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Healing a Young Boy Possessed by Spirit

28 Mar
Demons - Deliverance

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If the young boy who was possessed by a spirit (Luke 9:37-39) in the sense that a sentient and independent entity seized the boy’s body and mind, as one would take one’s own property, there is little I can say in defense of such a thing, as far as God permitting it is concerned. Why would God do such a thing, and how would his permission be justified, according to how the Scriptures define God’s character? If God wants us to know him (and I believe he does – Philippians 3:10-15), then what he says about himself ought to be seen in what he does and what he allows to be done. If God views a man’s will to be of particular importance (cf. Job 1:6-12; 2:3-7), then how can he justify allowing a malevolent spirit taking full control of an infant boy, knowing the child could never develop a desire to know his Creator? If such a thing is wrong, then the only alternative is that what we believe about demonic activity **must**also be wrong.

The same Greek word used to point to an unclean spirit in Luke 9:39 is used of the Holy Spirit who is manifest in Jesus’ disciples through the word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, working miracles etc. (1Corinthians 12:7-11). Yet, the unclean spirit within the young boy was manifest by screams, convulsions and foaming at the mouth exhausting the lad (Luke 9:39). If we can conclude that what we think we know about demonic activity must be wrong, because it paints an unloving picture of God, then this spiritual phenomenon must be related to something wrong in man’s person. Something within the boy malfunctioned at birth. Something he inherited from Adam broke down, resulting in the boy’s destructive behavior. Knowing this we are now better able to understand what Jesus did.

Peter testified that the Transfiguration took place atop of the holy mount, and according to the Scriptures, there is only one holy mount (or mountain) in all Israel (and the world). That is Jerusalem, and specifically the mount or hill upon which the Temple was built (cf. Isaiah 27:13; 66:20; Daniel 9:16; Joel 3:17; Zechariah 8:3; Revelation 21:10). However, this doesn’t mean the Transfiguration had to have taken place on the Temple Mount. Rather, it took place atop of Mount Olives, because, as Ezekiel 43:12 tells us: “This is the law of the house (the Temple); upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house” (emphasis and parenthesis mine).

If Jesus was transfigured upon the holy mount, he had to have been within the city limits or suburbs of Jerusalem. Moses defined the city limits or suburbs of a city as 2000 cubits (or 3000 feet) on every side (Number 35:5). Mount Olives is within the 3000 foot limit of the Temple Mount. Therefore, Mount Olives is the only mountain in the world that Jesus could have been transfigured upon.

The next day for Luke 9:37 would not necessarily be the day portion of the same calendar day (the Transfiguration took place at night). Rather, the next day means the next calendar day after the Transfiguration. According to John 7:2, 10, Jesus celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem 6 months after the Passover season, in which he fed the five thousand (cf. John 6:4). Contextually, Jesus was transfigured (Luke 9:28) on the night portion of the Last Great Day, which was the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles and a Sabbath. On that Sabbath Holy Day Jesus healed a man who was born blind (John 9:1, 6-7, 14). Such a thing was unheard of in all human history (John 9:32)

Assuming the man’s son in Luke 9:38 was born in his then present condition (cf. Mark 9:21), this man may have been encouraged with the news of the healing of the man born blind on the previous day. Therefore, he came to Jesus to ask him to heal his son. He told Jesus that the spirit would often take hold of his son and convulse him, causing him to foam at the mouth, while he shook spasmodically, and this occurred so often that it completely wore the boy out.

As others brought him to Jesus (Mark 9:20) the boy began to have another seizure (Luke 9:42). This seizure may have been caused by the stress of the lad’s immediate surroundings,[1] the sudden attempt of people taking him to Jesus, and his not knowing what would happen etc. Seeing what was occurring and the fact that others coming to see what was going on (Mark 9:25), Jesus commanded the spirit to leave the boy immediately. Thus, another seizure was probably averted.[2]

We need to reconsider what we believe demoniac activity to be. What many Christians believe about this subject has more to do with paganism and witchcraft, than what the word of God actually says about the phenomenon. The love of God for mankind is denied in concluding that a living sentient, independent and wicked entity has the power to take hold of an infant, depriving him or her of his will and any opportunity to know and love his Creator and Lord. Why would God permit such a thing to occur. It simply doesn’t make sense. Why believe it?

__________________________________________

[1] See Triggers of Seizures concerning epilepsy.

[2] Ibid.

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9 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Gospel of Luke

 

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9 responses to “Healing a Young Boy Possessed by Spirit

  1. Boluwade Kujero

    March 28, 2017 at 16:56

    Dear Eddie.

    With all love and patience I say to you that you are the one trying to fit God’s acts into your imperfect understanding of love rather than trying to understand his love and adjust your understanding by him.

    You are reading into the Scriptures your disbelief rather than reading from the Scriptures God’s express words. You are now trying to rewrite the past with the present. The fact that in today’s language we sometimes talk about a person’s addiction as his demon has now become an opportunity for you to justify your redefining a demon as some over-controlling malady of sort.

    What you espouse was never taught or explained so by the apostles. They walked with Jesus and wrote or encouraged the writings. They learned the disambiguation from Jesus. The difference between maladies caused by accidents of human nature or some other earthly occurrence from demonic afflictions masquerading as same was clear to them. In the case of this boy they learned that even though the major affliction of this demon was epileptic fits, it was actually a deaf and dumb spirit, not an epileptic spirit as would have been assumed. I have known a couple of deaf and dumb persons in my life that were not epileptic and persons that were epileptic but not dumb. This boy was dumb but not deaf if we go by the converged account, yet Jesus characterized the spirit as deaf and dumb spirit. And contrary to your assertion, Jesus did not prevent another episode, his command actually provoke a great and very violent episode that seemed to have killed the boy in the eyes of onlookers, underscoring the intensity. Can you point to healings by Jesus or Apostles dear Eddie where physical maladies provoked physical convulsions or eerie shrieks other than those associated with demons? Wake up beloved and smell the coffee! Healings of natural afflictions, even those occurring from birth, never provoked such. A naturally blind person just need sight. A naturally dumb person just needs speech. A naturally deaf person just needs hearing. No violent tantrums are required to grant that. The Lord always treated natural afflictions with firm tenderness and authority not aggressive and forceful, authoritative language. He does not command them out but speaks correction to them.

