Etikettarkiv | king

Did God move King David to make a census, or did Satan? Sin or no sin?

censusIn 2 Sam. 24 it says that God moved David to make a census of Israel’s military power, but in 1 Chron. 21 it says that Satan moved him to do so. Can these two statements be combined, or are they mutually exclusive?

One solution is that it concerns two different kinds of censuses, and another solution is that David did not perform a census the way God had described a proper census as per Ex. 30. A third option is the one described below.

Israel was already under God’s judgment to begin with, so there were no innocent men involved in this particular story. God is angry with Israel and punishes them by allowing Satan to ”unleash” David’s illegitimate pride to create a rift between them.

2 Sam. 24:1 And again the ANGER of the Lord was kindled AGAINST ISRAEL, and he moved David AGAINST THEM to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.3 And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

1 Chron. 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.3 And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

God sometimes bestows evil consequences (physical evil, or calamity) upon man’s evil actions (you reap what you sow). He also chooses what kind of evil to bestow, and if he would like to take the chance to bestow evil by means of other people (or Satan) who are already set on doing harm. Satan is often accusing both Israel and believers for various things, and he seeks to get God to punish his people. In 2 Samuel, it says that God was angry with Israel (due to the recent revolt under Sheba in I Chron. 20 and other acts by Amnon and Absalom), and this would be a good reason for God to allow Satan to do what he always wants to do – cause harm!

Here are a couple of examples of when it’s possible to suggest that God and/or Satan perform the evil:

In I Kings 22 (and. 2 Chronicles 18) which you can read about in this article, God decides to kill the evil king Ahab, and asks the heavenly hosts as to how to entice Ahab to enter into a battle in which he will die. A spirit volunteers to be a ”lying spirit” in the mouth of Ahab’s false prophets, and God accepts the offer and allows him to do it. Nevertheless, God is not guilty of lying (there is no darkness in God), but merely gives Ahab what he deserves (Jer 24.7).

In I Sam 16, after repeated failures to submit to God’s leadership, Saul is rejected as king. He remains on the throne and continues his non-committed lifestyle and reign – even indulging in sorcery and seances. God punishes him by sending an ”unclean spirit” to trouble him.

The motivation to cause calamity is a bit different in the book of Job, but God allows Satan to attack Job and he later confronts Satan with Job’s failure to sin even though we can read ”you incited me against him to ruin him”. In other words, Satan was the ”ruiner” but God was also a ”ruiner” – so sometimes it’s actually not a big difference to suggest that ”God moved a person to do this and that” or ”Satan moved a person to do this and that”. The idea of God acting through agents -for reasons of judgment, of mercy, of testing, etc – occurs a few times in scripture, but nowhere does it say that God acts in this way ALL THE TIME. When it comes to Joseph and his brothers, there were evil human intentions (Joseph’s brothers sinning by selling their brother), with God’s overarching purpose for good.

1 Sam might be understood in this way:

  • God is angry with Israel’s sin (and David’s handling of the royal family issues).
  • Satan sees his opportunity, accuses them of wrongdoing, and wins approval to inflict David’s and Israel’s wrongdoing back on themselves.
  • God, knowing that the punishment is well deserved, that the example of correction/contrition on David’s part will be recorded in Scripture forever as an example, and that He will be gracious ‘ahead of schedule’ and reveal the site of his temple/crucifixion, agrees to turn David and Israel over to him, for this specific punishment (cf. I Cor 5.5).
  • Satan, with this permission from God, moves David to begin the Census.

Moreover, there was no order from God to David to NOT count the men, and the taking of a census was allowed in the law

Ex. 30:11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord.14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord.15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.

