Is God to Blame?

We have met men who have denied the goodness of God because of the present sorrows of humanity, and we know others who have misgivings and much perplexity of mind because He has not brought the war to a close by some signal mark of His displeasure upon the guilty aggressors in it. Some openly lay the blame of it all at God's door, others do so tacitly by their questions and doubts.

But if we trace out God's ways with men from the beginning we shall see that every dispensation has been framed in divine wisdom to bring peace and blessing to men, if they would only abide by the conditions imposed in God's dealings with them, and if trouble has come upon them, it is because they have chosen the way that seems right to them instead of God's way.

CREATION — Take the very beginning of man's career. Who can read the first two chapters of Genesis without feeling that God had a tender care for him. What pains He took to prepare His residence. How wonderfully He ordered things for His benefit, considering him from every side so that he should lack nothing that was necessary to make up the sum of earthly good. How alien to that pleasant garden were hatred, strife and bloodshed, and God had made it so. It was all designed by Him, and every provision for the lives of the happy pair that He placed therein proved that He wished them to live in contentment and peace.

Nor did He lay any grievous burden upon them. God was no almighty tyrant breaking the neck of His creature with an unbearable yoke. He made him rich with His blessing, shed the radiancy of His good pleasure upon him, and then gave him only one simple command. That command was broken deliberately and, it would appear, immediately. And they had no excuse for doing so, "Men do not despise a thief if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry." But they were not hungry, for the countless trees of that wonderful paradise yielded their precious fruits for their sustenance. But man would be independent of God, the master of his own destiny as he thought, and by his act of disobedience he opened the door for all the evils that followed.

Disobedience of God in chapter 3 was followed by hatred of one another in chapter 4, and the startled earth drank for the first time in her sad history the blood of a man made in the image of God. And that lifeless man, who lay at the feet of his murderer, was not slain by a wild beast of the forest, or by a demon from the nether darkness, but by the son of his own mother, by the first man born to the disobedient pair. Hatred, strife, and cruelty are the offspring of disobedience to God, which is sin, and it is because man abides in this disobedience that these awful things are triumphant today. They are not God's choice for man, but the consequences of the choice that he has made for himself in defiance to the will of God.

GOVERNMENT — As men multiplied the violence of Cain filled the earth, until God had to cleanse it with judgment, one family — the only righteous family amongst the earth's millions — being saved from the universal flood. God gave the government of the earth into the hands of the head of that family, and afterwards divided up his descendants into nations, setting the bounds of their habitations. Paul's address to the Athenians (Acts 17) is illuminating in this connection. It is evident from the 26th verse of that chapter that the earth's surface is sufficient for the habitation of men, and that God has set the bounds of the nations. If men had respect to these God-appointed bounds, and had been contented with the "place in the sun" that He had given them, there would have been no wars. But not finding satisfaction in their possessions and refusing to feel after God for it, they have cast covetous eyes upon their neighbours' lot and have broken the bounds by God appointed, thence the bloodshed and the sorrow. But again the cause lies in the sinful and covetous will of man that refuses the restraint that God has put upon it.

LAW — The next step in God's ways for the blessing of mankind was that of taking out a special nation and giving them His laws for the guidance of their lives in righteousness and peace. Canaan had to be cleared for them, but not until the people that defiled it had filled up the cup of their iniquities, their heathen abominations being of such an outrageous character that it is said the very land "vomited out the inhabitants thereof." Then Israel was set in it with God's law to bless them and to make them a blessing to all nations of the earth. That law is summed up in two great commands: "(1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; (2) and thy neighbour as thyself." And it should be clear to all that if men had been obedient to God's good and holy law the vast resources of the civilized world in brain, brawn and material would not now be taxed to their uttermost on works of destruction.

GOD IN CHRIST — Then a marvellous thing took place. God showed His interest in men and His will to save them from their self-willed folly in a new way. Not now by His goodness in creation, or His wisdom in His providential government, or His justice in His law, but He came down Himself to dwell amongst us, "Let us go even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass," said the shepherds. They went and "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen." But what had they seen? A BABE IN A MANGER wrapped in swaddling clothes. Was that a great sight? It was, it was the most marvellous sight ever seen in heaven or on earth, for the name of that babe was EMANUEL — "A SAVIOUR, WHICH IS CHRIST THE LORD." There was God manifest in flesh, the only-begotten which is in the bosom of the Father born into the world of a virgin mother — "to give light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, TO GUIDE OUR FEET IN THE WAY OF PEACE."

That Babe, born in those circumstances of extremest poverty, had come from the eternal throne to reconcile the world to God, and give it peace. So the heavenly hosts praised God and said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." He was Himself the peace, but the world would not receive Him. They crowned Him, but it was with thorns; they refused their blessing and hugged their misery; chose war instead of peace, cried, "Not this man but Barabbas: now Barabbas was a robber." If the world has been shaken by wars and rumours of wars since that fateful day it is because it put the Prince of peace upon a felon's cross instead of on a throne.

THE GOSPEL — We should have thought that the murder of God's Son would have brought man's history on earth to a close in judgment. But no, God has made the chief expression of man's rebellious will and hatred of Him to be the full manifestation of His great love to men, and for near a score of centuries the gospel of grace of God has been preached to men by the Holy Spirit of God come down from heaven. Who that carefully considers that gospel can doubt that if it had been heard and believed it would have brought men's feet into the ways of peace? The effect of it, when truly received, is to make the recipients like the God from whom it has come, and ready to lay down their lives for one another. The warring millions prove beyond a question that God's last and best offer of blessing to men has been despised and rejected by the vast majority as every other approach to man on God's part has been.

But why do we trace out these various dealings of God with men? Simply to prove that the blame of the world's sorrow does not lie at God's door, but at man's. We would raise a testimony to the goodness of God. He willeth not the death of any, but that all should turn to Him and live.

But we are nearing the end of this period of grace, this greatest of all the manifestations of God's patience with men.

Surely the time seems ripe for the intervention of God, to bring the world's long history of wilfulness and sin to a close in judgment, to end corruption and violence, and to establish His kingdom of peace. This He will do, but meanwhile He waits, and we count His long-suffering salvation. Oh that men would be wise and turn to Him and prove for themselves that He is their friend and not their foe, that His will for them is good and acceptable, while theirs can only end in disaster, and that He has in store for them a home and a land untouched by sin, where death is swallowed up in victory, and where tears are wiped away from all faces, where pain and sorrow and death come not, but where God is all in all.