Monday, October 28, 2019

Old Testament Evil (1) God Stymied

Many serious Christians are concerned about the violence that permeates the Old Testament. They believe that it is inconsistent with the message of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus suffered in the face of evil and violence. He did not fight against it. Engaging in violence seems to be inconsistent with his teaching and behaviour. This makes the violence of the Old Testament hard to explain.

I believe that the key understanding that is missing from most discussions on this topic is and understanding of spiritual warfare and the precariousness of the battle that God was fighting.

God Stymied

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they handed authority over the earth to the spiritual forces of evil. The consequence of this authority shift was that God was shut out of the wonderful world he had created. He could not act on earth, unless a human called out and gave him authority to help.

When God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, he meant what he said. He was not half-heartedly giving authority, thinking that he could take it back if things turned sour. That would have been dishonest, and God does not work like that.

God had a long-term strategy to restore his creation, but the first few thousand years were a hard struggle. He could not act on earth, unless humans asked for help. He can only act on earth, if humans give him authority, so he needed loyal people and a place to work. He needed humans to give him authority to act on earth. God had a plan to restore his influence, but it would take time.

For most of the Old Testament age, God was shut out of the world that he had created. During this long season, he only received rare opportunities to gain influence on earth. He used each of these very wisely, but could not make much progress. The spiritual powers of evil virtually had a free hand to work their evil on earth. God keeps his word, so when they lost it, he did not take back the authority over the earth that he had given to humans. He had to find other sub-optimal methods to accomplish his purposes. This sometimes made violence necessary.

In the Old Testament age, God had only a few people who walked in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit could not be released in fullness until after the cross. However, there was a massive battle going on in the spiritual realms. Because humans had given the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth, God had limited ability to fight against them. This was a serious struggle, and God had only limited authority to act to restrain them.

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