    Your disenchantment has made you to be picking holes where there are none and latching on to opportunistic semantic nuances. The fact that the same word used of the Holy Spirit is what is used to describe demonic spirits has become a victim of your disillusionment. If we all followed that path for everything we didn’t understand about God’s act we would not have established doctrine as we have today. Even God himself could be consequently interpreted as a personification of the ultimate impersonal universal force. After all is God not also spirit? Same word. Does God need to be a person to love and be a Father? Could we not interpret all these as personifications? To the best of my knowledge, there is absolutely no place in the Scriptures God is explicitly called a Person. He is neither male nor female. He is called a Father true, but even impersonal things could be so personified. He is everywhere at the same time. Does this nothing​ make it easy to conclude him as an impersonal force. How can “a person” be everywhere at the same a time? Does such not fit logically​ better with the nature of a force than that of a person as we know it? How come the use of the same word to describe angels who are most definitely living sentient beings does not recommend it for you to see demons as living sentient beings?

    You have stumbled over one passage and seek to force other passages to fit into your stumbling. Ask yourself this: if the story of this boy never appeared in the Scriptures would you have had reason to discredit demons as living sentient beings. I get the impression you will not. So your stumbling is because you cannot understand WHY & HOW so you must redefine the WHAT. That is not noble sir. You are presuming too much and overreaching your limits. You think because you know God is love then every act of his must be well understood by you and reconciled precisely with love as you have conceived of it. You err my brother, you seriously err. Every of God’s act can definitely be reconciled with his love but not all the times by we his creatures. To seek to do that is to setup ourselves for error. We know in part and understand in part.

    Many of your positions are also wrongly inferred. You talk about “full” possession as if the boy was always and perpetually controlled with no moments of normalcy at all. The narrative shows contrary. The possession, though life long, and since childhood, was intermittent, at least as far as the seriously life-threatening dimensions of it are concerned. It was episodic not the norm of his life. So the boy led an otherwise normal life than he did not. So the question of him not having opportunity to know God does not exist as you have assumed.

    You also wrongly assume that a “full” possession by a malevolent spirit presumes that God has lost all modes and avenues of reaching the possessed thereby. You clearly do not understand what it means when the Scriptures says that what is impossible with men is possible with God. Even the most impossible of impossible situations presents no obstruction to God and his purpose. The worse things get the better God shines through with grace and power in ways no human mind can fathom. You think a full possession would prevent a child from knowing God? Think again! Not the God I’ve come to know who makes a way where there is most definitely none. You seem to have inadvertently brought him so low and made him very limited to what your mind can approve. Instead of you trusting God that no matter the evil he permits to happen to a person unjustly, he has a way of controlling the scope of the effect so that what matters more is not compromised, you rather chose to think that God by the reality of demons as living beings becomes incapacitated to enlighten a person possessed by them with his knowledge. Why not take a cue from the evil God permitted to come on Job and see that God placed a limit on Satan’s reach to know that even with “full” possession God still **must** reserve for himself a limit. I think that’s the more reasonable reconciliation of demonic possession and God’s loving character. We as Christians must know that for every unusual condition of evil that God permits he has more than commensurate supply of grace to cancel out the effect of the exceeding evil so that those afflicted are not critically disadvantaged by the exceeding nature of the evil compared to those with a typical level of affliction in relation to God’s purpose. We may not be able to say exactly how God makes such happen but we can confidently trust that he does it faithfully because his character assures us so.

    Permit me, but at this point I must state that in this matter you could be compared with the Sadducees who disbelieved is spirits (like you), ressurection and similar because in their imperfect logic it did not make sense with the Scriptures as they understood it the progression of life beyond death. To underscore the watertightness of their logic they even posed the question of 7 brothers married successively after the death of an older to the same woman to Jesus. But we know from Jesus’ words that they were the ones who “neither knew the Scriptures nor the power of God.” It was not the truth of ressurection that needed redefining as some parabolic word not to be understood literally even though it was in the Scriptures they held and read, their understanding was what was faulty. Jesus pointed out to them that even if they did not get it from other people’s account, the fact that God, speaking hundreds of years after the deaths of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to Moses, did not address himself in the past tense in relation to them was evidence that they were still living. God said I AM the God of…, not I WAS the God of… No teacher who taught a child that is deceased will rightly say in the present that he IS the teacher of the child, rather he would say he WAS his teacher. Yet God says he IS the God of dead persons. Jesus also further made it clear to them that marriage did not continue after ressurection. So the conflict they saw by it, for which they refused the literalism of ressurection, was due to their ignorance of additional information not a just invalidation of the truth of ressurection.

    You are in the same situation dear brother. You lack information like all of us but rather than seek God for additional information, you have made your lack of information your confidence for denying the evident and redefining the explicit. Even though the evidence is overwhelming, you just are justifying your redefining them. Sometimes we start out this path sincerely but when not careful we trust too much in our sincerity and unconsciously assume it justifies stretching these things to the very extreme. It happens to all of us, even the very best.

    Jesus healed blindness, deafness and dumbness in some instances without addressing a spirit or provoking any violent manifestation in the process. Not once did any of these maladies speak back to him or converse with him. Yet this instance and some other instances he addresses spirits and this provoked a violent reaction, sometimes dialog of the nature the possessed is unaware of, but you would like to lump the two together as mere accidents of our Adamic nature. A man was born blind and Jesus never cast out a spirit to heal him but simply made mud from spittle. Nothing violent. No convulsion, shouting or blasphemous speaking as typical of demonic manifestations. But here a child is afflicted with deafness and dumbness and Jesus addresses it as a deaf and dumb spirit and you say it should be discountenanced as mere personification of gifts gone wrong. So the man born blind is not gift gone wrong but the child born epileptic is gift gone wrong. How most enlightening. Forgive my sarcasm. I use it not spitefully but forcefully.

    Dear Eddie, this love of God that you are so eager to defend so that God always looks good, as if being loving means looking good all the time, could you please reconcile it with the following for me:

    1. God’s destruction of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. Mind you, infants were in it also. The people were burnt alive too – a very torturous death to say the least.
    2. Command to destroy Achan with his children and burn them alive.
    3. Command to destroy every person in Canaan and everything that breathes in Amalek, young and old.
    4. His burning alive two sons of Aaron for offering strange fire.
    5. His burning alive of 250 rebels in the wilderness.
    6. His heeding Elijah’s voice and sending down fire to destroy innocent soldiers who were simply following the king’s orders and that of their commanders.

    From the above, could a loving God not have applied a more bearable mode of punishment? Could he not have intervened and spared the innocent? Can you visualize what looking at a living human being roasted alive looks like? If your brother were so roasted alive by your God would you still think of him as loving? Can you conceive of the smell of burning human flesh and the agony of exploding lungs from oxygen? Yet that is what a loving God did to his offenders. Would you as loving as you are and given your concept of love, under similar circumstances approve your enemies to be so treated and even their children who have not grown up to be accountable for their acts? Would you? If any government in our world today chose this method for punishing the worst of criminals would you not speak against it as cruel, inhumane and extreme? Would you stand to carry it out if you were commanded by God and still feel very loving?

