Behold Your God




Fred T. Wright

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Chapter Eleven

Contrasting Statements



     Unquestionably, God’s infinite love was manifested in the aeons before the sin disaster intruded upon the unblemished happiness of the creatures throughout the universe, but the manifestation of that love is even more wonderfully revealed since sin’s entry.

     Yet, while no one who has any understanding of God’s Word would even consider that He punished or destroyed before the appearance of iniquity, the vast majority are strongly convinced that necessity has demanded such actions from God since the rebellion began.

     There are at least two reasons for this thinking. Firstly, the human mind has long been educated to believe that the only way to overcome rebellion is by force. Therefore, because man is conscious of no other way than this, and because he is aware that the Lord does have a problem which must be solved, man, unless especially enlightened by God’s Word under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, cannot see that there can be any alternative but for the Lord to use force. But there is another way. Examinations will be made later, of incidents in Bible history to show that God’s actions can be viewed in a different light altogether.

     A second reason is that the mind has been trained to read Scripture references according to a certain method of interpretation. When read according to that system there are many Scriptures which will be understood as saying that God punishes, destroys and liquidates.

     Consider the following examples.

     “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 who 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.” Genesis 6:5-7.

     “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.” Genesis 6:17.

     “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.

     “And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” Genesis 19:24, 25.

     “And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the over


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throw, when He overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Genesis 19:29.

     “And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.” Exodus 4:21.

     “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. . . . And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.” Exodus 7:3, 13.

     “And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.” Exodus 32:27.

     “The Lord is regarded as cruel by many in requiring His people to make war with other nations. They say that it is contrary to His benevolent character. But He Who made the world, and formed man to dwell upon the earth, has unlimited control over all the works of His hands, and it is His right to do as He pleases, and what He pleases with the work of His hands. Man has no right to say to His Maker, Why doest Thou thus? There is no injustice in His character. He is the Ruler of the world, and a large portion of His subjects have rebelled against His authority, and have trampled upon His law. . . . He has used His people as instruments of His wrath, to punish wicked nations, who have vexed them, and seduced them into idolatry.” The SDA Bible Commentary, 1:1117.

     “It was to be impressed upon Israel that in the conquest of Canaan they were not to fight for themselves, but simply as instruments to execute the will of God; not to seek for riches or self-exaltation, but the glory of Jehovah their king.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 491.

     “Like the men before the flood, the Canaanites lived only to blaspheme heaven and defile the earth. And both love and justice demanded the prompt execution of these rebels against God, and foes to man.” ibid., 492.

     “And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.” Joshua 10:11.

     “But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Matthew 22:7.

     A careful reading of the who parable of which this last verse is a part, and the commentary on it in Christ’s Object Lessons, 307-309, will show that the king is God, the armies were those of the Romans, the murderers were the Jews, and the city was Jerusalem. The text was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.


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     Therefore the text is really saying, “And when God heard thereof, He was wroth: and God sent forth His armies, the Romans, and God destroyed the Jews, and God burned up Jerusalem.”

     “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Revelation 20:9.

     This is by no means a comprehensive list of statements of this nature. There is no special point in assembling every such quotation here. However, these are more than sufficient to provide the examples needed to show that there are many such Scriptures, which when interpreted according to the way our minds have been accustomed to interpret them, leave one with no option but to believe that God does use force to liquidate those who have rebelled against Him.

     There are many folk today who read these texts, interpret them according to long-accustomed methods, and are quite satisfied to believe that God does behave as an executioner to those who refuse to obey His laws.

     But in doing so they have to ignore several things. Firstly there are quite a number of statements which say the opposite from what these statements are interpreted to mean. Secondly, there are the great principles which are embodied in the constitution of God’s government. Thirdly, there are the terrible implications of holding such beliefs about God.

     These will be considered in turn as we proceed, but firstly let a list be made of what some would call counter-statements. In reality they are not and cannot be counter-statements for there is no such thing as a contradiction in God’s Word.

     Here are some examples of such statements:

     “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.” “Thy testimonies [commandments or laws] that Thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.” Psalms 145:17; 119; 138.

