Upset with God?

Joshua 7 accounts the trouble Israel fell into because of Achan’s sin and what they ended up doing about it.

Do you remember Achan’s sin? He stole some silver, a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and a bar of gold from the city of Jericho. God had absolutely and clearly forbidden them to take anything from the city because it was all devoted to HIM, as all firstfruits should be. Achan directly disobeyed the word of God and stole those things, hiding them under his tent.

Thirty-six Israelites died in a small battle they should have easily won against Ai, all because of Achan’s sin.

Joshua was mad because God had let them lose such a small battle–what would the people of the land think when they found out about it? They would be emboldened to fight against Israel, and God’s name would not be glorified.

But God told Joshua someone had sinned, and until Joshua removed the sin from the camp, God would not be with them; they would continue to lose.

So Joshua and the Israelites discovered Achan, heard his confession, dug up the contraband, and then stoned him AND his wife AND his kids AND his animals. Then they burned them with fire and heaped a huge pile of stones over their bodies.

Yes, that’s exactly what God wanted them to do.

Here is where we hear indictments against God. Shocked individuals cry, “How could God allow such a thing?!” Perhaps they could imagine how God could hold Achan accountable for his own sin, but how could God hold it against the whole family? There is no indication that the family knew what Achan had done, and surely we wouldn’t hold little children responsible.

Before we continue thinking about God, what else might we learn from this account?

1. Sin is serious. We are apt to label our own sins as “mistakes” or “issues,” downplaying and trivializing them. How often do we honestly look at what we have done and use God’s language? I have sinned and “transgressed [God’s] covenant that [He] commanded” me (Joshua 7.11). Call it a lie. Call it stealing. Call it fornication. Call it adultery. Call it unfaithfulness. Call it pride and arrogance. Call it what it is, and recognize how serious it is.

2. Sin never hurts only me. One of Satan’s great lies is this: “It’s okay because it doesn’t really hurt anyone else.” This is total nonsense. The teenage junky uses this logic, while her parents pray and mourn and worry at home. The watcher of pornography uses this logic, while the ladies in his life suffer because of his warped way of viewing women. The drunkard uses this logic, right up until he is charged for vehicular homicide. Achan probably thought, “It won’t hurt anyone…” Thirty-six men and his whole family died as a direct result.

But back to God’s actions. Instead of sitting in judgment over God and questioning His decisions and actions, the healthy way of reading Scripture is to attempt to understand God and how we should relate to Him.

1. God knows all the details. He knew Achan’s heart. He knew what his kids would turn out to be, had they grown up. He knew the wife’s heart.

2. God has all authority, and He makes rules for us to follow. We don’t get to question His authority; neither can we disobey without consequences. Every day men and women flaunt His authority because they don’t like God’s rules, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not fully true!

3. God doesn’t act like you or me. Sometimes God acts much more severely than I would. But most of the time He acts much less severely! When we truly understand sin and how it attacks and spurns our Creator, we realize that He has a right to kill each and every one of us because we have all disobeyed His rules. Why does He put up with us? Why does He let us live? Once we come to grips with that, then we see His harsh judgments upon some sinners is totally justified.

Why are folks continually upset with God? Either they don’t understand His complete authority over them or they don’t agree with His assessment of their sins. People reject God because they don’t like Him.

What about you?

The Shack: Does It Accurately Describe God?

The ShackYou’ve probably heard of (or possibly have read) The Shack, a best-selling novel which came out in 2007, written by Canadian author William P. Young. The book was published amidst a cloud of controversy, and the arguments continue because the movie (see the trailer) will be released early next year (March 3, 2017).

Many “main-stream Christian” groups are promoting The Shack as a wonderful and fresh portrayal of God’s nature and character.

Does The Shack accurately portray God? Is it helpful in understanding His character, purpose, and plan for us?

