God´s infinite and boundless love, part 2.

Two ways to worship God.

We know from Genesis 3,21 that God had instructed people on how to worship God. Before the fall, they could walk freely with God. Before they sinned, people were pure and sinless and could be with God and see Him face to face. But now after the fall, they were banished from the Garden of Eden, and in order to be forgiven of their sins, they now had to sacrifice animals, a lamb without blemish.

Then Cain and Abel are born, and it says in Genesis 4,2 that Abel became a keeper of sheep and Cain became a tiller of the ground. Then it is said that Cain came before God with a sacrifice of the products he had grown, while Abel came with a lamb. We can assume that Adam and Eve had told their children what and how to sacrifice to God. But Cain brings a sacrifice of the field crops – something God did not look at with pleasure. The question becomes: Why did Cain bring a sacrifice that God had not prescribed?

We have exactly the same problem now a days. People have two ways of worshiping God, the way God has prescribed, and the way people choose. This goes back to Cain and Abel. Although Cain killed his brother, Adam and Eve continued to worship God the right way, and we read that they had another son, Seth. Seth eventually had a son, and we read in Genesis 4,26 the following: … … then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

We now have two ways to worshiping God: 1) Abel’s way, which Seth continued, and which is as God has prescribed, and … 2) Cain’s way which involves choosing for oneself how to worship God.

Why should a lamb without blemish be sacrificed as a sin offering? Why could not the sacrifice that Cain offered be acceptable to God?

God told Adam and Eve that their sin offering would be a lamb without blemish because this pointed to Jesus and His sacrificial death on the cross about 4,000 years later. Even if we do not have to sacrifice animals today, the principle is valid. Our worship should be as God says it should be.

Although Cain knew that God had prescribed a lamb as a sacrifice, he still offered a sacrifice of what he himself had grown. We can assume that Cain was as sincere in his faith and worship as his brother, but Cain chose to bring about the result of the work of his hands, and that is the same as trying to justify himself by his own works. We know from Genesis 3,7.8.21 that this is not good enough. What we have worked to produce are fruits of our labour and it cannot justify us before God. Adam and Eve were also not justified by dressing themselves with fig leaves. It is only what we have not done anything to bring about that we can sacrifice to the Lord, such as a lamb without blemish, which is an image of Christ – the Lamb of God.

What Cain actually did was say to God that I know best what I will sacrifice to you, and what is better than sacrificing what I have struggled to produce. This is how people think today. Instead of sacrificing a sacrifice we have done nothing to bring about, we come with our own righteousness and say to God that I know better than Thou … …

But God does not reject us for that. Before man was created, a plan was made to bring humans back to Him if they should go astray. We find this described in Romans 5,8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners … // … and John says this in his first letter, chapter 4 verse 10: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.

This says it all about God. Even when I did not want to know about God, He loved me, and long before I was born, He made atonement for all my sins with His blood on a cross, so that I would have the opportunity to return to God. This is love divine, unconditional, infinite and boundless love.

God didn’t reject Cain when he sacrificed the fruits of his labour and killed his brother. Instead of rejecting Cain or punishing him in any way, God surprises us again. Cain must bear the consequences of his actions, and when God confronts Cain with what he has done, the text shows that Cain realizes that he has acted wrongly, repents and asks for forgiveness: And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment [is] greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, [that] everyone that findeth me shall slay me, Genesis 4,13-14. As we can see, Cain was afraid that someone would avenge the murder of Abel. Cain simply feared living on the run for the rest of his life. And now God surprises us. God never lets the sinner be left to himself. God loves us just as much no matter what we do, and I can imagine God, who with tears in his eyes says to Cain: The punishment you have inflicted on yourself must stand, but I will set my mark on you so that everyone who sees you will know that you belong to me, and I will avenge myself on the one who kills you … … And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him, (Genesis 4,15).

The great flood.

The course of the great flood: Genesis 4,1-15; 16-24; 25-26.

Although God marked Cain with his mark, Cain took his sins out into the world. In verse 17 it says that Cain lived with his wife. This means that Adam and Eve, in addition to Cain, Abel and Set must also have had daughters, otherwise Cain could not have had a wife. Cain also built the world’s first city (verse 17), which he named Enoc after his first son. And so it went on. Cain’s great-grandson, Lamech, took two wives (verse 19), and said that if Cain were to be avenged seven times by God, Lamech would be avenged seventy-seven times (verses 23-24).