    You really need to upend your concept of God as love. It is not mushy mushy as you might like it to be or looking agreeable and popular. It is also not completely uncontroversial or always perceptible as love or expressed in pleasant acts. Love is as hard as it is soft; as firm as it is lax, as brutal as it is benign, as fiery as it is cool. We cannot fully understand it but only as we trust God, lean on him and see it expressed in him.

    Then like I replied you on Facebook, you are not consistent in your standard. Let us just for the sake of argument agree that the boy’s affliction is by something gone wrong within his Adamic nature, rather than being the work of a malevolent spirit, does that now make it possible for the boy to know God? The condition, not the cause is what you assume prevents the boy from a normal life of knowing God. If so, how do you explain God allowing a condition to occur that will prevent the child from ever knowing him? You are just out to redefine the cause so as not to make God look bad yet the effect still makes God look bad irrespective of the cause. Whatever God has the power to prevent that will obstruct a man knowing him and he allows is a bad reference for him. It matters not how the condition came. If the boy, by some natural gifts gone rogue, is perpetually epileptic, deaf, dumb and always near point of death, with no moment of normalcy, how will he ever get to know God? You seem to think this is a better picture for a good God. I totally disagree.

    Or is it the word “possession” that offends you? Could you not understand that as hyperbolic speaking while leaving demons as living entities?

    Finally beloved, I share with you one of my earliest experiences in being rebuked of the Spirit after I received Christ a few decades ago. The story of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God was a stumbling block to my understanding of God as love. Muslims around me used it a lot to refute the gospel and portray my God as a wicked God. Eventually I found the human logic to explain it away. I said it was not an active hardening but a passive one. That because God had the power to prevent Pharaoh’s heart from being hardened but did not, or better still because he had the power to soften it but did not, then he was indirectly the one who hardened it. This position was the comfortable logic for me and I espoused it for years until one day after I had just used it but with reservations in my heart. I really really felt I was doing fleshly PR for God rather that witnessing him. Like a bolt I felt a word of warning float up within my spirit saying:

    “Never ever you try to clean up my image for me. I am well able to defend my actions and I reserve the right to explain it to whomever. I hardened Pharaoh’s heart period. Let anyone who has issues with it grind the axe with me. Never you say I did not. For you think you are doing good but really you are robbing me of my glory. For you say I did not do what I said I did.”

    The rebuke was strong. I from then on never did try to explain it to anyone who raised it. I simply admitted that it was true and that I myself didn’t understand it but that it did not undermine God’s loving nature just that I could not explain how it did not. I let God remain true and all men, including me, be the liars. I was willing to be confounded by my God’s own deeds and look stupid as long as God’s glory was sanctified. The Holy Spirit did several years later explain how it was an act consistent with God’s love to harden Pharaoh’s act. This was not with the aim of me defending him but me understanding him better.

    If it pleased God to bruise his Son so that we would be saved and the bruising was not inconsistent with his love for his Son, only God knows what evil has been allowed by him in an innocent person’s life through no fault or choice of the individual but because of a greater good that his wisdom seeks to show that his power can bring good out of evil to underscore his ability to use the worst situations to accomplish his ultimate purpose as easily as he uses the best situations, thus affirming him as the God of the impossible. He uses the right circumstances to produce the right results but he is not incapacitated by the wrong circumstances to do exactly the same. He is God.

    Before you say to me that Jesus’ bruising was subject to his will and choice please remember that Job was never consulted before God decided to plunge his life into such cataclysmic misery. We read his story today with insight into the background workings, he never had that privilege. Even his wisest friends could not fathom the cause of his calamity and the scope of it. It could not be reconciled with an innocent man and a good God. Since God could not be faulted Job became the target. They all postulated that Job must have sinned to be afflicted with such extreme level of evil and in such a short span of time in quick succession. Yet God would later express his anger toward them for making up excuses for him against Job. They thought they were making God look good but alas they were incurring his wrath. Job who all along fingered God for his misery was the one God sided with in the end. Sometimes the very thing we think makes a person disadvantaged is what makes them more advantaged.

    Demons are real bro. They are not abstract gifts corrupted but real living beings going to damnation. Corrupted gifts can be cleansed and retained but demons are nowhere portrayed as redeemable. They are to be expelled and it’s always by show of force. Jesus calls them wicked. Paul affirms the same. They can seek out rest and invite others to company them to possess a man. These are not parabolic speaking and even if they were then it only confirms their reality. Parables derive their meaning from the reality of the character of their elements and associated actions. Sowers, tares, fields, reapers, harvest, nets, fathers, sons, pearls, etc. all exist. They are not myths or fables.

    I should also correct some of your impressions about demons as living beings. They are not always violent or evident in the life of the afflicted. They are sometimes like their leader, disguised as angels of light. The man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue most likely never knew he had a spirit. The presence of Jesus was what discomfited the spirit. It was most likely a sort of religious spirit that blended well in the synagogue parading itself in the man as some spirit of sound knowledge or teaching but exposed as false by the power of the teaching and presence of Jesus. They are not Omniscient or omnipresent though they would like to be perceived as such. They exist in a hierarchy and vary in power and authority.

    Stay blessed my dear brother.

     
    • Eddie

      March 29, 2017 at 11:22

      Greetings Boluwade, and thank you for taking the time to comment to my studies. Since your comment is so long. I will divide my reply in two for the benefit of anyone who wants to read what we have to say. Sometimes folks like to read a little and then come back later and read more. This might make it easier on them.

      “With all love and patience I say to you that you are the one trying to fit God’s acts into your imperfect understanding of love rather than trying to understand his love and adjust your understanding by him.”

      First of all, whatever you or I understand about God and his word will be imperfect, this side of glory. The question is, which of our statements is closer to the perfection we try to attain. Jesus made some plain statements in John 6, which his audience took too literally. They took Jesus at his word but missed the point, because Jesus said his words were ‘spirit’ and needed interpretation or a deeper understanding (John 6:63).

      The word Jesus used is G4151. It is the same word used of the demon in Luke 9:39. So, the word can be used of a demon or the prophetic word of God. The same Greek word is used of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), and it can be used of the gifts of the Spirit (1John 4:1; 1Corinthians 14:12; 2Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 1:17). It is also used to differentiate between the mind of man and the mind of God, the mind of the world and the mind of God (1Corinthians 2:10-12). This Greek word has various ways in which it can be used, so your effort to carry my logic of personification to include God as a spiritual force is unwarranted. The understanding that G4151 can men God the Person or his gift is there in the Greek. And, Paul personifies things that though real as a thing, have no such reality as living sentient things, such as feet and ears (1Corinthians 12:15-16), or even a rock, which he personifies as Christ (1Corinthians 10:4). Moreover, not only can the corrupt spiritual gift be personified, the person, himself, can be referred to as a demon (cf. John 6:70).

