God's Agenda For Coronavirus, Part 6
If you have been following this series of posts, my hope is that the case for the absolute goodness and love of God for His creation has been firmly established. With this foundation under us, let’s continue to explore God’s agenda in our current crisis. Does what is happening around the globe right now represent a judgment and curse on the world? My answer is, Yes! That may surprise you, BUT, before you stop reading, let me explain...
For some reason, most people, including many devout believing Christians, hear the word judgment and immediately attach a negative spin to it. Judgment simply means to render a decision. If a judgment is to be true and just, the decision should be rendered without a premeditated personal agenda on the part of the one empowered to make the decision. The decision must also be rendered according to agreed upon standards of justice and fairness - a legal code or justice system. The judgment must be rendered according to this code even if the one empowered to make the decision does not want to because justice must prevail.
Some years ago, I accompanied an individual who had to appear in court regarding some legal matters. We had to sit through almost a full day of cases before ours was called. During the course of the day there was one case that really caught my attention. A young man stood before the judge waiting for the judgment on his case. The judge had heard all the testimony, read all the evidence, and had to render a decision. There were a few moments of muffled paper shuffling as the judge collected his thoughts and then looked up at this young man and began to speak. His statements went something like this… “This is now the third time that you have stood before me in this courtroom facing charges for violating the law. This court has given you ample opportunity to change and has connected you to numerous resources to help you. For some reason you have chosen to continue on the path you are on, and it is not a good one. You now leave me with no choice but to apply the law and sentence you to prison. I have children your age and it would kill me to see them in your position, but I have to render a just decision.”
The case was over and this young man was ushered off to prison. Even though the judge did not want to see this young man spend the next years of his life behind bars, justice had to be served. The judge had to allow this young man’s decisions about the course of his life to be the deciding factor that justice hinged on. If this young man had chosen to abide by the law he could live in peace. If he chose to disregard the law he could live in prison.
Our justice system, as flawed as it currently is, is a dim reflection of the justice system that God has established for the universe to exist. The scriptures are replete with statements about God being just and fair in all of His ways. Indeed, the foundation of all of God’s decisions regarding the universe He created hinges on this: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. [Psa 89:14 NIV]
God must be just if His universe is to exist in righteousness. God must render decisions according to immutable laws. God can not be capricious. He must be eternally consistent, even if the decision to apply this law breaks His heart. The beauty of God’s justice system is that love and faithfulness are the motivations that uphold the law. ALL of God’s ways are motivated by love, for He is LOVE. All of God’s decisions, therefore, are an expression of that love. So God does, and has to, judge the actions of His creation. So what does this judgment look like?
One of the principles that is very powerful in our courts of law are cases that set precedence. These are landmark cases with landmark judgments by juries and judges that set the standard for how all similar cases will be judged in the future. This is a foundational standard for our rule of law. I believe that our need for justice and the development of our justice system are part of the image of God woven into the fabric of our beings. Do we see any landmark cases that set precedence for how God will render decisions over our violations of His Laws?
Back to the beginning, again, in Genesis, where the landmark case is being tried in God’s court between the Creator and Humanity for the first violation of God’s law. We see the precedence being set by God in His judgment of sin. If we take as truth that God cannot lie, cannot change, and is Himself (the same) yesterday, today, and forever, I believe that we can say that God has set a precedent for how He will deal with all sin, for all time, for all people, who violate His laws. Let’s enter the courtroom and listen in on the proceedings…
Adam and Eve have violated the Law, they have fled the scene of the crime and are in their hideout fearing that they will be found out. God knows where they are and what they have done, and shows up at their hideout weeping and lamenting over what has happened (see blog post #5 in this series for more on God’s emotional state after the Fall). God calls them forward for questioning. They are petrified that they may incur the wrath of their creator. They are embarrassed that they suddenly find themselves naked, and ashamed that they fell for the con of the lying serpent and are now at the mercy of God’s judgment over their fate. They were guilty on all counts and all the blame shifting in the world could not change that fact that they stood condemned. Now, God has to render His Judgment.
