March 1, 2015 Leave a comment
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
In the war against disease, doctors reveal their weakness; their limits; by treating the symptoms of a disease, such as pain, rather than destroying the disease organism itself, to truly cure the patient. In the war against Evil, God reveals his limits; by treating the symptoms of Evil, rather than destroying the true sources of Evil, in our world and in the spirit world, to truly cure his Creation. — Original to this work
Evil is so pervasive, so persistent, so difficult to attack and destroy, that some philosophers in history and in society today have surrendered to it, by saying that we NEED evil present in the world, in the universe, as a balance, as a challenge, as a purifying fire to burn away our impurities, as we go through the deadly conflicts that evil throws in our way. So that is why God allows people to turn to evil and cause chaos and destruction in our world, because somehow we NEED evil in the world, because it somehow it is a benefit to us. But this is insanity. This is like saying we NEED weeds to choke out our gardens, we NEED rotten food on our dinner plates, we NEED disease ravishing our bodies, we NEED to die of cancer, we NEED rust in our steel, we NEED scorpions in our beds, we NEED misery in our lives, we NEED to be robbed, we NEED to be raped, we NEED to be beaten or shot, we NEED wars, we NEED angry predatory people attacking us as if we were prey animals to tear apart and eat. This is moral nonsense and philosophical fantasy. Worse, this is moral treason….. it is giving aid and comfort to the enemies who seek to dominate us. This idea is backwards. We do not NEED evil, but evil does NEED us, as victims to prey on. So, all the better for evil predators, if their foolish victims believe the lie that the predators, who are preying on them, are NEEDED….. this idea is the predators’ clever propaganda for the prey….. so don’t fall for it. — Original to this work
When does violence become morally justified, if ever? That is a crucial question, which has been debated for thousands of years, and here is my answer, in the form of a paradox….. VIOLENCE BECOMES JUSTIFIED AGAINST THE VIOLENT. When a person, or a spirit, or an angel, becomes violent for any reason other than the basic need to survive….. when a person becomes a dominating, manipulative tyrant, disrupting the lives of everyone around them….. or when an angel in heaven became resentful of God and rebellious, and could not be returned to reason….. when destruction or domination or predation becomes the goal of any entity….. THAT is the precise moment when violence becomes justified against the violent. That is when the stopping of the destroyer becomes the imperative moral goal, the duty, the responsibility of anyone in contact with the destroyer, and the destroyer must be opposed by all means, for the common good. The initiator of predatory violence brings a righteous violence upon himself. — Original to this work
In my philosophical / religious / historical research, which is my lifetime hobby, I recently found something very compelling. Everyone knows, or should know, about the surprise Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. It is one of the most important events in history, and Admiral Chester Nimitz had a front row seat of the analysis of that event. He was assigned to replace Admiral Kimmel as the new Pacific Fleet Commander on December 16. Admiral Nimitz arrived at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day in 1941, and this is what he was greeted with :
“I found the water covered with oil one-half inch thick from the sunken ships. Many boats were hurrying back and forth between the wrecks and the Peninsula. I was met by Rear Admiral Bellinger, the Pacific Fleet Aviation Officer, who informed me that the boats were picking up drowned sailors and marines from ships and taking their bodies to a central point on the Peninsula.”
Admiral Nimitz then proceeded to rally the military forces of America in the Pacific, and against tremendous obstacles and setbacks, achieved a miracle in defeating the Japanese forces. Nimitz would deny any miracle on his part, but he did come to see the hand of God, in the important errors that the Japanese made at Pearl Harbor. Here is the insightful narrative about those errors given by Admiral Nimitz:
“The several errors made by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941, helped very materially to shorten the war. Their failure to come back a second day, to destroy our repair facilities at the Navy Yard and to burn our four and one-half million barrels of fuel oil in surface tanks, was a most serious error. These tanks could have been destroyed by machine gunning them with 50-caliber incendiary machine gun bullets.
“Likewise, the Japanese made an even more serious error on December 7th by leaving our submarine base on Quarry Point free from attack. As a consequence, no submarines or supporting equipment were damaged and submarines could proceed immediately to stations in the far western Pacific and start their long campaign of destruction of the Japanese merchant marine, which was a primary factor in the defeat of Japan. The submarines sank in excess of 75 percent of Japanese merchant marine shipping.
“At the time of the attack on December 7th, there was under construction at Red Hill, back of Pearl Harbor, an underground bomb-proof storage for all petroleum products. At that time in the Atlantic, allied tankers were the principal targets of the German submarines and you need only check the figures for 1941 and 1942 of the Atlantic losses to see what might have happened had the Japanese destroyed the four and one-half million barrels of oil we had on the surface at Pearl Harbor.
“For me, meantime, after my arrival on Christmas morning of 1941, I sweated blood until the underground bombproof storage was complete and our oil supply safely piped therein. Had our oil supply been destroyed, and considering the tremendous shortage of fuel and petroleum production, generally, in Europe, it would have taken years to re-establish that supply, and would have delayed our Pacific war accordingly. Had our Pearl Harbor installations for repairs been destroyed, our Fleet would have been forced back to the West Coast of the United States for support, another item which would have prolonged the war.
“So in spite of the reverses we suffered on December 7th, 1941, there were some spots on which we could congratulate ourselves on our luck.
“There was further cause for rejoicing in the fact that the Japanese had made the attack on our Fleet while it was inside Pearl Harbor. Had the Fleet been at sea, Admiral Kimmel would certainly have tried to force a battle to bring into play the powerful armament that our battleships carried. However, these ships would have been limited to a maximum speed of about 18 knots, while the Japanese Task Force had a fleet speed of 22 knots. This difference in speed would have imposed on Admiral Kimmel a tremendous disadvantage. He could not have forced a fleet engagement until the Japanese commander was ready for it.
“Furthermore, the Japanese Task Force that came to Pearl Harbor that day had six aircraft carriers, whereas Admiral Kimmel had none— the Lexington being far to the westward on another mission. Imagine, if you can, what would have happened to our slower battleships in such an action, with the aircraft of six carriers working on them and with our Fleet having no air cover at all. Remember that on December 7th, the Japanese destroyed all of the aviation strength of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps on Oahu. Instead of losing some 3,700 to 3,800 men as we did at Pearl Harbor, we would have lost by drowning or capture almost 20,000 men had our fleet been in deep water.
“By this time you will agree that the good Lord was looking out for us, although it didn’t seem so at the time. The men salvaged from the sunken ships in Pearl Harbor were used to form the nuclei of crews that manned the new ships that were coming down the ways in the United States. Had our old fleet not been so completely destroyed, there might have been difficulty in securing the funds to build the ships needed to match the more modern Japanese ships.
“Finally, the Japanese attack served to unify our country, which was not at all sure it wanted to get mixed up in World War II.”
— from NIMITZ: Reflections on Pearl Harbor by William H. Ewing
And Now For The Cosmic Lessons…..
So Admiral Nimitz was convinced that God had a hand in the disaster at Pearl Harbor, keeping it from becoming a much worse disaster, keeping it from badly crippling us at the start of a long war. And I completely agree with him. God, as the logical metaphysical champion of goodness in the universe, must have had some important influence in the events surrounding Pearl Harbor. The quotes from Nimitz I presented above have been used by Christian fundamentalists countless times, I am sure, to support their faith in the omnipotent God of the Bible.
But let us apply some logical reasoning to this chain of events. For an omnipotent God, his hand in these events was a decidedly weak hand. If God determined that the Japanese needed to be opposed at all, why would he so seriously limit his actions? A stronger hand would have been able to stop the evil engineers of the Japanese attack (the imperial government leaders and military commanders), when the full intent and the means to commit the surprise attack came into being. This could have been done in several ways, all with “plausible deniability” to conceal that God had done it, if God were concerned about such things. Let us say that a massive hurricane or a few giant rogue waves sunk the Japanese fleet, in the middle of the ocean, as it was steaming to Pearl Harbor….. this should be a simple thing for an omnipotent God. Storms have devastated naval fleets before, even in the history of Japan. Or let us say that the Japanese leaders who ordered the attack died suddenly, from car wrecks or cancer or heart failure, sometime before they ordered the attack. If the attack was entirely prevented, then all the “errors” of the Japanese commanders would not have been necessary to help us, and 3,800 innocent men would not have been killed.
Better yet, let us say that those Japanese leaders died years before, as their plans for conquest and war solidified in their minds, before they spread their plan and infected the entire country, before they shifted Japanese industry to war production. If God knew their evil intent, and knew when it became a solid plan working toward execution, needing only time and means to happen, that would be the time for an omnipotent God to stop the evil leaders. If the Japanese war on their neighbors was entirely prevented, then all the other battles in mainland Asia and the Pacific Ocean would not have been necessary to fight, the atomic bombs would not have been dropped, and millions of innocent men, women and children would not have been killed.
If the Japanese leaders who planned conquest were disabled or dispatched by God before they started carrying out their plans, then the devastating Pacific war would not have been necessary to have been fought at all. If such leaders have already earned a ‘ticket to Hell’, as evil men, then let’s just start their trip a few years earlier, and save a few million innocent lives in the process. This would be a logical and morally responsible thing for an omnipotent God to do.
But this sort of thing does not happen on our planet. Evil leaders planning conquest are allowed by God to attack and conquer to their hearts content, with the current best example being the leaders of ISIS, who even claim to be doing it in the name of God. If any group ever deserved violent force from a God who is being mis-represented by them, ISIS is it. They are seeking out and killing all Christians, Jews, Shi’ite Muslims, and anyone else who does not agree with their militant Sunni Muslim faith. They kill in the most horrible ways, such as beheading, crucifying, burying alive, and burning alive. They are destroying churches, destroying religious and cultural relics that are thousands of years old. Yet God allows them to thrive and expand. We are barely able to slow them down, by bombing the hell out of them. To ISIS, their smashing success is proof that they are right about God, and that we are wrong about God. Here is their latest press release to us infidels, as of 14 March 2015 :
“We — with Allah’s help — want Paris, before Rome and Islamic Iberia and after we blow up the White House, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower before Paris, and Rome,” he warned.” The Muslims will return to power, to be the vanguard and lead in every place.” They will do this in the most oppressive, brutal, bloody way possible, as these photos show :
Here is a map that ISIS released, showing the lands that they hope to have under their control in the year 2020, and the bizarre Islamic names for those lands:
These huge territorial gains are not likely, but they are not impossible. They are possible, but only if every existing Muslim country in the region switched their allegiance to ISIS. Given the deadly divisions in Islam, such as Sunni versus Shi’ite, this will not happen. But this map serves another important purpose for ISIS, for all devout Muslims, who ISIS hopes to convert to their evil cause. All educated Muslims should recognize that this map is very close to the map of the Islamic empire at its peak in the late 1700’s, with the addition of Spain (Andalus), a great prize that Islam stole earlier from Christianity in a long and brutal war, and then lost because of the strong counter-attack by Christian forces.
The real point of this map is that by 2020, ISIS is claiming that they will regain the Islamic empire of the past, in countries where Islam is already strong, and then they will continue their bloody Jihad to take over the entire world, working from this historic imperial base. This region is rich in oil and other natural resources, that would all be used to support the global Jihad of ISIS. If ISIS wins these lands by 2020, then the peaceful Muslims who oppose ISIS will have been killed or converted, and the Muslim religion, in general, will have become the greatest enemy of God, goodness, progress, and humanity in the modern world, with ISIS becoming the voice, the face, and the sword of all Muslims. Peaceful Muslims in other countries will become heretics, subject to be slaughtered along with all the infidels. The black region in the map above represents a spreading black cloud of death.
So ISIS believes that God will help them “lead in every place”, which means that they will come to control the entire planet Earth, and their black flag would fly in every state of every country. They would be riding a wave of terrible destruction, and the death toll would be in the billions, as they kill everyone who opposes them or disagrees with them. There would be a world shortage of wood crosses for crucifying, steel cages for burning, and sharp knives for beheading. it is a vision of ultimate horror and evil in every way. And not only God knows their evil plans….. they are broadcasting their evil plans and their murders to the entire world, in gruesome detail, and attributing their success to God. Yet we see no answer, no action from God to counter them.
We see no action from God, despite the many promises in the Bible that God will protect his faithful (of the Jewish and Christian varieties) from harm, and destroy their attackers. I have presented those promises elsewhere, in the last article about Jesus With a Whip. ISIS may be the greatest threat in history to the Jews and Christians, and yet we see no action from the God who promised to protect them from such attacks.
Instead, it seems that the ominous promises of “Allah” from the Koran are being kept, enabling ISIS to conquer cities, and to kill all the unbelievers, apostates, and infidels in their reach. The brutal bloody success of ISIS is attracting thousands of like-minded people (evil or incredibly stupid) in Western countries to join them, to abandon their homes and families to travel to Syria and kill people with ISIS. As an aside, they often end up cleaning ISIS toilets instead of killing people, LOL. Everyone else on the planet, billions of us, know that ISIS is wrong and evil, God knows they are wrong and evil, and yet God does nothing significant to stop them, despite desperate pleas and prayers from their victims and from decent people all over the world. Why not?
Imperial Japan had a religious component as well, if not as obvious as ISIS. It had roots in the Samurai, a religious elite warrior class that held great power in medieval Japan. The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushidō. Their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts. The Samurai followed a blend of Buddhism, Zen, Confucianism and Shinto religion. They took the elements of those religions that supported discipline, honor, elitism, loyalty and armed service to one’s lord. Therefore, if the lord was evil or corrupt, his Samurai served evil. Imperial Japan of the early 1900’s corrupted that blend of religion further, and tailored it to support a policy of violence, conquest and expansion, much like ISIS is tailoring Islam to support their conquest today. When the Japanese chose to resort to suicide pilots toward the end of the war, they used a name with a religious meaning : Kamikaze, or “divine wind” (kami = god, spirit, divine, kaze = wind). The word Kamikaze originated as the name of major typhoons in 1274 and 1281, which destroyed Mongolian invasion fleets under Kublai Khan , saving Japan from attack (just the sort of typhoon needed to destroy the Japanese fleet steaming to Pearl Harbor). Like ISIS today, Imperial Japan abused and distorted religion to support conquest, like a slap in the face to God. Yet God did very little to rebuke the bad religion of Imperial Japan and oppose them, and apparently did nothing to oppose them in China, as we will soon see. Why not?