      You said: “What you espouse was never taught or explained so by the apostles.” What does that prove, given the manner in which G4151 can be understood. Neither did they claim demons are living, sentient, malevolent spirits. Jesus was accused of having a demon (John 10:20), because his words made no sense to them. Because they couldn’t understand what he said, they considered him mad. Festus also thought Paul was mad because he spoke of the resurrection, which Festus had no place for in his understanding of life (Acts 26:23-25). If a person was mad, folks, especially Jews, assumed he had a demon or the spirit of lunacy. That is their spirit (mind) wasn’t making sense. For all intents and purposes, the person was a demon (John 6:70).

      Concerning healing one dumb and casting out a dumb spirit, not every demon that Jesus cast out is recorded to have made any demonstration while leaving the human body (Matthew 9:32-33; Luke 11:14), and can even be healed / cast out from afar (Matthew 15:22-28). If a person cries out in pain before he is healed, does this mean he has a demon (a living, sentient, malevolent spirit)? I had a piece of glass in my thumb for a few years. It hurt, but I thought it was a wart of some kind, because it was raised and my skin grew over it. The pain was bothersome, so I took a needle and pierced it and worked at the piece of glass that reflected in the light. It was painful, but after and “ouch!” or two, I got it out. Presto! No pain afterward. This is a small, almost insignificant example, but I can imagine where more serious maladies might end similarly, a painful tooth, being one. So, crying out in pain, before a healing has no more significance in casting out a demon than no cries at all.

      Concerning Jesus not preventing the cries of the demoniac, perhaps I should have been more definitive. Just as the boy began to have the seizure, and because of the crowd of curious onlookers coming, Jesus immediately cast out the demon, thus ending the seizure prematurely. I had imagined an epileptic episode taking longer than it seems to have taken in the Scripture (Luke 9:42).

      You said: “You have stumbled over one passage and seek to force other passages to fit into your stumbling.” First of all, you are presuming I have stumbled here. You have not presented a definitive argument that would show that I have, in fact, misunderstood and misapplied the passage. You are correct, however, in that if this passage was never recorded in any of the Gospel narratives, I probably wouldn’t question what demons are. But, why would you believe this probability is proof that I’ve done wrong? The fact is, the passage is in the Bible, and it adds meaning to the other passages where unclean spirits are the subjects of concern. All things must be considered without contradicting the other passages. I believe I’ve done that. From my point of view, it would appear the passages isn’t even considered by many scholars who tell us what demons are and how their reality reflects upon the fact that God is love. Matthew adds additional information to these events. He claims that once the demon was rebuked, the child was **healed** from that very hour. So, it seems that casting out a demon actually means to heal the one who was “possessed” of that unclean spirit.

      Concerning full or partial possession, the boy was always dumb since birth, and was often abused in that he was lunatic / having and unclean spirit, and cast himself in first and down on the ground etc. The father said the unclean spirit hardly left him. When Jesus “healed” him, he was no more lunatic and it is presumed he could speak or at least learn to do so. I fail to see the significance of a “partial”:possession, since the boy was always dumb, but, when the unclean spirit was rebuked, he was healed. The boy seems to have been always lunatic, but when the unclean spirit was rebuked he was healed. The boy may not have been continually epileptic, but he was often so. I don’t see the partial possession you see here.

      You claimed: “Permit me, but at this point I must state that in this matter you could be compared with the Sadducees who disbelieved is spirits (like you)… That isn’t true. I believe in angels—heavenly spirits. I simply don’t believe in malevolent spirits, whom many presume to be evil angels, but this can’t be proved.

      You said: “You are in the same situation dear brother. You lack information like all of us but rather than seek God for additional information, you have made your lack of information your confidence for denying the evident and redefining the explicit.” This is also untrue. I am on record as saying that I was completely flabbergasted, when I came to study the Scripture in Luke 9. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I prayed. I went to God for understanding, and I believe these studies are his answer to my prayers. Am I also to question whether God answers my prayers? What does an answer look like? Is there a pattern that we can use to know that it is really God speaking, or do folks pray, and, when they are at peace that they have received a reply, they can assume that God answered?

      CONTINUED BELOW…

       
      • Eddie

        March 29, 2017 at 11:25

        CONTINUED FROM ABOVE:

        Boluwade: …your challenges: “…could you please reconcile it with the following for me:

        1. “God’s destruction of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. Mind you, infants were in it also. The people were burnt alive too – a very torturous death to say the least.” – God’s judgment of those cities were to be an example for all such evil that men would do later. Peter makes mention of this in his testimony against false teachers. We need to remember that man is at war with God. God would have been just to destroy mankind outright, but he doesn’t, because it is his desire to save all. In war the innocent suffer. Men of war need to understand this and repent. What if God saved the babies out of the cities. How many would there be, and who would care for them? Would there be hundreds? Thousands? Perhaps there would be less—30 or 40? Who would be equipped to care for them? Who was prepared to take them in? Abraham? Lot? War is hell, and men need to realize what they do when they make war against others. The innocent can’t be saved no matter how careful one is in his use of weapons.

        2. “Command to destroy Achan with his children and burn them alive.” – Actually, this is not completely true. First they were stoned. They were burned after they were dead. This was the capital punishment required by the Law. Israel covenanted with God and agreed to obey the Law. Achan admitted to his crime and was dealt with according to the Law.

        3. “Command to destroy every person in Canaan and everything that breathes in Amalek, young and old.” First of all, God made no such command. Secondly, Israel refused to obey what God did say.

        4. “His burning alive two sons of Aaron for offering strange fire.” – It was God’s judgment. It is implied they were drunk and they let the fire go out. Rather than repenting and admitting to what they did, they relit the fire and the Lord destroyed them. You make it sound like the two ran around screaming as they burned. The text says the Lord consumed them with the fire that came out from him. I take it that they never knew what hit them, and they burned.

        5. “His burning alive of 250 rebels in the wilderness.” This is another mistake. Actually, the ground opened up and swallowed up Korah and those with him. They went down alive, but I doubt they suffered long, because the ground immediately closed over them.

        6. “His heeding Elijah’s voice and sending down fire to destroy innocent soldiers who were simply following the king’s orders and that of their commanders.” – The text doesn’t say the soldiers were innocent. According to Scripture, they came will ill intent (1Kings 18:10; 22:27). The captains of the first and second fifty called Elijah a man of God, but it was probably in mockery they did so, because they intended to imprison him. The third captain came to him humbly and Elijah went with them.

