ELIJAH, GOD’S CHARACTER
AND MOUNT SINAI
In the first book of (I Kings 19:9-12), we see Elijah standing upon Mount Horeb (Sinai) where Moses received the ten commandments. Elijah had run away from Jezebel. The Lord (Jesus of the O.T.) took this opportunity to give a “divine display of His power and glory.” The Word tells us that the Lord passed by and there was a terrible windstorm that about tore the mountain apart. Next there was an earthquake that probably would have broken all the Richter scales, and finally a fire. But, it says, the Lord was not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire. So, who was doing this, if God wasn’t? Is it possible that God was permitting Satan to bring these aberrations of nature in order to distort the true character of God? It would seem so. Isn’t that amazing!
Many people forget that Satan has been at the right hand of Jesus Christ since the beginning of the great controversy. Zechariah 3:1 proves this. So, when Moses was on the mount to receive the law, Satan was right there to distort and twist the truth as much as possible so unfallen worlds, angels, fallen men and fallen angels would not understand the truth about God’s holy character, which is a transcript of His eternal law.
Yes, Satan was right there to disturb the service and break up the meeting, if he could. God could not stop him completely without exposing and embarrassing Satan, and this the Lord could not and would not do and remain true to His own nature and character. But, the Lord did control it and use it to bring the people to a knowledge of His law on a level they could understand, that if they did not obey they would die.
Now, what was the result of this “divine display” of fireworks during which the voice was heard in spite of all the noise Satan brought? These same principles He later spoke on the Mount of Olives. Now, friend of mine, please let me ask you sincerely, does Jesus go around purposely trying to frighten people to get their attention so He can make His point? No, our Jesus is not like that. But, at Mt. Sinai He permitted Satan to do it in this way. It made a deep impression upon Israel’s mind of His great power and majesty. They were used to the gods of the heathen (Satan’s imitation of God) acting like this, so He spoke to them in terms they could understand, and yet it was not God who brought all the “scary stuff.” But, since He created Lucifer (Satan now), He takes all the credit as well as all the blame for everything that happens. God permitted and controlled the whole show. Satan did not want the people to know or understand the law, (which reveals God’s true character), so he tried to stop Christ from giving it. But he was not able to stop it. However, he was permitted to distort it. The first time I realized this was when I was memorizing in Psalm 18. In verse 6 we see Christ (for whom the Psalms were written as a guide book about 1,000 years before He came in the flesh), calling to His Father for help and receiving an answer. In verse seven we see the earth shaking and trembling because He (God the Father) is “wroth,” it says. But what is God’s wrath or anger? It is when God permits Satan and/or men to do evil in the earth. God cannot interfere with their free moral agency and be true to His Word that man has the power of free choice. We see this clearly in Romans 1:18, 24, 26 and Psalm 78:49, which shows’ that when God withdraws, Satan’s angels fill the void and God calls this His “WRATH.”
As I continued memorizing in Psalm 18, I saw even more proof for this unbelievable concept. In verse 8 David portrays God as a fire breathing dragon. In verse 9 we read, “He bowed the Heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.” [Rom. 16:20; Gen. 3:15; Ps. 91:13]. Verse 10 tells how God rides upon (the original Hebrew actually says “above or over”) a cherub and the upon the wings of the wind. Verse 11 tells us he made “Darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” Notice that God does not bring the darkness, but he hides Himself in it. [1 John 1:5]. Verse 12 even makes it clear. “At the brightness that was before Him His thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.” When we compare this with Hab. 3:3-6, we see more light. “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And His brightness was the light; He had horns coming out of His hand; and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet, [The margin says Burning Diseases]. He stood, and measured the earth: He beheld, and drove asunder the nations; (notice how God is always portrayed as using force and violence) and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow; His ways are everlasting.”
Habbuk here refers to the majestic events connected with the giving of the law, using them as an example of the events in the final Judgment. Deut. 33:2. Paran is a wilderness country between Midian and Egypt and between Sinai and Canaan. Notice carefully how God is pictured as a very destructive person. It says that HE DROVE ASUNDER THE NATIONS at Sinai, but we know God didn’t do that at all. What we do know is that when nations and people do not keep the law their own sins find them out and put them six feet under. In this way God does kill nations and people with His law and this is what the text means. All through the Bible God is pictured as striking and smiting people with war, sickness and calamities in nature. Look at Miriam in Numbers 12 and see how the ANGER OF THE LORD, caused her to have leprosy. Did God really give her leprosy or did her disobedience forfeit God’s protection from the effects of that disease which had been dormant in her body? God still protects us the same way as many diseases are dormant in our bodies today. Yes, God permitted the author of sickness and disease to afflict Miriam when she disobeyed, but even here the Lord controlled it, and proscribed the means for a fast cure.