One explanation is that God is simply not able to stop this sort of thing, completely separated from any consideration of allowing us all to have our “free will”, completely separated from testing or teaching us with excruciating pain. There is no morally valid benefit or teaching point resulting from the success of ISIS, just as there was no morally valid benefit or teaching point in allowing the evil Imperial Japanese to attack their neighbors and conquer their lands. The only lesson to learn is that evil people will band together and destroy you, if you do not band together and resist them first, answering force with force. Who needs God to learn that lesson? No one. That lesson is learned easily on this planet, in every generation throughout history, with or without God. It makes no logical sense for an omnipotent God to allow us to be conquered and killed by evil people, to teach us any lesson, and it could be considered immoral, even cruel. So the logical and moral evidence points to a seriously limited God, who is not omnipotent.
As a counterpoint, the Old Testament tells us that God became angry at the Hebrews a few times for disobeying him and following other religions, that he then allowed Israel to be conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. This resulted in a faithful core of Hebrews, led by prophets, returning to the Hebrew faith. This may be an exception to my arguments, where allowing such conquering and killing did have some benefit. But it was at the great cost of allowing many innocent people to be killed, and the great cost of allowing evil pagan empires to expand their power, influence and religion. And these conquerings of the Hebrews did not require the omnipotence of God. All God had to do, was to withdraw any limited help or protection he had been providing to the Hebrews, and let the aggression of their violent neighbors run its course. But, in earnest objection to that idea, a moral omnipotent God should be opposed to ALL predatory aggression of nations. He certainly should not be allowing it to succeed, nor using the predatory aggression of one nation against another. This would be an outrageous neglect, or an outrageous misuse of omnipotent unlimited power.
Reading the Bible With New Eyes
Another interesting counterpoint, earlier in Hebrew history, would be God’s powerful actions to forcefully free the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery, in the Book of Exodus. God brought about plagues, he killed the Egyptians’ first-born sons, he parted the sea, and drowned much of the Pharaoh’s army in the sea, but in all these awesome displays of force, God failed to deal with the biggest problem of all.… the evil Pharaoh himself, the evil Pharaohs before him, and the evil leaders under the Pharaohs who kept the Hebrews enslaved, in a centuries-long campaign of predatory evil against the Hebrews. After centuries of evil, God finally killed Pharaoh’s son and Pharaoh’s soldiers, but he did not or could not kill Pharaoh himself, who was the person most responsible for the slavery of the Hebrews.
The scriptures do not tell us why God let the slavery continue for centuries, in fact they do not even clearly mention the time span of the slavery, but that has been roughly determined in other ways, to be anywhere from 430 years to 215 years. I tend to go with the shorter period, which is still centuries. After Joseph served as the Egyptian prime minister and brought his family there, the Hebrews lived in Egypt with freedom for a long time, before they were turned into slaves for a long time.
Curiously, the scriptures do tell us that God had a strange plan for dealing with the Pharaoh, as God told Moses: “….. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt….. and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” Exodus 7: 3-5. So, instead of disabling or killing the one person who already had most of the responsibility for keeping the Hebrews enslaved, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. What does this mean? It means that God took away Pharaoh’s free will, prevented Pharaoh from doing what Moses asked him, prevented Pharaoh from releasing the Hebrews from slavery. Why did God do that? So that God could “multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt….. and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”. These scriptures tell us that God took away Pharaoh’s free will and brought the nation of Egypt to its knees, killing many thousands of Egyptians in the process, so that the surviving Egyptians would know and believe that the Hebrew god was more powerful that their “gods”.
So, it would seem that God was using Moses and the Pharaoh and everyone else in this great drama as pawns….. pawns in a much larger chess game that God was waging against larger metaphysical opponents, above the earthly plane. The “gods” of Egypt were created by metaphysical enemies of God; inspired by Satan and his legion of fallen angels; and God was doing battle with those enemies in the nation of Egypt. One of God’s goals was to destroy or invalidate the popular ancient religion of Egypt with its many “gods”, while liberating the Hebrew people from wrongful slavery.
God’s plan was executed, the drama played out, the nation of Egypt was devastated, and the Hebrew slaves escaped, to go and carve out their own nation in the land of Canaan. Their conquests in that land were bloody. They were commanded by God to kill the existing inhabitants, every man, woman, and child, presumably to wipe out their gene pool and their religion. God gave this drastic command after devastating the nation of Egypt for worshiping other gods. So in this time of history, the Hebrews were used by God as tools in a long campaign, to attack other cultures that had other rival religions, to stop their evil and immorality, to replace them with the higher moral standards that we find in the Bible, in the Ten Commandments for example. One of those commandments, “thou shalt not kill”, was effectively modified into “thou shalt not kill, except when God commands you to kill people of another religion”. I wish we could know the actual spiritual success or failure of this campaign, because it came with a high cost of lives and property. This campaign, in which God commanded the Hebrews to kill all of their enemies….. man, woman, child….. even including their livestock, is equivalent to the destructive policies of ISIS today. It is shockingly different from the soft, loving, forgiving image that most Christian preachers paint of God today. In that earlier time, God was waging war on people who rejected him, waging war on rival spirits such as Satan, and I hope that the gains were worth the cost. If they were worth the cost, then I wish God would do that again, against enemies such as ISIS, who have become mass murderers and mass enslavers, who can only be stopped by killing them. Such predatory enemies are closing in on good people all over the world, and we need God’s corrective justice more than ever, more than in the time of the Exodus.
This entire saga about the conquest of Canaan speaks of God waging war, God taking extreme measures, which an omnipotent God should never be forced to do. Massive killing, such as God commanded the Hebrews to do at this time, is only necessary when evil forces have been able to conquer and enslave large areas, over a long period of time. But this indicates a gross failure of good forces to prevent that conquering, over a long period of time. The forces of evil should never have been allowed to accumulate so much power and so many followers. This would apply to any period of extreme evil, such as the time before Noah’s flood, such as the time we are living in now. This is a vital point that we shall explore much more below.
Getting back to the war of the Hebrews versus Egypt, when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and therefore took away Pharaoh’s free will, Pharaoh arrogantly rebuked God and mocked Moses, time after time, spurring God to bring another disaster to Egypt. The Pharaoh’s death and the death of his evil henchmen would have ended the conflict, but we are told that God wanted Pharaoh to stay very much alive and defiant, as an evil adversary to God, as an opposing pawn to justify a larger attack against a hostile nation. God played out a grand drama, argued and struggled with a constrained Pharaoh, laying waste to an entire nation, to punish its people. He set up the Pharaoh as his punching bag, his sparring partner, who could not tap out from this fight with God. If this is true, the evil Pharaoh richly deserved it, but disabling or killing him would have been more efficient and more understandable.
To summarize, this rigged sparring exhibition with Pharaoh was God’s plan from the beginning, which he told Moses from the beginning. It was a rigged fight, because Pharaoh was not a free agent. He was constrained or restricted by God. God supposedly used this constraint of Pharaoh for a good reason. God kept punishing the people of Egypt, who bore indirect responsibility for the slavery of the Hebrews, instead of punishing the leader of Egypt, who bore direct and personal responsibility for the slavery of the Hebrews. But God was punishing Egypt for much more than enslaving the Hebrews. It seems clear that God was punishing the people of Egypt for rejecting God for centuries, for accepting the false gods of Satan, even when the Hebrews were among them and worshiping God openly. The Hebrews followed a different moral code, that the Egyptians rejected. So God punished the Egyptians for holding to their ancient gods and religion and morals, that did not meet the standards of God. To accomplish this, God took away the free will of Pharaoh, already an evil man, making him essentially more evil, making him challenge God, instead of killing him, even though God killed thousands of other Egyptians in this campaign.
This is a puzzling way for God to handle the situation, as if working within limitations, as if figuring ways around obstacles. Very puzzling, if God were omnipotent. But I have a question, that might solve the puzzle. What if God was simply not capable of disabling or killing the Pharaoh, even though God killed thousands of other Egyptians to make his point? What unknown factors would explain such peculiar limits to God’s power? Could the Pharaoh have been protected by some forces or entities that were acting in opposition to God? Could it be that God was actually the one who was constrained or limited, in his fight with the Pharaoh? I am wondering whether God really did “harden Pharaoh’s heart”, or if Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and God was somehow given credit for doing it, to help conceal his limits. This divine assault on Egypt was conducted in a limited way, and achieved only limited success.
In God’s campaign against Egypt, there were three proper moral goals….. three goals that would be logical and desirable from a Godly moral standpoint….. three goals that were stated or implied in the Bible….. one, liberate the Hebrew slaves who the Egyptians had oppressed for centuries; two, punish the Egyptians for their false religion and turn them from it; and three, neutralize and stop the tyranny of an evil Pharaoh. But only one of these goals, liberating the Hebrew slaves, was completely accomplished.
The other goals, turning the Egyptians from their false religion and neutralizing an evil Pharaoh, were not met. After the epic conflict, the religion of Egypt did not change, and God left an evil Pharaoh alive and in power to commit more predatory evil against his nation. After the Hebrews left Egypt, after the Pharaoh came limping back home from trying to destroy them at the Red Sea, we can be sure that Pharaoh did not suddenly repent and become an ethical and compassionate leader of his people. Pharaoh did not convert to worship the God who had just laid waste to his nation and decimated his army, in order to release the Hebrew people who did worship God. If the Pharaoh did so change, or if the people of Egypt so changed, their conversion would have been included as a grand ending to the Bible story.
Instead, Egypt remained a tyrannical regime that preyed on other people, as illustrated by this historical report of the exploits of Ramses III: “….. I laid low the Meshwesh, the Libyans, the Esbet, the Keykesh, the Shai, the Hes and the Beken….. I carried away those whom my sword had spared, as numerous captives, pinioned like birds before my horses, their wives and their children by the ten-thousand, their cattle in number like hundred-thousands…..” the Harris Papyrus (circa 1100 BC). This occurred after the Exodus, which different scholars have placed at 1450 BC to 1250 BC. Tyranny, conquest and slavery continued in Egypt, as did their God-denying religion.
There is a huge moral problem with this failure to kill or disable an evil Pharaoh of the Exodus, and all the evil Pharaohs before him who enslaved the Hebrews, that again points to serious limits to God’s abilities. It almost seems that when evil gains enough power in evil leaders, it somehow gains a protection against attack by the powers of goodness. We should ask if God really did “harden Pharaoh’s heart”, or if Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and God simply could not disable or kill him, because, perhaps, the evil Pharaoh was under metaphysical protection from another source, acting as a rival to God? Or, what if Satan actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as well as protecting him from being killed by God? If this were the case, the writers of the scriptures, being committed to God’s omnipotence, would certainly not want to believe it or report it.
God seems to have a difficult struggle or contest with rival forces of evil, which was even described for us in the biblical Book of Job. In the Book of Job, the highly moral man Job, who loved and worshiped God, was allowed by God to be attacked and almost completely destroyed by Satan, to see if Job would abandon God, which Job did not do, despite the horrible things Satan did to him. Satan made a destructive challenge to God, like making a gambler’s bet towards an uncertain outcome, a bet which God accepted and allowed to go forward.
The Book of Job, Read With New Eyes
This is the way the deadly contest started between God and Satan, in Job 2: 6-11: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.”
Now, this is quite a surprising and disturbing encounter. God is allowing Satan to disrupt his meeting with his most trusted angels, or perhaps God cannot stop Satan from disrupting this meeting. Then, curiously, God brags to Satan about his best human follower Job. God brought up the subject of Job, not Satan, and predictably Satan challenges the motives of Job, and makes an ominous bet that puts Job and everyone around Job in great peril. God took the awful bet, but allowed Satan to do the destroying, instead of himself, saying: “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” Job 2: 12. In the next few verses, this turned out to be a death sentence for many people in Job’s family and businesses. Satan had challenged God to do the destroying, but at least God did not agree to that disastrous ploy. Much blood would be shed in this game of power, but the blood would not be directly on God’s hands. Satan left the presence of God, probably with evil delight, and launched a prolonged terrorist-like attack of great violence against Job’s family, servants, and vast possessions.
It was an utterly devastating campaign of destruction, murder, and mayhem. It made modern mafia or gang wars look like child’s play. Satan launched a seek-and-destroy mission like no other ever written about. Every other evil mission in history has had opposition from forces of goodness, but not this one. Satan could seek out and destroy everything Job loved and possessed, with demonic power, with no risk to himself. He could plan the perfect destruction, like an engineer of evil, with no one to challenge his plans. Job had amassed a vast and far-reaching benevolent empire of productive and profitable enterprises, with the blessings and protection of God. With the protection of God removed, Satan could not be harmed by men, he could not be opposed by men, so he risked nothing as he conducted a cowardly mission of absolute destruction, with God’s permission. Satan must have enjoyed it immensely.
Satan must have made some unmentioned preparations, moving forces into place, getting ready to strike. He used a combination of human and metaphysical resources. When he was ready, he launched a devastating coordinated attack on several fronts. We are told that he did most of it in one single day, employing bandits, a foreign raiding party, a windstorm, and fire raining down from the sky to burn up thousands of sheep and their shepherds. Burning to death is a particularly painful and cruel method of killing, and a very key method in this story.