        You seem to assume in your examples that the judgment of God (which all these are examples of) are unloving, at least in appearance. They are not and in each case they represent judgement against the sin of rebellion, the first of its kind. God always uses such as an example for like sins committed later (which he does not judge immediately). God has a right and a responsibility to judge mankind. These sins are not by any stretch of one’s imagination similar to what occurred to the infant. As far as what would be more bearable is concerned, the deaths in each case was practically instantaneous except for #3, which is war between one nation against the other.

        You claimed: “You are just out to redefine the cause so as not to make God look bad yet the effect still makes God look bad irrespective of the cause.” – This is not so. Love is patient, kind, not envious, does not brag, is not puffed up, is not rude, is not self-serving, is not easily angered or resentful, is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. This is how God is all the time. How does this help describe a God who allows an living, sentient, malevolent spirit possess an infant child? What am I missing here? I have kept the God who is love as described in 1Corinthians 13:4-8 and rejected the idea of a malevolent spirit, replacing it with something that went wrong at birth—like described in Ecclesiastes 9:11, namely that “time and chance happens to all.” In other words, accidents happen, but they aren’t caused by God.

        Concerning your own experience and what you believe God told you, I have no right to judge such a thing. If this is what God told you. It is enough for me, but how does this apply to me? Do we reject apologetics completely because of this experience? If so, what would we do with the book of Galatians. The whole epistle is an apologetic defending what Paul originally taught against what the deceivers tried to do in his absence.

        “Demons are real bro.” I agree. I simply don’t agree they are living, sentient unclean spirits. Men are called demons, and I believe what has gone wrong within men—i.e. what we’ve inherited from Adam—at times becomes corrupt and that corruption is called ‘demons’ or an ‘unclean spirit.

        At some time soon, Boluwade, we need to consider the value of what we are doing here. Unless my mainstay question is answered conclusively, I don’t see any change forthcoming on my part. I have the same impression concerning you, that you know what you believe and my understanding of the infant in Luke 9 isn’t going to change your take on the Scriptures. In any case, let me know what you think.

        As always, may the Lord richly bless you and your family in all your efforts to please Him.

         
        • Boluwade Kujero

          April 1, 2017 at 21:21

          PART ONE

          Hi Eddie,

          Taking a step back now and reading my last comment again, I find it very presumptuous and irresponsible of me to have made those statements that seemed to have questioned the validity of your understanding as answers to your sincere quest for truth as you pointed out in the first part of your response. I did indeed overreach with sweeping statements that seemed to make me the judge of truth. I presume you know I never meant to do that and I apologize for it. My style of speaking often predisposes me unwittingly to doing so and it is inexcusable.

          With that out of the way, I still feel the need to respond to this second part of your response and maybe provide you some clarity into how your answers to my questions suggest an unevenness in your logic and an imperfection in your premise for denying demons as living, sentient beings. I hope to make this my last comment on this as I sense you would like us to close this seeing it appears to be going no where. I also do not want to distract you unnecessarily from your works. I will also break this response into parts for the reason you stated.

          1. Sodom and Gomorrah
          You appear to suggest that the act (destruction of these cities by fire) is consistent with the outlook of love as you know it. You seem to imply that it is something justifiable in wartimes, even with innocent infants being on its receiving end. Since, as you say, man is at war with God, such loss of innocent lives cannot be avoided. Then even if they could be avoided, you rationalize that there would be none to take the infants in and care for them.

          I cannot fathom how you can hold up all these arguments of yours while believing that God permitting a child to be possessed by an evil spirit from childhood is inconsistent with the outlook of God as love. I would have thought that your believing that man is at war with God, something which has been ongoing since the disobedience of Adam, would make a God permitted demonic possession of a child pass as well as collateral damage.

          I also find it quite difficult to grasp that you sincerely think “the innocent can’t be saved no matter how careful one is in his use of weapons,” even when the “One” with the weapon in this instance is God Almighty . The same God that found a way to save Rahab from the destruction of Jericho so that the entire stretch of the city’s impregnable wall collapsed everywhere except the part that housed Rahab and her family. The same God who instructed Israel who are “men,” to spare women and children in war as follows:

          “If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies” Deut. 20: 12-14 NIV

          This same God however, in your own view, cannot save innocent children when he is prosecuting war directly and using his weapons himself. And even if he were somehow able to save them, he would not find people “equipped to care for them” or “prepared to take them in.” Are you really serious this is what you believe? Do you not think this is just your effort to defend a confounding act and make it look worthy of your understanding of God as love?

          2. Achan and Family
          You likely missed my point here for you to have said my statement was not completely true. I specifically said “command to destroy Achan with his children and burn them alive,” not the actual execution. The command is as follows:

          “Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be DESTROYED BY FIRE, ALONG WITH ALL that belongs to him. ” Josh.7: 15 NIV

          Compare Lev.10: 6 (NIV) Where Moses describes Nadab and Abihu as “those the Lord has DESTROYED BY FIRE”

          If you however did not miss my point but chose rather to defend God’s action by the final implementation, it proves yet again my allegation that you are just trying to fit God’s action by all means into your “cool” perception of God as love. It means you find the command somewhat extreme and inconsistent with God’s nature as love and rather believe the implementation was his original instruction when it was not. This opens up even another equally difficult question of how pelting a human being to death with stones is reconcilable with God’s loving nature. Do you know the pain and trauma of such a violent method? Are you saying a God of love could not instruct of a more humane, less painful and less traumatic execution method?

          If it was simply death that God was after in punishment, could he not instruct of the administering of some numbing drug to the convict before the pelting? Could he not instruct this even if only for the children and those not directly the offenders? Could he not restrict the task of pelting to authorized or specially tasked individuals instead of making it communal? Are these concerns of mine inconsistent love? Does not mercy reign in judgement?

          Is it not probably dehumanizing and desensitizing to make people pelt other people, including infants with stones to death as a culture? Could this be the reason why the Jews became to easily irritable and hasty to pick up stones for perceived violations of God’s laws even before proof?

          What about the innocent animals? Was God unable to save them or find people to take care of them too? I really do not understand how you rationalize all these as consistent with your “cool” take of God’s love but find a demonic possession of a child inconsistent with the same love so much so that you cannot accept demons as living, sentient beings.

           
        • Eddie

          April 2, 2017 at 16:19

          Greetings Boluwade and welcome back. :-)

          “I presume you know I never meant to do that and I apologize for it.”

          I do, and I too apologize if my tone hurt you. I simply didn’t know how else to phrase it. If I have to question whether God answers my prayers, then I must also question whether or not I am his. But, please understand, no offense was taken on my part. I merely wanted us to be on the same page with that.

