NIV Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
I watched the episode of the Bible on the History channel today in which God destroys Sodom. The do take a lot of “artistic” license with the Biblical text (I really doubt God’s angels are so ninja-like).
And as horrific as the TV version was, I do not think it could come close to the terror of the real thing.
Yes, it is difficult in our “enlightened” (not to mention not politically or academically correct) to talk about the judgment of God. Our culture today has the idea God could not be that cruel. A God of love would not inflict pain, torture or suffering upon human beings. Such ideas are just passed down accounts of a primitive cultic tribe who thought (or create) the idea that God would do such things.
I do not think God is cruel. I do believe even a God of love can be angry, vengeful, and allow or even order what we would call “acts of violence”. Do I understand why God would do, allow, or demand such things? No, other than what the Scripture teaches and then I am careful to remember my own finite limitations in understanding, my own sin, and the fact that I (as every human being is) am infected with the disease of our ancestors. We do think ourselves as gods deciding what is good and what is evil.
Isaiah 53 is a hard chapter of Scripture. It is a hard prophecy. It places God directly in the midst of human suffering and the effects of the Fall. It is a darkness that God has self embraced in Jesus. Next week at this time, Jesus would have gone through the all that this prophecy foretold.
But then there is verse 11:
NIV Isaiah 53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Justifying grace is saving grace. It is what makes us right with God. It is the way God has experienced our darkness. All that is evil, all that is pain, all that is sorrow, separated, and sick in this world Jesus went through. Jesus took the worst evil could throw at him and as God made it the greatest good for humanity. This is the basis for our salvation. This is what gives hope even when we cannot understand the why.
I trust the Scripture. I believe what is there has been preserved as it is to teach us, illuminate us, warn and woe us. I do not get into philosophical arguments about it anymore. That is not its purpose. In the season of Lent it is the guide that direct me to penitence. It calls me to repentance. It pushes me to commitment. It opens the good of God to my heart. It is the map, the guide, the written resource and God’s love letter to my soul and self. This I believe. Jesus bears my iniquities. Jesus turns the wrath of God away from me. I am loved.