August 21, 2018

THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION

By Larry Ray Hafley

QUESTION:

From Ohio: "According to the Scriptures; God demands perfection or near perfection from His subjects. When God destroyed the earth with the flood (except for Noah and his family), why didn't He destroy Satan and all other evils and bring in this perfect environment we hear about?"

REPLY:

This question has a number of underlying assumptions. First, it assumes that God demands sinless perfection of His subjects before they can be accepted in His sight. Second, it supposes that God's sovereignty permits Him to act regardless of His nature, character, and purposes. Third, it portrays God as a capricious tyrant who does not always conduct affairs as wisely as He might. Fourth, it smacks of premillennialisrn and of the Jehovah's Witnesses' brand of "heaven an earth." Our querist is likely unaware of any of these factors, and may be offended at their expression, but the question reveals these latent ideas nonetheless.

Sin, Obedience, and the Flood

God demands obedience to His will. "He bath shewed thee, Oman, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Mic. 6:8)?Noah was not sinlessly perfect, for all have sinned. Noah was obedient. If Noah's standing before the Lord depended upon his perfect life, he and his family would have been drowned in the waters of the flood. Man was responsible for his sins in the days of Noah. "And God said that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually . . . . And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And hod said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth" (Gen. 6:5, 12, 13). Why was the earth corrupt? "For all flesh has corrupted his way." Haw was the earth "filled with violence?" It was "through them," through men, that the earth was "filled with violence" arid wickedness. Sin is a two way street. It is not totally the devil's fault (1 Cor. 10:13; Jas. 1:1315; 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8,9).

God's infinite purity, holiness, and justice must be considered. The flood was not initially or essentially designed to provide a "perfect environment." It was sent "to destroy all flesh" (Gen. 6:17). The greatness of their wickedness made them unfit to live (cf. Rom. I:32). God was so appalled by their evil that it "grieved him at his heart." Thus, the flood came, not to save, but to condemn. The flood was God's judgment acting on behalf of his purity, holiness and justice. The judgment of God, whether it be to the blessing or cursing of men, is inevitable in the divine scheme. God's sovereignty is upheld by the accounting that free will agents must give unto the Most High.

God's Eternal Purpose

Our querist fails to account for the eternal purpose of God to save all men in Christ. Even at this time, the time of the flood, the divine design was being woven into the fabric of human history. In the garden, the first visible stitch was sewn with the seed of woman that would bruise the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). The devil's dominion was to be broken by the promised seed. That seed is Christ. He was sent to bless all men in turning them from their sins by His death (Acts 3:24-26; Gal. 3:6-15). Since the devil ruled through death, God chose death as the very means to defeat and destroy the devil. He took the devil's own weapon and beat him over the head with it. That is the height of ignominious defeat! Thus, did the seed of woman, of Abraham, and of David bruise the devil's head (Heb. 2:14, 15).

The "perfect environment" is now available in heavenly places in Christ. It is not a future realm with respect to the bruising and binding of Satan. It is a present reality (Eph. 1:3; 2:6; 2 Cor. 5:17). The "only" thing left is heaven. Death is abolished. Life and immortality have been brought to light through the glorious gospel of Christ (2 Tim. 1:10). In essence, Christ accomplished for us on the cross what our querist desired of God at the flood.

Conclusion

Let us tread lightly in our wonderings about the workings of God. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8, 9). "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who bath known the mind of the Lord? Or who bath been his counsellor" (Rom. 11:33, 34)?

Truth Magazine XIX: 39, p. 616
August 14, 1975

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