THE RIGHT PLACE FOR NOW
God is love, and our existence is evidence of this fact. So in creating us, He has said, “I love you.” If our response, “I love You, too,” that we would make to our Creator is to be sincere, then we must have the freedom not to make the statement. We must be able to rebel, to sin, to morally corrupt ourselves to the lowest level of sinful degradation. If we are truly free-moral beings, then we must have the option to turn our backs on our Creator; to live and to die in eternal extinction. Unfortunately, such is the choice of most people to turn their backs on the God of love. Though sad, the option for eternal doom is inherent in our being truly free-moral individuals. It is not that we inherently sin. It is that within inherently free-will people there is the possibility of making sinful decisions. And we all make such decisions. And when the norm of society chooses to make bad decisions, then we end up with the condition of society that is explained in Genesis 6:5.
But you might ask, “If God is love, and thus had to created a truly free moral individual who could go wrong, then why would He even create us in the first place?” The answer is that He had to. It is simply the nature of love. Love must love something, else it is not love. A loving God cannot exist alone in eternity with a simple proclamation that He is love. Love is meaningless without action. And since love had to create, then love also had to provide a means by which the loved could perpetually exist in the presence of a loving God. This too was a loving act on the part of our God of love.
This brings us to questions concerning the environment in which God placed us, an environment wherein we can go wrong. We can become unloving. So here we are, in the best of all possible environments for the existence of a truly free-moral individual with all the possibilities to love as our Creator, but with the possibility to go incredibility wrong.
Ours is an environment where choices can be made between good and evil. It is an environment in which we can be held accountable for our moral fallibility. It is even an environment where we pay the consequences for violating both moral and physical laws. And yet in all the evil and suffering of this environment, we can think of no better environment for the existence of a truly free moral person to make choices of either good or evil.
We must keep in mind that we are not alone in this environment. We must never forget that in this environment there are other individuals who also have the right to choose. And some of those in our environment, as we, also make bad choices. For example, it is often the desire of a free moral being to exalt himself above or against his fellow man. He seeks to rule over his fellow man. All these desires define the nature of a free-moral person. These desires also answer the question as to why evil and suffering exist in the best of all possible environments in which a truly free-moral being must exist.
In all our consideration of these matters, we must not make the mistake of blaming the physical environment for the bad moral choices we make. When we say the “best of all possible environments,” we mean that this must be an environment wherein a physical being can function with the opportunity to go morally wrong. And for this created physical being to exist, there must be physical laws that govern its existence. And if these laws are violated, then there are consequences that are usually immediate. If one jumped from a ten-story building, he would immediately discover the consequences of his violation of the law of gravity upon his arrival at the foundation of the first story. The problem comes when others suffer when one violates a physical law of this best of all possible environments. A speeding vehicle can kill others than the irresponsible driver of the speeding car.
A. Freedom and destruction:
Now we come to a true understanding of the historical statement of Genesis 6:5. God created man and placed him in the best of all possible environments to make moral decisions. Because it is not in man to create his own moral codes that are constant and universal, God delivered to man eternal standards of moral conduct by which he must walk in order to prevent moral chaos (See Hb 1:1). But as the centuries went by after creation, evil prevailed over good as man as a whole sought to walk after his own moral standards. It came to the following moral low that is stated in Genesis 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gn 6:5). And if you know the rest of the story, only Noah and his family made it out alive from this moral self-destruction. Movies are made with this theme.
It is imperative for the biblical historian to understand the purpose of the flood of Noah’s day in order to understand God’s work with man throughout history. So many questions are answered. Particularly, we ask concerning the existence of the nation of Israel, and then, the existence of the church. The existence of both are related to one another in reference to what Genesis 6:5 explains concerning the nature of free-moral individuals who choose to live outside the will of their Creator.
In all the mess of sin, the cross of the Son of God reveals that it was not fiendish of God to create man. It does so by His offer of a plan of escape to free-moral individuals He knew would go wrong in sin. The cross also explains the purpose for which God created man in the first place. Only in the cross do we have answers concerning why we are here and where we are going. And only in the cross do we discover that this world was created for a specific purpose. If we miss this purpose, then we will live with a host of unanswered questions, if not a life of despair. We will also be faced with the accusations of atheists as to why we would believe in a God who would create that which He would eventually have to condemn to an unfortunate end. (Noble Student Research: www.africainternational.org, Biblical Research Library, Book 25, chapter 5.)
B. Preservation through a nation:
If it is not possible for those of society to save themselves and escape moral degradation that comes by living outside the moral bounds of God’s law—and it is not—then God will work through those who walk by faith in Him to accomplish His eternal purpose for all that now exists. Though societies go wrong, individuals can go right. And right living individuals can exist in the midst of societies that have gone wrong. Noah did it. God chose to work through the fathers of faith that began with Noah, extended through Jacob, and then through the descendants of Jacob in the children of Israel. God continues to work through individual heroes of faith in order to accomplish His plan for His creation.
Israel was chosen out of the people of the world in order to preserve a segment of society, and a moral environment for individual heroes of faith until the cross of the incarnate Son of God. Israel was chosen to fullfil promises to Abraham, our father of faith, until the Blessing that would come through him could redeem those who walk by faith (See Gn 12:1-4). The nation of Israel was chosen through Abraham even before its existence. God made this choice through Abraham in order to create a “spiritual Israel” after fleshly Israel as a nation was dissolved into the One who would be the Messiah for all people who walked by faith. Therefore, Israel, as a social environment for the remnant of the faithful, was only a means to an end. When the end came—Christ—then the means was termination, which termination included the special covenant relationship that God had with the nation of Israel. The faithful have since the cross moved again into a worldwide moral environment as it was from creation to national Israel. God is still focusing on individuals of faith who now make up the remnant of His people in this worldwide environment. (Do not forget this point for later discussions.)
It might be said that God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to continue His purpose for the creation of the world, but ended up with Israel, a stiffnecked nation of people. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were men of great faith in a world environment that had morally gone wrong.
The cultural environment of Israel was as God identified them to Moses: “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiffnecked people” (Ex 32:9; 33:3-5). Even Moses confessed to God, “… go among us, for this is a stiffnecked people …” (Ex 34:9). And in reference to God giving Israel the land of Palestine, Moses stated to the Israelites, “Do not say in your heart …, ‘Because of my righteouness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land ….’ Not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart, do you go to posses their land … for you are a stiffnecked people” (Dt 9:4-6). But God used their “stiffnecked culture” to preserve a segment of humanity in order to bring His Redeemer into the world. If He could get a stiffnecked people headed in the right direction, then at least a remnant of faithfuls would survive until the fullness of time and the revelation of the Redeemer.
God used Israel to drive out the morally wicked who possessed the land “in order that He might accomplish,” as Moses said, “the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Dt 9:5). As we said, God chose the fathers of faith, but ended up with a stiffnecked people in order to bring the Savior of the world to those who have chosen to walk by faith. Nevertheless, Israel was used as a vehicle through whom God would seek to accomplish His purpose for the creation of the world. We learn something in God’s use of Israel that identifies how He works today. He can use the worst case scenario of this world in order to accomplish His mission. We must not think for a moment that the wickedness of man can in any way detour the plans of God for the purpose of this world and the destiny of His children.