Two thoughts arrest my mind this morning. I really cannot tell from whence came the first. As for the second, it isn’t difficult fingering the ‘culprit’. I’d deal with the second in a subsequent blog. For now, I have a question:
God of some or God of all?
Ever wondered how a conscious Egyptian, Assyrian or Philistine person or Christian would read, understand and interpret portions of Scriptures like these (please note the emphases):
Zephaniah 2:5 “Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.” [KJV]
“… the LORD shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with is mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dryshod?”Isaiah 11:15 [KJV]
“The king of Assyria will lead away both the young and the old-captives from Egypt and exiles from Sudan. They will be barefoot and naked. Their buttocks will be exposed in order to disgrace Egypt.” Isaiah 20:4 [GOD’S WORD].
How do they take it? Do they sometimes feel or think God to be partial or that the Bible is just a concoction or the handy philosophical tool of some colonialist?
At first glance, one cannot help but think that way. How is it that God can prefer one nation to every other? And not just one above the others, but so much that that all-powerful God sides with His preferred nation to sometimes exterminate another. On what basis is God doing this?
Again, I realized for example that when Jesus says “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!” [Matthew 11:21, KJV] It would well have been “Woe unto thee Lagos” or “Woe unto thee Mogadishu” or “Woe unto thee Accra”. They were real towns and real cities with real living people!
But while I mused on all of these, I realize that this same thought wouldn’t bother anyone if the words of say Zechariah 2:5 were generalized. A typical example would be the words of Rabbi Saul who said in his letter to the Christians in the city of Rome and the Churches about there. He said: “all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.” [GOD’S WORD, emphasis mine]. Such an all-inclusive charge appears easier to take. If we are all guilty, well then, that is fairness; else we cannot but suspect unfairness and tyranny in God’s sovereignty.
I empathize with all of us, because being a non-Jew myself, I identify very much with such sentiments. We are the “Gentiles” the Bible often refers to in such derogatory, belittling, and sometimes violent terms. However, I make quick to also point out that this thinking only persists when the entirety of the plan of God as revealed in Scriptures isn’t properly understood.
Paul again comes to the rescue so does Peter in his historic visit and preaching in the house of the Roman General Cornelius. Take a read:
” …are we Jews better than other people? No, we have already said that those who are Jews, as well as those who are not Jews, are the same. They are all guilty of sin.” – Romans 3:9 and,
Galatians 3:22 “… The Scriptures put the whole world in prison under the control of sin, so that the only way for people to get what God promised would be through faith in Jesus Christ. It is given to those who believe in Him.” [Emphases mine]
Please notice the all-inclusiveness introduced by the Gospel. And what better way than from the words of Jesus to Rabbi Nicodemus: John 3:16, “God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die.” [Contemporary English Version, Emphases Mine].
We are all guilty, God chose one nation for no merit of theirs, extends His love to the rest of us and waits to receive anyone who desires to enjoy of His graces.
John 1:11-12, “He(Jesus) came to His own country, but His own people did not receive Him. Some (both Jews and non-Jews), however, did receive Him and believed in Him; so He gave them the right to become God’s children.” [Good News Version, emphases and annotations mine].
Colossians 3:10-11 [Easy-to-Read Version], “Now you are wearing a new life … In this new life it doesn’t matter if you are a Greek or a Jew, circumcised or not. It doesn’t matter if you speak a different language or even if you are a Scythian. It doesn’t matter if you are a slave or free. Christ is all that matters…“
The apostle, Peter in his introductory remarks to the household of the Roman Officer sums up everything. He declared [Acts 10:34, GNB], “I now realize that it is true that God treats everyone on the same basis. Those who fear him and do what is right are acceptable to him, no matter what race they belong to.“
God is OUR God, not THEIR God alone. GOD IS FOR US ALL. Period!