But Satan was careful to spare one man, one eye-witness, from each slaughter. These lone survivors must have thought that they were saved by God, but no, they were saved by Satan, for an important purpose. The single survivor of each disaster reached Job one right after the other, from far-flung places, to deliver the awful news. The messenger of the sheep said of the raining fire: “the fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants.” Satan must have been especially happy to hear this report. It was not the fire of God from heaven, it was the fire of Satan, but no one knew this. The messenger’s report meant that Satan’s subterfuge was working perfectly. God was being blamed for Satan’s murders and destruction.
This was not only an epic campaign of destruction, it was also a grand campaign of deception. Satan had urged God to do the destroying, and God had wisely refused, as mentioned above. This is very significant. If God had done the destroying as Satan had challenged him to do, then God would have essentially become like Satan. But Satan needed the destruction to appear to come from God, so Satan had to fall back to deception. Satan wanted Job and everyone else to think that God was doing these horrible things, so he used fire raining down from the sky, a God-like non-human weapon, a terrifying weapon, far superior to human weapons, and the deception was a complete success. Job was devastated, with his family and vast empire destroyed in one day, by multiple coordinated attacks, including supernatural fire from the sky. Job and all others were convinced that God had done this to him, as Satan intended. They had no idea that Satan was even capable of such a thing. In their belief, Satan was held to limits by the omnipotent power of God, so in their minds, the raining fire had to be from God. Satan used their own religion against them, to distort the beliefs of everyone in the country. The extreme evil acts of Satan were being attributed to God. Not only was Satan destroying Job, God’s greatest follower, he was also damaging the image and reputation of God in an entire region. This was a masterpiece of deception by Satan, with elements that most readers of Job have not even considered.
God allowed this deadly deception to proceed and succeed, all along its murderous way, from planning to execution, when he could have exposed it at any time. Allowing this deception was not mentioned as a condition of the bargain with Satan. But Satan’s clever campaign of lies was safe….. for he had deviously backed God into a corner of sorts. After all of the killing and destruction, done quickly in one day, with everyone believing it to be done directly by God, God would gain nothing by exposing his true involvement and complicity in this gross and grisly injustice. If he spoke up now, what could he say?….. “I did not do these terrible evil things, but Satan asked me do them, so I let him do them” is not a very noble Godly message. “The devil made me do it” or “the devil talked me into it” might be an acceptable excuse for humans, but not for a God of love, justice and omnipotence.
Of course, an omnipotent God could have ended the evil assault with righteous justice at any time, by exposing Satan’s deceptive campaign for all to see and then dealing out a severe punishment to Satan, for all to see. This could have turned Satan’s dark and dirty scheme into a great triumph of Goodness for the entire universe. This was a chance to expose the evil lies and manipulations of Satan, and then to end the evil rebellion of Satan for all time. But God could not, or would not, take the appropriate action.
Instead, through inaction, through allowing the evil of Satan a free hand, God’s image was suddenly in danger of going from bad to worse….. going from a violent unjust God, to a weakling of a God who can be manipulated and tricked by his great enemy Satan to be violent and unjust, allowing many people to be murdered for no good reason. It would seem that the conniving Satan had God in a tight spot, with God’s image at great risk of a dark tarnish…… and incredibly the image of God now depended solely upon one human being….. Job. God’s allowing of this great evil needed justification, and that justification lied in the hands of Job, the man whose life was being destroyed.
Instead of reading this story in the Bible, with the outcome already known and written, just imagine watching this drama as it played out, as God and Satan made their moves and cast their bets on how Job would react to this incredibly evil, unjust attack carried out by Satan and sanctioned by God. After the vicious attacks and the deceptions, the only uncertainty, the only variable became the moral character of Job. The outcome was not known, not even to God, who was putting his divine image at great risk. The brightening or dimming of God’s image became linked to Job, became highly dependent upon the integrity of one man….. the strength or weakness of Job’s commitment to morality and goodness. If Job’s will was broken, and his spirit darkened and scarred, Satan would win.
Now, consider, what would we be reading in the Bible if Job’s will was broken, and he cursed God, or committed suicide, or just weakened and died with a broken spirit and broken heart, after losing his family and his means of making a living? Would God blame Job for failing to pass this evil test of horrors, or would God have any remorse at all for allowing Satan to destroy his best follower on Earth? Would the moral of the story be….. “look what happened to Job, who defied God and lost everything, so don’t be like Job”…..? This would be a clear case of the criminals blaming the victim, with the criminals being Satan and God, and the victim being Job. If God did not accept responsibility for allowing the murder of innocent people, and if he did not punish Satan for those murders, then God would no longer have any good moral standing with the human race.
God would have destroyed his best follower on Earth. God would have destroyed all the good things that Job had built; all the love and charity that Job had shown his fellow man. Job had worshiped God diligently, Job had been a bright sign pointing to the goodness of God, and all that would be gone….. lost in a foolish bet with Satan, who would be gloating and touting his great victory over God. Satan would be strengthened, and God would be left with innocent blood on his hands, and nothing but disaster to show for it. This is the risk that God was taking, in this whole evil affair.
There are basic moral principles that one must follow, basic moral laws of behavior that one must not break, if a person wants to be regarded as good rather than evil….. loving rather than hateful….. helpful rather than hurtful….. constructive rather than destructive. God is no exception. He is also subject to these principles and laws, if he wants the love and respect of human beings, as the Bible says he does. In the story of Job, God is violating these moral principles and laws, at great risk. If Job fails this test of horrors, then God also fails the test.
On the other hand, If Job’s will stayed strong, and his spirit bright, God would win. Then God would win the bet, Satan would lose, and God would have the perfect opportunity to expose Satan’s lies and treachery, and end Satan’s evil existence or at least end his freedom to attack humans, for all time. This goal was a good reason to let Satan continue his destruction and deception, but only if God had the power to carry out the punishment. Sadly, both the goal and the power are lacking, because we can look ahead in the Bible to the end of the story, and see that nothing happened to Satan at all. But let us return to the cosmic conflict in progress…..
….. So the deception continued and the risk increased when God consented to let Satan attack Job’s person, Job’s health, with boils or blisters all over his body. In this cosmic poker game, Satan raised the bet and God had to call (even though, oddly, God did not collect the penalty from Satan at the end of the game). Job’s agony and misery rose sharply, with the attack becoming even more intimate and personal. The emotional torture was joined by biological torture….. the physical pain was constant and mind-numbing….. contact of his skin with any surface made the boils burst with pus and erupt with pain. The wearing of garments became intolerable. Lying down to sleep was like lying down on a bed of fire. Sleep was impossible, except through sheer exhaustion. If there were boils on the bottom of his feet, walking would have shredded his feet into a bloody pulp, even with sandals. If there were boils in his mouth, then even eating or drinking would bring no pleasure, no diversion from the pain that now tyrannized every minute of every day and night of Job’s ruined life. The skin is the largest and most sensitive organ of the body, and Satan turned Job’s skin into a source of excruciating, unrelenting pain. Now, every aspect of Job’s entire life had become a source of misery. Death was becoming more attractive, as the only possible way to end the suffocating pain and destruction that Job’s life had become. Death had to be on Job’s mind every day, but he resisted the temptation to end his agony so easily.
Job and all others continued to assume that God was doing this to Job, so they assumed that Job was guilty of something horrible and unforgivable. Everyone but Job, that is. Job thought that God was doing it, but Job refused to admit guilt of doing anything wrong. Even when God later went “all in” with this deception, delivering a lengthy rebuke to Job for no good reason, Job refused to bow his head in guilt or shame. He refused to give up, he refused to die, and his strong sense of justice kept him alive, to see if somehow he would be vindicated
It is disturbing to realize that God participated in this epic deception, first by consent, then by silence, then later by rebuking Job after the attacks, without mentioning his little bet with Satan. By continuing the deception started by Satan, God tested Job to such an extent, beyond any limits, it is amazing that Job did not simply lay down and die, with his body and spirit broken. But as I will soon explain, God had faith in Job, because both of them had faith in something greater.
In their conversation in heaven, Satan also acknowledged for us that God had a “hedge” or protective barrier around Job and all that he had. The barrier was there for good reason, to keep Satan and his forces from destroying God’s most faithful and moral follower at the time. There is no doubt that Job had long been one of Satan’s prime targets, and that Satan had already probed the protective barrier, with no success. Job was not a random subject in a strange conversation, he was the focal point of the conflict, constantly on the minds of both God and Satan. God needed to protect Job, and he did, as acknowledged by Satan. So God did have the power to protect at least one man and his entire clan from Satan, until Satan persuaded God to take down the barrier, as part of a horrible bet. As an aside, one wonders why God did not have a hedge or protective barrier around the Garden of Eden, where Satan attacked the first humans? How was it that Satan even had the access, to slither up to Eve in the form of a devious, lying serpent? Was that disaster the result of another cosmic bet?
But an omnipotent God of Love and Righteousness would not have been such a gambler, and would not have allowed evil forces to play such an evil game like this with a good man like Job, destroying everything that Job had rightfully produced with love and hard work, even to the point of killing his family and most of his servants.
It is morally inconceivable, ethically unacceptable, and a violation of all logic and common sense, that an omnipotent God would have allowed such extreme evil to be done, or would have given his greatest enemy the permission to do it.
You may ask, how can I have the arrogance to say what God would or would not do in such a scenario? If you ask me that, then you must also ask, how could Job have the arrogance to question God, to demand answers from God? Job essentially came to the the same conclusion as I have, and Job was later justified by God. Job was not arrogant, he was desperate, at his wit’s end, asking for a glimmer of goodness and justice, when he was surrounded and suffocated by unjust evil.
I can say it, without arrogance, because I, and you, and all of us, are made in the image of God, as he told us in Genesis. This means that our highest thoughts, our best values, our noblest morals are seeking the mind of God. Or rather, our mind and God’s mind are both seeking an ideal morality, a perfect system of ethical values and behavior, a best balance of pure ideal values such as Love and Justice. When God created humanity, in his image, he gave us his own capability of seeking these pure ideal values. He then gives us guidance and instruction in many ways, and once we have learned God’s ways, we can partially chart our own course, while still seeking the same results that God is seeking.
But we are seeking this ideal morality, this best balance, under great adversity and attack. God has Satan as his great enemy and attacker, who is seeking a far different result. Human seekers of spirit have not only Satan and his minions attacking us, but also have most of humanity seeking other goals in conflict, with many humans turning into predators, actively seeking to destroy us.
Regardless of all that adversity, a spiritual seeker, a loving and righteous man, with a proper sense of Love and Justice, would not want Satan to have his evil way with Job, murdering his family and servants, and would never consent to it, so that is how I can say that God did not want it, and that God would have prevented it if he could. He consented to it only because of even greater adversities and constraints which are unknown to us, which are far worse than our adversities, which are unreported in the Bible. Job sensed this, that God was acting “out of character” for some important reason. Even in the depths of his profound misery, Job still followed the pure ideal values of Love and Justice, that God had temporarily abandoned. Job kept his loyalty to God’s ideals, the universal moral ideals, even when he thought he was being attacked unjustly by God.
So if the story of Job is generally true in principle, if it has a kernel of precious knowledge, if it has a lesson worth learning, that lesson is that we have the ability to pursue the same ideals that God is pursuing, even when God is apparently punishing us for doing so. We are capable of seeking these pure ideal values on our own, against all adversity, even when everything we love is being destroyed.
A secondary lesson from the story of Job is that the power and relationship of God and Satan are not as orthodox religion teaches. Some unknown factors compelled God to lower his protective barrier around Job, which exposed Job and his family to Satan’s vicious attacks. There are elements missing from this story, that would explain and justify God’s way of handling the epic situation. If we are limited to the elements presented in the Bible, then God’s actions in much of the Bible are not justified. But by logical and moral reasoning, God is always justified, so the Bible does not report all of the elements.
We can come to this conclusion in the spirit of Job himself, who knew he had been wronged and cried out for Justice, knowing that he would be justified in the end, in spite of all the physical evidence to the contrary, in spite of a rebuke by God. And he was indeed proven to be justified, by God himself. After this conclusion, our goal then becomes an effort to seek out the unknown, unreported elements of the reality of God, and the reality of the world, and the reality of our spiritual existence. These unknown, unreported elements will not be found in any church, nor in any orthodox religious organization.
Likewise, the crucial points I am making here, about the story of Job, will never be preached in a church, except perhaps in condemnation of such ideas. Chief among those points is this:
An omnipotent God would not have allowed this horrendous attack on Job. An omnipotent God would have rebuked Satan for daring to challenge him with such an evil ploy, to allow Satan to kill Job’s family and servants and livestock, to destroy everything Job had. But God did allow it, Job did not curse God, Satan was proved wrong, and even after all that, God did not rebuke Satan. In the Book of Job, God did not rebuke Satan, but God did rebuke or lecture Job, for crying out in pain and wishing to die, and demanding an answer from God, after everything he loved was destroyed, and his body was covered with boils. And still, Job did not curse God, yet he was rebuked by God. God’s rebuke was more like a lecture, asking how Job could question God’s judgement, asking where was Job when God created the universe. Nothing was said to Job about God offering up Job as an innocent victim to Satan in a bet, which is what caused this whole tragedy. Therefore, Job was within his moral rights to question God’s judgement, rendering God’s rebuke unreasonable, perhaps even abusive. With such an irrelevant and evasive rebuke, God was almost acting as Satan’s partner in this evil deception. As I said above, there are elements missing from this story, that would explain and justify God’s way of handling the epic situation. Chief among those elements is the question of the omnipotence of God.
Love, Knowledge, and Justice….. The Essential Elements of Goodness
However, one element that is very clear, that stands out above all in this story, is Job’s integrity and morality. Job is the unsung hero in this cosmic duel between God and Satan. Everything he owned, everyone he loved, everything he held dear was destroyed, and he did not know why. And yet he held tight to a philosophy of love, knowledge and justice. He did not succumb to hate, he searched for knowledge of what was happening to him, and he cried out to God for justice. He held tight to this philosophy for it’s own sake, not for the sake of God, who had abandoned him to the ravages of Satan. Even when Job was scolded by God like an naughty child, adding insult to injury, Job did not despair. That divine rebuke could have driven Job to anger, hate, deep depression, or suicide. But it did not, because Job was driven by something greater.