The closed minded person who wants to serve a God of hatred, anger and death to justify his own anger, hatred, and desire to deal out death to his enemies, will say, “see, that is what the Bible says and I believe it just like it reads.” This is the very principle upon which the ETERNAL HELL FIRE and SUNDAY doctrines are built. People will find the God they want to find in the Bible. The true God of the Bible is not found by the surface reader. The cold-hearted, formal ritualistic, legalistic, faultfinding, calculating, time-serving reader of the Scriptures will find that kind of God, for he will only be reading to confirm his prejudices and establish more firmly his preconceived opinions. These kind of people serve God in the letter of the law out of fear, not in the spirit of the law out of love, and the expression on their face and the tone in their voice often reveals the condition of their heart. To these type of readers Christ will say in that final day, “I never knew you: depart from Me, Ye that work iniquity.” Matt. 7:23. Even here at the close of time Jesus once again takes the blame with His Father. The wicked are still rejecting His love, but He says, “WE ARE REJECTING YOU.” Why? Because that is the way they perceive it. Again He accepts the blame.
SATAN DECEIVES THE WICKED AGAIN
All through the great controversy Satan has deceived man- kind about God. As the wicked reject God and His great love again and walk away from the golden city cursing their Creator, Satan takes advantage of the opportunity and moves in for the kill. He tells them that he is the real Jesus and the ONE in the city is a phony, a counterfeit who took the city away from him. He tells them that if they do not strike first the people in the city will overcome them and enslave them forever.
First of all, this takes place after the 1,000 years. Jesus does not attack the wicked in any way. He does not hurt or rebuke or reject them: They have “rejected,” Him again just as they had in their former life. Without a doubt the wicked have come up to the city to investigate and learn about it. They find out that many of the inhabitants of the golden city are people they knew and considered very “unworthy” subjects for such a glorious kingdom. They are unable to figure out why they are excluded. Christ tells them that they need His righteousness, of which they want no part. The Bible tells us the reaction of all the lost at this time. “And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of heaven. But the children of the Kingdom [religious people of all ages like the Jews who thought they were all holy and assured a place in heaven], shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 8:11, 12. We know that Jesus never changes, so we know that Christ is not dealing harshly, or unfairly or arbitrarily with these people at this time, but they are blaming Him for this.
The Bible tells us that God never turns anyone away at any time. So, even now, at this time God would forgive them if they truly repented. And Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37. It is our own sinful attitude of selfishness and hatred which will exclude us from the city, if we are lost. God does not reject people. People reject Him. But God takes the blame as if He were the one who is doing the rejecting. This is the character of God. He invites us to be like Him. Someone will say though, “but God Himself states what He will say. ‘Depart from me, ye that work iniquity?’ Isn’t Jesus turning them away here?” As I have said before, God always takes the blame, but He is not the one doing it. The Lord does not turn these people away at this time anymore than he turned the rich young man or ruler away. The wicked hear the voice of their god, SATAN, John 8:44) and blame it upon Christ. They cannot hear Jesus’ voice, for they do not belong to Him. John 10:14, 16; John 6:37. Christ simply told him what the requirements were for entrance to His kingdom, and the rich young fellow decided the price was too high. See Matt. 19:16-22. Again in Matt. 22:11-14, we see the man who came to the wedding without a wedding garment and. when he was asked why he was there without a wedding garment, he was SPEECHLESS. Now, notice how Christ again takes the blame. Then said the king to the Servants, bind Him hand and foot, and take Him away, and cast Him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. See also Matt. 7:21-23.
Now, is this the way it actually is going to happen, or is it a parable? Obviously, it is parabolic. The wicked will not be literally bound and thrown through the air into a deep hole in the earth burning with fire, sulphur and brimstone with the devil (forked tail and pitchfork) in charge as so often portrayed in medieval works of art and literature, such as Dante’s Infernal.