Had the numbering been done correctly (with the census tax for atonement), then undoubtedly no plague would have been sent, and the people would have benefited from the atonement. The fact that Joab knew that David was doing this out of pride (and even to bolster his military ranks, 1 Chron 27.2,4) instead of out of some religious sentiment, gives an indication of that the religious guidelines were not going to be followed. Joab specifically knew that what he was ordered to do was wrong (1 Chron 21.3), so the issue might not have been the census itself but that it was done without regard to the religious dimension and proper process. The observation made in 1 Chron 27.23-24 about God’s promise to make Israel numerous, could be taken as a reference to the population-reducing judgment of God. Punishing people by giving them over to their own will (see the case with Pharoah and the statements in Romans 1) can sometimes be seen in scripure, but it is never done without plenty of prior opportunity to change and to open up to goodness and truth.

In 2 Sam 24.16 we can read: ”When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity…”. God’s justice is always angry at sin, and his love is always grieved over the misery that sin causes.

You can read more in this article from christianthinktank.

Annonser

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is turned wherever God wants?

king's heart2Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will

It’s never a good idea to use a psalm or a proverb as a filter to read the rest of the Bible through, because poetic text might obviously not always be the literal truth. It’s shaky to start a new doctrine based on poetry and analogies, and you can reach almost any conclusion you want if you single out a verse out of context in Psalms or Proverbs (or anywhere) and use it as a foundation for a certain theology view.

The above verse is sometimes used by our reformed friends (calvinists) as an attempt to support the idea that God has an exhaustive control over all decisions of men – i.e. God predestines every step that a man makes and nothing happens against the will of God. There may be calvinists who disagree with this view, but then they are not consistent with their own doctrines – as in TULIP

It’s true that God may occasionally and in rare situations choose to override the will of man, but calvinists believe God acts in such way at all times and that he constantly steers our steps and wills so that we will always act and think according to his exact will with no exception. They believe that God is no longer sovereign if man has any independent control separate from his own will. Sovereign and sovereignty are not Biblical words (KJV), but also freewillers believe God is ”sovereign”, but obviously not the way calvinists understand this term. A sovereign and an all powerful God is mighty enough to create man with a free will and to be responsible for his (not God’s) own actions. If God is the one who causes us to think and act the way he wants, then of course he is the one to be responsible for our thoughts and actions, but that is not the God of the Bible because it would make him the author of sin.

Prior to the flood the people were purely evil (with an exception of Noah and his family):

Gen. 5:And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

It wouldn’t make any sense at all if God first caused people to have wicked thoughts and constantly perform evil, and then bring a global flood on everyone due to their wickedness that he himself predestined. The wickedness culminated after the nephilim were being born by the sons of God (fallen angels, as per other Bible verses) and female human beings, and wickedness is always against God’s will.

Proverbs 21:1  doesn’t speak about all the people in the whole world but about ”the king”,  and this verse might have been written by King Solomon concerning himself. The passage also doesn’t tell us that God controls the king’s heart irresistibly. It’s possible that Solomon is proclaiming that he is fulfilling his appointed role by allowing God to control his decision-making so that his decisions would essentially be the decisions of God, and it is not a statement that God is irresistibly controlling his heart but that the king has fully surrendered his heart and will to the will of God.

A good king was to represent God to his people in his judgments and decisions, and we can see this in Psalm 82 quoted by Jesus to the Pharisees in John 10:34-38.  In the psalm, the rulers of the people were called “gods” because they were to represent God to His people in their leadership and judgments.  In Psalm 82 God is seen to stand in judgment of the judges and rebuke them for their failure to represent God as they were called by God to do. If the Scripture could call wicked judges “gods”, how much more does Jesus deserve to be equated with God since He is sent into the world by God himself?

The wicked make plans and those plans seldom include their own destruction or judgment nor the many calamities that might result from their rebellion, but such is their future according to the Lord. Nothing can ultimately thwart God’s overall sovereign plan, and his ultimate control over the universe is in no way threatened by the free will decisions of his creatures. That is the gist of Proverbs 21.

What else does Proverbs 21 say?
king's heart

21:Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

It wouldn’t make sense if God irresistibly controls the heart at the same time as he ponders/weighs/judges the heart that he alone controls with no interference or involvement by man. Solomon is concerned about pleasing the Lord in righteousness and justice, and a sacrifice is usually made when a person has transgressed the law of God and needs to be forgiven through the blood of an animal sacrifice. Of course it’s better to be obedient to start with because then a sacrifice isn’t even needed, and we can read that this option is more acceptable to God. Solomon contrasts the desires and actions of men surrendered to God with those who are in rebellion to God and refusing to submit to Him. Solomon himself fell away from the Lord in his later years but when he wrote this Proverb Solomon was committed to the Lord.

