04 July 2013

Is God always "gentle"?

by Dan Phillips

Thought-provoker question: who was required to instruct the Israelite kids about what to do once they entered the Land (Num. 15)?

Thought-provoker answer: their parents. Their parents who had lamented that God had brought them into the desert to kill them and those very children (Num. 14:1-3). Their parents who had refused to trust and obey God by entering the Land (Num. 14:4-11). Their parents who, as discipline, had been doomed to die in the desert (Num. 14:22-23, 28-35). Parents who would have to answer the question, "But why won't you be there with me?" over and over again.

Those parents.

Thought-provoking thoughts: God really, really doesn't "get" unbelief; and He really, really doesn't always mollycoddle those who have every reason to know better.


"Gentle"? Relatively, always. Extraordinarily, often.

In mollycoddling unbelief?

Don't count on it.

Dan Phillips's signature


Paul Reed said...

God really, really doesn't "get" unbelief.

And by putting "get" in quotes, I think you mean "tolerate", as opposed to "understand". Many Christians have this wrong idea that God tolerates things that they do, and I think your sentence really points this out. But just to be further clear on the meaning of "get", the instant God created man, He knew every action we would take. We can predict people's actions pretty well, so imagine how good God can do it. (If he didn't know what people would do in advance, He wouldn't be God.) Which always confused me on how God could be angry and yet in control. Excellent point on how God doesn't sympathize with ours sins. As if He has to be gentle with us. Just because sin is normal to us, doesn't mean it's normal to God.

DJP said...

Paul, what you say isn't at all wrong, but I actually intend a slightly different nuance.

I mean that we could never say to God, in any form, "Well, I just don't believe what you said here" (we're always much more -- what is the word? oh yes -- nuanced than that), and expect God to respond "Oh yes, that makes total sense to Me, I absolutely see the good reasons for disbelieving Me, and I'm okay with that."

Not totally different from what you said, just a slightly different seasoning. Unbelief isn't reasonable, in God's world.

Which is the only real world there is.

Paul Reed said...


I completed understand, and thanks for the followup. Your way is better-stated than mine.

jmb said...

But...but...God has to ALWAYS be gentle.

And do we really know what "unbelief" means?

The other day, in response to a comment I made on another blog, someone wrote that there's no consensus on what sin is. Also, that there's no consensus on what the Bible says about homosexual relationships.

I think I'm going to start suggesting to people that they tear out the pages of the Bible with which they don't agree. They might as well. It must be okay, because Jefferson did it. (I guess I shouldn't be hard on Jefferson today.)

DJP said...

Is there a consensus on the importance of consensus in re. Biblical doctrine?

As to the second: that's what homosexual actor Ian McKellan does.

jmb said...

Right. To Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms.

Morris Brooks said...

Gentle, as in being long-suffering, yes. Gentle, as in being merciful, yes. Gentle, as in being instructional, yes. Gentle, as in being faithful, yes. Gentle, as in overlooking our times of ignorance, yes. Gentle, in dealing with those who blatantly reject Him when they know what they know about Him is true ....absolutely not. (Exodus 34:6-7, Hebrews 6:4-8, 12:16-17)

Clifford Richardson said...

I apologize if this response is silly, but that's how I think...

I'm reminded of a statement by Dawkins (pretty sure it was Dawkins) where he's asked what he would ask God if it turns out God does exist. His answer was something like, "I'd ask him why he took such great pains to hide himself."

I've always been intrigued by this because it comes up over and over among secularists.

But then I think the best answer for this bizarre, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees, question is an out of context quote from Michelangelo, not the painter, the turtle.

question: where's the evidence for God?

answer: you're standing on it, dude.

Unbelief is so unreasonable because the truth is so incredibly obvious and ubiquitous that many choose to ignore it. I guess it says that in Romans, doesn't it.

DJP said...

Yes. God is so obviously and immensely true that the unbeliever can't even formulate an argument against Him without assuming His existence.

busdriver4jesus said...

But just on a technical note on this specific situation, wasn't that why there was a "Second Law" given to the generation who entered Canaan? Because the stubborn folks who came out of Egypt would be unfaithful to train their kids too?

Sir Aaron said...

But, but God is loving...

SLIMJIM said...

Thank you for this

Harley Schwartz said...

Each time I read this post it chills me. Think of Moses too, having to write down his own sins with his own hand, even the one that banned him from the Promised Land as part of unalterable Scripture. Once he could speak face to face with God and change His mind, but then God would not tolerate his requests concerning the Promised Land.