After acquiring food, clothing, and shelter, one of our most basic human drives is to preach. Sermonizing absolutely saturates our world and moral expression motivates just as intensely as almost any other human need. For example, when Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23, 2019, she preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. She told the delegates that they were allowing entire ecosystems to collapse and many people to suffer and die. “And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth,” she said. “How dare you!” She said her generation would be holding up scientific facts and watching the leaders.
And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.[i]
Passions ran high as many people rallied behind her and many others made counter-arguments. But those arguments soon had to compete with many other issues that roil the world with judgments and accusations and blame—issues such as economic disparity, religious liberty, political autonomy, etc.
Our love for passing judgment also saturates the entertainment industry as Hollywood feeds our desire not just to laugh or to cry, but also to judge. For example, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, included a storyline about a cruel, greedy, sadistic dinosaur killer named Ken Wheatley. He shoots a man with tranquilizers and then abandons him. He threatens to murder a medical biologist if she doesn’t save a dinosaur that has been shot. He pulls teeth from live dinosaurs to make into a neckless. Why would we find such a character entertaining? As movie reviewer Kenneth Morefield explains it:
The purpose of such relentlessly underlined psychopathy is no mystery to anyone who has sat through a summer action movie in the last 20 years. He’s being marked for execution, and the movie wants us to know it is okay to cheer when he finally gets what’s coming. And it works. The audience with whom I saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom chuckled gleefully as Wheatley entered the cage of a particularly vicious dinosaur genetically altered to be larger and more aggressive than its ancestors of past movies. When it wakes up, as we knew it would, and bites his arm off, as we knew it would, the camera lingers on his agonizing final moments.[ii]
Morefield simply observes that we thrive on passing judgment. “We become addicted to the pleasures of violent retribution, and we come to need the fear and loathing in order to justify it.”
Although we love to say, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” we also love to judge people for being judgmental. It seems our appetite for justice is absolutely insatiable. Such a need for justification can of course also finds its roots in many religious traditions as priests and pastors and imams and gurus teach about the source of evil in the world, sometimes even calling their followers to take up arms. And there is often a cooperation with political movements, as when intercultural and interethnic strife expresses itself in religious zeal.
And then there are those who find religion itself to be the root of evil. In May of 2020 Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker tweeted, “Belief in an afterlife is a malignant delusion, since it devalues actual lives and discourages action that would make them longer, safer, and happier.” In like fashion, Karl Marx declared that “religion is the opiate of the people”. No one can deny that divine authority trumps all others. Nor could we deny that, as Baron John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834–1902) put it, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Whether that power takes the form of political authority or moral authority might not make any difference. “Power is sweet,” wrote atheist British philosopher Bertrand Russell. “It is a drug, the desire for which increases with a habit.”[iii]
So in the midst of all this moral turmoil in the world, where is God? And why does he allow so much evil to flourish?
Throughout the Bible many, many people ask God this question. In fact, one of the oldest books in the Bible is about a man named Job who said that he wanted to meet God in a court of law, claiming that he would win in a lawsuit. But he himself didn’t want to bring a lawsuit against God. Instead, he wanted God to sue him. Job was experiencing unimaginable suffering, having lost his family, his wealth, and his health, and then being accused by friends of obviously deserving the suffering due to some secrets sins. Yet Job was fully convinced that his pain was unjust and undeserved, and so he fantasized about God bringing unjust accusations against him and about how he would defend himself.
Oh, that I had one to hear me!
(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!
Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;
I would bind it on me as a crown;
I would give him an account of all my steps;
like a prince I would approach him. (Job 31:35-37)
How could a good and loving God allow so much suffering in the world? Does might not make right? Where can justice be found? Where can wisdom be found? This brings us to one of the most pervasive themes in the Bible—how God reveals himself to us morally. It becomes clear that if we are to know him as Creator, King, and Friend, then we must also know him as both Judge and Savior. Thus if we are to understand the Bible, we need to hear it not just a rational, emotional, and political narrative, but also as the revelation of God’s holiness and justice.