21:4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

Is it really possible that God would want people to have a high look, a proud heart and being wicked sinners? It’s absurd to suggest that God could cause people to be evil because in God there is no darkness at all and he doesn’t even tempt anyone – much less cause anyone to sin.

21:The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.

A lying tongue would also be something that God doesn’t want anyone to have, and we can read that the robbery of the wicked shall destroy them because they REFUSE to do judgment. It’s not God who leads them in that direction, but they do it to themselves.

21:The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

Solomon compares ”man” with ”the pure”. The work of the pure is RIGHT unlike the way of man, and this must mean that some people do NOT do what is right before God since all men are not pure. The soul of the wicked desire EVIL, and does it sound plausible that God causes certain men to be wicked and evil?

21:11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

A scorner is not showing a good conduct and that’s why he is punished. The righteous man is contrasted with the wicked man, and we can read that God overthrows the wicked for the reason that he is performing wickedness. Why would God overthrow and punish people for the reason that they are being wicked, if he himself caused them to be wicked in the first place? Instead of being punished they should get praise and applauds for doing the will of God – by being evildoers – if this is what God truly wanted them to be.

21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.15 It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

Does God want people to ”stop their ears” at the cry of the poor? Surely not, since God repeatedly tells us to be merciful and help those in need. Whosoever is a worker of iniquity must surely be acting against God’s will? The Bible says that God hates the workers of iniquity (psalm 5:5) so it wouldn’t make sense if he would be causing people to be just that, and then turn around and pretend to be angry at the same workers of iniquity.

21:16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

Here we can read about man wandering out-of-the-way of understanding. It doesn’t say God pushed him out-of-the-way of understanding or prevented him in any way to reach a better understanding, but that the man himself is guilty of this – and the dire consequence for this unfortunate choice is death. Does God want people to love pleasure and wine, and does he want them to be wicked transgressors? Again, I hope all will say NO WAY. Sinning is always against God’s will.

21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

God surely wouldn’t cause people to be foolish and waste expensive oil. The wise man is again contrasted with the foolish man, and it’s up to us to follow after righteousness in order to find life and honor, and it’s up to us to keep our tongue to save our SOUL from trouble.

24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord.

Read this passage again about proud, haughty scorners who refuse to labor and who are greedy and covet things that don’t belong to them. The sacrifice of the wicked is an ABOMINATION before God, and the only reason they would even think about doing something like that would be due to a wicked mind. Would God cause people to be wicked and act in such a way? God directs the way of the upright, but the wicked hardens himself. Bad choice on their part.

Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.—28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.29 The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

The thoughts of the wicked are an ABOMINATION to the Lord, and he is far from the wicked. Would God cause people to be so wicked that they were an abomination before him? That would not be the God of the Bible, but this type of God can unfortunately be seen in books authored by calvinists. Flee to another direction.

Why did God create us, despite knowing we would mess up?

A parable about a party invitation for ALL

Some christians feel it’s strange that God would let his son die for people He knows ahead of time will never believe in him, and that’s why they prefer to believe that Jesus only died for SOME people who will DEFINITELY be saved because they are specifically PRE-CHOSEN to be the lucky ELECT. But I don’t find dying for ALL people despite knowing the risks/results involved is a paradox at all. What about those who DO choose to believe in him? They will be heirs to the kingdom, and the thing is that ALL are given this opportunity so no one is left out or is unfairly treated. God is totally fair and merciful to all!

