PART 2 The Uncertainty of Death
Forty Days and Forty Nights
This is one of those stories that many will point to that they say evidences God is evil. In response to some of my writings on various internet sites, I have heard some say that God is a mass murderer. That he has brought about the death of many more people than the devil. I’m sure the story we are going to look at next is one they would present as a prime example of their sentiment. As we will find out, many people will perish at God’s hand. Does this reveal that He is evil? Let’s find out.
I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth
Suggested Reading: Genesis 6:1-22
At this time, the population of the earth had grown since the first humans Adam and Eve began to have children. The scriptures tell us that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair (beautiful). There is much contention as to who the sons of God are and who the daughters of men are. Some say the sons of God refer to fallen angels and the daughters of men are daughters of human beings while others say that the sons of God are the godly line of Seth, Adam and Eve’s third son, and the daughters of men are the ungodly line of Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son.
Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Whether we know who this is referring to or not, what we do know is that the sons of god took to themselves many wives. Apparently, the choosing of a wife for marriage was not based on spiritual character, but good looks. If there were any that had a godly inclination to walk upright and have communion with God it seems that all had fallen away to a life of sin except for a man named Noah and his family.
Genesis 6:5a And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,…
What God recognized was that wickedness (a wide-spread, firmly-rooted, and deeply-staining corruption, the second aggravation3) was great in the earth.
So, what was His response?
Genesis 6:6-7 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.
The Lord repented that he made man. Some say that He wished He never made mankind in the first place. I don’t think this was his perspective as this response to me would be more of a human mindset. The word “repented” also means to be sorrowful. If you read further along the scripture says that God was grieved in his heart. The word “grieved” means to be pained. I believe he was expressing sorrow that mankind had gone the way of self-centeredness, of self-destruction, of disregard for one another, etc. It hurt him to see this. With this in mind, the Lord said, I will destroy (remove them entirely) both man and living creatures.
If this is solely the basis for God removing a vast number of people from the earth, then maybe there is some credence to the allegation that he is evil. Some say the reason God removed these people was because of sin. I would counter by saying there are many people in today’s world who have committed egregious sins like them who subsequently have a testimony that God had changed their life. There are two reasons which I believe caused God to remove them from the earth. Before we take a look at this, let’s take a look at one person, whom God decided would be saved from this mass removal of humanity.
Genesis 6:8-9 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
A man named Noah found grace in the sight of God. The word “grace” means the favor of God to sinful man. Another way of saying this is that grace is God's response to saving faith3. Noah was described as being just (righteous; blameless in character and conduct; having integrity) and perfect (always obeyed God). As a result, he walked (had continual communion or fellowship) with Him.
The first reason why God decided to remove mankind was, because the condition of their heart called for spiritual capital punishment (divine judgment). When we think of capital punishment we think of the crimes associated with it such as treason, espionage, murder, large-scale drug trafficking, etc. What is spiritual capital punishment? It is the result of the decision to not believe in God as he revealed himself to mankind.
You might say, aren’t there people today who don’t respond to God’s initiation for salvation? Should all mankind be removed from living on earth for the decisions of some? I would answer by saying you just gave the answer as to why mankind was to be removed.
Genesis 6:5 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.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
The wickedness that God saw was great. The word “great” means a wide-spread, firmly-rooted, and deeply-staining corruption, … so "that integrity possessed no longer a single corner" (Calvin)4. Furthermore, the imaginations (wicked schemes) of their thinking was only evil continually (all day long). What kind of actions were being committed we might ask? We are told the earth was filled with violence. The word “violence” means they treated each other cruelly and unjustly by forceful physical acts.
Do you see now the reasons why God chose to remove them? Wickedness was a universal condition. Perverse inhumane violent acts were the norm. Children were being brought up in an atmosphere of evil and were encouraged to follow the ways of their parents. This was not only an ungodly society but one deeply entrenched in total and universal depravity. God would have no inroad into any of their lives. If they were allowed to continue to remain on earth even the life of Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives would probably not survive and the coming one, the Messiah would never appear.
Was God just in removing them?
In today’s society, there is much disagreement concerning capital punishment as there have been countless stories of people who were convicted of committing egregious acts and yet it was proven by DNA evidence that they were innocent. However, this society during Noah’s time would be judged by the God who knows all things as to whether who is guilty or not. The conclusion was, they were all guilty. They all committed the same crime. What crime, of not believing in God and choosing to be continually entrenched in evil?
Some might respond by saying you might be right in that the removal of them does have some merit but they might continue to character God as to his treatment of them while they were alive as being unjust because he never gave them an opportunity to repent (to change their ways).
Could what they are saying about Him be true?
Jude 14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
A man named Enoch might help us to answer this question. He was a man who lived before the time of Noah and was known as someone that walked with God which indicated that he lived a life of close communion with Him. Many commentators believe that his prophecy (said beforehand that something would happen) pertained to two different time periods, the first concerning those who lived before God’s judgment during the time of Noah and concerning those who will be living in the world in the end times. With this in mind, here is clear evidence that God conveyed to this man an upcoming judgment upon the people living at that time during which it was his responsibility to convey. These people were warned ahead of time and as we can see they chose to disregard this warning. Is there another example of God being just toward these people? There is.