We see an escalation of sins. First, a city is built, something God had not initiated. Then Lamech takes two wives despite the fact that God instituted marriage between one man and one woman, and Lamek undertakes to judge the people by taking revenge on those who do wrong. Judging the people is God’s task.

At the end of this chapter we read that Set is born. And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, [said she], hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD, Genesis 4,25-26.

Here in chapter 4 verses 16 to 22 we get the descendants of Adam in the line of Cain. In chapter 5 we get Adam’s descendants in Set’s line. And the two ways of worshiping God each have their own lineage. We can call them the line of Cain (men) and the line of Set (God).

The wickedness of man and the judgment on them – The Flood: Genesis 6,1 – 9,17.

We read in verse 2 that God’s sons saw that the daughters of men were beautiful. This expression the sons of God has given rise to many interpretations, including that there are fallen angels hiding behind the expression the sons of God. But the explanation is more down to earth than that. We have seen that after the fall, there has been an alternative way of worshiping God. We then first have the way of men to worship God, and it must be among these that we find the daughters of men. Then we have God’s way of worshiping God, and those who worship as God has prescribed are the sons of God.

Now a new problem arise. The men in the Set line – the sons of God – take wives from the line of Cain – the daughters of men. We know from experience that it is easier to give up the right worship to receive the false, than it is to accept the right at the expense of the false. This eventually led to fewer and fewer worshiping God as He has prescribed.

There were also giants on earth, it says in verse 4. This has also led to the explanation that the sons of God must be fallen angels. But it is not true in this case either. If we look at animals that only eat vegetarian food, such as the Galapagos tortoise, they live a long time, and can be several hundred years old and become huge. Everyone who bases their food on a vegetarian diet grows throughout life and only gets bigger and bigger. So it was with the first humans too. They ate only vegetarian food, and many lived up to 1000 years and became according to what Ellen G. White has said twice as tall as we are today.

When we get to verse 4 and beyond in chapter 6, it is just before God intervenes in the story. When humans lived until they were about 1000 years old, they acquired an incredible amount of knowledge, and those who were among the sons of men use this knowledge in the wrong way. They did not serve the Lord but served themselves and their selfish desires. Or as it says in Genesis 6,5: And God saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

Now follow two of the strangest verses in the entire Bible.

Genesis 6,6: And it repenteth the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

Genesis 6,7: And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

This seems to be a contradiction to the claim that God is infallible and loves people no matter what they do. There are many who point to these two verses and say that God cannot possibly be omnipotent and omniscient as He repents having created man.

Let’s look at one of the keywords in the text. The word that in verses 6 and 7 is translated to repenteth in English, is the Hebrew nacham (naw-kham ‘) which means: to be sorry (for something) and to comfort oneself. Maybe it should have been like this in verse 6: God was sorry that He had created man … … and in verse 7 maybe it should have been used: I am sorry that I created them. It is not certain that God repented of what he had done in the way we usually understand the word, but that he was sorry because what he had created in perfection had become evil under the influence of the devil. God wants us to have the best, and the best includes free will to choose what we want to do – and how we want to live. It’s not God’s fault that it went wrong. That blame lies solely on Satan who lured people to fall.

But is there any act of love to eradicate what He had created?

As mentioned, fewer and fewer worshiped God, and in the end, there was only one righteous man on earth, Noah. See what God says about Noah: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD…. … and in the next verse we read that Noah… was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, Genesis 6,8-9. In other words, Noah walked with God. This must be the best certificate a person can get.

In Genesis 5,24 we read this: And Enoch went on in God’s ways: and he was not seen again, for God took him, (Basic English 1964). In the same way that Noah is described, Enoch was also described. Enoch was the great, great, great-grandson of Seth, the seventh from Adam – in the line of Seth who are the sons of God. When we get as far as Noah, there is only a small remnant of God’s people left. God’s dilemma is this. Should everyone walk astray, or should I take care of the little remnant on earth?