Job held tight to a natural moral philosophy that is universal, that is superior, with or without the support of God. The strength of this philosophy is not dependent upon God. In fact, it could be said that God is dependent upon the strength of this philosophy. We are all dependent upon the superiority of the concepts of Love, Knowledge, and Justice. Held up by this philosophy, even when abandoned by God, Job did not completely despair, he did not give in to his darkest thoughts, he did not lash out in anger. With his three close friends, he searched for knowledge of what had befallen him. When he was rebuked by his friends, he did not hate them. Instead, he prayed for his friends, showing great love.
But Job fiercely sought justice. He refused to admit guilt for any sins that he was being punished for, and held a steady moral course, saying “Though he (God) slay me, yet will I trust in him; but I will maintain mine own ways before him”. Job 13:15. Job trusted God even if God killed him, but he did not trust God with his own ways, his own moral path, his own essence. This is remarkable, that Job would pay homage to God on one hand, but still maintain his own moral values independent of God on the other hand. Job is actually expressing allegiance to a moral code or philosophy greater than God, a philosophy that men are capable of discerning for themselves.
The True Strength of Job, Apart From God
In this philosophy, God is seen as a great power, our creator, our vast superior. He may have more power than any other entity in the universe, but he is not omnipotent. Omnipotence for any entity is a fantasy, a false idea of human religion. God is seen as the highest sponsor of love and goodness, but God is not seen as the arbiter of all morality. There is an ideal of morality that we all seek, apart from God, even in opposition to God if necessary, that holds our true allegiance. We are capable of following a path of morality and righteousness, with or without God, because of how he has designed us. This is what Job was expressing. The creation can be independent of the creator, in some ways. God cannot act unjustly and still keep our complete loyalty. In Job’s case, he was being unjustly and wrongfully attacked, and Job knew it. He knew he had done nothing wrong, he knew that he was in the right. He did not know that Satan was responsible for the attacks. He assumed that God was responsible for the attacks, and he respected God, even if under attack by God. But Job still expressed an independence from God, he expressed the iron will to “maintain mine own ways” before God.
I am not recommending that we all “maintain our own ways” separate from God, as a goal in itself. That would be foolish, that would be arrogant, that would be evil. That is what Satan was doing, what Satan has done ever since his original rebellion against God. We must discern the philosophical difference between Satan and Job. They were both in conflict with God, but one was evil and one was good, one was the predator and one was the victim. And the story of Job is presented as a unique situation in all of history, when God gave permission for Satan to viciously attack one man, in order to test him. God knew the strength of goodness within Job’s soul, the strength of Job’s innate moral values, the correctness of Job’s ethical nature. Because of Job’s moral strength, apart from God, which God could sense, this bet with Satan was not as risky for God as Satan thought it was. God knew that Job could follow his own strong moral compass, even when Job thought that God was attacking him. Prior to Satan’s devious attack, Job had faith in God. After the attack, as the gamble played out, Job continued to have faith in God, and God had faith in Job. And they both had faith in something apart, something ideal, something we all seek and use every day, and that is philosophy. The philosophy God and Job shared was a universal philosophy of goodness, composed of the basic elements of Love, Knowledge and Justice.
God’s faith in Job, God’s faith in the independent superior philosophy of Job was proven to be justified. Even in ignorance of the true situation, Job made the right call and chose to follow his own moral judgement, which was correct by any measure. This put him in conflict with God, this put him in conflict with his friends, but that did not stop him. Job did not curse God, but he did not blindly submit to God either. He questioned God, and he made a declaration to his friends, in defiance of the apparent attacks by God: “Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears. Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.” Job 13:17-18. When his friends argued with him and tried to hold him guilty, he bravely held his ground: “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and He that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.” Job 27:5-7. This is very remarkable. Job was holding his own moral position, against his friends, against God. He was holding his own moral position above God. Job knew that he was innocent. After everything he held dear was destroyed, and his body was covered with oozing boils, and he thought he was going to die in misery, Job still knew that he was in the right, on his own, even if he was being attacked by God, even if his friends criticized and rebuked him. He knew that he was innocent, and he knew that Justice was on his side, even if God was not.
Justice, as an ideal moral value, was at least as important to Job as his respect for God. He was willing to die for his concept of Justice, rather than admit any guilt of sins that he had not committed. Job had an absolute Knowledge of right and wrong and Justice, that he valued above anything, even above God.
But remarkably, even in his torment and pain, while maintaining an ideal philosophy, Job did not lose his faith in God, even though God may be attacking him: “Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air, Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof.” Job 28:20-23.
Job knew that he himself had some small measure of wisdom and understanding, and he held tight to it. It was the only thing keeping him from complete despair in his plight. And he maintained the knowledge that God still possessed the ultimate understanding and wisdom, even if God was attacking him. Please note that God did not give Job this ultimate knowledge. God had abandoned Job to the malevolence of Satan. Job acquired this knowledge of ideal morality on his own. God was his creator, God was his mentor, God was his teacher, God was his ally, but when he thought he was being forced to choose between God and his own moral values, he followed his own excellent moral values, he followed his own concept of true Justice.
But even then, Job did not abandon God, even though he thought God may have abandoned him. His wife had urged Job to curse God and die, but cursing God was still the farthest thing from his mind. To Job, the concepts of goodness, ideal morality, and God were forever linked, regardless of his personal fate. This is the ultimate profound expression of an allegiance to ideal morality, while still including an allegiance to a senior, superior entity who shares the same values, even if that entity was somehow hostile for the moment. Job looked beyond his devastating personal tragedy, and stayed focused on an ideal of universal goodness and Justice. This is the bravest expression of natural moral philosophy that I have found, in all of the literature I have researched in my life, to this moment.
Job stood on the foundation of morality that he had learned from God, and reached higher still, when God seemed to be faltering. For this act of profound goodness and courage, Job is my favorite character in the Bible. And in the end, for the icing on the cake, he was proven right and rewarded by God.
Even when he was being rebuked by God, even when God failed to explain why this disaster was happening to him (a friendly little bet with Satan), he held to his own high principles and stayed to his highly moral course. Job proved to be the strongest moral character in this story, even stronger than God.
Job lost the most, he risked the most, he suffered the most, he was rebuked by God, and despite all that, he did not let it change his superior philosophy. After God’s lengthy rebuke, Job was awed, Job was humbled, but incredibly he still held to an ideal apart from God, still challenging God, still wanting, even demanding answers from God. After a rambling rebuke from God, that takes four chapters in the Book of Job, Job did not grovel, he did not despair, he did not become a yes-man, he did not extinguish his own bright flame of spirit. He was not satisfied with God’s rebuke, and with amazing courage, he issued a small rebuke of his own to God: “Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, to declare thou unto me.” Job 42:4
These words were similar to words God had used in his rebuke. God had demanded Job to declare, and now Job was demanding God to declare.
Question: What gave Job the incredible bravery to throw God’s own words back at him? Answer: The strength of Job’s independent superior philosophy, apart from God. You see, Job knew that God was not being straight with him. Job knew that he had not been treated fairly, that justice had not been served. Vital moral principles had been violated, and God did not address this at all in his rebuke. Also, on the strength of Job’s philosophy, apart from God, he was telling God “go pick on someone your own size”, like a small boy would tell an older bully in the school playground. Job could do this only if he had an absolute conviction that his moral values, his moral philosophy was absolutely right, with or without God. This gave him the strength of will to hold God to a higher standard, apart from God.
In God’s lengthy rebuke, Job knew that God did not explain why Job had been so viciously attacked. He knew that God was beating around the bush, avoiding some central issue, using evasive tactics, and Job was rightly disturbed by this. And indeed, God was avoiding telling Job about the bet with Satan. God would not tell Job that he was the human target of a crucial battle between God and his greatest enemy, a battle that would be recorded in a Bible that would teach humanity profound lessons for many thousands of years. Some of those lessons have still not been discovered.
Job knew, by virtue of his independent moral philosophy, that he was in the right. By that same philosophy, he knew that God was hiding some important information, and he still stood up to God, to ask for it. He did not get it, but he did still ask for it.
And in the end, Job’s independent moral philosophy was proven right, and it was even rewarded by God, who had abandoned Job during the agonizing ordeal of this horrible bet with Satan. God was very pleased with Job’s conviction, bravery, and independent moral philosophy. God restored everything Job had lost, even doubling it.
Job Rebuked, Then Rewarded….. Satan Rewarded, Then NOT Rebuked
God rewarded Job, but what did God do with Satan, his great enemy, who caused this horrible ordeal? Nothing!! Something is surely wrong here….. Satan got “rewarded” up front, by being given free reign to murder and destroy. Then Satan was proven wrong and he lost the bet, after murdering many people and killing livestock, but God did not rebuke Satan with one harsh word. The Book of Job begins with a lively dispute between God and Satan, but it ends with a deafening silence between them, after Satan was utterly defeated in his challenge.
It seems that God missed a golden opportunity here. Satan left a trail of death and carnage in his wake, and was proven wrong, yet God had nothing to say to him? Instead, God rebuked the poor man Job, who was the target of the most devastating terrorist attack on a single man in history, that included many murders, destruction of houses, killing herds of livestock, and a biological attack to Job himself. So then God rebukes Job, the innocent victim of the attack, and God does not rebuke Satan, the evil perpetrator of the attack?? This is fundamentally wrong and it offends our sense of justice, even more than Job’s sense of justice was offended, for Job did not know the larger conflict swirling around him. But God’s failure to rebuke Satan may give us a clue about the reality of God, and the limits of God’s power.
Could it be that God actually chose to remain silent, chose not to rebuke Satan at the end of this epic contest? That seems unlikely. Throughout the Bible, God rarely misses an opportunity for a rebuke. It is a key teaching method for him, and rightly so. We need to read God’s rebuke, after a key event, to get the teaching points of the event, to learn his wisdom. In Job’s case, Job was the innocent victim of a vicious attack, and he got a rambling rebuke from God. Satan, the perpetrator of the attack, the criminal, the murderer, needed to be rebuked, and by rights should have been severely punished as well. There needed to be a terrible price for losing a high-stakes bet with God. There needed to be retribution for the many murders and vast destruction of houses, livestock, etc. As a minimum, the situation called for a rousing “evil lost and goodness won” rebuke of Satan, in some more distinguished divine language.
So it is very unlikely that God chose not to rebuke Satan for attacking Job. It seems more likely that Satan quickly vanished or retreated far from God’s presence, so that he could not be rebuked. Somehow, God was not able to rebuke Satan, or not able to make Satan listen to a rebuke, that Job and his murdered family desperately needed to hear, that we so much need to hear today. If rebuke was not possible in this case, then discipline or punishment of Satan was not possible either. This is an indicator of God’s limits, God’s lesser power than is generally believed; and Satan’s greater power or freedom than is generally believed. It is an indicator that is consistent with other conflicts between God and Satan, that are reported in the Bible.
In the end, the story of Job was a great triumph for the philosophy of Goodness, but it could have been a greater triumph for God if he had delivered a stinging rebuke to Satan, or reduced Satan’s power, or set new limits for Satan’s access to humanity. Or kill Satan as he had murdered Job’s family and servants, or ban Satan from the Earth entirely, now there is a good thought. Far from such measures, God did not even rebuke Satan with a single word. Here the greatest enemy of God and Goodness was defeated, shamed, proven wrong….. and God did not follow through with meaningful measures. God did not, because he could not.
Something is very wrong with the story of Job: Satan is too powerful, God is too permissive in what he “allows” Satan to do. Satan commits many murders, loses the bet, and then God fails to rebuke Satan. This does not ring true….. this does make moral sense….. this does not serve justice….. so some key information is missing. We must remember that God and Satan are moral opposites, moral enemies at war, yet here they are depicted as if they were friendly rivals, engaging in conversation and a bet. We must remember that Satan already staged a great rebellion in heaven, and was “thrown down to the earth” by God and his loyal angels, to remove the evils of Satan from God’s presence. Yet here the great rebel enemy Satan is almost depicted as an equal to God, able to come into God’s presence at will, able to argue with God and challenge God with a bet, that would cost the family and servants of Job their lives, that would cost Job everything except his physical life.
There is a hit song by the group ABBA, with lyrics that could describe the story of Job: “The gods they roll the dice, with hearts as cold as ice….. and someone weak down here, loses someone dear.” The story of Job sounds like that.
The story of Job also sounds like the stories of the Greek gods of Olympus, where the gods compete with each other and manipulate humans like pawns. The Greek gods engage each other in power struggles, with any god able to gain an advantage over another, and humans suffer the consequences. The story of Job is like this. God may completely defeat Satan someday, as the Bible predicts, but humans constantly suffer through the ages, as the casualties of their long war. If the Book of Job has any credence at all, could it be that it gives us a more accurate picture of the relative powers of God and Satan?
As mentioned above, Satan spoke of a “hedge” or protective barrier that God had placed around Job, to protect him against Satan’s attack or influence. Could it be that Job’s obedience to God and goodness helped to make that barrier possible? Could it be that a person’s moral orientation, toward goodness or evil, toward love or hate, is a necessary condition of building such a “hedge” around them? Could it be that Satan is also capable of building a “hedge” or protective barrier around someone who is following predatory evil principles? Someone like, perhaps, the evil Pharaoh enslaving the Hebrews? So that the evil Pharaoh was protected by Satan, and could actually stand up against God and refuse to free the slaves? So that the Biblical plot device had to be employed, that God had “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” against freeing the slaves, when actually Satan was reinforcing the will of Pharaoh to defy God, and protecting Pharaoh himself from God’s attack, to some degree?
