Is the Bi­ble faulty, or is God mer­ci­less?

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ce­celia Camp­bell-Liv­ingston/Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­[email protected]­erjm.com

“You alone can res­cue, You alone can save You alone can lift us from the grave You came down to find us, led us out of death

To You alone be­longs the high­est praise.”

You Alone can Res­cue – Matt Red­man

IN RE­CENT weeks, the Bi­ble has again come un­der se­vere crit­i­cism re­gard­ing some of the seem­ingly harsh in­struc­tions in the scrip­tures. Verses with or­ders from God to wipe out an en­tire fam­ily when a sin is com­mit­ted, and other scrip­tures which ad­vo­cate harsh pun­ish­ment for dis­obe­di­ent chil­dren are some of those caus­ing the most angst.

God is de­picted in a light which makes Him seem less than the com­pas­sion­ate and lov­ing Creator we are taught about in the Bi­ble.

Bishop-elect Fabian ‘Fire­ball’ Steele of the Mount of God Taber­na­cle in New Haven, Connecticut, weighed in on the is­sue, and for him, peo­ple of­ten use the scrip­ture for their own con­ve­nience.

“Ir­re­spec­tive of how one views the Bi­ble, it is in­deed God’s word, and it is, amen. God is God and He does what­ever He pleases, how­ever He pleases and wher­ever He pleases. Psalm 135:6, The Lord does what­ever pleases Him, in heaven and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths,” he said, adding that he is es­tab­lish­ing that God is God in what­ever He does.

Re­fer­ring to the story of Achan’s sin found in Joshua 7, which caused his en­tire fam­ily to be de­stroyed, Bishop Steele said it is a pun­ish­ment that seems overly harsh to us to­day.

DISOBE­DI­ENCE BRINGS RUIN

Point­ing out the rea­son for the se­vere penalty God in­flicted upon Achan, Bishop Steele said Achan’s sin af­fected the en­tire nation of Is­rael.

“The nation as a whole was in a covenant re­la­tion­ship with God, and when one mem­ber trans­gressed that covenant, the en­tire nation’s re­la­tion­ship with Him was dam­aged. Achan’s sin de­filed the other mem­bers of the com­mu­nity as well as him­self. A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion is seen in the sin of Adam and

‘... It is not un­just for God to pun­ish sin to the third or fourth gen­er­a­tion – those gen­er­a­tions are com­mit­ting the same sins their an­ces­tors did. The cure for this is true re­pen­tance and break­ing the curse from our par­ents and grand­par­ents.’

Eve and its ef­fect on the whole of mankind. Adam and Eve’s re­bel­lion de­stroyed the per­fect com­mu­nion the hu­man race would have en­joyed with God,” he ex­plained.

Steele said it’s fool­hardy to think that one’s sins af­fects only one­self.

“Disobe­di­ence brings ruin, even upon the in­no­cent. Sin’s ef­fects go be­yond the ini­tial sin­ner. God gave Achan a night to con­sider his sin and come to Him in re­pen­tance (Joshua 7:13). Achan did not avail him­self of God’s mercy and pa­tience, how­ever. The gold and sil­ver Achan cov­eted had a stronger pull on his al­le­giance. Is it any won­der that, in the face of such in­sult, God would choose to de­stroy him?” he ques­tioned on the of­ten mis­un­der­stood story.

In re­la­tion to Achan’s fam­ily be­ing de­stroyed with him, Steele said it could be that his chil­dren had al­ready be­gun to ex­hibit their fa­ther’s traits of cov­etous­ness, disobe­di­ence, and dis­re­spect for God’s com­mands.

“Most likely, they had ac­tu­ally helped Achan hide the stuff and were, in fact, ac­com­plices to the crime,” he spec­u­lated.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that there is no way to know all of God’s rea­sons for what seems to us as harsh in how he pun­ishes those who dis­obeyed back then, Steele said the bi­b­li­cal nar­ra­tives give us suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to un­der­stand that God is holy and that He is not to be dis­obeyed with­out risk­ing dire con­se­quences.

“Good and bad traits of fore­par­ents and par­ents of­ten­times fol­low their chil­dren, hence it is called gen­er­a­tional curse. The Bi­ble men­tions ‘gen­er­a­tional curses’ in sev­eral places (Ex­o­dus 20:5, 34:7; Num­bers 14:18; Deuteron­omy 5:9). God warns that He is ‘a jeal­ous God, pun­ish­ing the chil­dren for the sin of the fa­thers to the third and fourth gen­er­a­tion of those who hate me’,” high­lights Steele.

Re­spond­ing to the is­sue of un­fair­ness re­gard­ing ev­ery­one in the fam­ily hav­ing to share the pun­ish­ment of one mem­ber in it, Steele said the ef­fects of sin are nat­u­rally passed down from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. Ac­cord­ing to him, when a fa­ther has a sin­ful life­style, his chil­dren are likely to prac­tise the same sin­ful life­style. “So, it is not un­just for God to pun­ish sin to the third or fourth gen­er­a­tion – those gen­er­a­tions are com­mit­ting the same sins their an­ces­tors did. The cure for this is true re­pen­tance and break­ing the curse from our par­ents and grand­par­ents,” he said.

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