Exodus 7.1-3, Matthew 26.24
The God who exists, and the god we would like to exist.
Posted: 6 January 2011 in Exodus, Matthew

And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

If there is one thing I frequently encounter on the internet, it seems to be people who have great trouble with passages such as the one above, taken from Exodus. Sometimes it leads them to say that they don’t believe in God anymore; as if God ceases to exist the moment they read something about him they don’t like. I think that at the root of the problem is the idea that God ought to be a twenty first century liberal just like us, and that he should play by the rules we lay down for him. If there is one thing the Bible makes very clear from the outset, howver, it is that the Lord of all Creation is no democrat, and that he governs all things according to the good pleasure of his own will.

The lollowing is typical of very many verses in the Bible:

Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem: (Ezra 7.27)

Here it is the king’s heart which is being softened, rather than hardened, but still it is God who is the primary mover.

When Pharoah was created, his entire future life lay open before God, and God created him with the dispositions, temperament, and other attributes, necessary to ensure that he fulfilled God’s will – whether knowingly or unknowingly. In the case of Pharoah, this will have included his obduracy when confronted by Moses.

As with Pharoah, so with Judas Iscariot. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus were preordained by God, and as Jesus makes clear, the means by which this was to happen was also preordained. And yet, as Jesus also makes clear, that fact did not in any way exonerate Judas from the evil of his actions. Neither Judas nor Pharoah will have been conscious of any constraint, forcing them to act in the way they did, and they will both have acted in accordance with their own will. Therefore they will stand condemned when they appear before God. At the same time, the king Ezra had to do with will be judged according to his own freely chosen (and good) actions – even though they also were preordained by God.

This may be a hard teaching, but I do not see any reason to suppose that God’s self revelation must be easy for us to accept. Every age is subject to the temptation to recreate God in its own image, and this age is no exception. After due allowance has been made for the cultural presuppositions of the biblical authors themselves, the purpose of the Bible is to reveal God as he really is, and not as we would like him to be. Anybody who feels entirely comfortable with the God who reveals himself in scripture, has probably substituted an idol for that God, and, if there is one thing the Bible does make very clear, it is that the Lord of all creation does not tolerate idolatry.

For what it is worth, that is my opinion, anyhow.

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Exodus 7.1-3, Matthew 26.24
The God who exists, and the god we would like to exist.

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