The battle of Exodus was much larger and more important than the battle of Job. Job involved only one man and his sphere of influence, while Exodus involved two nations and their combined spheres of influence. God had a lot more invested in the Hebrew people, than he had invested in Job and his family. So likewise, the amount of attention and effort that Satan paid to Job, would be greatly multiplied in the story of Exodus. The story of Exodus is an epic pivotal chapter in the Bible, and Satan is not mentioned, but we can be sure that Satan was there, and that his strongest piece on the chessboard was Pharaoh. Satan would surely throw all his power into protecting Pharaoh from God’s attack, and this Satanic effort had an effect that was not reported or understood. The Biblical account of God “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” has always disturbed me, and now I am beginning to figure out another explanation. It seems more likely that Satan emboldened Pharaoh to refuse God, and protected him from being killed by God, while many other Egyptians died around him, who had little or no responsibility for enslaving the Hebrews.
The story of Job also makes the reader uncomfortable, and for good reason. It does not make moral sense, with the underlying assumption of an omnipotent God. With that assumption, the reader must suspend morality and logic to agree with its conclusion. Without that assumption, the story of Job is still disturbing, but it makes much more sense. I must insist that crucial facts about God and Satan are missing from the story. I think the Book of Job will make sense and will be morally justified, when we learn the truth about God and Satan, much of which is missing from the Bible in general.
The Birth of Evil
By simple logic and morality, an omnipotent God would not even allow an enemy like Satan to exist, but would have disabled or destroyed Satan at his first act of destruction. Or, perhaps at his second or third, or tenth, or hundredth, or thousandth act of destruction. But throughout the Bible, spanning many thousands of years, Satan remains as the principle cause of evil in the world, whom God apparently cannot disable or destroy, but whom God will somehow manage to imprison in some future time, as described in the Book of Revelation. The epic, cosmic conflict between God and Satan began before the birth of humanity, as described in Revelation 12: 7-9: “7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him..…” So why are we told that the rebellious group of angels was “not strong enough” to defeat God? Why was this an issue to be addressed? How could there even be any possibility that they could be “strong enough” to defeat God? There could only be such a possibility, if God were not omnipotent. That is already implied by the fact that there was a war in heaven at all.
Just as God, perhaps, could not later stop the Pharaoh from turning against him, God could not stop Satan from turning against him, though God surely tried to. The stakes had been much higher with Pharaoh than with Job, and the stakes were much higher still in dealing with the original rebellion of Satan, than in dealing with Pharaoh. God did not “harden the heart” of Satan to escalate the conflict, but surely tried to defuse the conflict, to bring Satan back into harmony with the morality and philosophy of God. God could not stop Satan from turning a large number of other angels against him, though God surely tried to. God could not stop these rebellious angels from gaining more influence and power among other angels, recruiting one-third of all angels to join them, until they challenged the very authority and power of God himself, though God surely tried to stop them, all along the way. The Bible does not tell us the time span of this war, nor the time span of the developing conflict that led up to the war, but it must have been an agonizing struggle that lasted a long time. When it rose to the level of violence, there may have been more than one engagement or battle in this cosmic “war”. Happily, God and his loyal angels were strong enough to win the final battle. So the evil “dragon” Satan and his angels were kicked out of heaven, but they were not really disabled or disarmed. They were able to set up operations elsewhere, like here on Earth, and do great damage.
This is clear evidence of God’s weakness or limits in fighting evil. An omnipotent God would not have needed to fight a war against any adversary. God would not have needed to put his loyal angels at risk in battle, but he could have defeated the adversary with a snap of his omnipotent fingers. He also could have prevented them from doing damage outside of heaven. Yet here in the Bible, we have testimony that God had to send his angels, commanded by Michael, to fight a war with the rebellious angels, commanded by Satan. Then, more importantly, the tragic result of this war was not a destruction or disabling of powerful evil, but merely an expulsion of powerful evil from one location to another. The disease of evil was not eradicated or cured, it was merely evicted from its place of origin, and forced to find new victims to attack elsewhere. Heaven was sanitized and cured of evil, but the rest of universe has been infected with evil ever since.
That is what the Biblical account tells us, if we read between the lines. But preachers will not preach this part of the Bible message, though they will excel at reading between the lines elsewhere, to preach their witty sermons. But this is my “sermon”, motivated by love, justice, logic, and morality. If we accept the existence and rebellion of Satan, then this must follow:
Satan and his angels were “thrown down to the earth”, not as part of a wise intentional divine plan, but as a great disruption of God’s plan, as a desperate last-ditch defensive measure to get the troublemakers out of heaven, anywhere but heaven. Heaven was saved, but only by exposing the rest of Creation to the predatory evils of Satan. This was a desperate measure to save heaven, but also to subject Earth to the power of Satan and his angels, because there was not sufficient power available to God to do anything else. This was a desperate measure, taken in a vicious war. Preserving the “free will” of Satan had nothing to do with it; that was not a consideration at all. God did the best he could to defeat, disable and destroy Satan, but it was not enough.
So later, at the birth of the human species, represented by the story of The Garden of Eden, Satan was right there, embodied in a devious serpent, eager to ruin God’s latest project of creation. Believers do not question WHY Satan was there at all, HOW God’s great enemy was even able to invade God’s precious crucible of the creation of humanity. But it must be questioned. Satan should not have been allowed there. A factory owner does not allow his greatest competitor into his factory; a company inventing a new product does not allow an enemy into it’s research facility; a scientist does not allow protesters or terrorists into his laboratory. Fences, walls, locks, and security forces are used to keep enemies out.
Likewise, parents do not allow evil people to gain easy access to their young children. Young children are supervised and protected at all times, to prevent evil predatory people from approaching them.
Yet Satan was there, God’s great enemy in God’s earthly Garden of Eden, a sacred sanctuary of great importance in God’s plans. Satan was there, ruining the lives of the first humans, simply because God could not keep him out. God had kicked Satan out of heaven, but was unable to destroy or disable Satan, unable to further limit his areas of operation. Heaven was safe, but the rest of the universe was in great peril.
So, the human tragedies and wars through the entire history of our planet have been aided by an army of evil angels, angry angels, that God kicked out of heaven. God expelled the rebels from his own domain, but he could not stop them from making our planet miserable.
This is a disturbing chain of events. Let us bring these events down to a human level, to perhaps understand them better. It would be as if some citizens, in an earthly town called Paradise, become disgruntled and rebellious. They take offense at the town’s large church called Heaven and its pastor called God, blaming it for all their problems. Some of the rebels are members of this church. The church is a beautiful church, a rich church, for its members lovingly contribute their time and resources to make it a glorious place of fellowship and worship. The church gives back to the community, with resources and help flowing to those who are in need. These rebellious members lust after the beauty and glory and resources of the church, wanting it for themselves. It becomes known that the rebels are being incited by a man named Lucifer, who is the chairman of the church deacons. He keeps telling them that the pastor God is plotting to kick him and them out of the church. So they move into the church, claiming that it owes them a place to live. They then start vandalizing and looting the church in hidden ways, and harass its other members when they come to services on Sunday. They tell lies about the pastor God, that he is stealing money from the church, that he is sleeping with the women of the church. They tell the members that God is unworthy to be pastor, that they should accept Lucifer as the new pastor of the church.
In this town called Paradise, there is no police force to call, because there has never been any crime. For many months, the pastor God talks and pleads with the rebels, now more properly called a criminal gang, even giving them money and gifts, pledging peace and good will. But it is to no avail. Lucifer and his gang claim that the church is rightfully theirs, and that they can take better care of it, which is a lie, because they are secretly looting it and rigging explosives to destroy it, and stalling for time. Sadly, but with steel resolve, the pastor God organizes and arms the church deacons, fights a battle and repels Lucifer and his gang of criminals from the church called Heaven, only to watch them retreat and spread into the surrounding neighborhood and attack the gentle neighbors, who are less able to resist the criminals. The pastor grimly realizes that the war has really only just begun, and he begins to organize for war, to defend and liberate his town.
Now, this pastor would be considered a noble hero and a great leader, but he is not omnipotent, for he cannot easily defeat the criminals attacking his church and town. In a desperate struggle, he threw them out of the church, only to watch them spread to the town. The town called Paradise is no longer a paradise. It will take a much longer struggle to remove them from the town. When he throws them out of the town, he will have to worry about them attacking other towns. And the longer they exist, the more followers they recruit to join them and attack the rest of the town. Their self-serving, predatory philosophy and their lying propaganda appeal to an alarming number of people, who had seemed to be good citizens. The only way to stop the gang of criminals from spreading their predatory philosophy, is to imprison them or kill them. That becomes the pastor’s goal, but it will take a very long time of agonizing conflict and destruction to accomplish it, because the pastor is not powerful enough to do it quickly or efficiently.
Grimly, this pastor called God prepares himself for a much longer struggle, that he fears might expand from his town to other towns, to the entire world. And the pastor is grieved, for he is not sure who will win the war. He sees that this new power of Evil is devious, cunning, and it has natural tactical advantages over goodness. But he must hide his uncertainty and his limitations from his followers. He loves them dearly, and they need a leader who appears to be powerful, righteous, and confident.
We are very familiar with wars here on Earth, and we know that they are the very opposite of the omnipotent rule of goodness and morality. Wars happen because evil gains horrible power, and threatens to enslave the entire world, or a portion of the world, so that the forces of goodness and morality must fight for their very survival. A war is an extreme event of conflict and desperation. War is an “existential” event, threatening the actual existence of the warring sides. Neither good nor evil is omnipotent, but they are completely incompatible, so they must fight wars to attempt to destroy each other, or at least exclude each other from certain places.
So God fought a war and expelled the evil of Satan and his angels from heaven, but could not stop them from doing their evil elsewhere in the universe, like here on Earth. Why would God fight a war to expel evil from his local domain, but then allow evil to torment the rest of the universe; the rest of his Creation? Why would God allow it, if God had the power to prevent it? We can be fairly certain that God did not want or will this to happen, so we can also be fairly certain that God was simply not able to stop it from happening.
War and Omnipotence Are Mutually Exclusive
The Bible tells us of war in heaven. Satan and his minions were defeated in “heaven”, but not elsewhere. The same conflict continues elsewhere, producing wars here on Earth. But wars do not suddenly spring forth out of nothing….. wars occur as a final tragic eruption after a long build-up, after a long struggle, only when every other solution has failed. Love has tried and failed, logic has tried and failed, reason has tried and failed, morality has tried and failed, and the predatory power of evil remains undaunted, attacking and advancing. When the conflict escalates to war, goodness is sometimes finally able to defeat evil, to some extent. But it seems to me that omnipotence, on either side, would not allow conflicts to escalate to the extreme of war. Omnipotence is a fantasy. Where war is present, omnipotence is not present….. and war is everywhere, even in heaven.
God is not able to change this universal truth, but is subject to it, as described in Revelation 12: 7-9, and elsewhere in the Bible. God was forced to engage in war in heaven. Why do I use the word “forced”? Because it is an obvious conclusion. Do you think that God wanted a war to happen, or allowed a war to happen, when he could have prevented it or stopped it? Of course not. But that ridiculous, illogical, immoral idea must be accepted, that God did allow a war to happen when he could have prevented it, if you believe in an omnipotent God.
The entire Bible could be described as a record of the war between God and Satan, which is not over, which may never be over. So because of continual war, in heaven and earth, we can conclude that God is not omnipotent. The ideas of war and omnipotence are mutually exclusive. Where one exists, the other cannot exist. If any entity in the universe were omnipotent, there would be no need for the extreme destruction and devastation of a war, at any time or place. By simple logic and morality, any enemies would simply not be allowed to gain enough power to fight a war against the omnipotent entity or his believers, whether that entity was good or evil. Enemies would be disabled, long before the extreme obscenity of war became necessary. This is why I can theorize, with complete confidence, that God is not omnipotent in all things, even if he is the Creator of the universe and the origin of Goodness in the universe.
We find further evidence of this lack of omnipotence, again in the book of Revelation, which describes the final conflict between God and evil forces on Earth. Here is Revelation 20: 9-10 : “…9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ” So here, we are told that God, after allowing Satan to have his evil way on Earth for thousands of years, will finally defeat him, imprison him and punish him, at the end of a war here on Earth. And sadly, all the billions of human souls that Satan has turned to evil, through the ages, will be punished with him. The price of not stopping Satan at his original rebellion will be horrific.
Curiously, God will not simply destroy Satan when he defeats Satan, which would be more efficient and which would even be more merciful than eternal punishment. This begs the question of whether God could actually destroy Satan or not, a question we will address below. But whatever God ends up doing to Satan, if God could do that later, if God could do it at all, why not do it sooner, and save billions of humans from lives of undeserved misery, pain, torture, and agonizing death, such as the horrific murders that ISIS is committing right now, in the tens of thousands? Just as many earlier predators in human history have murdered hundreds of millions?
Our human history is but a reflection of the more important events occurring in the spiritual world. As above, so below. God could not stop the evil of Satan to prey on other angels, inciting them against God, challenging God, causing a rebellion in heaven. God was finally able to cast Satan and his followers out of heaven, but he could not stop them from causing trouble elsewhere. Human history is a reflection of that. We have a constant supply of little Satans that God cannot stop….. psychopaths, sociopaths, criminals, murderers, gangs, cartels, corrupt politicians, evil dictators, murderous tyrants. All sorts of human parasites and predators that prey on the rest of us, and then we are often forced to defend ourselves in wars. Allowing “free will” has nothing to do with it. When that free will is abused and people become predatory monsters, preying on the rest of us, they must be stopped, just as Satan must be stopped….. but they are not stopped by God. This demonstrates the limits of God. Even if God stops evil people and Satan at some future time, it does not wipe out the horrific, devastating evil that has been done for the thousands or millions of years leading up to that future time.
The need for justice is constant….. justice is needed every moment in your life, in my life, in the world, in the universe….. justice is only as effective as it is swift….. it cannot morally be delayed to a future time. This is a vital moral principle, yet every religious doctrine violates it. Every religion puts off justice until some future time, through some kind of grand judgement, through karma, through reincarnation, or through some other contrived concept.