Unless you understand how God always plays the heavy by taking the blame, you will not understand this most important concept and your idea of God will be an anthropomorphic image, instead of the loving Father image Jesus taught. Like so many today, you will bring God down to your level as the ancient Greeks and Romans did and make Him after your own likeness and image, assigning to the Eternal your own carnal desires and passions of anger and lust. Rom. 1:21-25. Thus by beholding you will become changed. And when such a person goes up to the golden city and looks inside those walls of transparent gold, he will be blinded by the glory and repelled by the purity of Jesus, the angels and the saints. When he finds out what he has to give up and become in order to enter that city, he, like the rich young ruler will turn away sorrowfully and in this case, very angrily, with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. “HE JUST KICKED ME OUT FLAT” each lost sinner will say. “WHAT AN INSULT,” they will exclaim, “OFFERING ME A WEDDING GARMENT, AS IF I DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DRESS PROPERLY FOR A WEDDING. AND ASKING ME TO ACCEPT HIM AS MY SAVIOR, AS IF I WERE A SINNER WHAT NERVE! WHAT KIND OF A TERRIBLE PERSON DOES HE THINK I AM? IMAGINE HIM TREATING ME LIKE THAT WHEN I BELONGED TO THE CHURCH ALL MY LIFE, AND WORKED SO HARD. I JUST FELT LIKE GOING UP AND SPITTING RIGHT IN HIS FACE. AND DID YOU SEE WHO HE HAD IN THERE IN OUR PLACE SITTING AT THAT BEAUTIFUL LONG SUPPER TABLE? A BUNCH OF DIRTY STREET WHORES, ALCOHOLICS, GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS, HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS AND OF COURSE, A LOT OF THOSE ‘GOODIE, GOODIE’ TYPE CHRISTIANS WHO WERE ALWAYS READING THE BIBLE AND PRAYING AND VISITING THE SICK AND POOR ETC. WHILE I WAS BUSY KEEPING CHURCH BUSINESS TOGETHER. SO, WHILE THEY ARE IN THERE WITH ‘HIM’ ENJOYING THE GOOD LIFE, WITH ALL THAT GOLD, WE ARE OUT HERE WITH NOTHING TO LIVE ON. IF ONLY THERE WERE SOME WAY TO GET EVEN WITH ALL THOSE CHEATERS, (JACOBS AND FAKES) IN THERE.” Can you imagine how happy such a person would feel if Satan would turn up about that time, appearing as Christ, and suggest that they assault the city which is rightfully theirs since the king inside is a fraud? Do you think the people outside the city would believe such a lie? They would no doubt shout, “PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMUNITION!” Yes, they will believe Satan’s lie.
The Bible indicates that the wicked will form a vast army with every kind of military device and instrument of destruction known to man now and a lot more before the flood, plus even more advanced technology which Satan will no doubt teach them. Rev. 20 indicates that they will gather together under Satan’s leadership to make war against Christ and the Holy City and that they will even come up and surround the city. “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved City: and fire came down from God out of Heaven, and devoured them.” Rev. 20:9.
For centuries Theologians have taken these prophetic words quite literally. I have always understood it and taught it that way, but since I have done this study on the character of God, the Lord has helped me to see that this “fire” is not literal nor is it destructive. In fact, it will be life-changing and life giving as it was for the 120 on the day of pentecost, and later for Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 in his mini-lake of fire experience.
GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL
Even though it often looks like God is losing and Satan is winning, Jesus Christ is always in control. When Jesus came down on Mt. Horeb (Sinai) to tell the people what He was really like, Satan was right there to try to drown out God’s words and make Christ look as bad as possible. Jesus did not accuse Satan of distorting His true character or embarrass him by exposing him to the unfallen worlds, the fallen and unfallen angels and mankind. Neither will Christ do so in the final day. At Sinai the people were scared out of their wits, but God said, “I am doing this, because I am permitting it to happen. I knew it would happen ahead of time and have it all planned out. I am in complete control. Serve me and live. Disobey my law and you will die.” To those who really come close to God and learn to know Him as Elijah finally did on Sinai, Jesus Christ becomes the ultimate reality. After all the fire works that God permitted Satan to bring to frighten Elijah were past, there was a “still small voice.” The margin says, “That is a delicate whispering as of the breeze among the leaves.” 1 Kings 19:12.
