This all started with our church deciding to take everyone through The Story. It comes across as a novelized version of scripture and bypasses many aspects that would help you to understand the character and nature of the Father.
Personally, I could not stand it. Our men’s bible study, just before this, had spent a year going through the book of John and I needed a change. With no strong direction, I decided to dive back into the Old Testament. The journey started with First Kings and progressed toward the New Testament, taking the time to look intently at things I had confusion about and longed to understand. I bypassed Job, and the poetry books.
I began to see familiar names, men that hazarded their lives to deliver God’s message to ungrateful people. Jeremiah was one of those who braved imprisonment, and the threat of violence from priests and kings.
Jeremiah, under the influence of the spirit of God, spoke about the end of times, but, like so many things God said, we have used them to apply to us, today. That is not necessarily a bad thing because we have passages such as:
All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 MKJV)
Jeremiah 10:10 “But Jehovah is the true God, He is the living God, and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to stand His fury.”
This comes in the middle of a diatribe berating the foolishness of man-made idols that did not make the heavens and the earth.
God is to be feared. That is a hard one for me, for fear was literally beaten into me. If this could be easily replaced with the word respect, I would have an easier time absorbing it. Perhaps we need to accept the fact that God has the potential to destroy as well as create, and how that plays out is entirely up to his volition.
The Hebrew word “yare” shows up 316 times. One hundred and forty-eight of those are interpreted as fear. Very few have a mild connotation.
1a1) to fear, be afraid
1a2) to stand in awe of, be awed
1a3) to fear, reverence, honour, respect
If fear can also be represented by phrases, such as: stand in awe, be awed, or words such as reverence, honor and respect, then yes, I feel that this is my heart and comprehension of who He is, but scripture tells us that God is going to pour out his wrath upon the circumcised and the uncircumcised. That sounds like something to fear, and potentially cause people to turn their hearts from ways contrary to God’s and show Him the respect he is due. However, most will not do that, and will be removed from the earth.
Wrath = rage or strife. Clearly, God does and will get mad.
Jesus was and is God, and as such, a representation of God on earth. An aspect of why he was here was to demonstrate the character and nature of the Father, God. I quickly tried to find references to Jesus mission on earth. Truth be known, I was looking for passages that validated Jesus as a representative of the peaceful kingdom. What I found is a mixed bag.
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this is, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
If what we see in scripture is an actual progression, then his words of peace and comfort took a sudden shift.
Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.”
John 9:39 “And Jesus said, I have come into this world for judgment, that they who do not see might see, and that they who see might be made blind.”
In John 10:10 he showed his compassion once again by explaining:
John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
He certainly was not the thief and he did not speak in code. They could understand exactly what he was saying. The thief was the destroyer, Satan, and they knew it. Jesus stated clearly, I have come to give life in opposition to the one who takes life away, but not just life, something larger and better than what you comprehend.
Life was not so different back then, for you still had those with money, and those without. Those without suffered just as they do today, and the wants and desires are still here with us. So, what would it mean to have life more abundantly? The word He used was ‘perissos’ and meant something in the sense of beyond. Was he talking about tomorrow? I do not think so, because for so many of us, tomorrow never comes. I think the abundant life has everything to do with relationship and our life with him in the kingdom to come.
The next two passages are short, to the point, and offer little comfort.
John 12:46 “I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes on Me should not remain in darkness.”
John 15:22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.”
The passage that my spirit wanted to find was this:
Luke 9:54-56 In response to how they as a group were treated, we see this: “. His disciples James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them and said, You do not know of what spirit you are. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save.”
It was not Jesus that was willing to call-fire down from heaven, nor did he tell the two brothers that what they were asking for was impossible. He addressed the spirit that they were responding to, and then he openly clarified that he was here to save lives, not destroy them.
Now, as for when he returns, and that may be any day now, He will come as the conquering king that Israel anticipated, and years of anger and vengeance will be carried out by him. The bible is filled with allegories, and this is one. It represents the nations of the earth, and, sadly, Israel as well, as God slaughters those who choose to stand against him.
“And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:18-20 KJV)