God loves everyone, and this is above all doubt, and in 1 John 2,2 it says: He is the offering for our sins; and not for ours only, but for all the world. But each individual must bear the consequences of his actions. As already mentioned, the wages of sin is death. If we have sinned, we deserve to die. But we have an opportunity to escape this punishment. We must turn to God. Our problem is that when man sinned for the first time, an abyss opened up so wide and so deep that no human being can manage to get over this abyss. We are completely helpless in ourselves. But God himself has built a bridge over the abyss that opened up between man and God when Adam and Eve sinned. This bridge is a cross, the cross on which Jesus died. This cross is the bridge over the abyss. To escape the abyss and death we must go to the cross where the Lamb of God was slaughtered for my sake and for your sake. There we can find salvation from the wages of sin because Jesus has already paid the price you and I should have paid. If we sincerely and wholeheartedly turn to Christ, we repent all our sins and ask Him for forgiveness and ask Him to save us, He will do it. Then you go from death to life – from darkness to light. If you do not repent, you are without hope, because the only hope people have is called Jesus Christ.

Now a big question arises: Where is the love of exterminating all who are not righteous in the eyes of God?

If we only look for the answer to this in ourselves, we will never find the answer. Then we will be left in a vacuum and perhaps believe that Satan was right anyway. If we look in the Bible for the answer, there will be an answer that may come as a surprise to us. Let us consider one of the answers that the Bible gives us. Genesis 6,5 states that the Lord saw that … the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

Jesus uses wheat and weeds as a picture of people. The wheat is those who have received Jesus as their Saviour, while the weeds are the wicked. This picture fits well to illustrate the answer to the question we asked just above here. Many of us who have a garden with flower and / or grow vegetables know how weeds invade what we have sown and planted. If we do nothing with the weeds, it will eventually suffocate the plants we have sown and planted. We then have a choice. Should we remove the weeds and let our flowers bring forth beautiful flowers and our vegetable plot bring forth rich fruits, or should we let everything decay? The same issue was raised by God in Noah’s day. Should all people perish, or should the Creator save the little remnant of the faithful who were left? For us it was an easy choice to weed out the weeds, but for God, who had created man who had turned away from Him, it was certainly with a heavy heart that He chose to ´weed out the weeds´. Had evil been allowed to continue to evolve, it would eventually become such unbearable conditions that it would have been better not to be born than to grow up in a world completely devoid of any kind of charity and human warmth. A world where there was only brutality and malicious selfishness. The people who would grow up in such a world would suffer from birth to death, with no hope of anything better.

I think God must have had this in mind when He decided to exterminate people. It hurts to see those you love are suffering. If God were to allow the suffering that had already befallen mankind to continue to develop freely, we could not even in our wildest imagination imagine what the world would have been like. God could sit and watch all mankind perish under indescribable suffering and torment and say: you have deserved this because you have sinned against me. But such a thought is against all God stands for.

Another aspect of this is that God always respects the choices we make. God does not force us to worship Him, but it is His greatest desire that we come to the realization that God is the God of love, and that our desire is to be where God is. When the situation became as it was and the majority of people chose opposition to God instead of being with God, God had to do something. There was only one righteous man left on earth when God decided to intervene in history and save the only one who was righteous from certain doom.

I think we can agree on one thing. If we have children, we surely love them, and we will not force them to like or love something they just hate. So too with God. God had to do nothing about this, but then Satan would have won the battle, and God would forever be to blame for things going wrong. Therefore, God had to make a choice. God would let the righteous live, but it would cost God dearly. All the people that He loved, but who did not love God, they would pay with their lives because they did not want to have anything with their Creator to do. I would argue that what God did is a token of His infinite and boundless love. But it was hardly with a light heart that God did it, for as it is written in Jeremiah 29,11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. But when man would not hear, they must bear the consequence of their actions. And in the time of Noah, the actions of the people were so cruel that God said that enough is enough.

As we read above, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6,8). Noah receives a commission from God. He have to proclaim the coming judgment and build an ark, and all who repent from their evil deeds will have a place in the ark on the day God sends the flood upon the earth. Noah builds the ark, and according to tradition, he spends 120 years doing this. The tradition is based on Genesis 6,3, which says: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years. I do not think this is specifically aimed at humans before the flood, nor that these 120 years are the time Noah spends building the ark, (see Human life expectancy a little further down). But this is my opinion.