This is how Jesus described the work of the Holy Spirit among the inhabitants of this earth when talking to Nicodemus in John 3:8. This is how God tells us we can know Him in Psalm 46:10, “Be STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.” Is Satan trying to drown out the still small voice of Jesus’ Spirit in your heart today friend of mine? The Devil has a thousand noisy substitutes for the sweet and gentle voice of God. Don’t be satisfied with a phony, two-bit, counterfeit, plastic experience with the Prince of Darkness, when you can have a beautiful number one, straight on relationship with the one and only true God of the whole universe, JESUS CHRIST, Himself.
Someone may protest here by saying that Christ does expose Satan with the “panoramic view,” described in Psalm 50:1-5. This revelation is not for the purpose of embarrassing or even exposing Satan, for Satan has done this to himself by marshaling the hosts of wicked against Jesus. In that final day it will be proved that God never was partial or unfair to anyone. Deut. 10:17, Job 34:19, Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11,2 Chron. 19:7, Rev. 20. Now, Jesus simply turns on the light and lets Satan and all the wicked look at themselves. Each person sees his own life in this panoramic view, Satan included, and naturally all the lost see Satan for what he is too. But, the fact that Satan bows and acknowledges God to be just shows that it is not an expose per se, but actually a last gigantic, all out, last ditch effort to bring Lucifer and the wicked to repentance. And this is exactly what will happen. “Every knee will bow and every tounge will confess.” Phil. 2:10, 11. “And this conversion experience will bring glory to God the Father.” We will explain this more as we go along.
THE LORD ALWAYS OVERCOMES EVIL WITH GOOD
“Nevertheless, the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Baalam: but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee.” Deut. 23:5. No doubt someone will say that God brought the earthquake in Acts 16 which broke down the Phillippian jail where Paul and Silas were in stocks singing even though their backs were probably sore and bleeding from the stripes they had received. “But, at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened,” …Acts 16:25, 26. Who brought the earthquake? (Isa. 14:16) God or Satan? Again, I say, God does not bring aberrations in nature, but permits Satan to do so in order to destroy, but God turns it into a blessing by directing the earthquake to do good in as many cases as possible, such as opening graves and in this instance, breaking down the jailhouse so Paul and Silas could bring the jailer to repentance, by preaching Christ to him. Again Satan was defeated. The same principle is true of the storm on the sea of Galilee. God permitted Satan to bring the storm to try and kill the disciples, who had disobeyed by not leaving immediately. Satan brings all the aberrations of nature, (Isa. 28:2) and Ephesians 2:2 identifies him as the “Prince of the power of the air.” But, Jesus overcame Satan by walking on the water and stilling the storm and teaching valuable lessons to his disciples. Was Satan “cooperating,” with the Father in all these experiences so Jesus could prove His claims? HARDLY! Yet, I have heard this allegation made time and time again. If this be true, and we know it is absurd, then the wilderness temptation of Jesus was all planned by the Father too and Satan obediently went out and tempted Christ. No, my friend, that is not logical reasoning, for it is not in keeping with the character of God. Satan never cooperates with the Father nor Christ His son.
In the days of Jonah, Satan wanted to destroy Nineveh, but God sent a preacher to warn them so they would turn to Him and be spared. Satan persuaded Jonah to run away from the call of duty and then brought a storm on the sea to try and finish him off. But God moved upon the men to question Jonah and thus find out about the true God who created heaven and earth. Jonah figured it was better to die than face God and the angry crowds of Nineveh and requested to be thrown overboard into the angry sea. But God permitted a fish to swallow Jonah. Jesus referred to this “great fish” as a whale, Matt. 12:40. The Greek word is “kitos” which simply means a “sea monster.” The KJV translates “kitos” as a whale. Satan led the whale to swallow Jonah, but God again overruled the situation and preserved the life of His prophet by controlling the fish and leading and guiding it to vomit Jonah out on the seashore. But after all these experiences, Jonah still did not understand the character of God. He still had the Jewish view of God instead of the Jesus view. Instead of praising God for sparing the city, as he had spared his life from heathen sailors, the sea and a whale’s digestive organs, Jonah only wished death on Nineveh so he would be known as a famous hell-fire and damnation preacher. And yet God still accomplished His purpose without interfering with Jonah’s freewill, in spite of all these obstacles Satan brought, for God is Omniscient, able to see the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9, 10. You see, if it had been God who brought the storm to kill Jonah, then God could be accused of trying to stop Jonah from running away, but God does not try and stop us by hurting us, or killing us. But, He does use circumstances and Satan’s machinations for purposes of mercy, bringing good out of evil.