     The Lord is righteous and the law is righteous. Therefore God is what the law is. It is the “transcript of His own character,” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315, and that law declares “Thou shalt not kill.” Exodus 20:13. Therefore, if it is not in the law to kill, it is not in the character of God to kill.

     So, “God destroys no man. Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed himself.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 84.

     “God destroys no one.” Testimonies, 5:120.

     “God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but He leaves the rejecters of His mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown. Every ray of light rejected, every warning despised or unheeded, every passion indulged, every transgression of the law of God, is a seed sown, which yields its unfailing harvest. The Spirit of God, persistently resisted, is at last withdrawn from the sinner, and then there is left no power to control the evil passions of the soul, and no protection from the malice and enmity of Satan.” The Great Controversy, 36.


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     “Satan is the destroyer. God cannot bless those who refuse to be faithful stewards. All He can do is to permit Satan to accomplish his destroying work. We see calamities of every kind and in every degree coming upon the earth, and why? The Lord’s restraining power is not exercised. The world has disregarded the word of God. They live as though there were no God. Like the inhabitants of the Noachic world, they refuse to have any thought of God. Wickedness prevails to an alarming extent, and the earth is ripe for the harvest.” Testimonies, 6:388, 389.

     “This earth has almost reached the place where God will permit the destroyer to work his will upon it.” Testimonies 7:141.

     “God keeps a reckoning with the nations. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice. Those who work evil toward their fellow men, saying, How doth God know? Will one day be called upon to meet long deferred vengeance. In this age a more than common contempt is shown to God. Men have reached a point in insolence and disobedience which shows that their cup of iniquity is almost full. Many have well-nigh passed the boundary of mercy. Soon God will show that He is indeed the living God. He will say to the angels, ‘No longer combat Satan in his efforts to destroy. Let him work out his malignity upon the children of disobedience; for the cup of their iniquity is full. They have advanced from one degree of wickedness to another, adding daily to their lawlessness. I will no longer interfere to prevent the destroyer from doing his work.” The Review and Herald, September 17, 1901.

     When Jesus was asked to destroy the Samaritans who had rejected Him, He replied to His disciples, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” Luke 9:55, 56.

     “There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas.” The Desire of Ages, 487.

     “Rebellion was not to be overcome by force. Compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means to be used. God’s government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power.” ibid., 759.

     “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority.” ibid., 22.

     We know that God does nothing that is contrary to the principles of His government. Therefore, He does not use force.

     “Sickness, suffering, and death are work of an antagonistic power. Satan is the destroyer; God is the restorer.” The Ministry of Healing, 113.

     Here is a compilation of statements emphatic and clear, asserting that God is not an executioner, does not punish, and destroys no one. When


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these and the first set are viewed side by side, there appears no possibility of their being reconcilable. No attempt has been made to search out and copy every statement which exists for one side or the other. This is not necessary, because any further quotations would only say that which is already quoted in these representative selections.

     These apparent contradictions present the Bible student with a problem. For some, it is “solved” by simply discarding faith in the Word of God, charging it and its Author with duplicity and inconsistency. Others simply ignore the words which they are unable to understand or do not really desire to accept, while they carefully collect the opposite set, building their faith accordingly.

     This was the course adopted by the Pharisees and the Jews prior to and at the first advent. In the Old Testament there were many prophetic statements describing both the first and second coming of Christ. One set naturally spoke of His coming in obscurity, shame, ignominy, rejection and to final crucifixion. The other set described a coming in indescribable power, glory and triumph in which all His enemies would be totally annihilated. To the Jewish mind, especially as it lost the Spirit’s illumination, it was impossible to reconcile these seeming contradictions. Their solution was to ignore every statement which spoke of humility and obscurity and to dwell heavily on those which spoke of power and glory. Thus Satan trained their minds to reject the Saviour when He came. So clever was he, that he used the Scriptures themselves to accomplish this. Once they had embarked on that wrong principle of interpretation, then, the more they studied their Bibles, the more conditioned they became to reject the Saviour when He appeared. He came exactly as the Scriptures said He would, but not as they had read the prophesies. Therefore, because He did not fulfil the set of prophecies they had gathered, they rejected Him and thus lost their eternal lives.