The Birth of Evil Should Have Been Stopped
The scope and importance of this issue is quite stunning, when you consider the enormous moral and practical implications. In just three verses, as you read above, Revelation 12: 7-9 describes a mythical event or a real event, before the beginning of Earth or humanity, that changed everything after it, because it was the birth of evil in the universe, whether symbolic or real. It was the first discord, the first argument, the first divorce, the first lawsuit, the first abuse, the first crime. It was the first time any living being thought of attacking or destroying another living being. It was the first shot of the first battle of the first war, before anyone had experienced the full horror of a war.
One side of the conflict was morally right (God), and one side of the conflict was morally wrong (Satan). By any measure of logic or morality, the right side should win (continue to survive and thrive), and the wrong side should lose (be stopped and disabled or destroyed). That is the basic moral goal of intelligent life itself, and this was the crucial time to make that happen. The survival of Satan would mean the thriving of evil, the thriving of the predatory self-serving philosophy that he had brought into being.
If Satan survived, he would spread his predatory self-serving philosophy far and wide through the cosmos. Was the survival of one evil entity, Satan, worth all the pain, misery and destruction that he caused in heaven and then on Earth, for all of human history? And remember, Earth is just one planet in a very large universe. Any other inhabited planets were also to be attacked and victimized, if Satan were to survive. The survival of Satan was certainly NOT worth all of the pain, misery and destruction he has caused in heaven, on Earth and everywhere else.
This was an epic moment, when the the fate of the universe was decided, for billions of years to come. The stage was being set, for a cosmic theatrical play that could be a devastating tragedy, or a fulfilling triumph. The stakes of this emerging conflict could not have been higher. God should have realized this, and I am confident that God did realize this.
So, if God realized the incredible stakes of this emerging conflict, for the entire universe, then two questions arise. Should God destroy Satan, and could God destroy Satan? More important than the question of whether God could destroy Satan, at any time past or future, is the question of whether God should destroy Satan, especially at the beginning of Satan’s ominous turn away from God and toward evil. These questions are intimately connected. The true and honest answer to one of these questions will determine the correct answer to the other one, and will give us an insight into the nature of God.
First question….. should God have destroyed Satan, after he was able to defeat Satan’s treachery and rebellion against God and Heaven? I would answer with an urgent, resounding YES….. when I consider the horrible consequences of not doing so. Satan was the first entity to question God’s love, reject God’s plan, reject God’s moral principles, and the first entity to attack God. Satan was the first rebel, the first criminal, the first traitor, the first liar, the first thief, the first seducer, the first rapist, the first manipulator, the first enslaver, the first torturer, the first murderer, the first tyrant….. all rolled into one evil entity. Satan was the first seed of poisonous weeds in the cosmic garden. Satan was the first malignant cell of a cancer in the cosmic body. Satan was the first embryo of a vicious new predatory species, which spread quickly after Satan’s banishment from heaven. Looking back across the five thousand years of human evil that we know of, looking at the countless millions of victims of endless wars on Earth, countless millions of good people snuffed out by evil predators….. I then keep looking further back to the first war, reported to us in Revelation 12: 7-8, and I say YES, God should have destroyed Satan, especially if God had any inkling of what devastation Satan would bring to rest of the universe, if left alive and powerful. Satan’s single life should have been taken, so that billions of lives would be saved.
I would even say that it was God’s moral duty to destroy Satan, instead of merely ejecting him from heaven, and thereby unleashing a ravenous dragon of evil on the rest of the universe. So to answer this first question, YES, God should have destroyed Satan, just as a doctor should destroy cancer cells and not let them survive. God should have destroyed not only Satan, but also every shred of energy associated with Satan, and every follower of Satan who did not show true repentance. If other angels later decided to rebel against God, and follow the destructive path of Satan, then they should be destroyed as well. Such predatory evil is like a cancer, and no doctor in his right mind would simply extract a living cancer from a patient, and allow it to leave the hospital and infect new victims.
The common religious excuse of limitless “free will” to commit crimes and predatory evil is not valid. All living beings may have free choice, but once they have chosen, their freedom ends, and the consequences begin. Every free choice begins a consequence, and a chain of multiple consequences. The free choice of one person, to be a predator or criminal, should not give them the liberty or power to destroy the free choice of others. If God allows Satan or other evil entities or evil people to enslave or kill, their victims have certainly been deprived of their “free will”. Why should God allow Satan or anyone else the ability to continuously kill, enslave or dominate others? Why should God give evil entities the permanent “free will” to destroy the “free will” of their victims? Especially Satan, the top predator in the food chain of evil? No one should have such continuous and permanent free will to destroy others. Giving evil predators continuous free will to destroy or dominate, is the same as taking their victims’ free will away. Clearly, God should not do so, therefore God should have destroyed Satan, or should have at least imprisoned Satan immediately following the rebellion, as God is predicted to do in Revelation 20:10.
Second question….. could God have destroyed Satan, after he was able to defeat Satan in this first war? I believe in the love and goodness of God, and his desire to protect us from evil, as stated many times in the Bible. I believe that God knew that Satan would attack the rest of God’s creation, when God ejected him from heaven. So I believe that if God could have destroyed Satan, that God would have destroyed Satan. God could not destroy Satan, when he should have, and therefore God is not omnipotent. God and his legion of angels do what they can to defeat evil entities, but they cannot destroy them. If most of human history is any indication, they cannot do much to defeat evil entities in this world, even though they are doing all they can.
The Walled City of Heaven, and The Caterpillar
Heaven is depicted in the Bible and in popular religion as a glorious, shining city with high and strong walls all around it, and a gate. A wall is a looming, depressing structure that blocks the view. Why would God need a wall around heaven? Whether real or mythical, walls around a city have but one purpose, and that is to keep enemies out. That is very appropriate, for it seems that the only place in the universe that God can keep evil from rampaging, is that shining walled city with a gate, with an army of angels to defend it. Inside the walls, saints peacefully stroll the streets of gold, going about their saintly business. Outside the walls, the wolves of evil roam in packs, with the entire universe as their territory. The battle of good versus evil rages everywhere outside those walls of the city of heaven, the sanctuary of God. God may be fighting evil everywhere else with us, even commanding the fight, but he cannot destroy evil outside those walls, outside that one sanctuary where God once fought a desperate war to eject the first evil. I say “war” because that is the word that the Bible uses. I say “desperate” because war can be nothing else, because the outcome is uncertain, and victory is not guaranteed to either side. All these elements of this scenario are completely incompatible with omnipotence.
This alarming image I conjure from the Bible is a far cry from any religious doctrine in the world, but it may be a bit closer to the truth. It does not put God in the awkward, impossible position of an all-powerful deity who allows the constant evils, wars, and disasters that occur on this planet. But all orthodox religions do put God in this awkward position.
With all the religious talk of omnipotent, benevolent deities who love us, the world is in horrible shape, with evil entities running rampant everywhere, whether cutting off our heads or hacking our computers, causing misery and conflict and destruction everywhere. The omnipotent deities cannot be criticized by their believers for this disastrous state of affairs, so the standard excuse given in religions is that we are all part of God or made in the image of God, even the evil ones. So it follows that we are granted (or we grant ourselves, as part of God) free will as a precious loving gift, for good or evil, for better or worse, because all are loved, even the evil ones. If a person chooses to use their free will to turn to evil, well, that is terrible, but it is their own fault, not God’s fault, and God has no responsibility to immediately revoke the free will that is being horribly abused by that person, even though God is omnipotent.
Religious believers accept this nonsense concerning God and evil, then largely forget it or ignore it, because it is unpleasant to think too much about evil and evil people. Then they are overly confident in their faith, and smug in their superiority and safety, largely blind to the predatory evil in the world, until it comes to kill them and cut their heads off. Part of my purpose here is to shake religious believers out of their smugness, their false (and foolish) sense of security, their belief that God has everything handled, that God will protect them, that God is omnipotent, that God has a wonderful plan, that God is defeating evil so that we don’t have to. Religious believers think that they are protected, right up until the moment that they are killed by a terrorist or a criminal that they did not see coming, because they were blinded by their religion. God does have a plan for good, but it is constantly thwarted by the disruptive actions of Satan, other opposing spirits, and humans who have their own plans for evil.
Like a caterpillar, let us say a silk caterpillar, most religious believers weave a protective cocoon of religious doctrine around themselves. Like the caterpillar inside the cocoon of silk, most religious believers have the ultimate feeling of security from all their wonderful doctrines of peace, love and protection. They also expect to emerge from their cocoon someday, like a beautiful butterfly, oblivious to all the destruction that happened around them, in a new spiritual body, in the presence of God. If they are even aware of all the violence happening outside their cocoon of religious doctrine, they are confident that they are protected by their cocoon, because they believe their cocoon was woven by God, and not by themselves.
But in reality the silk caterpillar, still feeling safe inside its cocoon, has been plucked from its hiding place and has been dumped into a bag and onto a truck, on its way to a silk factory and to its doom. Soon, the caterpillar, still feeling safe inside its cocoon, will be dumped into a vat of boiling water, to kill it as an unwanted by-product, so that the silk can be separated and used to produce beautiful garments, while the caterpillars that produced the beautiful silk are dead carcasses, flushed down the waste pipes of the silk factories. It takes about 2500 cocoons to make one pound of silk. So after the silk caterpillar makes a silk cocoon, a thing of great beauty and value, the amazing creature who made this amazing cocoon is boiled to death and discarded as garbage.
The caterpillar, who thinks it is safe in its cocoon, who thinks it will emerge from its cocoon as a lovely butterfly, is easily killed. Similarly, evil parasites and predators in this world are able to prey on religious believers, who think that they are safe and secure inside their religious cocoons, who are blind or indifferent to all the horrific evil happening in the world, which they have ignored until it attacks them personally.
But then it is too late. Evil has them in its sights, with terrible weapons, with superior numbers, while the victims are unprepared, unarmed, and frightened. Then evil easily separates them from their cocoon, from their possessions, from their freedom, from their loved ones, by killing them. It is easy to defeat and kill people who have ignored you. It is like killing caterpillars inside their cocoons. Caterpillars inside cocoons don’t see danger coming, so the element of surprise is guaranteed. Because of the element of surprise, even the Japanese attack on the military base at Pearl Harbor was almost as easy as killing caterpillars inside their cocoons.
WE Are Responsible to Stop Evil
But we should not be surprised by evil at any time. We should be tracking its every move, seeking to destroy it at all times, instead of the other way around. We should be vigilant, we should be prepared, we should be armed. And there is crucial evidence in the Bible to support this principle. There is crucial evidence that God expects us humans to stop the evil ones among us. Even with all the censoring and book-burning that produced the Bible, there are indications in the Bible about God’s true position on “free will”, and also about his possible limitations. For example, in Genesis 8 and 9, after the great Flood, God is giving Noah instructions concerning the new covenant between God and man. He is telling Noah how humanity is to conduct itself, to live a more righteous way.
In Genesis 9:6, God told Noah “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man.” This is a command among other commands, not merely a divine observation or prediction of what will happen. This seems to me to be a crucial verse, concerning the relationship between God and humanity, at the crucial time of a new beginning.
To put this command into modern human context, this is the spiritual equivalent of disconnecting the 911 emergency call system. It is the spiritual equivalent of disbanding all police forces in society. We, as individual citizens, expect our government and police to help us when we are attacked by criminals, and most religious believers expect God to somehow help them when they are attacked by criminals.
But what if there were 911 to call, no government or police to help citizens….. what if God was not willing or able to step in to help his followers who call for his help, when they are violently attacked? Well, dear readers, this is not a “what if” question. With this Bible verse, God was stepping back, and handing the responsibility for enforcing justice against evil to every person in this world. Sadly, it is a responsibility that most people, probably 99 percent or more, are miserably failing to keep.
God is saying that when an evil human predator attacks a human victim, then it is up to the good humans to “shed the blood” of the evil human predator. Responsibility falls directly upon the shoulders of all good humans, to enforce justice upon the evil humans “whoso sheddeth man’s blood”. God is saying that he will not enforce justice upon the most violent criminals and terrorists, such as serial murderers, such as Mexican cartels, such as Boko Haram, such as ISIS, such as the increasing number of “lone wolf” terrorists who are killing people all over the world. God is saying that he expects us humans to stop and kill these evil people, to shed their blood, without God’s help. Or perhaps with God’s support, but we must do it for ourselves. If we can stop the predators without killing them, that is fine, but we are allowed, if necessary, to “shed blood”. God may enforce justice upon them later, in the spiritual realm, but here and now on Earth, it is our human responsibility, and also our humane responsibility to enforce justice upon them now.
If this command from God is still in effect, then all the urgent prayers of religious believers for God to help them or others who are under attack, are prayers that may be futile and falling upon deaf divine ears. God is saying: don’t call upon me, to do what I have long ago told you to do for yourself. But most of the religious believers, and all the liberal pacifist fools in the world, are not listening to this command of God, and would loudly disagree with it, and would totally dismiss it or condemn it, if it was brought to their attention.
Why would God assign to humanity such a difficult and dangerous task, the stopping and punishment of violent criminals and murderers? Maybe God assigned humanity to police itself, concerning violent criminals and murderers, because HE CANNOT DO IT HIMSELF, because of some metaphysical limitation that He does not wish to reveal to us. So He gave us a stern law, for us to stop violent criminals and murderers for ourselves, to shed their blood, so that we would feel empowered and justified to do so.
How could it be that God could cause a great Flood to wipe out most of humanity, which had become a race of murderers, and yet not be able to stop a single murderer? I do not know the answer to that mystery. But the story of the Flood and the command in Genesis 9:6 plainly show that God cares nothing about the “free will” of evil people, when he destroys them and tells us to shed their blood ourselves.
