What we thought about...



16th January, 2006

Seeing God articles
Faith & Reason articles
Bible Teachings articles

Does God mean what He says?

Have you ever grappled with the problem of whether or not God really means what He says? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, consider if Scripture's assertions can be said to reflect the realities of the human experience. Take Jeremiah 17:5-8 for instance:

Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, i n a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit”.

Granted, we might find it hard to translate such promises into the nuts and bolts of 21st century life. I read these verses to say that anybody who truly fears the One True God, the God of Israel, the Father of Jesus Christ, will… how can one put it… “survive prosperously”. How faithful to real life is that notion? Now think about Psalm 103:2-3:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases…

Does God really heal all diseases of those who fear Him? You probably know God-fearers who have suffered chronic, painful ailments. And then we have the all-encompassing promises of the triumph of the Lord's disciples over the disciples of wickedness.

The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened. The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. The way of the Lord is strength for the upright, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity. The righteous will never be removed, but the wicked will not inhabit the earth (Prov. 10:27-30).

I'm sorry, but I don't see these glowing promises happening in real life. Yet I have not the slightest doubt that they mean what they say — that God means what He says. The notion that the giver of life to all, who was willing to send Jesus Christ to suffer and perish at the hands of His own creatures, would prove unfaithful to even the tiniest promise simply cannot be entertained. Over and over the Old Testament ascribes to God two chief attributes of importance to us human beings — “goodness (mercy) and truth”. See, for instance, Exodus 34:6 which describes God as “abounding in goodness and truth”. A study of the Hebrew word for “truth”, emet, shows that it would best be translated into modern English as “faithfulness”. The impeccably holy God is infinitely perfect in faithfulness.

So how do we solve the problem of supposed divine unreliability, of apparent failure on God's part to fulfill all His promises? This question can be resolved only by taking a long-term approach. Scripture itself makes this plain:

I have seen everything in my days of vanity: there is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness (Eccl. 7:15).

Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him (Eccl. 8:12).

The story of life isn't over yet for anybody. While we live, God watches, searching minds and hearts (Ps. 7:9), being angry with the wicked (vs. 11). In due course, God will “bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure” (vs. 9). Eventually, every Word and promise of God will attain perfect fulfillment. Jesus said that the time is coming in which “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). God cannot be unreliable; it is not in Him to renege.


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