          Concerning #1 – Sodom and Gomorrah…
          The alternative to judgment would be to permit the people to continue in their sin. No one was safe in their cities. To do nothing is not an act of love. God judges and, when he does, he judges swiftly. He doesn’t torture people in his judgment; he slays them, and that’s it. Judgment wrapped up in mercy = a loving judge.

          Concerning the collateral damage and the possessed infant, if it is a birth defect occurring through “time and chance” (Ecclesiastes 9:11), then it is collateral damage from Genesis 3. If it is permission given to a living, sentient, malevolent spirit, it is direct judgment against an innocent child—not a loving act.

          Concerning saving the innocent, God saved Rahab and her family through a miracle. She and her family were absorbed into the nation of Israel. God also saved the women and children of Israel’s enemies in war by making them servants of the children of Israel. Exactly how would God save the babies or any other innocents in Sodom and Gomorrah? He may work a miracle like preserving part of a wall while all the rest crumbles and falls down, but how does he work a miracle to save perhaps 100 – 200 babies, more or less? Does he feed them himself, like he does the animals? There are no organizations set up at that time to care for the helpless like this, and God has chosen for the most part to work out his will through men—not through his miraculous power alone.

          That God was willing to save these innocents is seen in the repentance of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah. However, Lot had little or no effect upon these people. Men need to be held accountable for their families, and they need to see the far reaching effects of their sin. Love doesn’t hide that. Rather, love uncovers the ‘glory’ of men and exposes it for what it is—a sham that trades on the lives of innocent people, including one’s family.

          Concerning #2 – Achan and Family…
          Okay, so they were executed with stones, and destroyed with all their belongings with fire. How is this judgment mixed with mercy, showing a God of love? First of all, it doesn’t say any ‘infants’ were executed. Neither does it say how old his children were, but given Achan’s probable age of late forties or early fifties, depending upon his age when leaving Egypt, his sons and daughters were probably old enough to know better and all are presumed to have known what Achan had done. They protected him, and we know this in the fact that none came forward before Joshua finished casting the lots over all the families of Judah.

          This was the first sin of its kind in Israel, and if it was to be an example for any who came afterward, it had to be executed in the manner in which it was. Swift and final! There are no other examples of similar judgments against people who commit sacrilege. God is merciful, and shows his mercy here for people who would come afterward and be tempted. As for Achan and his family, they were executed in a manner in which folks were executed in those days. There were other forms of execution for other crimes, but stoning fit this crime in the ancient Near East. However, if we compare what God did with what other nations at that time did under similar circumstances, I would be willing to bet (if I were a betting man – I’m not) that the nations included torture. God never does.

          Lord bless you, my friend.

           
        • Boluwade Kujero

          April 1, 2017 at 21:31

          PART TWO

          3. Canaan and Amalek
          Again, you dispute my statement here by saying God gave no such command. The following is the command regarding Canaan for your reference:

          “However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, DO NOT LEAVE ALIVE ANYTHING THAT BREATHES.” Deut.20: 16 NIV

          The command for Amalek is quoted below:

          “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, CHILDREN and INFANTS, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.” I Sam.15: 3 NIV

          In the light of the above, I do not know if you still would like to maintain that “God made no such command.” I only hope you will not now find them justifiable after the fact. Your earlier denunciation of them already suggests that you do not find such command consistent with your view of God’s loving nature.

          Strangely, your second defense for God here was that “Israel refused to obey what God did SAY.” Does this not contradict your earlier assertion that “God made no such command”? Or is there something else that I’m missing that you mean by “God did say”? Or are you saying that in this situation God’s “say” is different from God’s “command”? If you however mean what God said to be what he commanded, how does the disobedience of Israel make it reconcilable with God’s nature of love.

          How does God’s instructing to kill children and infants reconcile with your view of God’s love but the thought of him permitting a demon to possess a child does not? Do both not prevent the child from being able to know God and his love? How does one reconcile and the other does not with you? Are both not war situations by your own judgement? Is humanity not in war with God and so deserving of whatever affliction God deems fitting, even if infants are at the receiving end of such affliction and living, sentient demon beings are the agents of affliction? How does instructing men to kill infants fare better that permitting demons to possess children? One terminates finally while the other leaves hope for a remedy by the fact that the victim keeps living. But you are comfortable with the one that is final but not with the one that keeps hope alive.

          4. Aaron’s Burnt Sons
          Firstly, I will refrain from responding to your assertion about their drunkenness and negligence with the fire so as not to lose focus. Whatever the inducement for their offense, my point in asking you to reconcile it is not whether they were killed but the mode. Your response suggests you are not too comfortable with it thus you found it necessary to explain that you “take it that they never knew what hit them.” In other words, you do not believe they suffered but rather died instantaneously even though the word “instantaneous” or anything similar is nowhere found or implied in the passage.

          On one hand I find it curious that of the entire list, this is the first one you single out and tried to explain as painless (although you later declared all as instantaneous by which I assume you also imply painless). On the other hand you still added the words “and they burned.” I suppose that means you see nothing inhumane-looking or non-recommending for love about burning people with fire in punishment for their sins so long it is painless, their charred remains, the horrible look and smell of burnt human flesh is okay as well in your view, in so far as it is a lesson to others. Hmmm…Okay.

          5. 250 Rebels
          For the third time now, I am having to correct your disputing my statement with the account from the Scriptures. Could this your missing the facts these three times be symptomatic of something worthy of reexamination on your part?

          “And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.” Num.16: 35 NIV

          The above is stated of the 250 after the leaders of the rebellion and their families had been swallowed up by the earth. I suppose this point is moot now since you have so far indicated that you don’t see anything wrong-looking for love in killing people by fire. I can also assume that you believe their deaths were instantaneous as you believe of all others without the passages saying so. So amazing how you would reject some of my positions by asserting that the passage does not say so while you would affirm yours the very same way. I could also assume, proceeding from your expressed position, that you do not see how the mass of 250 charred bodies strewn all over the camp grounds could be assaulting to human sensibilities.