     The story of their experience contains a lesson of the most solemn warning. While we understand the differences between the comings of Christ, we find ourselves confronted with other subjects about which two different sets of statements are written. The subject of God’s character has one set which states that He does not destroy and another which says He does. We can do what the Pharisees did by selecting the set which we prefer to believe, carefully gathering all the quotations supporting that view and discarding or ignoring the others. Should we do this we will emerge with a view of the subject as erroneous as that of the Pharisees in regard to Christ’s coming. The consequences for us will be the same as for them—the loss of eternal life.

     The true student of God’s Word will not make this mistake. He will ignore no statements, no matter how they may seem to contradict others. He will candidly acknowledge that so far as his understanding has now developed, these statements remain for him a flat contradiction of each


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other, though by faith, he knows that in God’s Word there is no real contradiction. Consequently, he will rest in the conviction that the problem is only apparent and not real. Confessing the weakness and frailty of the human mind, he will recognize that the difficulty lies in an inadequate depth of spiritual perception on his part. Undisturbed by the clamor of voices around, he will move forward in quiet faith, patiently studying God’s Word, knowing that, under God’s tutelage, such revelations of the mysteries will come to him and will remove all contradictions, providing instead, a perfect harmony, where previously only confusion existed.

     As the spirit-enlightened student of God’s Word thus comes into possession of a harmonious system of truth, he will find that those who follow out the alternative system of interpretation, by carefully collecting only those statements supporting their own preferred view, will charge him with twisting the Scriptures. They will accuse him of making the Word of God say what it does not. They will argue emphatically that the Bible says, “God destroyed them.” Then they will ask, “What could be written more plainly than that?

     One might counter by saying, It also says, “God destroys no man.” This will have no effect. Their minds have been programmed to accept only that which they have chosen to believe. No impression can be made by quoting contrary statements. They merely entrench themselves more firmly behind their list, while in glowing indignation, they level the charge that the plainly written words of God are being rejected.

     Two things must be established at this point. One is that this problem cannot be solved by simply countering statements with other statements. Secondly, it cannot be resolved by twisting or changing the statements to conform to our preferred ideas. In this study great care will be taken not to do this. Even so, we still expect that the opponents of the position taken in this publication will level this accusation against us. We will strive to make our position so clear that such an accusation will in fact be groundless. We ask each objective, candid, and responsible reader to carefully check to see if in any way the Word of God is twisted to suit a personal or private view as these pages unfold. We believe it will be found that the only interpretations given to the Scriptures will be those found in the Scriptures themselves, with no private interpretation being offered. At the same time it will be perceived that all disharmony between the two sets of statements will disappear.

     There has been the careful and frank quoting of the two different and seemingly contradictory compilations, in order to demonstrate that there is a problem which needs solving. How can this problem be solved so as to bring the thoughtful, responsible student to an accurate knowledge of what the Word of God is teaching? That is the important question which we must now study

     Our recollections go back to that time when without question we did believe that God destroys. We understood that after great patience and


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longsuffering, when God had sought to win the sinner, He was finally left with no recourse but to obliterate from the face of the earth, in an act of signal destruction, those who refused to repent and come into harmony with the principles of His government. For many years this idea remained unchallenged. Meanwhile, our understanding of God’s ways was becoming far more extensive as with careful, conscientious purpose we studied God’s Word. In so doing we arrived finally at that point where other statements and principles began to unfold. These principles denied the position we already had in regard to God’s character. We could not honestly reject the new concepts and at the same time could not easily revoke the old. Yet, there was no solution as to how they could be reconciled.

     Faith was a steadying factor in the problem. Faith said that there are no contradictions in God’s Word. Faith said that we must take both of these statements as they read. Faith said that in due time, the God of heaven Himself would provide the answers if we trusted Him and continued our careful, objective study.

     In my own personal experience it came about as follows. As far back as 1952, I had never doubted the way in which God dealt with the unrepentant. It was plain to me that He destroyed them in the lake of fire. In that year however, the Sabbath School lessons in the church of which I was a member, dealt with the origin of evil. We looked deeply and carefully into the nature of God’s government, the problems which arouse in Lucifer’s mind, the issues of his challenge against God’s government and the way in which God would deal with that problem. It was not as clear then as it has been set out in the previous chapters, but we did gain a beautiful and wonderful grasp of the constitution of God’s government.

