This is How We are to Tell What Happened, and Definitely in No Other Way
- Rev. P.K. KEIZER
Taken from the Clarion (1976) Vol. 25, No. 19.
Genesis 1:31: And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
Genesis 2:17: For in the day that you eat of it you shall die.
Genesis 3:13: The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate."
It is in this order that the Lord God Himself tells us the facts.
If we changed that order, we would easily get caught in the snares of all sorts of questions which, by the sheer force of their logic, would lead us from consequence to consequence.
Then the conviction of our own guilt would be weakened by the very same demonic suggestion by which also Adam and Eve came to their revolt against the command of God's love and protection. Questions raised by human thinking should never be confused with questions which proceed from faith. Most of the time there is a vast difference between those two categories.
Someone may think, "Why does God ask man all sorts of questions, such as, 'Did you eat of that tree of which I told you not to eat?' " Genesis 3:11
Did God not know the answer? He is omniscient, isn't He?
Someone else continues on this path and thinks, "Could not God have prevented this greatest of all world disasters with its centuries long effects?" He is almighty, isn't He? And if He could have prevented it but did not do that, is He, then, not Himself . . .? Even the laws of the country declare someone guilty if he does not lift one finger to save the life of someone who is in danger of losing it . . .!
Demonic power to tempt, clothed in the garment of "common logic," pushes our sinful heart on to this road of self-excuse and selfjustification, and the final conclusion must then read, "God is a creator who failed. Look how things are in our own age! Is God love? Why does He, then, not intervene?"
I have always felt it to be a grave responsibility and a difficult task not to "satisfy" the boys and girls with an answer that makes them understand everything, so that they say, "Ah, is that the way it is! Our reasoning was wrong!", but to free them from the spell of such questions and to take them captive and to bring them under the obedience to the Word of God.
That applies not only to our boys and girls. We, too, as older ones feel these questions disturbing us, for instance, when suddenly deep sorrow falls upon us or when we see all of a sudden what evil we did in our own delusion.
Paul, who as the first missionary in the history of the world invaded the deep darkness of the realm of Satan (heathen land is Satan's land), wrote to the European Corinthians, "The weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds; so that we destroy arguments and every proud obstacle erected against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," II Corinthians 10:4, 5.
The first and the best step in this campaign is: to tell the facts in the order in which God Himself tells them to us, and in any case not to set up "reasonings" starting from self-chosen "starting points," for instance, God's counsel, God's omniscience, God's omnipotence, God's will, etcetera. "Let us learn not to go beyond that which is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of the one against the other," I Corinthians 4:6.
When that phantom-world which Adam and Eve had permitted to be pictured before their eyes (to be free, to be their own boss and no one's servant) collapsed, do you think that their first thought was, "Why did God not prevent this? He did know it, didn't He?" etcetera?
Yes, everyone who, perhaps subconsciously and without being aware of it, thinks in an evolutionist manner and thus has also been poisoned in his concept of life and of the world, may say within himself and may concede to public opinion: Adam and Eve were still children who mistook duck-weed for grass and then suddenly sank into deep water and drowned.
But whoever gives to God again that basic childlike trust to which He has a right, and believes in Him also in the matter of the order in which He tells us of these terrible and far-reaching events, know in the first place: it was all very good; in the second place: they had been warned; and in the third place: it is our own fault.
To admit into our hearts through demonic suggestion wilful distrust of God's intentions, that is the real apostasy from and revolt against God. That Eve, after that, stretched forth her hand and ate is a result of deliberately believing the words of the serpent.
Words and intentions are two different things, yes, but only with the devil, never with God the Lord, neither in the garden, nor in the Church, on the pulpit or at the baptismal font or at the table of the holy supper. Whoever "worries" or is afraid can find deliverance by recalling "what has God spoken to me and confirmed in holy baptism to me personally!" Whatever He says He means!
After they had done their deed, Adam and Eve were in for a terrible disappointment. They felt thoroughly miserable. Everything was so totally different from a few moments ago. They did not dare to look at each other. They were profoundly ashamed. Eve was ashamed for her husband because she seduced him and Adam was ashamed for his wife because he followed her instead of calling her back. And they were both ashamed for their heavenly Father because they looked for hostile intentions behind His words. Being strangers to each other, they covered themselves for each other and when they heard the wellknown voice, the misery of their situation overwhelmed them. Fear fell upon them and in panic they fled into the woods - each one into a different direction, I think.
