Thursday, September 13, 2012

God On Trial

It’s not like God needs us to defend Him.

I’m certain He can defend Himself.   He could change people’s view of Him at the twitch of His eyebrow or smite offenders like I brush aside front porch ants, should He choose.  He doesn’t choose this option often.  He’s merciful.

Even though God doesn’t need my defense, the guilt of my silence is weighing upon me heavily.  Am I not an accomplice to the slandering of God if I listen without objection? 

What, exactly, qualifies as a defamatory remark against our Maker?  What human words misrepresent His character? 

We do it so often, it’s difficult to categorize.  We put God, the ultimate Judge, in the seat of the accused and point fingers at all the ways He veers from our plans.  
  • How dare He allow hunger, death, disease?  
  • What can we make of Scripture’s confusing remarks about submission, and homosexuality, and predestination?  
  • Why are our own lives riddled with disappointment, misfortune, loss, and waiting? 

And gracious God, He humbly accepts the Defendant’s chair.  The Judge of all stares into the face of our ungrateful allegations and swings the gavel, declaring “Guilty.”  WE are guilty.  WE, like Adam, stand condemned for doubting the goodness of our Maker.   But the Judge bears our guilt.  He will set down His gavel to sit in the electric chair for us.

Doesn’t God always pay the price for the sin of His people?

I read recently about why we call God “the rock of my salvation.”  In the Old Testament, Moses had led God’s people out of slavery and into the desert.  There was no water.  The people were violently angry at Moses and God for bringing them towards certain death.  And in the original language*, you can tell that the people put Moses and God under a formal, legal trial for the lives they felt sure would thirst to death.

Can you imagine?  Literally placing God on the stand and trying Him for murder?
(Ironic, since innocent Jesus would later BE murdered after a similar trial.)

God’s people did this because they lacked water.  Ridiculous.  They belonged to the One who first pushed the hydrogen and oxygen atoms together.  He could provide.

What God’s people truly lacked was faith.  Yet in this story, the Almighty humbled Himself and accepted His legal position as the accused.  The sinful people declared their Holy God guilty.  God would bear sentence they deserved.  So God, known as the Rock, told Moses to strike a rock.  God was symbolically bearing punishment for the guilt of His faithless people.

Moses wouldn't hit a stone; He would hit His Maker.

Moses struck the Rock, and streams of water spewed forth. 
That's the formula for salvation:  
          our guilt 
      +  the punishment we deserve 
                placed instead on the Holy One
          streams of Living Water

Then, in anger at the people's rebellion, Moses struck the Rock a second time.  Big mistake.  
God had sentenced Himself to bear the sins of His people ONCE.  
Like the cross of Jesus, this story was meant to show that salvation comes by God bearing our sins once, for all of time.

It's scandalous enough that we put God on trial.  
It's humbling enough that our Holy One puts up with it, even bearing the punishment we deserve.  
Once is enough.  
Once won us salvation.


What am I trying to say?
We need to stop putting God on trial. He’s done that already, once and for all.  WE were guilty, but HE took the defendant’s chair, the execution chair.  

Whatever is tough in your life, or confusing... trust God. Don't accuse Him.  He is not guilty.
More than that, He is Savior.

Of course we don't totally understand His ways.  Who wants a God as small as the human mind?
We can be sure of this: He bore our punishment and is worthy of our loyalty.  

*My understanding of this Bible story came from chapter six of Clowney's The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament.

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Kathleen said...

I know many people would say, I'd never put my God through a trial... but we do when we sin... But praise God HE ROSE and is now our advocate... Bless HIs Holy Name!

RACHEL said...

That's a really good point. I hadn't thought of ALL sin being that. Hmm...

Zhanna said...

This is good! There is something amazing the way you talk about God's word. You bring it to life.

And you stated this SO strongly, "Of course we don't totally understand His ways. Who wants a God as small as the human mind?"

It truly sucks when He brings us through the fire, when things get really tough. It hurts. And the uncertainty is terrifying.

But to question Him? Who are we to do that. I love how you pointed out the Israelite's lack of faith.
It's something my husband and I always try to remember because it reminds us to always have faith that God KNOWS what He is doing and it is always good.

As humans our minds are small and PRAISE the Lord that HE does NOT think the way we do. What a relief! lol

Laura Boggess said...

Hi, Rachel! What a thoughtful post. Too often I do this very thing when I take matters into my own hands and don't trust God for my manna for that day. Beautiful post. I'm so glad you linked up to Playdates this week!