In times of great evil, such as the one that we are living through right now, it is common for people to blame God for that evil and to argue that He is its root. The people who say these things genuinely do not understand what God is, and why, when He passes judgement, He is evil for doing so.
Such a sentiment was most recently expressed in The New York F***ing Slimes by – guess what – a secular Jew, who reckons that we should renounce God on Easter, or Passover, as my Jewish friends call today:
I was raised strictly Orthodox. Old school. Shtetl fabulous. Every year, at the beginning of the Seder, we welcome in the hungry and poor Jews who can’t afford to have a Seder themselves. It’s a wonderfully human gesture. A few short hours of God later, at the end of the Seder, we open the front door and call out to Him, “Pour out thy wrath upon the nations that did not know you!”
And God does. With plagues and floods, with fire and fury, on the young and old, the guilty and innocent.
And we humans, made in his image, do the same. With fixed-wing bombers and cluster bombs, with self-propelled mortars and thermobaric rocket launchers.
“Why did God kill the first-born cattle?” my rabbi said. “Because the Egyptians believed they were gods.”
Killing gods is an idea I can get behind.
This year, at the end of the Seder, let’s indeed throw our doors open — to strangers. To people who aren’t our own. To the terrifying them, to the evil others, those people who seem so different from us, those we think are our enemies or who think us theirs, but who, if they sat down around the table with us, we’d no doubt find despise the pharaohs of this world as much as we do, and who dream of the same damned thing as us all:
As is normal with most atheists, he rather misses the wider context. I know. I used to be a lot like him.
There are a few uncomfortable facts that atheists really need to get used to, in order to understand why their arguments are so silly.
The first of these is that, when God orders people to be killed or nations to be destroyed, THAT ISN’T GENOCIDE OR MURDER.
If a human were to order such a thing, it would be genocide or murder, assuredly. But humans are imperfect and incomplete, flawed and Fallen, broken and mortal.
God is precisely NONE of those things. God is complete, perfect, immortal, the Most High.
When God orders the extermination of entire nations, it is not genocide, it is justice and punishment. This makes the hardest kind of sense, but it only works if you remember that God’s patience is far beyond human comprehension.
Remember that Abraham bargained with God over the fate of Sodom, and God preserved it simply because there were a few decent and moral men still living in that den of sin. When Lot and his family fled Sodom and Gomorrah, God no longer had to restrain Himself, and wiped those cities off the face of the Earth.
When God commanded the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanites, did He do so on a whim? No. He did it because, for something like 400 years, the Canaanites had ignored His laws and commandments, and had resorted to the most abominable and horrible forms of sin, up to and including child and human sacrifice to pagan gods.
In this reign of madness, as it were, men give themselves up to despair and succumb to the belief that we are doomed, that there is no way out from a broken and Fallen world. It is, of course, easy to do so. Yesterday, we remembered the Passion and death of our Lord, the God made flesh who took His place among us, humbled Himself, and lived as a mortal man. And when He died on the Cross, in agonising pain of the worst and most horrible kind, His disciples looked upon Him, and despaired.
The death of Jesus left twelve frightened men who had no idea what to do. Those closest to Him, pretended that they had never heard of Him at all, as Peter did, so that they might escape the wrath and punishment of the Jewish authorities.
Can you really blame Peter for acting as he did, if you think about it carefully? He had just seen his friend and teacher killed in the most awful way imaginable, dying in thirst and pain as darkness descended upon the world and the terrifying wrath of God emptied upon a bleeding man nailed to wooden beams.
You must always remember that our modern understanding of our Lord’s suffering on the Cross is but a mere fly-speck of the truth. The process of crucifixion is truly horrifying. It was SO horrible, in fact, that Roman law of the time forbade excruciation as punishment for Roman citizens.
Try, if you can, to imagine what Jesus went through that day. You won’t be able to without feeling physically ill, because it is that horrible.
Here is the late, sorely missed, Nabeel Qureshi to explain exactly what that was like:
If you don’t have the time to listen to or watch all of that, just read on.
Imagine being beaten with fists while blindfolded, and being taunted and humiliated by soldiers who mock you for not being able to tell them who hit you.
Imagine being flogged – which is bad enough with a regular single-strand whip. Now imagine being flogged with a Roman cat-o-nine-tails, made up of leather cords. At the end of each one of these strands is a piece of bone, or a metal ball.
