Over the past few weeks I have been debating with some non-believers about God's goodness, and the idea of human morality being "objective" and therefore requiring an external, eternal referent, law giver, also known as God.
Is God a Moral Monster?
In those debates one thing that continues to be raised by my various opponents is the idea that the biblical God is excessively harsh and unreasonable, or even evil. They will cite the old testament, and God's judgement but it seems to me this argument doesn't have a leg to stand upon, and it undercuts itself.
Either God exists and wrote the moral law by which we judge his judgement, and then how can we finite wisdom condemn the author of all creation? Or there is no objective law, because he doesn't exist, in which case we have no basis for judging ANY act or behavior as immoral, harsh or evil.
The debate brought Job to mind, having lost everything, destitute, mourning the loss of his children, he points at God and says "Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?" (Job 31:3-4)
Job demands answers, outlining his own righteousness, and insisting God answer why He has brought "disaster" upon Job.
And what does God say?
Who are you to question...
And we read in Job 38:1-18 God's response to Job's impudence. Who are you to question me and my plan? By what power do you doubt my power and authority, or question my vision and action? Job is questioning the Great "I Am" (Exodus 3:14), and I love how God replies.
Let's read it together...
Job 38:1-18 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lord Answers Job
38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action[a] like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
Job 38:3 Hebrew Gird up your loins
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth... when the morning stars sang?
We have no wisdom of our own, our greatest strength and ability is only an outpouring of God's own, and like a stream off a river, we cannot flow more broadly than our source. God is our source, he is our source for wisdom, morality and love, and when we point at him demanding answers for the difficulty of this dark life, we make a foolish error, we as Job did, assume ourselves righteous and deserving of favor...
None of us is deserving of God's favor. "As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10).
But fortunately, despite our poverty of spirit, and infinite offense, He loves us, and He made a way...
Psalm 103:9-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Praise & Prayer:
Thank you Lord. God help us see this as your gift. Help us set down our own pride and sense of entitlement which clearly guides our condemnation of your judgement. Only you are good and the sooner we return to a humble posture of acknowledgement and repentance for our iniquity, the better.
Lord help us hear your voice and follow your word. For your glory, your kingdom, and our greatest good. In Jesus name we pray, amen.