The Beginning of the Story: Naked and Not Ashamed
When God put Adam and Eve in the garden he gave them great authority: “And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28) Since he had created them in his image, he now entrusted them with the stewardship over all the rest of the creation.
However, that wasn’t enough. They wanted more authority—all authority. God had also put two trees in the garden—the tree of life, by which they could live forever, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—and he had given them a mysterious command: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) But they decided that they wanted to be like God and have the moral authority to judge good and evil. So they disobeyed his command and ate some of the forbidden fruit.
Immediately they felt ashamed. In fact, they suddenly realized that they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. But then, just as he had warned them, God punished their rebellion with death. That did not mean Adam and Eve would cease to exist; rather, it meant God would cut them off from his presence. They would no longer be able to see him and walk with him. He prevented any more access to the tree of life and banished them from the garden. He would give them several hundred years before their bodies died—time to think about what it was that made life good and meaningful.
Now before he sent them out of the garden, he told them he was going to make life difficult for them—with thorns and thistles in the ground, with pain (in particular, pain in childbirth), and even with a power struggle between them as husband and wife. All this was not necessarily punishment, for the punishment for their sin was separation from God. Rather, the purpose for making their lives difficult was so that they would not be satisfied with their own strength and accomplishments and authority, and would instead try to seek him again. He made it possible for them to seek him in faith—to believe in and trust him not because of his power and authority and blessings, but because they wanted to know him.
It would be a long struggle. Some of their descendants would turn away from God in bitter apathy. Others, however, would wrestle to trust him. As they encountered hardships and hunger, they would cry out for understanding. And during those times that they did enjoy prosperity and joy, they would learn that such blessings would not even begin to satisfy their appetites for life. So as they anticipated imminent death by one cause or another, they would either draw closer to their Creator or retreat further away from him.
The End of the Story: Walking with God Again in Paradise
Sixty-five books and several thousand years later, at the end of the Bible, God’s people again walk with him and see him face to face. It says that no one is bitter about the trials they endured—any more than a new mother is bitter about the pains of childbirth or than an athlete is bitter about the pain of a race. In fact, not only will they not be bitter, they will consider it a joy to have shared in Christ’s suffering now that they live with him in paradise and again have access to the tree of life.
God’s enemies, however, are in the end writhing and cursing in hatred, absolutely sure unto death that they know good and evil better than he does. They will curse him for judging their sins. In fact, to the very end they will continue to worship the gods that they themselves had created, and continue to preach the standards that they themselves had dictated. Since they absolutely refuse to look and to listen, all they see in God is a violent judge who is destroys their idols. And although they will still be full of rebellion, in the final judgment they will no longer be able to rebel anymore, for there will be no more opportunity to steal or kill or deceive. And surely the most terrifying aspect of hell is that it is good and just, so no one will be able to fantasize about God bringing false accusations against them in court. Thus evildoers will be rendered powerless and speechless.
But for Jesus’ friends, they see him face to face as the Prince of Peace.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)
Furthermore, the new paradise constitutes the entire universe. He had made his image-bearers the stewards of nature, so once their relationship is restored all of creation is likewise renewed. The Bible never describes heaven as a bunch of angels floating around on clouds; instead, it is full of nature and of physical joy.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Between the Beginning and End: Wrestling with God
After God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, their descendants did not see him face-to-face anymore. Everyone knew about him and they passed down stories about things he said and did. And many offered sacrifices to him. However, there was a great deal they didn’t understand. On the one hand, the Bible says that God reveals himself to us very clearly both in nature and in our consciences, and then gives us time to seek him out. For example, it says that he has revealed himself through the beauty of his creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
It also says that he has revealed himself through the knowledge of right and wrong. The book of Proverbs says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, but that is best understood as the kind of fear that fascinates us with wild animals at the zoo or the kind of fear that we can enjoy on a roller coaster or a ski slope. So long as we are wise to ensure our safety, we can experience the exhilarating forces of nature. That’s the sort of wisdom that compels us to refrain from evil and do good.
Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:20-23)
One the other hand, the Bible also makes it clear that we know we have not heeded the call of wisdom, and that we know that we have done a great deal of evil in the world—the wars, the corruption, the rich getting richer and the poor getting more diseased—all of which makes God very angry:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-22)
And in response to such revelation through nature and through our consciences, the Bible says we are compelled to seek God out and understand the mystery of his salvation:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being”. (Acts 17:26-28)
In searching him out, many people have sought to create God in our own image by carving out idols to bow down to and worship. And as these idols get passed down from generation to generation, confusion reigns. But in the midst of all this God still expects us to seek him out. So starting again in the book of Genesis, as narrative unfolds the first person to ask God “Who are you?” is a conniving shepherd named Jacob. The name Jacob means, literally, “one who takes by the heel” or, by derivation, “one who supplants.” He was something of a trickster and a swindler until God broke him and then changed his name to Israel.
“PLEASE TELL ME YOUR NAME”
Before Jacob was even born God had promised to bless him greatly—to give to him the Promised Land which he had sworn to his grandfather Abraham. However, Jacob had a very difficult time taking God at his word. He took advantage of his older brother in order to gain the birthright of the first born, and then he lied to his father in order to swindle his brother again out of a blessing. Then he left home to seek his fortune. He married two of his cousins, who were sisters, and then attempted to swindle their father out of several herds of sheep by using some silly folklore tricks. He was willing to try anything and everything except to simply take God at his word. Although he grew very wealthy and strong, he struggled mightily to give God credit or thanks for his prosperity. He preferred to bank on his own shrewdness.
Jacob grew exceedingly wealthy, and had eleven sons and two daughters, yet he could never get enough. He decided to return home to the Promised Land. Somewhere along the way he finally realized that he actually did want God’s blessing after all. And so just as he was about to cross the Jordon River and enter the land, God showed up.
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:24-30)
Now this is a rather cryptic account of a spiritual transformation in Jacob. As wealthy and prosperous as he had become, he finally realized that nothing else would satisfy him but God himself. And though he had a reputation for tricking others, he still had the boldness to ask this blessing. So God gives him a new name, Israel, which means “he strives with God” and/or “God strives.” For he is the God of a people who struggle to surrender their pride and ask for abundant life rather than try to earn it by their own strength.
Then Jacob, a.k.a. Israel, responded, “Please tell me your name.” He was asking for some kind of introduction—in effect, “Who are you?” He knew the stories about Adam and Eve and about Noah. And he also knew what his grandfather had experienced. But he wanted to know God’s name.
And yet what name could he have possibly understood? He had no context whatsoever that would give any meaning to any name. He did not even have a language for it. For example, if when you first meet someone and he introduces himself as Joshua, that name will already carry a lot of meaning. For consider that it would mean something different if he introduced himself as José, Иисус, 约书亚记, Ἰhsous, or يشوع. So what difference would it make what God said? Hence the answer, “Why is it that you ask my name?”
Israel and his family would have to wait about 400 years to get an answer to that question. It would be four centuries of extremely significant historical context carefully orchestrated by God.
“WHAT IS HIS NAME?”
It started when ten of Jacob’s sons sold their younger brother, Joseph, into slavery in Egypt. Due to a series of circumstances and dreams scripted by God, Joseph became a great ruler in Egypt. So after reconciling with his brothers he brought all them over to live with him there along with their father, Israel.
Inside of Egypt the family grew into a small nation. But this intimidated the Egyptian rulers, so they made the Israelites into a nation of slaves. The more the nation grew, the more the Egyptians oppressed them, so they began crying out to God to deliver them. That was when he told another shepherd, named Moses, to lead the Israelites to freedom. It happened one day when Moses was out tending his sheep and God began speaking to him through a burning bush.
Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6)
God then told Moses to return into Egypt (where he had actually grown up) to ask the Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to hold a worship festival to him in the wilderness. And in response, Moses asked a very good question:
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ (Exodus 3:13-17)
In Hebrew a proper noun is formed from the third-person masculine singular verb prefix of the root for HWH/HYH, “be, happen, become,” יהוה. In English we translate it Yahweh. (Instead of using “Yahweh” or “Yahweh” many English translations use “Lord.” However, the title “Lord”, meaning master, is also common in the Bible. So to distinguish the name “Lord” from the title “Lord” either caps or small caps are used.) So according to the Bible, the language in which God’s existence is acknowledged—the language in which his name is spoken, in which it is written, and from which it is translated—is the language of a people born in slavery. He introduces himself to the world as the savior of the oppressed and afflicted. They are the ones who can call his name and make him turn his face.
Now the Bible makes it clear that the patriarchs (Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc.) knew God even if the language of Hebrew didn’t yet exist. In other words, when Moses wrote down the verbal history about them in Hebrew, he often used the name יהוה (Lord) in his translation. We could compare that to how both Mary Magdalene (who loved Jesus) and Pontius Pilate (who executed him) knew جسس, which is Jesus’ name in Aramaic, the language in which he spoke. Even though they both knew Jesus’ name, they both had very different understanding about who he was. Similarly, the patriarchs knew God even if they didn’t yet know his proper name.
The Semitic language tree goes from Proto-Semitic–>West Semitic–>Northwest Semitic–> Canaanite–>Hebrew. The oldest known is Akkadian—from around 2500 BC and is thus one of the earliest written languages of all. Only Sumerian and ancient Egyptian can beat that record.[iv] But as Guy Deutscher, widely acclaimed scholar of ancient Semitic languages (and a naturalist), explains: their development cannot be traced.
One might well imagine that with such a lineage—longer than that of any other language family—it would be a straightforward matter to discover how the Semitic verbal system came into being. Surely all that one would need to do is look carefully at written records from the last forty-five centuries, and observe ‘in-the-act’ how the verbal system gradually evolved. Alas, the reality is far less tractable, for when the Semitic languages stepped on to the stage of history in the third millennium BC, the characteristic traits of their verbal system, the consonantal roots and the abstract design of the vowel templates, were already fully in place. So although history dawned so early for the Semitic languages, the birth of their verbal system is nevertheless hidden deep in prehistoric darkness.[v]
Whatever form of Semitic language they started with, if we consider that the Israelites experienced not only rapid growth but also cultural isolation in a foreign land for four centuries, it would be highly unusual for their language not to have changed so dramatically that it developed into something altogether new. John McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics at U.C. Berkeley, says languages used to change much more quickly than they due today (mass media being the stabilizer), citing the Polynesian people as an example:
Polynesian people began their dispersal across several islands (or island complexes) such a Tahiti, New Zealand, and Hawaii about 500 B.C.; it did not take much longer than five hundred years before the original group’s language had evolved into new, mutually unintelligible ones in each of the new societies their descendants had founded.[vi]
So when God introduced himself to the world and proclaimed his salvation to the nations—showing the way for people to get a great name and a heritage in heaven—he did it in Hebrew, the language of the “wrestles-with-God people” whom he delivered out of slavery into new life. “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.’” (Exodus 6:3-4)
Over the following 1600 years God revealed more of his name, but the nation of Israel did not do a great job of sharing it with the world. In fact, they kept rebelling against God, disobeying his laws and worshiping foreign idols. In response, God allowed another nation to overpower them and oppress them until they repented and cried out for help. So God would rescue them and bless them again, only to see them fall away. This happened again and again, each time getting worse. At times the Hebrews even sacrificed their own children to false gods. Sometimes they put male shrine prostitutes in the Temple. Sometimes the leaders secretly gathered to perform strange rituals in the dark.