It also implies that we all should be doing a great deal more, to stop evil in our world. We should be calling it out and seeking it out, instead of ignoring evil and waiting for evil to come to us. But 99% or more of good people in this world do exactly that : ignore evil and wait for it to come attack them. Then, they are shocked and surprised and unprepared, against an enemy who is prepared and deadly.
The Cosmic Struggle, The Cosmic Chess Match, Which May Never End
I am a Christian, I worship God, I follow Christ, and I support the goal of destroying false religion, stopping evil oppression and liberating slaves, such as God did in Egypt. But if God was forced to engage in such a complex game of conflict, like a game of chess, in all Biblical times and up to the present day, then God cannot be omnipotent.
I enjoy the game of chess, which is an ancient simulation of war…. the original “war game”. It involves opponents who start the game as exactly equal, each with an equal “army” of game pieces, and who then win or lose the game by their intelligence and daring, or lack thereof. Chess is a good simulation of real-world, violent conflict, but without the violence. It is an intellectual simulation, without regard to justice or morality on either side. Each side must battle the enemy’s pawns (lowest ranking fighters), knights (highest ranking fighters), rooks (strongholds), bishops (religious or philosophical leaders), and queen (the king’s closest partner), to penetrate far enough into the enemy’s defenses to capture or kill the enemy King. Many pieces will fight and fall, but the game is not over until the enemy King is defeated, and “checkmate” is declared.
Similarly, In the cosmic struggle, the cosmic chess match, the fight is not over until the King of one side is defeated. The symbolic Kings are God and Satan. The proper objective of God should be to defeat Satan, permanently. An omnipotent God should have been able to achieve that goal by now, after billions of years, without keeping the universe in a permanent state of deadly conflict, don’t you think?
There is one result in the game of chess that is called a “stalemate”, when one side has lost all except his King. The King is not in checkmate, but the King cannot move without being defeated, because the opposing pieces have him boxed in. The game ends in a draw, even though one side still had the power to defeat the other.
The “stalemate” is actually a win for the weaker side, who tricked the stronger side and prevented them from winning. When one side has only his King left, he plans his moves carefully against his opponent, who is trying to put his King in “checkmate”, which simulates capturing or killing the King. He tries to trick or lure the opponent into a stalemate, to deny the opponent a win. If he gets a stalemate, then all the chess pieces are brought back onto the board for another game, and another chance to win game and match.
The original “stalemate” was Satan’s rebellion in heaven (whether symbolic or real), where Satan attacked God, God fought back, God ejected Satan from heaven, Satan was “thrown down to Earth”, and the pieces were then re-set on cosmic chessboards all over the universe, with one chessboard being our little planet Earth. Satan was the real winner, because while defeated in heaven, he and his followers survived and re-grouped, to continue the fight everywhere else. The clues of that continuous fight are contained in the scriptures of every religion, and in the volumes of secular history, and in today’s news on TV. Predatory forces rise up constantly in every generation, causing untold suffering through corruption, abuse, crime, oppression and war. It is logical that predatory humans have hidden allies of predatory spirits, such as Satan and his dark angels, supporting them and protecting them to some degree….. just as God promises to support and protect his followers. Ephesians 6:12-13 tells us so: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” These verses were written for persecuted Christians after Jesus left us, supposedly in victory over evil and death. But “the whole armor of God” did not protect Christians from being persecuted and killed in horrible ways back then, and it does not protect them today. Regardless of such Biblical promises, evil forces remain very strong and deadly. This is just a continuation of the original war started by Satan’s rebellion and his expulsion from heaven. The overall “stalemate” war between God’s forces and Satan’s forces continues, producing piles of dead victims and oceans of tears here on Earth.
Surviving a fight with evil, whether in flesh or spirit, to remain standing over the fallen enemy, is not as easy as that last verse implies. Wrestling with evil is like a man wrestling a powerful wild animal, an animal with the strength and cunning of a lion, and with focused intelligence. The man can be more cunning, but If the man makes one mistake, the lion will devour him. Fighting evil is perilous, treacherous, and deadly. Evil has a natural advantage of surprise, and a natural advantage of not following any rules or morals. This cosmic rivalry between God and Satan, between Goodness and Evil, may be more evenly matched than any religion believes. But then, there is not much logical or moral justification for what any religion believes. They get some basic principles right, but other basic principles have been ignored or badly distorted. Primarily, they ignore or distort the basic need of humanity for continuous, real-time justice.
That seems to be the permanent moral state of the world and the universe. It is driven by a strong undercurrent of conflict between love or hate, giving or taking, creating or destroying, serving others or serving self, liberation or domination, empowerment or oppression. It seems that each side has its strengths and weaknesses; neither side has sufficient power to always defeat the other side. Every day, every moment, every encounter is open to be won or lost. The only certain condition from moment to moment is….. uncertainty. Justice; the clear defeat of predatory evil; is constantly thwarted, and seldom achieved. But still, there is a certainty that the two opposing moral forces are there, in each moment, in each encounter, and that one of them can bring decisive elements into play. We should never forget the certainty that the two opposing moral forces are there, in our lives, in every encounter, every thought, every moment. We, as individuals, are both the pawn and the prize sought by unseen moral forces much greater than ourselves, personified by Satan and God. One side seeks to enslave us, the other side seeks to liberate us. One side seeks to take power from others, the other side seeks to give power to others. One side hurts, the other side helps. One side destroys, the other side builds.
Each moment is uncertain, but with the use of decisive elements, the victory of one moment can lead to the victory of the next moment, and the next, gaining a strong momentum, and moments can build quickly into monuments….. monuments of strength for good or evil. There is also a certainty that you or I can be one of those decisive elements, that we can build moments into monuments. This is the marvel, the miracle, the potential that God has created within each one of us. We can waste that potential, or we can use it and change the world, for better or for worse.
So, the world and the universe are in a never-ending chess match of morality, where there are endless wins, losses, and stalemates, and the board keeps getting reset, with new pawns ready to fight and die. No one really knows what happened to the old pawns who fought and died, but every religion thinks it knows, and insists that it is right.
Chess is a good simulation of war, but it is played on a board, without real weapons, with game pieces that do not bleed or die. Chess has strict rules, but real war has no rules, only results, either victory or defeat.
And God is not an equal player, but is supposed to be the most powerful player of all. God is supposed to be the one and only omnipotent player. God is supposed to be the One who created the game in the first place, and has the power to win the game at any time, or to abolish the game, and start over with a different game. But there is a catch, there is a hook, there is a moral requirement that cannot be ignored. With great power, there also comes great responsibility. So with omnipotence, unlimited power, there also comes unlimited responsibility.
An omnipotent cosmic chess player, in the real universe, the real world, would be morally required to win the game every time, to win every deadly conflict every time, to defeat evil and save its victims from pain and death, while preventing any conflict from ever escalating into anything that could be called a “war”.
For an omnipotent God, who knows everything that is happening and has unlimited power over everything that is happening, there would be no excuse for “war”. There would be endless ways to keep war from happening. Yet, on our planet we have wars happening constantly. In those wars, we have good people constantly losing their freedom, their possessions, their lives to the power of evil.
The existence of constant war on our planet is a hideous abomination, and it is the result of the failure of good forces to defeat evil forces, up to and including God. Good forces are not able to prevent evil forces from building up enough power to wage war in the first place, and then good forces must either engage in war, or lose their freedom, possessions, and lives to the advancing evil.
Chess is a war game played between opponents of equal power, and most real wars are fought between opponents of roughly equal power, or the situation would not develop into a “war” in the first place. In war, there is a rough balance of power, between opponents of limited power, who are trying defeat each other. The definition and concept and existence of “war” is not even possible, if one side in the war has unlimited power. So the existence of “war” in the world, in the universe, in the Bible, in heaven, rules out any possibility of omnipotence.
With an omnipotent God, there would be deadly conflict with evil, yes; constant combat with evil, of course; but it would be limited, and the defeat of evil predators would be far more certain. The same evil enemy, such as Satan, would not have to be defeated twice, and would not be allowed to prey on weaker souls for thousands or millions of years. Murderous tyrants would not be allowed to die a natural death, after destroying millions of lives. There would be no significant victories for evil, such as the enslavement of the Hebrews for centuries by Egypt, or the successful Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or Nanking, or the Holocaust killing of six million Jews by the Nazis, or the current horrific success of ISIS. There would be no stalemates with evil, such as Satan’s rebellion in heaven, and every successful ploy of evil since then. There would be no prolonged conquests of evil, no prolonged suffering of its victims.
But sadly, evil has been unlimited by God in what it can achieve. History is full of cases of evil defeating goodness, or forcing goodness into a stalemate. A complete victory for goodness is very rare, and it is never lasting. Christians would assert that the death and resurrection of Christ was the crucial everlasting victory against evil, but it was far from complete, because Christ left us in a world still filled with evil, and with Satan and his legion of fallen angels still on the loose, as powerful as they ever were.
Jesus, Demons, and Pigs
Jesus gave us tools to use against these predatory spirits, but still they ravage the souls of Earth. Even Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God, could not disable them or destroy them, which sorely needs to be done. There is an instructive encounter of Jesus with predatory spirits, or demons, as reported in Mark 5: 1-14:
“And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshiped Him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And He asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea (they were about two thousand) and were choked in the sea. And they that tended the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.”
The townsfolk rushed out to the scene of the miracle, and observed the former mad man with Jesus, and observed 2000 dead pig carcasses floating in the sea. They probably worshiped Jesus and praised what he had done. But let us analyze this amazing story objectively.
Jesus purged a legion of demons from this possessed man, saving this one man, but Jesus granted the demons’ request to move into a herd of 2000 pigs, a very large herd of ham on the hoof. The demons promptly drove the pigs to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. Obviously, having done all the damage they could do here, the demons did not stay inside dead pigs, but then moved on to find more human victims, away from the presence of Christ. And they left behind a lot of collateral damage, that Christ had agreed to.
This is not the glorious victory, over the soldiers of Satan, that the orthodox Christians would have us believe. It is more like a desperate hostage negotiation, conducted by police against a terrorist who has kidnapped someone. Jesus did not use his supposed omnipotent power to banish the demons from the Earth, as one would expect, as the demons seemed to fear, or to destroy them completely. Instead, curiously, he granted their request to move into the herd of pigs. Why would Jesus do that? He traded the destruction of one man, for the destruction of 2000 pigs. This is clever bargaining, from a weak position, with the forces of pure evil, to get the best possible deal. This is not a position of moral supremacy, of supreme omnipotence. This is a position of limited power, with a hint of clever calculation. This is not a very good way to stop demons from doing further damage, but it is all that Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God on Earth, was able to do.
There is a confusing passage above, saying that the demons “besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.” Now consider, if Jesus were able to banish demons from the country, from the region, from the Earth, isn’t that exactly what he should do? But first, it is very interesting to note that the demons were not worried that Jesus would destroy them, completely ending their predatory, destructive, miserable existence. They were not worried that Jesus would imprison them, or throw them into the Biblical “lake of fire”. This implies that the demons did not think that Jesus could destroy them, or imprison them, or do anything to effectively shut them down. But they did think that Jesus could banish them from a large area, perhaps from the Earth, which is exactly what Jesus should have done. The demons acknowledged that Jesus had a limited advantage over them, at that location and that time, but they were not worried that their mortal enemy had complete power to terminate their predatory activities.
So there is a deadly game happening here, with many factors that the Bible account did not cover. There are many important things happening between the lines of the scriptures, that we must try to discern.
When the demons besought Jesus, that he would not “send them away out the country”, Jesus should have had a superior bargaining position. He could have indeed forced them to go “out of the country”, if the demons believed that he could do so. But either Jesus could not do so, or he could have banished them from “the country”, but granted their request, and only banished them from one man. Why would Jesus grant such an undesirable request, from a legion of evil, ruthless demons?
Did Jesus grant their request out of love or pity or mercy, mercy for a legion of demons who have ruined countless human lives, and who would ruin countless more lives, if not disabled? I think not.
Here was a lucrative target, an entire legion of demons caught in the act of destroying a man’s life and disrupting a human community. If Jesus could have stopped the demons cold, he would have. Perhaps Jesus did not banish the demons from the Earth, because he did not have the power to do it, and because he did not want the demons to discover he did not have the power. So to get them out of one man, he struck a trade with them, allowing them to destroy a herd of 2000 pigs, and to leave from the presence of Jesus, and retain their freedom to operate elsewhere.
Sadly, because Jesus could not disable or destroy the demons, his trade was much worse than it seems. To save one man, he traded not only 2000 pigs, but also the next human victim of the demons, and the next, and the next, for as long as the demons are allowed freedom. Jesus was able to force the demons out of one man, one victim, but he could not end their destructive behavior.
From an objective, neutral viewpoint, it would seem that the demons got the better deal in this encounter. They had to give up one human victim, but they got to destroy a herd of pigs, and they were not punished or banished in any way. They were not even banished from that village. What was to stop them from returning to that same village, years later or decades later, or a hundred years later, to attack more human victims? But, of course, they did not need to return to that village. They retained their freedom of operation, to find and destroy an unlimited number of human victims in the future, all over the world, right up to the present day….. and they got their story recorded in the Bible, so that we know a legion of demons is still here, to bedevil us, tempt us, and attack us. Invoking the name of Jesus may give us some protection, but the demons can find plenty of victims who are not faithful followers of Jesus.
Considering these consequences, this victory of Jesus over demons fades more and more. Jesus had some power over the demons, and he himself was not in danger from them, but his power over them was limited. His ability to protect the world, protect us, from these evil spiritual predators was seriously limited, by unknown factors.
It is also interesting that Jesus asked the demon’s name, in the singular, as if Jesus thought it was only one demon. Why did Jesus not already know that there were many demons present, and why did he not already know all their names? If Jesus did know these things, why did he pretend not to know? This is an instructive example of the apparent limits of God. And it is another good example of the “stalemate” with evil, when evil forces are not destroyed or disabled or neutralized, but merely forced to retreat and re-locate, to continue their evil elsewhere. One victim is saved, but many others are endangered. This is the “stalemate” that evil forces are able to achieve, ever since the original rebellion of Satan depicted in the Bible.