           
        • Eddie

          April 2, 2017 at 16:22

          Greetings Boluwade…

          Perhaps if you wish me to answer questions about specifics in the Scriptures you could give the address of the Scriptures you have in mind. I went to where I thought you meant but didn’t read what you wrote. I’m not trying to miss your point, but it is easier to do so, if I’m not at the correct address. I honestly couldn’t understand how you could be so wrong in so many Scriptures. Now I know you meant for me to look at ones I missed. :-)

          Concerning # 3 – Canaan and Amalek…
          “However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, DO NOT LEAVE ALIVE ANYTHING THAT BREATHES.” Deut.20: 16 NIV

          You will note that this Scripture is very different from: “And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee… By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee” (Exodus 23:28-29, 30-31) KJV

          How can the two be reconciled? It seems to me that Deuteronomy 20:16 is speaking of walled cities, which were more like military outposts than unwalled cities, which I believe Exodus 23 is pointing to. While all warfare is a tragedy, it seems fairer when a military garrison is wiped out than a defenseless village, town or city. I am appalled with violent death, but I am able to understand our Pearl Harbor tragedy in 1941 much easier than our 9/11 tragedy in 2001. God didn’t command Israel to destroy anything that breathes throughout Canaan, which is what I thought you meant. Nevertheless, God judged Canaan and had mercy on the general public, but wiped out the military garrisons. That he would have even shown them mercy is evident in his saving Rahab alive. Consider the fact that Canaan knew Israel was coming. They knew their intent, and they heard what God had already done in Egypt. Rahab even told the spies that everyone feared them. Why didn’t they leave? Why did they continue to oppose God and what they knew was his judgment? They defied him by staying. He had a perfect right to judge them, but he was still merciful. Many could have been saved that weren’t, if they had either repented (like Rahab) or simply left the land.

          Amalek is a different story entirely. Israel was not his enemy. Israel had no intention of taking Amalek’s land. Yet, Amalek made it a point to continue to plague Israel, both on their way to the Promised Land and after they were there. Amalek made it a point to be Israel’s enemy continually. There would be no peace as long as there was one Amalekite and one Israelite left standing. Saul was told to wipe them all out, including infants. Which he almost did. He saved the king and his family and the choice flocks etc. for booty. Because of this Saul was replaced by David. Why was God so ‘merciless’, as some might ask? Actually, he was very merciful in that he let them live as long as he did, but they refused to repent. Even after the nation was destroyed, except for the king and his family, they still had no repentance. How do we know? The name of the king was Agag (1Samuel 15:9). Centuries later his descendent, Haman, the Agagite, tried to wipe out all the Jews in captivity by influencing the King of Persia to destroy the Jewish nation living among the Persians (Esther 3:1, 8-10). Amalek’s hatred hadn’t changed, and God’s judgment hadn’t changed either. He had Mordecai, one of Saul’s descendants, issue the order to do what Saul didn’t do in 1Samuel 15. Because Saul refused to obey God, he endangered the whole nation later. Amalek hated Israel. Their children were probably taught to hate Israel from an early age. No doubt they carried a grudge concerning Jacob taking the inheritance away from their father Esau—my take on the reason for their incomprehensible hate.

          Was God unjust or merciless? I don’t think so. Again, Amalek must see (in the judgment) the end of his hateful ways. We who have this record must see the end of our own hatred for others. It will destroy us and our families, if we continue to hate our brethren who hate us. It is not just **my** sin. My sin affects others, including my children. We are created to be images of God. If we don’t image God we will image error, hate or something else, but we will be unable to fulfill our purpose in life.

          Concerning #4 – Aaron’s Burnt Sons…
          You don’t like my word “instantaneous”. While it is true the word isn’t in the text, I believe it’s a matter of what one envisions took place. If you think the fire that came out from the Lord was like fire travelling a stream of gasoline and overtaking Aaron’s sons before they burnt alive, then they probably suffered for some time. How long does it take for people to burn up in a fire? I don’t know. On the other hand, if one envisions the fire came out from the Lord like a lightning bolt, I doubt they suffered long at all. The text doesn’t say what the fire was, but I have picked how I understand it. You must pick how you do. (By the way, their drunkenness is implied in Leviticus 10:8-9. It is the first time the prohibition has been made to Aaron, and it came immediately following the judgment of his sons. Was it coincidence? I suppose it is for the reader to decide).

          Concerning # 5 – the 250 Rebels…
          Again, it has to do with how one sees the fire coming from the Lord. The text doesn’t tell us what that looked like. I envision a very powerful God doing it, and if fire comes from him as suddenly as is implied in the text, I don’t think it trickles down to the one he judges. It comes suddenly—like lightening (in my opinion). Paul tells us that Jesus dwells in the Light ( whom I presume to be the Father – cf. John 1:18) in 1Timothy 6:16. No man is able to approach this Light or see it (cf. 1Kings 8:11). If the “Light” is unapproachable, meaning so glorious the priests of Israel couldn’t even stand in the Temple to minister, then I suppose any sudden ‘light’ or ‘fire’ coming from him would be very destructive and more immediate than being caught in a burning home—just my take.

          May our Lord and Savior richly bless you, Boluwade, and your family.

           
        • Boluwade Kujero

          April 1, 2017 at 21:39

          PART THREE

          6. Elijah and the Burnt Soldiers
          You were very blunt and quick to tell me that the soldiers we not said to be innocent and I have to agree as far as explicit statement to that effect cannot be produced. You however went along to charge them with ill-will where no such explicit statement was made by the same passage. You even went further to suggest that their addressing Elijah as “man of God” was in mockery without any evidence. Why do you find these charges and suggestions of yours necessary? Simple! You are unconsciously or subconsciously trying to defend indefensible actions and make them reconcile with your view of what it means for God to be love. Something in you strongly believes that innocent people don’t suffer such fierce treatment. That thing somehow makes you feel that not finding a reason to justify these fierce executions in favor of God will make God look bad and you cannot stand it. So you search and search until you find one. This is my impression though.

          For this thing you can’t even see that what is stated of the soldiers suggests they were just following the instructions of the King as duty binds them. Rather, they must all be charged with some misdeed so as to make their terrible fate look just and consistent with your view of love.

          Even if we would assume that their commanders were rude in their communication of the king’s order to Elijah, is such rudeness really warranting of death – death by fire? What crime then would we say the squad soldiers committed other than following their commanders as bound by military law? I say they are innocent of disrespecting Elijah but you say no. Should they have refused their king’s orders or their commanders’ authority instead? Would they then have been innocent by doing that?

          You even went so far as to charge them with certain intent to imprison Elijah, all in your effort to justify the extreme treatment they received when the most they ever said was that Elijah should come down by the King’s order? Yet, nothing of the likeness of imprisonment happened when Elijah eventually followed the last group of soldiers. All was your own reading into the passage to make sense of the act and reconcile it with your view of God as love.

          As far as you are concerned, in all my cited situations, they were ALL (children and infants inclusive) judged for the “sin of rebellion, the first of its kind.” You are not just sure they are all guilty and none innocent, you also approve of the mode of judgement meted on them and find it consistent with your understanding of God’s nature of love. Your view of God’s love approves of him instructing that infants and children be killed along with their parents in judgement for sins they have not yet become aware of but disbelieves him permitting a child to be demon possessed by living, sentient beings under any reasonable situation. Hmmm… Okay.

