Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:48 am
by TotalVictory
Hi Richard:

This is an interesting vision of God to be sure.

Interesting too because earlier this week I was reading about the very same passage you mention; 2 Sam 24. The author was noting that in that version of the story, it was God who caused David to order the census. However, in the 1 Chron 21 version of the story it was Satan who caused David to order the census! That’s a pretty large difference in the same story! He was noting, in part, how poorly developed the notion of Satan is in the OT. (Only 3 explicit references to Satan in the entire OT; this one, Job 1,2, and Zech 3) Now it seems 1 Chron was the last, or among the last books added to the Hebrew cannon, so this understanding of the cause of the census represented further/deeper knowledge/understanding of the reality of things. The authors point also being that God brings people along only as fast as they can follow. And at first, had they known about the evil entity of Satan, they would likely be tempted to turn to HIM to in supplication to avoid disasters etc. So God instead just takes “credit” for everything; good AND evil. (Also of course interesting implications in these two versions of the census story of ones views on inspiration…)

Be that as it may, and while your take on this event is a crucial one, there remain problems here for God it seems. First off, God has already received a significant amount of His demanded victims. Sure, He relents, and even stops short of exacting the entire volume of punishment He had promised. But we can’t forget He’d already received (almost as some kind of “payment”??) the deaths of many thousands. So God can’t walk away with a clean record can He?

Second, most Christians who believe in ECT hell have always believed that some would be saved and some would be lost. This state of affairs is retained in the story you relate. The only thing that is changed is the final tally of saved vs lost; there being more “saved” because God relented and changed His mind.

But third is that as Universalists we hold that God will not relent until EVERYONE is (eventually) saved. So what is missing here (and indeed missing from the entire OT one might argue) is a more robust and advanced understanding of the reality of resurrection. This provides the mechanism and understanding for what God can do -- and is going to do -- for all those who, like the number killed of the 70,000 before God relented, appear to be lost forever. Same for ALL the victims of God’s apparent violent “judgement” in the OT. It’s simply not the “end of the story” for them. And we know all this because of the witness of the Christ.

But the people simply were not ready to make the leap from their current understandings (ie a God who exacts complete and unrelenting vengeance) with a God who saves all. Thus the story you relate provides a crucial “middle step” in the transition -- in the progress of truth; the recognition that there are mitigating forces on God’s apparent “need” for violent judgment.

And maybe that’s what you are implying by your post!!

Thanks Richard!