What we certainly know about Noah and the construction of the ark is that Noah was born in 2948 BC. and that he was 600 years old (Genesis 7,6) when the flood came in the year 2348 BC. We also know that Noah preached repentance and judgment throughout the time he built the ark, whether it was 120 years or not. Part of the message was that it would rain, something it had not done above the earth until this time, because God had arranged it so that the water rose from the earth like water vapor or mist at night and watered plants and trees. Sadly no one took notice of what Noah preached. Everyone was busy with theirs, which consisted of eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, (Matthew 24,38). They lived a promiscuous life and did not care at all about this crazy boat builder who preached God’s judgment. Why should the people of that day listen to Noah telling them that the earth was going to die in water caused by a phenomenon they had never seen, rain? It sounds very familiar that the people  in Noah´s time would not listen to him preaching of an imminent judgment. Nor do people today listen to such preaching. Only those who can identify themselves with Noah believe in an imminent judgment.

But the day came, it started to rain, and Noah and his family went into the ark, and the others stood outside and mocked Noah and his family, the ark was closed, and it was still 7 days, so the locks of heaven and earth opened, and all who had received God’s message of salvation were saved, while all who did not perish in the flood.

Here a new important question arises: Was it the fault of the people or the fault of God that they perished in the flood?

As I see it, God did what he could to make people repent. Had everyone repented, the earth would have been spared the great flood, and humans could continue to live with their Creator. Had some of the people repented, they would have found a place in the ark Noah built and been saved. We know from the Bible that some of God’s judgments and prophecies are given on conditions, (see Jonah 3,6-10). But they refused to listen to Noah’s preaching. Not even when the first raindrops began to fall did they repent. No matter how long Noah and his three sons spent building the ark, it must have been many years, and each day was a living testimony from Noah’s family to the rest of the world.Turn away from your evil ways, receive salvation in the word of God, join the ark when it is finished, and the rain begins to fall on the earth. But they did not listen to Noah, for they were only busy with their evil plans and chores.

Human life expectancy.

We understand from the texts in Genesis that man was created to live forever and was given access to the tree of life (Genesis 2,9), and in verse 17 we see that God says that if man breaks God’s commandments, he will die. Death was something that would not happen if people did everything God said. But despite being able to spend a lot of time with their Creator face to face, they were eventually exposed to the devil’s machinations. He managed to lure them to fall and death came into the world. With sin also came disease and degeneration.

After men sinned, they were denied access to the tree of life. Because of sin, Adam died at the age of 930 (Genesis 5,5). The one who lived the longest of those recorded in the Bible was Metusalah, who was 969 years old (Genesis 5,27). Noah was 950 years old, (Genesis 9,9). Even before the flood, God says in Genesis 6,3 that man’s life expectancy should not be more than 120 years. This is not something that happens right away, and it takes many generations before the maximum life expectancy has dropped to 120 years. But it is only after the flood that we see that life expectancy drops dramatically. As mentioned, Noah was 950 years old. Shem, Noah’s son, was 600, Abraham was 175, Moses was 120, and Joshua was 110.

The interesting thing is that there is no evidence that any human being in the last three thousand years has become older than 120 years old! Here it is appropriate to insert Genesis 6,3: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.

After the great flood, Noah lived for 350 years until he died 2006 year after creation. Tarah, Abraham’s father, was born in 1878 after creation, and may have known Noah, as Abraham may have done, he was born 58 years before Noah died. We can at least assume that they had first-hand knowledge of both Noah and the great flood. It is possible that the longing that Abraham felt before God called him was a result of Noah’s preaching after the great flood. When we get so far in time after the flood, sin had again taken hold of people, and God must do something.

God calls Abraham.

What was the purpose of God calling Abraham? As mentioned, sin had once again taken hold of almost all people. Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod, had started a new rebellion against God by founding the first cities after the great flood, among them was Babel, later known as Babylon. Here the people tried to build a tower so they could escape a new flood when it came, and thus save themselves. However, God had made a new covenant with mankind: And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that [is] with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth, Genesis 9,9-11.

So God had promised never again to destroy the earth with a flood. Therefore, He chose a man who was after the heart of God to be the ancestor of a people who would preach the gospel to the people of the earth. The choice fell on Abram.

Chapter 11 Genesis concludes by saying that Tarah, Abram’s father, took his family with him and moved out of Ur in Chaldea, about 160 miles (250 kilometres) southeast of Babylon. They settled in Karan, located in Mesopotamia and about 470 miles (750 kilometres) northwest of Babylon. When they got there, Abram was called by God: … Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing, Genesis 12,1-2.

