THE NATURE OF GOD
What is God like? Do you know anything about His nature? Is He loving and kind, as many people believe, or is He mean and ruthless, as some say He is? It is true that He loves us unconditionally, but according to the Bible, He has killed many people, as well. So what can we conclude about His nature? Why does this loving God sometimes kill people? Is He unstable? Is there a way for us to answer these questions? Fortunately, yes, the Bible tells us much about the character and nature of God. Allow me to give you a lesson on the nature of God. Let us look at some evidence.
The very first thing that God did for mankind was create for him a beautiful paradise. In the first two chapters of Genesis we read about God creating a man and a woman and putting them in a beautiful garden paradise - the Garden of Eden. He then gave them an easy assignment. "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Genesis 1:28) In other words, they were to have a lot of children and be in control of everything on earth. Wow, that sounds like a job anyone could appreciate.
So tell me, would you want to mess up that arrangement? Well, most people would not want to mess that up, but Adam and Eve messed it up for themselves. They were kicked out of the garden because they disobeyed the one and only "Thou shalt not" of God. Before the woman was created God told the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16,17) But they did eat from it, and they were cursed and put out of the Garden paradise. In other words they blew it, and they lost their perfect paradise and were now the first people to suffer from the wrath of God. They first got to know about His love, but after they sinned, they had to learn about His other side - the side of God that hates sin, and has to punish it.
So what can we learn from the above? We learn that God wants to give us the very best in life, but if we disobey He has no choice but to punish or discipline us. Why? Because God hates sin. He doesn't want us to do anything to hurt ourselves or anyone else. In order to fully understand all this it is important for us to know how things were before man was put on this earth. So, let us go back in time for a moment, or should I say 'before time'?
Before the so called 'creation account' in Genesis, the earth was inhabited by Lucifer and his fallen angels. Lucifer, of course, was the name of Satan before he was judged by God to be evil and corrupt. This once majestic creature who was the most beautiful and powerful angel got so filled with pride and ambition that he chose to take over God's throne. What happened as a result? God stepped in and filled the earth (Lucifer's kingdom) with darkness and water. In other words, God flooded the earth and made it pitch dark to stop Satan in his tracks. The beautiful earth became void and without form, and darkness covered the whole earth.
So you see, God had originally put Lucifer and his angelic kingdom in a earthly paradise just as he did with Adam and Eve, but due to sinful pride and arrogance He had to punish them, and then they had to experience the wrath of God. Many of the angels were immediately cast down and put into chains as a result, and are still chained today. God hates sin and disobedience, and will punish it, in whatever way He deems necessary.
Our loving Father wants us to be happy and prosperous, but we need His guidance and discipline. It is what is best for us, and just as any loving parent will lovingly discipline their children He will do that for His children.
"But, what about the killings we read about in the Old Testament", you might say. Well, there is a good explanation for that.
In the book of Genesis we read where God chose a man called Abram, who was later called Abraham, to be the Father of a group of people who came to be known as Israelites or Jews. They are also referred to as The Nation of Israel, or God's chosen people. Now, it is important to realize that the Old Testament is the account of how God taught, and took care of, His people.
With the exception of a few chapters in Genesis, the Nation of Israel is the subject of the Old Testament. God taught His people how to live in His will, for their own good. Part of their education was learning the power and nature of God. He often did things to glorify Himself in order to demonstrate to them, and the rest of the world, that He is Sovereign God. Killing their enemies for them, or helping them to kill them, is an example of these demonstrations. It is important that we realize that the children of Satan are enemies of God, because ever since God disciplined Satan he has been actively and enthusiastically doing everything in his power to thwart the plans of Almighty God.
We must also realize that Satan hates God's children because God loves us so much. The powers of darkness (Satan and his fallen angels), have been at war with God ever since God destroyed the earth and ruined Satan's plan to ascend to heaven and take over God's throne. So, let us remember that in war many people must die. That is the very nature of war, and this war was being played out in the Old Testament, and it is still being played out today.
Moving ahead many centuries, it is important for us to realize that today, the only people who can rightfully claim to be God's children are those who have accepted God's wonderful offer of salvation. In other words those who have accepted what Christ did on the cross as a payment for their sin, and made Jesus their Lord - the rest are children of Satan. So God does not deal with Satan's children the same way he deals with His own children.
Also, it is important for us to realize that God does not look at physical death as we do. Here is how God sees it. If one of Satan's children is killed he will be sent to hell to get the punishment he deserves, and if one of God's children is killed or dies he goes immediately to heaven, so he is much better off. So you see, death is not the final chapter for anyone - it only sends us to where we truly belong.
So what does all this tell us of the character of God? He started out His dealings with man by putting him in paradise, and He concludes with putting man back in paradise (heaven), and everything that happens in between is the playing out of the great drama that is a result of sin. Satan and his demon army will eventually be cast into the lake of fire, along with all humans who serve him. This is so all God's children can enjoy eternity without pain and suffering. Yes, God is a loving Father. I am so glad and so grateful to be one of His. To God be the glory, for great things he has done.