          Finally, you asked what my experience has to do with you. Well, I thought you could perhaps consider by it that there are some of God’s actions that need not be reconciled with love as we know and imperfectly assume it is. I hoped you would see that to uphold God’s love we need not be able to reconcile all his acts. Don’t get me wrong, God’s actions are always reconcilable with his love nature but they are not always reconcilable by us. He is the only one who can reconcile them always. There are and will always be some that are indefensible by us and must be accepted in faith even if it fails our logic and reason. We have come to know his heart and are products of it’s exceeding goodwill flowing towards us even when we did and do not deserve it. They may embarrass, confuse and even tempt us to deny him, but we should not. They may also make us think that we have the burden to understand and explain them but doing so would just lead us on the same path as Job’s friends. The path of trying to justify God by all means led them to court God’s wrath, for us it could be ending up with erroneous beliefs. This has been my point in engaging you thus far. I thought about your foundation for refusing demons as real beings, which you have acknowledged as your inability to reconcile the possession of this boy by a living, sentient demonic being with God’s nature of love, I thought that if I could show you that it is imperfect, that maybe I could help you thereby see the possibility of you having ended up with a false belief by it.

          I am truly no judge of what is right or wrong, I only offer my perspective as God has given me grace. But since you say you do not see any merit in my arguments, I humbly accept you as you. I apologize again for the places where I clearly overreached.

          I have no interest in winning this exchange, debate, or whatever it may be called. I just have a genuine concern for a brother. One wrong belief may actually not hurt, but if the foundation for that one belief is wrong, it can lead to many other wrong beliefs, the endpoint of which only God can tell when allowed to compound together and mature.

          I close with Paul’s words:

          “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Phil.3: 15 NIV

          Grace and peace be multiplied to you.

           
        • Eddie

          April 2, 2017 at 16:39

          Now we come to ‘Part Three’ of your reply, and, once more, let me say thank you for taking the time to discuss these things with me.

          Concerning #6 – Elijah and the Burnt Soldiers…
          I am uncertain how Christianity is viewed in your country. In mine, especially in recent decades, it has been made light of and labeled superstitious. That point of view is not only witnessed to but efforts are made to support it in our entertainment industry—whether TV or movies. The political doctrine of ‘political correctness’ has also done damage to how Christ is understood in these past two generations. So, yes, I do feel like I must apologize for my faith. I do feel like I must defend the Lord (who needs no defense for me), when folks in my country foam at the mouth in their fits of rage against the God I love. I have spent over a decade doing this online on two different discussion boards (now shut down). I spoke with atheists, Jews, Hindus, Moslems, cultic religious groups bearing the name ‘Christian’ and perhaps a few others I’ve forgotten. So, yes, speaking out **for** the God I love is something I take every opportunity to do. I don’t place you in the category of the above groups, but I told you this to put my present attitude in our present discussion in the light it should be seen—at least as I am able to understand myself and the things I do.

          Concerning the captains and the soldiers, they were sent to seize and imprison Elijah (1Kings 18:10; cf. 22:27). The mockery is implied in as much as I am able to tell. Compare 1Kings 22:27-28 with 2Kings 1:9-10. Of course, you may read it differently, but, as I claimed above, I seek to read the Scriptures is such a way that God is seen as a just and merciful Judge—or a God of love. If God is love, and the Scriptures say he is, then I look for him to see him as he is when I read them, and I often find him there. This is not to say I can answer everything that looks contrary in the same manner as I do here, but I keep looking until I do, because I believe he is there. If that is wrong, then I am guilty of wrong doing, but I don’t see God telling me to read the Scriptures differently. Moreover, I am not told by the Scriptures how I must read them except to say that, if I see a contradiction, my understanding is in error (cf. John 10:35).

          Concerning **all** the Scriptures you cited, yes, the people were judged for rebellion, and, in as much as I can tell (except for the Canaanites), the judgment was administered against sin, the first of its kind as recorded in the Bible. I have not claimed all were equally guilty of rebellion, but the nation is judged by its leaders. As the leaders go, so goes the nation, whether for good or for bad. The leaders (Canaan, Amalek, and the 250 rebels) are shown to be either leading the nation astray (deliberately walking away from God; or deliberately making oneself God’s enemy) or seeking to lead the nation astray (presuming to stand against and replace God’s appointed leaders). Individual judgments, such as Achan and family, Aaron’s sons and the captains and their 50 men were judged for sacrilege (seeking to seize and hide what had been dedicated to God; outright disrespect for God; blatant disrespect for the messenger God sent in his name). Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities were judged for indiscriminant violence (as much as I can tell). When people deliberately and with forethought rebel against God they need to understand that God sees them, and he will judge them, and often their families will suffer with them in their sin (similar to the families who suffer with their alcoholic or drug addicted parent or child). We don’t live alone, and our sins are not ours alone. No matter how hard we try otherwise, our sins affect others.

          Concerning your perspective, I value your perspective no matter how it seems otherwise in this discussion. You have challenged me as a brother, not as an enemy, and because you have I must consider your words / argument more closely. While I don’t see the need to return to how I used to believe, things have been said here that I cannot simply forget or brush off as worthless. I must keep them in mind as I walk with the Lord in the understanding I embrace as truth. Something may later occur in my studies or experiences that will cause me to reflect upon your words / arguments in a different light. In that event I will have to decide again which is truth, as far as this subject is concerned, and yes, I trust that Scripture, “…And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” One like it is what Jesus told Peter as he washed his feet: “You don’t know what I do now, but afterward you will know.” Therein is my trust that God will lead me in the way I should go and won’t permit me to wander too far to the right or the left.

          Concerning your personal experience and what God told you, I regret the words I used there. I don’t always choose my words wisely, no matter how hard I try. I felt uncomfortable making something God told you part of our discussion. I do see and did see its value. But its value, in as much as I can tell, is for you in your life and in the community in which you live. Would it be the same for me, in my life and in the community in which I live? I’m not so certain as you might be. I don’t mean to preach relativism here, but Jesus did tell his disciples concerning marrying (or not) that sometimes something is given by God to one person and not another (Matthew 19:10-12). I trust I can use that Scripture here, even though the subject isn’t marriage.

          Lord bless you Boluwade in all you do for him—it is all good and I trust he’ll bless you in it all. I have certainly been blessed in this discussion, and please do not feel you have been discourteous or hurt me in any way. You haven’t and in nothing have I taken offense. I trust I haven’t hurt you with words that I have written, beyond making it seem that you have hurt me. I do regret and apologize for that.

           

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