Many people look at events such as the Holocaust or even their own experiences and ask the question, “If God is love, how could He have allowed such horrible things to happen?” The conclusions are often these; “He isn’t love” or “He doesn’t love me”.
Well, I think these conclusions are not based on the truth nor on understanding about God.
Let’s look first at what the Bible says about God’s love.
1 John 4:8– “Anyone who does not love, does not know God, because God IS Love.” Here we read that the nature of God is what Love looks like.
We read in Romans 5:6-8, that God’s love is not based on our works, actions or anything to do with us. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
Again, we read in the book of Ephesians that God’s love is not based on us but on Himself-who He IS. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by His grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
In the gospels, such as in Luke 6:27, Yeshua, the representation of God the Father made flesh in human form, tells His followers to love those who are considered enemies. How could He ask of us something that He is not willing to do Himself? You see, WE were enemies of God when He chose to sacrifice Himself for us. Therefore, He can ask of us to do the same thing as representatives of Him. His love is not based on our returned affections. It is based solely on who He is.
In Romans 8:35 we read that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. If His love was based on our works, actions, words, faithfulness, anything that has to do with us, then we would most certainly be able to separate ourselves from God’s love. But that is not what the Bible says. It clearly states that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love.
In Jeremiah 31:3, God says to His people, Israel, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Surely this love was not based on Israel’s faithfulness to God. Because all through the scriptures, from the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, we read the struggles that Israel has in staying faithful to God. But this verse in 1 Timothy is amazing as it speaks on the matter of our faithfulness versus God’s faithfulness;
“This is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; But if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:11-13.
WOW! For a second there, it’s a back and forth. If we do this, then this will happen. But when it comes to being faithful, God doesn’t do down that road with us. Even if we chose to be unfaithful, He will remain faithful. Why? Because He won’t go against His own self. God. Is. Faithful.
If we look at the Old Testament and see how Israel was unfaithful to God and how God remained faithful to them, we will gain a clear picture that these statements the apostles and prophets made about God are true. His love was not based on the faithfulness of man, nor on man’s works and abilities to do anything for God, but solely on Himself. He IS Love and He IS Faithful. Period.
On the contrary, God’s blessings are conditional!
Let’s go back to the very beginning when God formed man in His image, entrusted him with ruler-ship over all God’s creation, and then to paraphrase, He said, “one thing I ask of you, don’t disobey Me by eating the fruit off the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” As long as the first man and woman were obedient to keep God’s command, they experienced the abundance of God’s blessings. They were never sick, they were never lacking anything they needed, they lived in perfect peace, and they enjoyed the fullness of fellowship with God. But the moment they chose disobedience, everything changed. They were cursed, they lost fellowship with God, they were displaced from their homeland, and the creation they were called to care for, were now the ones giving their lives as sacrifices to atone for their sins. Even their children were effected by their disobedience.
Remember God’s words to Cain, Adam’s son, when he was angry that God was blessing his brother Abel but not him? “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but YOU must master it.”…And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” Genesis 4:6-8.
Moving forward through the Bible, we read what God says to His people Israel as He had them standing on the mountains of Gerazim and Ebal. Because the text is lengthy, I will give you the cliff note version of the list of blessings on obedience, versus the curses that come with disobedience.
|Blessings on Obedience
||Curses for disobedience
|Exaltation over all nations
||Cursed no matter where you go
|Blessed wherever you settle
||You will not be able to succeed in making wealth
|Blessed will be your children and all that reproduces
||Cursed will be your children and cursed will be everything you own. You will be unable to reproduce.
|Blessed with abundance of provision
||You will be confused and rebuked
|Safety in traveling
||Sickness will come upon you and not leave you alone.
|Victory over enemies
||Inflammation, heat, fire and mildew and sword.
|Blessed in the work of your hands and in the land in which you dwell
||Overtaken by your enemies in every which way
|People will see how blessed you are and know that you belong to God
||You will be susceptible to all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
|You will be givers and not borrowers
||Others will consume the fruit of your labor instead of you enjoying it yourself.
|The head and not the tail
||You will be slaves
|You will be above and not beneath
||No rain on your land
|Rain will fall on your land and cause the land to flourish.
||Driven out of the Land and scattered among the nations.
And the list of curses goes on and on much more so than the list of blessings. As the people stood on these mountains, they were experiencing a visual aid of what the Lord was warning them of. You see, Mount Gerazim was flourishing with vegetation and life. But just on the other side of the valley was Mount Ebal which was dry, barren and lifeless. In addition, to insert an interesting note, if one were to stand in the valley of decision between these two mountains and turn to fully face the mount of blessing, they would be facing in the direction of Jerusalem to the south. If that person were to fully face the mountain of curses, they would be turning their back on Jerusalem and in Hebraic thinking, that is like saying they are turning their back on God. God and Jerusalem go together. In Jerusalem is the sacred and holy site called the Western Wall. Jews from around the world come to stand at this wall and pour out their prayers before God because He has stated in His word that He would forever be in that place, hearing prayer, forgiving sins and bringing healing. The God-fearers who go to that place to pray walk with their faces toward the wall when they approach and again, face the wall when they leave until they have cleared that inner court area. They do this as a physical expression before God that they are not turning their back on Him.
In Genesis 12:1, God spoke these words to Abraham concerning His descendants who would come through the line of his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. “[Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Here we read a statement of this conditional blessing that the Lord places upon people. If we bless those that God has blessed, we will be blessed directly by Him. And if we curse those who God has blessed, we will be cursed. And that is a choice that we make. Now, if we take a look at an area of our lives that we can see is definitely not being blessed, then we again have a choice of what we will do with that. We can either have an angry countenance like Cain did when God did not bless him because he was not doing what pleased the Lord. And we can incorrectly conclude with the lie that God doesn’t love us as much as someone else who is being blessed. OR, we can repent, ask God to forgive us of our sins and disobedience, and then set our hearts in the direction of doing God’s will. In turn, we will see the result of God’s blessings on our obedience.
Let’s close with one of the last verses from the book of Deuteronomy 30:19- “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”