When I came into the faith of Jesus from the world (I was a secular evolutionist buddhist), I was highly unstable. I had spent years in the dark study of politics, I had done many drugs, I was cold and had repressed much. When I studied the prophecies and realized that God knew the future and would judge this world, I was relieved and rejuvenated, thinking here is how the good man will be justified and the evil man punished. I read the Old Testament stories of God striking down his enemies with selfish joy.
The longer I was a Christian, the more my lack of love and impatience and intolerance became clear to me. I had experience with God, that He was good, that He took care of me, but I had trouble showing this from the Bible and expressing it to others. I believed debate was the means to win souls (of which I won none). I still had a wrong idea of God, and the harshness I saw in God was reflected in me, and I was strident and overbearing in my sharing of the gospel.
I started to realize that Buddhists, who are pacifists and will not kill for any reason, had problems with the God of the Old Testament. I realized that deep down I did too, only I had repressed it in my recognition of the overwhelming power of God who alone knew the end from the beginning. But repression undermines faith. I was at a Bible Study where we were sharing the story of Elijah with a young woman, new in the faith, interested in Jesus, and we were looking at Mt Carmel. I said have you heard this story? She had not. We proceeded to go through it and in a dramatic hollywood action movie way I said "see how God answers the prayers of his prophets and defeats his enemies! Elijah my hero strikes down 850 false priests with the sword!"
I will never forget the expression on her faith. It was one of shock and horror. Her gentler nature than mine recoiled from it. I was shook up...am I teaching this story correctly? Is this what Jesus would have us take away from this story? "All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." Matthew 26:52
I believe the way we are teaching the character of God, how we emphasize his justice, portrays more a mirror of the character of man than how God truly works, whose "mercy endureth forever" (Psalm 136)
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. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
Let us be careful not to misrepresent God to the gentiles. Thailand has been called the missionary graveyard - is this because there is a flaw in the Thai people that makes the gospel unable to penetrate? Did not Jesus die for all? Could it be that there is speck of impurity in how we are teaching it causing confusion in the mind of the gentle peace loving buddhist? How many have been lost because of the harshness of our hearts?
I have been studying this topic now, once I got onto it, non stop. It is the a most worthy area of study. There are many ways to address it. One, which most churches do, is say that God in the Old Testament was a good of "justice and law and order" and that in the New Testament He is a God of "grace and love". They then proceed to focus mostly on the NT. This is highly unsatisfying for the serious bible student who reads that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), who is the power of God and the word of God through whom God does all things. So it is Jesus working in the Old Testament too. We should be able to see the love and kindness of our beloved Lord there, who came "not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:56)
This book, Agape, does a thorough and rigorous study on the matter allowing scripture to explain scripture, Isaiah 28:10, going one by one through each issue. It is a magnificent achievement and one that could only be done with the help of holy angels. Even for one who is uncertain on the matter there is much to feast on in here.
The questions addressed in this book are ones the devil and the world will put to all Christians. We should study them now. So much of the difficult work has been done for us. Here I believe is the key that will give the gospel message its pure light to finish the work to allow Jesus to return.
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.
Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
There is a balm in Gilead. Let us joyously "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 Praise be to our amazing God.
Danny Brown, Bangkok, Thailand