Belinda Elliott defends the book on the Christian Broadcasting Network:

“I just couldn’t find much in the book that I would consider heretical…

“The author portrays the Trinity in a unique way. I understand that some readers will be uncomfortable with this portrayal, especially with God The Father as an African American woman and the Holy Spirit as a mysterious Asian woman named Sarayu. This depiction is one of the things that many critics have deemed heretical. Some have gone as far as to cite these two characters as the promotion of ‘goddess worship’ or a feminist God. But I found these to be not only interesting artistic choices, but actually enlightening in a spiritual sense as well.”

God's RevelationReally? Portraying God as a woman doesn’t smack at all of the heretical?

James B. De Young, ThD, wrote a challenge to The Shack entitled Burning Down “The Shack.” He claims The Shack is greatly deceptive and exposes William P. Young’s worldview as a universalist:

“I have known the author of The Shack, Paul Young, for more than a dozen years. In 2004, Paul Young wrote a lengthy document in which he rejected his evangelical faith and embraced universalism. I expose these in my book. He said then:

  • that evangelical faith and its teaching about judgment makes God “grossly unjust”;
  • that “Jesus is a million times more vicious and vindictive than Pharaoh, Nero, or Hitler put together”;
  • that Jesus Christ is “not the Savior from sins”;
  • that Jesus died “a failure and in vain and never saved anyone”;
  • thus Jesus “is not even a good man but a liar, a rogue, and a deceiving rascal”;
  • that “Calvary is a farce, a travesty, and a sham.”

“Young began work on a novel proclaiming universalism for his children. Then three years later Young rewrote the fiction and published it as The Shack, in part his autobiography. Since its publication I have sought to expose the aberrant theology on a web site, in various articles, and most recently, in my book Burning Down “The Shack” by WND Books. In my introduction I cite the many statements that Young wrote in 2004 and compare them with the claims made in his novel, The Shack. The parallels with 2004 are several:

  • “God puts himself on our human level and limits himself”;
  • “When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human”;
  • “Although Jesus is fully God, he has never drawn upon his nature as God to do anything”;
  • “God cannot act apart from love”;
  • “I don’t need to punish people for sin”;
  • The Father and Jesus were crucified together;
  • “God cannot send any of his children to an eternity of hell just because they sin against him”;
  • “mercy triumphs over justice because of love”;
  • Jesus is “a path of reconciliation”;

“These are just some of the distortions of Christian truth that Young puts into the mouth of his characters speaking as the Trinity.”

Jesus the BabyI cringe and shudder whenever a human being (man or woman) attempts to play God in any way. The only human who has a right to show us God in the flesh is Jesus Christ, and He has already done it! ONLY GOD has a right to tell us who He is and what He is like, and He has told us in many passages.

Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34.5-7)

In the same context, God both extends mercy to His people and judges those who persist in sin. He does not universally save everyone despite what we do, as The Shack teaches. On the contrary, He judges, and Jesus assured unbelievers of an eternal punishment (Matt. 24.45-51; 25.30, 46). John wrote in his Apocalypse about the final judgment, a lake of fire (Rev. 20.11-15). The Bible gives no room for universalism but instead commands all men everywhere to repent because of the coming judgment (Acts 17.30-31).

The Bible depicts God as masculine. God is a Father, a Husband, a Shepherd, a King. Our post-modern, feminist world cannot accept a God depicted as a male, but neither can it accept the Bible’s clearly-defined roles between the sexes. They would have an androgynous god, but the God of the Bible does not speak of Himself that way. We do not pray to our mother, but to our Father. The church is not Jesus’ husband, but His bride. Any confusion on this aspect of God’s character IS blatant and terrible heresy, and woe to those who cannot see it and teach otherwise!

Be careful! Don’t accept man’s images of God, which are only idols; only settle for what God says about Himself. Once we start attempting to find “fresh” ways of communicating who God is, we have stepped outside of our rights. He created us; we have no right to create Him or attempt to modify / explain His character outside of what He has already given!

If you love the divine image from The Shack, my friend, you love a man-made and impotent god. She is most certainly not the real deal.