In any case, they did not stand there impudently to ask the Lord a few questions!
Not at all! They did not do so when they were interrogated nor later on in their centuries long, sorrowful life. Nor did they do it at Abel's funeral! Nor when Cain left them and the God of them all.
Awareness of their guilt and self displeasure and clear recollection of what they did wilfully prevented them from looking insolently at their Father. On the contrary, they were full of His grace. He did not curse them. He again had pleasure in them: "redemption will come." That was their only comfort. Ours, too. We know by Whom and in what manner.
Da Costa said, "At the bottom of all questions lies the guilt of the world's sin." I thought that it would be better to say, "At the bottom of all questions lies God's eternal good pleasure." A good pleasure in people, and it is still that way. A good pleasure in people: how is it possible!
Actually, that is no question but a fact which moves us every time anew.
If you are under the spell of the above questions, say it then slowly and while reflecting upon it: "My own fault, my own fault." Then the power of "formal logic" is broken (besides, it is not "formal" in the least! Satan knows that best of all.) Here lies the beginning and the principle of Christian logic.
A demonic din, being heard through everything, more and more fills the world of man. Satan keeps on suggesting in learned books and in mocking words, "It sounds very good what God says, but I have revealed and brought to light what His secret intentions were; thereby He has lost His honour as Creator and He will also be a failure as the Regenerator. Look, people: Christianity has been here for centuries, and what is the condition at present of this accursed world?"
What if you had asked David that question, after the prophet Nathan pointed his finger at him and said, "I mean you!"? "Against Thee, Thee alone (via Bathsheba and Uriah and via all "human factors") I have sinned and done what was evil in Thy eyes" and that's what I confess openly and acknowledge before the whole world "in order that (everyone may know by my confession of guilt that) Thou art righteous in Thy sentence ("the sword shall not depart from your house," II Samuel 12:10 ff.) and pure in Thy judgment," Psalm 51:6.
Did God want sin? No. Without any hidden motive or concealed and secret will, He straightway forbade eating of that tree. He was serious, as He is in everything He says.
But neither the revolt of Satan in heaven nor the fall of man in paradise surprised Him, nor does the unspeakable woe of guilt and misery at present. They do not confuse Him either. The offensive of the Germans in the Ardennes in December 1944, did take Eisenhower and his staff by surprise and threw the headquarters in Versailles into great confusion.
But our God is no man! He rules over everything and every one.
That is far beyond our understanding, but it is never against our understanding.
Somewhere Paul speaks of "knowing" the love of Christ, "which exceeds all understanding", Ephesians 3:19 - knowing God (what a beautiful, warm expression!) with a knowledge which exceeds all knowledge!
We are creatures, creatures of God, created in His image ("bearing His image" is actually a Romish expression), "a little less than God" (Psalm 8:6). We were allowed to do something ourselves, we had "freedom," true, total freedom, i.e. freedom as creatures, beautiful, human freedom to choose. Not beside God or over against Him, and least of all "above Him" in our systematizing, speculating, so-called "objective theological knowledge," but freedom under Him, being always dependent upon Him. That is the secret of our creation by Him!
He does not put before us any "problems" which we, allegedly, would have to "solve."
Joseph's brothers sold him and therefore they were guilty. Joseph says, "Am I in the place of God? You thought to do evil against me but God meant it for good," Genesis 50:20. "When He summoned a famine on the land, and broke every staff of bread, He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were pressed into the fetters, he (literally: his soul) came into the irons until the day when what he had said came to pass and the word of the Lord showed that he was right," Psalm 105: 1619.
There are no "problems" here which first have to be solved by people who "think deep" before the "simple believers" (sometimes you hear a still more awkward word, "laymen") would be able to understand a little of it.
Here the Psalmist sings of God's government for good, whereas Joseph's brothers meant it for evil. Here the praises of the living God are sung, not just one or two of His "virtues" or "properties," as, for instance, omniscience or omnipotence.
Jesus says, "The Son of man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed," Matthew 26:24. Betrayal is sin.
Here nothing has to be "reconciled." Here is nothing "preposterous."
Whoever thinks that he sees "problems" here, has made them first himself.
Be it forgiven him. He did not remain in his place as creature.
Many so-called "questions of faith" are nothing else than insolent questions inspired by man's thinking, coming forth from a heart that has not given itself captive.
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