Yet throughout this tumultuous, often shameful history, a faithful remnant of the people was always waiting on God, studying his word, looking and watching and hoping. They gradually compile a collection of prayers and songs into the largest book of the Bible, the book of Psalms, which guided people in worshiping God and wrestling with him. These poems, often written for a choir, move in waves of intense emotion, from exultant joy to deep depression to murderous anger to stubborn bitterness to overwhelming sadness. In all situations they learn to wrestle in faith.
But by the end of the Old Testament the nation is in desperate conditions. They have been beaten down again and again, passed from the Babylonians to the Persians to the Greeks, and then they are under the Roman Empire. Once they were a strong and glorious tree, but now they have been cut down to a stump, and then burned again. That’s when a young itinerate preacher arrived on the scene claiming to be their king. He told them that they were slaves, just like their ancient ancestors had been. But he didn’t mean that they were political slaves; rather, he told them they were salves of sin and that he came to deliver them into knew life.
“IF YOU ARE THE CHRIST, TELL US!”
As holy as God is, the Bible also says that He was fully manifest 2000 years ago in Jesus—a common name (Greek for Joshua) for a seemingly very common man. Jesus made the outcast of society feel respected and comfortable. Born to a peasant girl in a small town, he was a friend of beggars, prostitutes and thieves. More at ease with poor fishermen than with the religious elite, he drew a very large following. He said and did the most unusual things. They asked him who in the world he thought he was. He answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58. See also John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:5; Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 22:13) In saying “I am” he was making a direct reference to God’s name.
And yet those closest to him did not really understand who he was until the end, really until he was gone. For three years he walked among the common people, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and preaching the good news that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and that people can repent and have peace with God. Everyone kept expecting this peace to come through might and force, and that Jesus would raise up a military rebellion against Rome in order to establish peace for Israel. But he kept telling them that, to the contrary, he was going to lay down his life.
On the night that he was arrested for treason, he was praying in a garden called The Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane means “olive press”. He was under so much stress and grief that he was literally sweating blood. Three times he prayed that he would not have to go through with the crucifixion and die: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39) Just like Jacob some two millennia earlier, he was wrestling alone in the dark. He wasn’t wrestling due to some internal conflict within God; he was wrestling because he was completely identifying with his people and doing for them what they were not able to do for themselves—pay for their sins. About twelve hours later, hanging on the cross, he quoted one of the Psalms, crying out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!” (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46)
So why did he go through with it? One reason was for joy—the joy of seeing his Father’s name exalted in both holiness and in mercy. He also said he did it to save his people from judgment:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:17-21)
So Jesus willingly submitted to crucifixion. More than that, the Bible says that his Father was the one who had him punished. For the reason he died was to pay the price for the sins of the world, and absorb the wrath of God.
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:10-11)
If there was to be justice in his kingdom, if that word was to have any meaning, then someone had to pay for all the injustice. It could be ignored or just forgotten. So out of his great love for the world, the Creator chose to pay the penalty himself.
So he is the king of the God-wrestlers and the answer to all our deep, probing questions about justice. So if we want to understand the Bible, we must see how this mystery of judgment and justice unfolds from beginning to end. It begins with a shepherd named Jacob asking God, “What is your name?”, and ends with Jesus saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13)
[ii] Kenneth R. Morefield, “Dinosaurs 1, Humanity 0,” Christianity Today, June 25, 2018. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/june-web-only/jurassic-park-fallen-kingdom-villain.html
[iii] Bertrand Russell, Saturday Review, 1951
[iv] Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention, (New York: Metropolitan, 2005), 178-179.
[v] Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention, (New York: Metropolitan, 2005), 180.
[vi] John McWhorter, The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, (New York: Times Books, 2001), 220.
Map image from http://www.seektheoldpaths.com/