     We saw how upon this earth, there was to be worked out in absolute fairness so far as God was concerned, the great struggle between good and evil. Good was to conquer upon its own merits without the assistance of an overpowering physical force. I shall never forget the soul-filled rejoicing with which I grasped these precious principles of truth. I possessed understandings of the great controversy the like of which I had never known before, but which have increased in depth since that day. Today I cannot recommend too strongly, the necessity of every soul making a deep and detailed study of the issues involved in the great controversy from its origin to its end.

     A few weeks later my new found belief was to receive a serious challenge. The Sabbath School lessons moved on through the fall of Adam and Eve, the death of Abel and the proliferation of people upon the earth. Then we came to the flood.

     The implications of the standard view of what God did in the obliteration of the human race in Noah’s day were very serious indeed. I saw that the commonly accepted view of what God did back there, meant that He was forced to admit that righteousness was not able to withstand the


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crushing tide of evil, so that God and Christ were obliged to step in, exercising Their own superior physical power to reverse the tide, erase the entire company of Satan’s followers, and preserve alive only Their own.

     I imagined a conversation between the Father and the Son along these lines. “In the beginning We did undertake to fight this great controversy out on the basis that righteousness could stand on its own merits. But now it is clear that sin has reached such proportions that it is on the verge of a world takeover. At the moment We only have eight subjects remaining, and in a short time, these too, will have died or passed into Satan’s camp thus making him the total victor in this struggle. So we must now act by coming to the rescue of righteousness. Let us step in with our limitless, infinite power, and obliterate the entire side standing for Satan. We will preserve only our own people and thus make a complete, fresh start. Thereafter, We will maintain the use of force in appropriate places to ensure that Satan never again brings the world to this same crisis point.”

     This implied that God had to revise His method of dealing with the sin problem. It revealed Him as beginning in one way, but finding Himself later obliged to introduce measures not contemplated in the beginning. This made God less than infinite, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. It meant that He was not really God because God has perfect foreknowledge, and needs no revisions, compromises, or changes as time goes by. [This is such an important fact! rb]

     In this way I found a serious problem on my hands. Nothing could deny the clarity of the principles underlining God’s government or of His way of dealing with the sin problem. Yet, at the same time, the story of the flood seemed to show a God who was later forced to introduce an element of compulsion and destruction. While, on one hand, I could not and would not deny the truths learned in the origin of evil, on the other, I was unable to see wherein the popular view of the flood was wrong. So, for the first time, a real challenge to long-held concepts and views was presented to me. At first I could not meet that challenge. There were no answers to it.

     My attitude was one of faith. I made no attempt to twist or bend either side of the question to suit the other. I believed implicitly that in the Word of God there are no contradictions. Those contradictions which appear as such are there only because of an inadequate understanding on our part. I likewise believed that God would give light and understanding to those who humbly and sincerely sought for it. So I studied, prayed, and waited. The time came when further evidence began to accumulate, and piece by piece the puzzle came together until I found a perfect reconciliation between God’s stated attitude to the sin problem and the story of the flood.

     I recount this development in my own thinking to indicate the way in which we all may come to the saving truth of God’s Word. There are problems in understanding and in interpretation. At the same time there are clearly laid out rules in the Bible as to the way in which the problems can be solved. If we will learn to follow those Bible explanations of interpretation we cannot but arrive at the living truth of God.


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This chapter has been devoted to the recognition that there is a very real problem to be solved because of the existence of apparent contradictions in the Word of God. As there are statements which plainly say that God does destroy and others saying that He does not destroy, we strongly recommend that each reader face the fact that such a problem exists. At the same time we encourage each believer to realize that there are no real contradictions in God’s Word, that the Bible is written for man’s understanding, that these problems are therefore solvable and that simple trusting faith in God will bring clear understandings in this connection. If we are prepared to adopt this attitude then we are ready to proceed on to the study of the way in which the problem may be solved.


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