Most young couples are aware of the risk that some of their future children might not turn out as obedient and morally upright human beings,  but they are willing to take this risk since children (and not robots) are a great blessing and a good company. Even if a married couple would be told that two of their ten not yet born children will end up as unbelievers, they will likely decide to have their children anyway. At least THEY (the parents) don’t force their children to become unbelievers. They might bring them up in a wonderful christian home and teach them all things about Christ and the Bible and how to be good moral people. If they still one day reject this teaching and become wicked individuals, then THEY (the children) are to be blamed and not the parents.

(We also have ”Open theism” as a possible factor, where God indeed knows ”all things” but only what is ”knowable”. Read more here. )

I’d like to compare God’s salvation offer to everyone with a party invitation even if it’s not a perfect analogy.

Let’s say I decide to have a party in my house. Of course I’m entitled to set up the rules and conditions myself, and I don’t need to ask anyone for advice or permission how to run things since I’m ”sovereign” over my own house  (sovereign is a word which is not in the KJV Bible but still…). I decide to invite EVERYONE in my entire neighborhood, and to use a RSVP (respondez s’il vous plait) on my invitation cards. I also PROMOTE my party and tell everyone that they would miss out big time if they will not come. My party is totally free of any costs, but I still have conditions. The following conditions/restrictions apply:

  • Had I not decided to have this party, there would not be a party. I personally initiated a ”drawing” or ”calling”.
  • All are invited but ONLY those who REPLY as per the RSVP may actually come
  • And out of those who reply affirmatively as per the RVSP, only those who SHOW UP at my party will be let in!
  • And those who have replied affirmatively and showed up must also be acceptably DRESSED to be let in.

(Maybe I could add that they must also BEHAVE during the entire duration of the party so they won’t disturb and ruin the party for the others, but when we will end up at the big wedding party in heaven all troublemakers will already be sorted out. It’s a good thing that ”sinners” are not welcomed to the big wedding party or else it would not be a pleasant time for the others.)

Even though I have all those conditions, the party is still totally FREE OF CHARGE. The guests could not do anything themselves to be invited to my party. Nothing we believe or do can ever merit salvation. We don’t deserve to be saved, but our Lord has enabled salvation to all of us in our totally lost state.

I could of course have arranged things differently…

I could make personal  invitations to CERTAIN people in my neighborhood and FORCE them to come to my party which I make MANDATORY for those I invite. I could also REFUSE to allow anyone else to come to my party EVEN THOUGH I have PLENTY OF ROOM, food, beverages, entertainment, etc for EVERYONE in the entire neighborhood.

The thing is though that I PREFER to invite ALL and to let THEM make up their mind if they want to come or not.  That means that whosoever wills can come and it would bring me much happiness to know that people have used their own minds when accepting my invitation. I would not feel good about having people around me who have no other choice but to be there whether they like to or not. God has created us in his image, and we are able to reason and make options depending on various circumstances.  God has also created LIMITATIONS to our free will. We simply can’t fly to March and back just because we have this desire and will. 

Is my party a total failure because all who were invited did not come? Can we say I was totally helpless and in the hands of the people I invited? Did someone make the rules instead of me? Did someone thwart my plans? Did I lose control? Did something happen unexpectedly which I didn’t think of? Did I not calculate the risks properly? Did I treat someone unfairly? Am I a wicked person because I did not force people to come? Should we feel sorry for those who did not come despite that they knew the truth about it? Am I illogical in my behavior? Did I at any time resort to Plan B?

Of course not! We would all have a great time at my party, and I would feel good about knowing that I made sure that ALL had a fair chance to come. I wouldn’t even want people at my party unless THEY had a sincere desire to come and to get to know me.Why is it out of the question that our sovereign Lord created us with the ability to accept/reject him and obey/disobey?

Compare also with the analogy of the wedding party in Matthew 22. Note that those who were bidden to come chose to NOT come, and those who did choose to come were called ”chosen”. Notice that no one is forced to do anything. Both good and bad were called but they were all required to wear WEDDING CLOTHES in order to be acceptable to the wedding party. We must repent from our sins and be holy and righteous and dressed in white undefiled garments. 

1. And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,And sent forth his servants TO CALL THEM THAT WERE BIDDEN to the wedding: and they would not come.Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.14 For many are called, but few are chosen.