As God, their Father, pronounces His decision of guilt (I believe with an attitude of deep grief and sorrow), He tells them what is going to happen to them. He tells them that they could no longer live in the garden in the bliss that they had. They would have to live outside of its beauty and protective walls and work hard to make a living. He tells them that there would be pain in being fruitful and multiplying. He tells them that they would encounter stress and strife in their relationship. All the light and love that they had been experiencing in God’s presence would grow strangely dim as Adam and Eve would, for the first time in their existence, feel the loss, pain, and even agony of not being in harmony with God. They knew what good was, but now they would begin to understand what the knowledge of evil (all that is out of harmony with God) would be like.
Was this a divine punishment? This seems rather harsh for a first offense. Where is mercy in all of this? If we keep reading the account we will see God’s great mercy and love are already in action. Although God did banish them from the garden, He did so for their own protection. If Adam and Eve had continued to live in the garden in the state of nakedness they were in, the possibility of eating from the tree of life now presented a cosmic problem of them living eternally in this state of disharmony. God did not send them out into the cold, dark world naked, but He clothed them with the skins of an animal. This act prophesied that God was always willing to accept a substitute payment for the atonement of humanity’s sin, as the wages of sin is death. He spoke hope over humanity when He stated that even though there would be stress and strife and humanity would struggle with evil and the evil one (Satan), God Himself, clothed in Jesus, would destroy evil by becoming the ultimate, eternal, once-for-all sacrificial atonement for all sin and open the way for reconciliation between God and humanity. In essence, God’s judgment had a built in restoration plan that was enacted the moment the decision was rendered!
So, was this a punishment or something else? If we examine the entire account, God pronounces two curses - one over the serpent (satan) and one over the earth. In Satan’s case the curse declares that Satan would now lick the dust and slither on the ground like a snake. The second curse was over the earth. In God's pronouncement over Adam and Eve He says that the “ground (earth) is cursed because of you.” In essence, because of the decision Adam and Eve made to let evil into the world, THEY caused a curse to infect the ground and therefore infect all of human existence, which lives on the ground. (Remember, Satan was now slithering around on the ground seeking ways to steal, kill, and further destroy humanity). So, this curse was the result of their decision and actions. It was not a punishment from God, but a direct consequence of human free will gone evil. Well, what, then is a curse?
In our common, modern usage of the word we might understand a curse to mean that someone is pronouncing evil, misfortune, harm, or destruction over someone else. There is an element of magic or supernatural conjuring as these curses seem to be pulled out of some cosmic spell book. What is the meaning from God’s perspective? The Hebrew word for curse that is used does not refer to an action of God but rather the result of an action of man. Its root meaning speaks of a condition of existence that describes what life is like separated from God and thus is devoid of good. It speaks of a condition where God’s presence is not present. It speaks of what the presence of evil will do once loosed. It is not a punishment at all. It is an explanation of what life is like when God’s will and presence are pushed aside and man’s will is executed.
In essence, God did not, and is not, cursing anything. God rendered a judgment based on His ultimate love to allow humanity to choose to reject Him and His ways. Humanity has cursed itself by removing God from the center and allowing evil to fill that void. Everything on the earth was affected by this decision and from that moment, every result of evil (all that is out of harmony with God) began to fill the earth: sickness, decay, disease, war, destruction, greed, perversion, and the list goes on…
What we are facing today on our planet is not an act of God. It is not God’s angry wrath and judgment being poured over a sin-infested world. It is not a curse that God spoke out of vindictive rage. It is the result of humanity’s willful choice to taste what the knowledge of evil tastes like. We are eating the fruits of our own doing.
But God, being so rich in kindness and mercy was not and is not willing to leave us in the mess without His hand of grace being fully extended right into the septic sewer of sin to pull us out. God’s agenda for Coronavirus is to reveal the power of His love and goodness. More on that next! So, stay tuned and tune in...
by Pastor Jim Anan