Noah was told by God as to how mankind would be removed from this earth. It would be by an impending flood of water which would accumulate over a coarse of continual rainfall for 40 days and 40 nights. In order for Noah and his family to be saved from this deluge, God gave him instructions to build an ark (vessel; a hollow place capable of containing persons, goods, etc.5), which would not only provide safety for him and his family but also for two of every kind of creature.
If you continue to read of this account in Genesis 6 it would appear that in no time the ark was built, the waters came, and mankind was removed from the earth. From this observation, it does seem that God was unjust meaning that he didn’t give mankind an opportunity to repent. Is there any indication that this was not the case?
Genesis 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
It took time to build the ark. This was no small vessel. Scripture appears to indicate that this project could have taken as long as 120 years. Was this all that Noah was responsible for during this time? Noah was also responsible to announce to the people righteousness (of upright moral behavior, or in its wider sense, living according to God's will and purpose6). As Noah found grace, we can also deduce that he understood that no one can live according to God’s will and purpose without believing in Him. So, mankind was aware of the need to repent and of the warning of future judgment.
What do you think, was God’s dealing with mankind in this instance just?
The next story has bothered me for a long time in respect to death, and I guess I would say that I have a better handle on it now.
Witnesses Laid Down Their Clothes
Lay not this sin to their charge
Suggested Reading: Acts 6:8-10; Acts 6:1-6; Acts 7:58-60
3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Grecian Jews (Jewish immigrants to Palestine - those who spoke Greek) were complaining against the Hebrews (the native Jews who also spoke Aramaic and Greek), because their widows were overlooked in the daily administration of money and food. The apostles came up with a suggestion in order to address this matter. They recommended that the brethren “look ye out among you” seven men.
But before they were chosen, the apostles conveyed to the assembly of believers the qualities of the Holy Spirit they should have witnessed in these individuals. These qualities were that they must be of honest report [of an authentic testimony of being known by the assembly for being full of the Holy Spirit (those whom the Holy Spirit directs; those who are spiritually minded)] and wisdom (skill or aptitude for practical affairs). So, seven were chosen, but there was one in my mind that stood out. His name was Stephen.
Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
He was a Christian, full of faith (grace; richly blessed by God) and power (supernatural power), who repeatedly worked (evidenced) wonders (miracles) and miracles (signs). When I read this it caught me by surprise. I thought only the apostles were used by God to evidence miracles and signs. Wait, there is more.
Acts 6:9-10 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
The next thing we learn about him is that he was in a synagogue where questions were being asked and answers brought forth that turned the venue into arguing. One of the groups present were from Cilicia (a Roman province) within whose confines was the city of Tarsus where Paul of Tarsus, an unbeliever at this time, was not only from but was probably in attendance. And none of them were able to answer the wisdom (his knowledge of the scriptures; …his acquaintance with their sacred writings, opinions, etc.7) and the spirit (Holy Spirit) by whom he spoke.
Wow! Learned in the Old Testament and led by the Spirit in the New Testament. Are you kidding me?
Acts 7:58a And cast him out of the city, and stoned him:…
And then what happened next, I didn’t want to happen. They bribed certain men, who spoke falsely against him saying that he blasphemed against Moses, which spread among the people, elders, and scribes. He was then apprehended and brought before the council (the Sanhedrin - the supreme Jewish court of justice), who questioned him in respect to these accusations. As he gave response, at some point they couldn’t listen to what they were hearing any longer. It so infuriated them that they didn’t even pronounce sentencing upon him but grabbed him and took him to the edge of the city where everyone present picked up stones and pummeled him with them until he died.
Acts 7:58b-60 …and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
I have heard fellow believers say that his pronouncement of forgiveness before he died could have had an impact on Saul of Tarsus possibly softening his heart so that later on in his life, i.e. when he was on the road to Damascus, he was ready to respond to Jesus invitation for salvation. This could very well be so.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
What came to my mind were a couple of things. The verse in the book of Timothy says that all that will live godly in Christ Jesus (to live in devotion to Christ; to live righteously) shall suffer persecution (will be persecuted). Will this consequence be the case for every Christian, who proclaims their faith? Persecution can come in different forms. Who knows which Christians will be persecuted and how.
The other thing that stood out in my mind was Stephen’s prayer as he was being stoned. You think he might have said, God the Father save me? Instead, his response was, Lord, lay not this sin (hold this sin against them) to their charge (to exact punishment; that the wicked should return to a sound mind, that they may not perish; and thus they endeavor to promote their salvation8).
I wonder what the rest of the stories would have been like pertaining to his walk of faith, if he had lived.
I wonder if there is a story in scripture where God the Father intervened to save a believers’ life because an assembly of believers got together and did something.
3The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989, 02 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
4The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 03 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
5Adam Clarke’s CommentaryPc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 06 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
8Calvin's Commentaries Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 08 March 2018 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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