God asked Abram to leave his family, which was very unusual at that time. The sons lived with their fathers, who was the head of the family, all their lives. But God asks Abram to leave his family. Now Abram is doing something that should be an example for all people to follow at all times. He listens to God, and without discussions he takes his possessions, his people and his nephew Lot and embarks on a journey that he does not know where would end. Abram did as God said. He did not hesitate, did not ask to finish what he was doing, but he let go of everything he had in his hands and obeyed God immediately. Do we do this when God calls us? Do we trust God as much as Abram did? Are we willing to separate from the world, friends and family when God calls us?

Eventually Abram comes to Canaan, and then the Lord appears to Abram again and says: Unto thy seed I will give this land, Genesis 12,7. But Abram did not build a city or a house. He preferred to live as a nomad and move around with his herd to places where there was good grazing. After a few years, both Abram and Lot had acquired such large herds of animals that they could not use the same pastures. Abram, who was the eldest, had a natural right to choose first in situations that arose. Now, however, Abram shows his state of mind and asks Lot to choose where he would settle down, then Abram should go the other way. This is a state of mind that reflects God. Lot chose to settle in Sodom: … … And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we [be] brethren. [Is] not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if [thou wilt take] the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if [thou depart] to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it [was] well-watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, [even] as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other, Genesis 13,8-11.

Sodom and Gomorrah.

In chapter 18 of Genesis, we first read that Abraham is visited by three men. These were Jesus and two of the angels of the Lord. It says in verse 2 that Abraham bowed to the ground, without this being corrected by these men. It also appears from the conversation between them that it was a divine visit Abraham and Sarah received. Now Abraham shows his heart and faith in God when the Lord tells Abraham that he will go down and see if the cry of complaint that has reached heaven is true. Now Abraham asks the Lord to save Sodom and the sister cities if there were righteous with the unrighteous and is assured that the cities will be saved only there are ten righteous there. Then the heavenly messengers went down to Sodom, and we know that the cities were destroyed.

But where is God’s infinite and boundless love in such an act?

Now we find the same pattern here as in the story of Noah. The two angels who entered Sodom meet Lot, who invites them to his home because it was too dangerous for strangers to stay out of the city at night. Here in Sodom and Gomorrah and their sister cities they had taken sin to new heights, and we have words in our language to this day that refer to what happened in these cities, sodomy and sodomite. Lot wanted to save the strangers from being sexually abused by the perverted people who lived there.

The angels soon explain their mission, and ask Lot to take his entire family, wife, two daughters and two sons-in-law, and get out of the city and not look back. But where your heart is, there is your destiny. Lot’s sons-in-law would rather be in the city, but Lot, his wife and two daughters left the city in a hurry. Outside the city, on her way up into the mountains, Lot’s wife turns to look at all the wealth she had left behind. Her heart was not with God, but with Mammon. She was turned into a pillar of salt.

Once again, the question becomes: Why does God do this to the people He has created? And once again, the answer is that God wanted to protect those who were faithful to His Creator. The perversity was so great in these cities that the most degrading sexual perversions had become normal, and a life was not worth anything, and one was killed for a small piece of bread.

God calls Moses and Israel is freed from slavery.

God kept his promise to Abraham and gave him a son with Sarah when he was 100 years old. Eventually Isaac has a son, Jacob. Jacob is later given a new name by God, Israel, and when Israel (Jacob) was old, a drought came over the land, and they had to move to Egypt in order to survive. There they were enslaved after the death of Joseph, the second youngest of the sons of Israel. This slavery was prophesied to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. It is true that Exodus 12,40 states: Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, [was] four hundred and thirty years, (King And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they were sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years James). This is not true. In Genesis 15,13 it says four hundred years, while in Exodus 12,40 it says four hundred and thirty years. It also says that Israel should be slaves in Egypt at this time. That’s not true either. They were enslaved after Joseph’s death, and he died in the year 1635 BC. Israel was taken out of captivity in 1445 BC. In other words, they were slaves for 190 years. Does the Bible have a problem here, or is it another explanation?

In the English edition of the Septuagint it says the following in Exodus 12,40: And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they were sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years. This means that the time Abraham and his descendants lived in Canaan and Egypt together will be 430 years. In the Norwegian King James edition of the Bible Egypt and Canaan is added as a commentary.

