifixion. Many people say that is exactly what God ought to deserve. Well, if that is what He deserves, that is what He got.
Our reconciliation is where we allow Christ Jesus to be the one to bear our grievances against God the Father and Christ Jesus Himself. He did it back there. He was the kingpin of all. He was God in the flesh to mankind. To God, Jesus Christ died for you with the sins, as though He were all mankind, with Him dying on the tree of crucifixion. From our point of view, He was not reckoned as mankind. He was reckoned as God.
Ernest L Martin, 1991
Edited by David Sielaff, November 2006
1 Every person has an angel associated with him or her. We call them guardian angels, which is a misnomer, but there are angelic powers that can help us and are in charge of each of us. I am very thankful this is the case. I have had things happen to me that have been very good. God rescued me from a number of things, that if it depended just upon me, I would have been in the worst trouble you could imagine. I think I have been rescued many times by God’s angels or by God Himself. I do not know for sure but I think so because of certain circumstances that have occurred to me. I have not seen any visions or dreams to suggest I am special above anybody else. But at the same time I think that each of us have had things happen in our lives that we know that God has come to our rescue. At other times He has not rescued us. ELM
2 See Dr. Martin’s Bible Secret #99: “The Earth Once Had Ice Rings” at http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec099.htm. Perhaps God was referring to remnants of the swaddlingband that were still visible in Job’s day. DWS
Some do-gooders say that,
“Esau I have hated” actually means that He loved Esau less. When are these people
going to wake up and just read what it says? It says He hated Esau
before he was born. That is what it says. I know that sounds unjust
to us, completely so, but this is God’s election, not ours.
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