The metal balls are there to cause vasodilation – that is to say, to expand the blood vessels and weaken the muscles that hold your internal organs together inside your body, while greatly increasing the amount of blood that circulates under your skin. The net effect is to make your skin hypersensitive to the pain that follows.
The fragments of bone are there to rip the skin from your bones – literally.
Imagine that kind of whip being smashed into your back 40 times – you aren’t being flogged, exactly, you are actually being scourged. The goal is to cause you tremendous pain and send you into shock from the blood loss. It was not uncommon, at the time, for men to die from the floggings alone. Indeed, Jewish law made clear that no Jew could be whipped 40 times, because that was considered to be the limit that a man’s body could endure, and Jewish executioners often stopped the floggings at 38 strokes, just in case they miscounted by one or two.
If you haven’t thrown up yet, try now to imagine a crown of thorns being placed – not at all gently – on your head, so that the thorns pierce your face and blind you with the blood streaming down from your head. Then imagine being told to carry a massive, heavy set of wooden beams, to the place of your actual execution.
I have personally walked the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem – or at least, the bits of it that are available for people to walk – from the ancient Roman governor’s residence to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, supposedly where Jesus died. I know how long that walk is. In its present form, it is roughly 600 metres long.
Imagine carrying those wooden beams for 2,000 steps, bleeding profusely every step of the way, in searing pain. Now imagine arriving at the place of your execution, being made to lie down on the cross-beams, and having an iron spike driven through your wrists.
There is some debate about exactly where the nails went in. If you were to drive the nails through a man’s hands, without supporting his feet and tying his hands, his body-weight would simply cause the hands to rip apart and make him fall down. Either way works, in the sense that crucifixion can still be accomplished whether you pierce the wrist or the hands.
The problem with piercing the wrists is that within them is a long nerve that runs up to your elbow – that is the nerve that causes you to jump and swear when you hit your funny-bone, as it were.
Imagine having a long iron spike driven through that – and then imagine having to support your weight on it, with nails being driven through your feet, as well, either around the small bones into a wooden support, or through the Achilles tendons around your heels.
Now, remember that you are hanging on a cross. Gravity pulls you downwards, with your arms above your head. This results in an unnatural compression of your lungs, and you can’t breathe. To do so, you have to pull yourself up with your ebbing strength – and every move upwards and downwards results in fresh agony from the nails in your wrists, and from the ribbons of skin on your back rubbing against the wood of the cross.
Then, to breathe out again, you have to allow yourself to sink back down – repeating that same horrific process in reverse.
All of this is gut-wrenching even to think about, never mind experience. But we are not done.
We depict our Lord on the Cross as though He had a loincloth about Him. This is an artifice, a pretence, that we have persuaded ourselves to adopt, because it lessens the humiliation that we inflicted upon Him. In reality, He was crucified naked, for all the world to see and mock.
He died the way He came into the world – in pain, covered in blood.
THAT IS WHAT GOD ENDURED, AT OUR HANDS.
Can you imagine God permitting Himself to go through something like that, if He does not love us?
Moreover, can you imagine God – a real God – permitting such horror if He did not wish to give those who did it to Him, a chance to repent, and accept His message?
Recall that it was a Roman centurion that said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” after the death of our Lord. It was not a Jewish Pharisee, but a Roman pagan. Indeed, Roman centurions are accorded a rather curiously high level of respect within the New Testament – much higher than many of the Jews and Gentiles that the Apostles met. Think upon that for a moment, and think why it is so. The implications are mind-blowing.
What, then, are we to make of the crucifixion of Jesus? It is very simple. He died not because God is callous or ignorant of our pain, suffering, and misery. He died precisely to redeem those things.
But that does not mean that the pain and suffering that we experience now is pointless or without purpose. Quite a bit of it is, in fact, divine justice.
We have failed to heed God’s Law and to give God His due. We have failed to obey Him. All you have to do is to look at the Banderastan War to see precisely what happens when people who believe in GloboHomoPaedocracy, paganism, and all manner of filth and evil, turn away from God and obey their own whims.
This ends by returning to what God intended – free, strong, independent nations that respect each other’s borders, and people who revere God and put Him at the centre of all that we do. It is that simple.
So, no, let’s not pass over God. Let’s keep Him uppermost in our minds, and ensure that whatever we do is for His glory,a nd not our own.