Why should the children of Israel be slaves in Egypt for so many years? Could God be pleased that the people He Himself had chosen to be His special people were to be enslaved to pagan Egypt? To us it makes no sense, but the Bible has answers to this as well, as to everything else we wonder. The Bible is a wonderful book. Let us go to Genesis 15,16 and read what it says: But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full. The reason Israel cannot return to Canaan is twofold, 1) The Amorites who lived there had not reached the limit of their wickedness. In other words, there was hope for the Amorites, and 2) the God of love would give them an opportunity to repent. God wants all humans to repent of their wickedness, and so he gave the Amorites a couple of hundred years so that they could repent. Jonah prophesied, as we know to the king of Nineveh, that God would destroy the city if they did not repent. The king and all the people turned to God and God spared Nineveh. God would have done the same with the Amorites if they had turned to Him, but instead they continued their evil way, and one day the iniquity of the Amorites was full. The Amorites had all the time Israel was in Egypt to turn to God, but they would not.

When the iniquity of the Amorites was full, God intervened in the history on behalf of His people. Arranges the situation so that the Hebrew boy Moses is trained at the court of Pharaoh as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses escapes from Egypt after killing an Egyptian, and ends up in Midian with the priest Jethro, and marries one of his daughters. Here Moses is trained as a shepherd. When the time came, God sent Moses to Egypt to deliver his people.

The Exodus.

It was anything but an easy task for Moses to liberate Israel, and God did not make it any easier for Moses when He told him the following: … … When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go, Exodus 4,21. That God will harden Pharaoh’s heart is repeated three times, in chapter 7 verse 3, in chapter 14 and verses 4 and 17. Once again we encounter something that can amaze and surprise us humans. Why should God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Does God play with Moses and his people?

Here, too, it is God’s love for all people that is behind God’s ways. God wanted the Egyptians, led by Pharaoh, to turn to the God of Israel when they saw the miracles Moses did, but the proud Pharaoh would not repent. We know that many Egyptians joined Israel when they finally left Egypt.

Then the plagues begin to fall upon Egypt, and all who live within the borders of Egypt are affected by the first three plagues, including God’s people. This is also a picture of an event that will take place in the last days before Jesus returns to deliver his people. Before Moses is allowed to unleash the fourth plague, the Lord says to Pharaoh through Moses this: And I will put a division* between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be, Exodus 8,23. * I make a difference means literally putting a ransom in between (see also Exodus 9,4; 11,7). The last seven plagues that fell upon Egypt did not affect God’s people.

God will always try to get the wicked to repent, but if they do not, He will not force them. Then they must bear the consequences of their deeds. It was surely with great sorrow and tears in His eyes that God did what He did at the Red Sea. But when we humans put God to choice, we do not always understand why God chooses the way He does. Many will point the finger at the text in Exodus chapter 14 and say that God is vengeful and a murderer, but they look blindly at those who perish and forget those who were saved by God. At last it is God’s love that permeates everything God does. That we do not always understand God’s actions does not mean that God is a cruel God but shows us how little sense we really have. In Isaiah 55,8-9, God says something about just this: 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. This is words we should consider all of us as one.

After Israel crossed the Red Sea, a 40-year trek began in the wilderness. Then they will take in possession the promised land, Canaan, and this will happen through wars. Israel was told to exterminate those who lived there. It does not sound like God is the God of love, but we must put it in the right context. God’s people had just been freed from slavery in a foreign land where they worshiped a whole host of pagan gods. The people who lived in Canaan worshiped many pagan gods. It was to give his people the opportunity to grow strong in the Lord and to protect His people from a rapid decline that God said Israel should exterminate all who lived there.

Now followed a period of about 800 years in which Gods people had periods in which all the people worshiped the Lord, and periods in which there was decay. For 400 years they had judges and prophets leading them, then they wanted a king to lead as the other peoples around them had, and still there were good and less good periods in the history of Israel. This continued until Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judea and led some of the people into captivity in the year 605 BC. The reason for this was that the sins of the people had become many. But through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord says that the punishment will be temporary. They will be allowed to return home to their country.

Israel, or the ten-tribe kingdom, had been conquered by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in the year 721 BC. and then almost all were taken captive beyond the river, (= Euphrates), and since then no one knows where they have disappeared.

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