Had such an interesting and I'm afraid futile (as far as I was concerned anyway) conversation with a beautiful person on social media just recently.
This lovely Person had turned away from Christianity because they couldn't reconcile the God of the Old Testament to the God of the New.
We chatted and chatted for quite some time and we have left it to both consider the others viewpoints.
Afterwards I was left with this person's questions and actually they are quite good questions and deserve a thorough answer.
Question one evolved something like this
Thinking about this question caused me to ponder some facts anew - I must admit I had come to that very question in my early life following Christ and it was surprisingly refreshing to think again on why does God send people to hell.
The thing to consider here in my opinion is the fact that God cannot and will never look on sin. He won't and in fact He can't. God is so holy that His very presence is righteousness itself - a bit hard for us even to contemplate because we are living in such a fallen and evil world.
We often try to put our minds into the minds of God and we often tend to think that God's mind runs along the same track as ours - so wrong - in fact we couldn't be more wrong. Isaiah 55:9 says
So God's ways are so so different than our ways - His thoughts are so so different from our thoughts.
God cannot and WILL NOT tolerate sin. God also gave us a free will - not a robotic will. He leaves us free to travel our own road - to deny Him or to accept Him. None of us NEED to be lost to Him NONE of us!
So would He allow a person to be lost?
Because of His great love God did everything He could so that we ALL could be saved. Sending Jesus to pay the price was that ultimate gift.
NO! He doesn't want us to be lost - any of us ever. But God does leave us free to pursue whichever way we choose.
the second question involved feeling "Abandoned by God" .
My social media friend had prayed and prayed about this and to them the heavens above were as steel. None of their prayers were answered in fact the opposite seemed to be more the truth. Instead of comfort there was stony silence and disaster.
OK so you are distressed, worried and have come to the end of your rope. Maybe a child is sick, your job is redundant - a myriad of things can go wrong in an instant - we have, most of us been there and done that.
We Pray - we feel God isn't listening - the silence is deafening - everything screams out to you that God is simply not there.
If it is any comfort here - We are not alone - many amazing Christians in the past have felt the same - C.S.Lewis and C.H.Surgeon are just two who have written copious amounts on this very subject. You just have turn to the Scriptures and read Psalms to realise that they are filled with cries of help to God.
Have you ever considered that you may be going through this trial for a REAL reason?
In 1 Peter1:6-7 we read this amazing bit of Scripture:-
So maybe you are going through this terrible trial period for a reason - the thing is, that we shouldn't fall away and shirk such trial periods but keep pressing on with Christ and relying on His promises and reassurances.
Please take heart knowing that sorrowful/sad/horrible times and even feelings of abandonment by God are all very important times of growing in your Christian walk. God has promised He will never abandon us - Keep walking the path by faith with Jesus the very author and finisher.
Question 3 was "Why did God allow such terrible violence in the Old testament?"
Great question and one I reckon such a lot of Christians have struggled with over the years.
My mind travels to the Canaanites - massacred by the Israelites - men, women and children. The Bible record is very clear that God commanded that they kill everyone.
For hundreds of years the Canaanites were disobedient to God - aware of His power but choosing to live immoral and disgusting lives - child sacrifice and incest etc.
We are all guilty of sin - each one of us - all born into sin but surely God doesn't condone infant killing? Just a thought on this - maybe God's very presence here in taking those little ones actually spared their lives to live with Him - maybe just maybe when grown they would have reverted to the culture of their day. Interesting thought.
At the end of the day, the issue of God actually commanding this violence in the Old testament is a truly difficult question for us to tackle.
My personal answer to this one is that it is entirely up to God, the giver and taker of life, to justify why these things are done and the consequences of that action.
The thing is that through his grace and mercy, those who are willing can repent and turn to Him and be saved.
The main thought to take away from the Canaanite experience here is, I feel, that God is a God who will NEVER tolerate sin. He is JUST yet HOLY and LOVING, GRACIOUS and MERCIFUL.
Turn to Him today - accept this amazing offer and start pressing on with Him.