If God did everything you wanted, and was your personal “genie” what good would that be? You could have EVERYTHING, but you’d be in it for you. Our relationship with God isn’t about us, it’s about Him. When we get our eyes off of who He really is, and start making Him into the image we want, we stop following the true God and worship the idol of our hearts. God isn’t mean. God is loving and just. Those are not contrary thoughts, but rather amazing attributes of an infinite God!
How often has the question been asked, “How could a loving God send people to hell?” And if we look at God as a genie who magically gives positive things to us, our own wish-giver, then indeed, that would be a valid question. But in so doing, we make God into the image of what we want, rather than worshiping Him as He is, thus making a false God. So, in that question, what people really ask is, “Why isn’t your God the same as the god I worship in my mind?”
It’s a subtle difference, but one of ultimate consequence. If we ignore God’s holiness and justice, we fail to see Him as He is. When we discount God’s character, it leads us away from Him. As we go away from Him, it brings us to act apart from the knowledge of the true God, and ultimately leads us to sin and judgment.
Such is the case displayed in our readings today. Abimelech took the throne that was not rightfully his, and God allowed it for three years. But after that, God did bring judgment, and ultimately, Abimelech suffered a painful death. Was God “mean” in bringing this judgment? The Bible answers that question: “Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren.” Abimelech’s wickedness brought the judgment on him, not an arbitrary vengeance of God.
In Acts 13, there was a false prophet named Barjesus. One of the leaders at Paphos named Sergius Paulus who wanted to hear the message that Paul and Barnabus were preaching. This man was ASKING to hear the Gospel! Yet the false prophet, Barjesus, or Elymas, endeavored to keep him from hearing the Gospel. This man received judgement from the Lord through Paul in that he was made blind for a time and people had to lead him around. Was God mean? The Scripture answers that: “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” Because he would not stop hindering the truth of the Gospel, he received the judgment. He brought it on himself.
The whole chapter of Judges 22 reads like an angry letter UNLESS you read verse 5. The declaration of judgment is wholly preventable if they will only obey as they are told. However, “…if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.”
So the question that we ask is, “Was God really mean? Or did he simply punish disobedient and wicked men?” Indeed, God offers good things, but wickedness must be judged.
A quick glance at Mark 8 shows that Christ does have compassion and sees the needs of people. But He also sees the hearts of people. When he saw the multitudes hungry, he performed a miracle to feed them. When the Pharisees sought a miracle to test Him, he did no miracle. When we look to God to fulfill our own desires and to see what we can get out of Him, we are in it for the wrong reason. Jesus alludes to this at the end of the chapter when He said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”