On the side of God or goodness, a “stalemate” strategy, or allowing endless stalemates to occur, makes no sense from a logical, moral, strategic, or tactical viewpoint. Saving victims here, while endangering other victims there….. this is very ineffective, not to mention frustrating. It would be like arming our military with only non-lethal devices like stun guns or tear gas. We can stun the enemy or force them to retreat, only to have them revive or re-locate to attack elsewhere. Non-lethal power is focused to save people in one area, only to have other areas attacked, without reducing the capabilities of the enemy. This results in never-ending war, with no true victory possible.
Or, it would be like having a house infested with cockroaches. The homeowner sprays the house with non-lethal bug spray, which forces all the roaches to scamper about, and then pass out, lying upside-down with legs quivering on the floor. The homeowner then gets his broom and sweeps all the roaches out of the house, thinking that he has accomplished something. And he has won a temporary, localized victory. But soon the roaches revive, and either creep back into his house, or into the neighbor’s house. Now, roaches are dirty and disgusting, but they do not sting. With evil forces, instead of roaches, the pests are more like hornets, scorpions or rattlesnakes. Can you imagine ejecting swarms of still-alive hornets and scorpions and snakes from your house, and what your neighbors would think of this strategy?
Just imagine a new product on the shelves, next to all the lethal bug sprays, that advertises “Knock em out, Sweep em out, Let em live”, with pictures of roaches, hornets and scorpions. It might appeal to the more extreme environmental and pacifist fools in society, but sales would be extremely limited. And if you used such a product, you would face the rightful anger of your neighbors. You have cleared your house of pests or enemies, but only by forcing them to move into the neighbors’ houses. Just as God did when Satan and his angels were ejected from heaven and “thrown down to the Earth”….. just as Jesus did when he ejected the legion of demons from the man into the herd of pigs. The pigs did not deserve to be driven to their death by demons, and the owner of the pigs lost his property. Then, the next human victims of those demons did not deserve to be attacked by demons, all the way up to the present day.
But this is all that God seems to be able to do, in most cases, when dealing with non-human forces of evil, and also when dealing with evil humans, who may be protected by evil non-human forces. Evil entities are purged or defeated in one place, only to move to another place and attack again. On the spiritual battleground, God may eventually win a real victory, but only after millions of years of struggle, and after thousands of years of misery, destruction, and war on this planet. This “stalemate” strategy makes no sense….. unless ….. power is limited.
So, in human history and in the Bible, it seems that the reality of the struggle between God and evil goes something like this:
God is love in some cosmic sense, but that love does not embrace destructive, predatory evil. God clearly hates evil and evil-doers. He tells us so in many ways, in many religious writings. Also in religious writings, God dictates laws against evil and punishments of evil-doers. Some of them are punishments that we are to carry out, as in Genesis 9:6 above. Or in many other scriptures, God promises to protect the good and punish the evil. But God usually cannot destroy evil-doers, and usually he cannot stop them from their predatory acts of abuse and destruction, especially if they are leaders. Examples of this are legion, exceptions are few. In the Bible, the best example is the story of God sending his loyal angels to fight a war against Satan and his rebellious angels, ejecting them from heaven, but not killing them and not being able to stop their evil elsewhere (this is not said, but it is abundantly evident by what happens next, in the rest of the Biblical timeline). God makes many promises to protect his followers from evil enemies, but then he largely fails to do so.
The greater the power of an evil man like Pharaoh, or an evil spirit like Satan, the lesser the chances that the powers of goodness (including God, especially God) will stop him from murder and destruction. This is an observable fact of human history and current events, and it is Exhibit 1 against the omnipotence of God. Most of the confusing stories in the Bible, some of which I mentioned above, become very clear if we stop demanding that God be omnipotent, if we accept the far more realistic idea that God has very real limits; limits that produce stories that are described in the Bible by human writers, while not being understood by those human writers. Now, after those writings, with thousands of years of tragic human experience to analyze, in the historical record, we can come closer to understanding the limits of God. Even if Satan is a myth, the stubborn persistence and power of human evil gives the same result.
God created us, and he loves us, and he hates evil, but he will not or cannot stop an evil man from murdering you or me. He will not or cannot stop evil predatory leaders of nations from enslaving their own people, or from attacking, enslaving or destroying other nations. The logical and moral conclusion is that God is not able to stop them, except perhaps in rare cases where factors converge to enable it.
Back to Pearl Harbor
So we should be very grateful for all the crucial help God gave us in the “lucky” circumstances of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I sincerely thank God for that incredible help, as everyone in America should thank God. But we should also see the indicators that suggest that this was not the hand of an omnipotent God, but a God who has limits, and who performs brilliantly within those limits. I am in awe of the chain of beneficial consequences that Admiral Nimitz pointed out in his narrative above, that he was in a unique position to observe. Nimitz brilliantly points out the errors of the Japanese, which were obvious to him in hindsight, and attributes them to the influence of God, but he does not offer any opinion as to the metaphysical details of that influence.
This is a separate puzzle to solve….. how did the bold, ruthless and clever Japanese commanders fail to finish their mission, and fail to destroy the fuel, repair, and submarine facilities, failing to destroy the ability of the American Fleet to fight back? How did God bring their “errors” into being, without violating the Japanese commanders’ precious “free will”, which is regarded as sacred and inviolable in orthodox Christian doctrine? If God concealed things from the commanders, or directed their attention elsewhere, or caused them to forget things, this could be considered a serious violation of their “free will”, which would cause huge headaches for Christian theologians. It causes no problems for me, because I think there is a universal moral principle that evil people who destroy others forfeit their right to any “free will”, in the first act of destruction, and it becomes the obligation of others to take their “free will” away from them, by any means including killing, to stop further destruction. I do not think God has any great concern for the “free will” of evil people.
Admiral Nimitz did not wish to walk where angels fear to tread, so to speak, and he did not concern himself with such prickly details of how God brought about the “errors” of the Japanese commanders. He could see the bigger picture, and perhaps he alone could see the larger battle being played out on the vast physical and spiritual chessboard, that was the conflict we call World War II. He saw the traces of God’s hand.
The Allied forces did not win that war on their own. We won it only with the help of God, who was doing secret things to help us, and to hinder our stronger enemies, without regard for preserving “free will”. But an omnipotent God could have, would have, and should have, prevented the conflicts from becoming a “World War” in the first place. For an omnipotent God, the loving creator and father of us all, preventing the tremendous evil, horror, and destruction of a “World War” should be at the top of his “to do” list.
Japanese Adventures in China: The Rape of Nanking
We should be even more grateful for the limited help of a limited God at Pearl Harbor, when we realize that other victims of the murderous Japanese Imperial forces did not receive such brilliant divine help. In 1931, ten years before Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Army invaded China and swept the weaker Chinese Army before them like loose debris.
They routinely committed atrocities against the defeated Chinese, torturing them, slaughtering them, using them for slave labor. They conducted deadly biological experiments on Chinese prisoners in concentration camps. They did all this in China, just as the Nazis would do it 10 years later with the Jews in Europe. They considered the Chinese to be inferior and wanted to exterminate them, just as the Nazis considered the Jews to be inferior and wanted to exterminate them. God did not prevent the Nazis from killing 6 million Jews, and God did not prevent the Japanese from killing at least 4 million Chinese civilians. Some researchers place the numbers of victims much higher.
Nanking was the capital of a Chinese province in 1937, when the Japanese Army conquered it, after defeating the resisting Chinese Army units. The Jap generals decided to make an example of the city, and ordered all the inhabitants to be killed. They did not succeed in this horrifying goal, but they tried, and in 2 months they tortured and killed perhaps 400,000 people, most of them peaceful civilians. They likened the Chinese to animals and insects to be exterminated, and took the opportunity to “harden” their troops to cruelty and killing.
The Japanese soldiers shot, bayoneted, beheaded, mutilated and burned their victims. They made a sport out of brutal killing. Japanese officers competed to see how many Chinese they could decapitate with their swords. Some Japanese troops lined up Chinese civilians front to back, and then fired a rifle into the front victim in the line, to see how many Chinese people a single bullet would kill. The troops were encouraged to rape women and girls, and were instructed that if women and girls were raped, they must then be killed, lest they bear a Japanese child. Many were literally raped to death, from loss of blood after their vagina ruptured. Others were disemboweled after rape, or nailed alive to a wall, or had their breasts sliced off. Others were roasted alive. Some troops would capture a pregnant woman, make bets as to whether the baby was a boy or a girl, and then cut the baby out of the woman to settle their bets.
The vicious Japanese in Nanking made ISIS look like amateurs in savage killing. This mass slaughter is perhaps the worst known single atrocity in human history, or at least the best documented. And it was not done in secret, at the time. Japanese newspapers back in Japan reported the rising death toll with pride and glee, and reported the rising death count of specific Japanese officers, so the Japanese people were informed. Westerners in the city did their best to save as many Chinese as they could, and sent frantic cries for help to their home countries. Other countries, including America, stood by and protested the brutal atrocity, but did nothing to stop it or counter it or punish Japan for it.
Iris Chang heard about this horrific atrocity from her Chinese grandparents, and began to study it. When Iris Chang published a well-researched book about this greatest atrocity in 2001, “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II”, she was actually accused of fabricating the tale and slandering the Japanese. She received hate mail and death threats.
Incredibly, some Japanese politicians denounced her as a liar and denied that the atrocities ever happened. Finally, they gave a vague admission that unfortunate things happened and some Japanese soldiers did bad things. When they should have issued apologies and separated themselves from their evil past, they added a new moral outrage to the disgrace of their nation. They take the evil of their fathers upon themselves, and perhaps show us their true colors. Perhaps the Japanese culture is still capable of such evil, if they will not acknowledge it in detail and denounce it.
Then, to add another victim to the rape of Nanking, adding tragedy to tragedy, Iris Chang could not take the abuse she was getting from writing her important book, and she allegedly committed suicide in 2004. A suicide note was found that said she was being hounded by unknown people following her, and tampering with her mail. She suspected it was the CIA or other government forces. She felt that they would not stop until they had destroyed her. After her tragic death, the people of Nanking erected a statue of Iris Chang to honor her work on their behalf.
This is a tale of crushing tragedy, starting with the pure evil of the Japanese government and military in the 1930’s, continuing with the denial and anger of the Japanese politicians, and ending with the harassment and death of Iris Chang in 2004, who simply reported it to the world. In this case, the world did “kill the messenger”, because the world did not like the truth of the message.
No Possible Benefit from the Unjust Slaughter at Nanking
So we in America should be even more grateful for the brilliant divine help we received at Pearl Harbor, and in the rest of World War II, when we realize that others did not receive such help. The city of Nanking lost about 100 times the number of people we lost at Pearl Harbor. It is hard to even imagine the attack at Pearl Harbor repeated 100 times, but with the addition of Japanese troops on the ground, committing brutal murder of civilians and sadistic torture, thrown into the mix.
Why didn’t the pitiful, defenseless victims of Nanking get some metaphysical protection, like was given at Pearl Harbor?
Someone may suggest that they were in some way less deserving of God’s help, or of the wrong religion, but I will not entertain any such suggestions….. that is descending down toward the attitude of the Japanese butchers themselves. Another may suggest that God allowed the Chinese to suffer this hellish atrocity to teach them something, or to toughen them….. that somehow there was a shred of benefit from allowing the demonic Japanese troops to torture them and slaughter them. For those who died, the lesson was a bit too intense. Even for those who survived, scarred for life, I will not entertain such a false rationalization. The only lesson of value they could have learned from this genocide was the need to attack the Japanese with every shred of energy in their soul, with their bare hands if necessary, and to kill the Japanese monsters as they died, instead of cowering like sheep at the slaughterhouse.
But God does not teach this lesson of violent resistance through the orthodox religions. The orthodox religions all teach pacifist doctrines, to leave justice to God or karma. These pacifist doctrines of all religions are very wrong, because they concede victory to predatory evil. Neither God nor karma were offering any resistance to the Japanese, or any help to the Chinese, and it is absurd to suggest that either the Japanese or the Chinese could learn anything beneficial from this unjust slaughter. So I will not entertain any suggestion of God “allowing” this unjust slaughter for any reason, if he had any power to prevent it or stop it.
In the present massive atrocities of ISIS, there is no possible benefit from “allowing” these Islamic monsters to murder the followers of every other religion, and to spread a vicious tyrannical form of Islam throughout the world. They are pure evil, wearing a holy mask of religion, and there is no possible benefit in “allowing” them any shred of success.
For that matter, there was no possible benefit from “allowing” the unjust attack on Pearl Harbor, either. Tell me, how were the 3800 dead Americans supposed to learn or benefit from this, if their single mortal life was taken from them, and their souls were then shuffled away for an eternity in heaven or hell? If God had any more ability to oppose the attack, than the ability he exercised in the Japanese “errors” that Admiral Nimitz described, then he was negligent to be holding back that ability.
So I will entertain the possibility of limits to what can be done by metaphysical beings, in the physical world we live in. It is painfully obvious that the metaphysical help humans receive from God is severely limited, and therefore God must be limited, in some way that we do not know or understand. In addition to wars, this occurs to me every time there is a major natural disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or tsunami.
The Final Suggestion of this Cosmic Lesson
Far from criticizing or attacking God, this is a realization that could bring us closer to God. When the possibility of limits is considered, those of us who believe in God should be even more grateful for the help we do receive, and we should realize that he needs our help more than we have imagined. Instead of sitting back and throwing a temper tantrum, being angry that God has allowed evil people and natural disasters to kill millions in horrible ways, we should pitch in and do more to defend and protect people from wars and disasters; do more to help the surviving victims; realizing that maybe God is doing all that he can do, and is holding nothing back, and desperately needs our help.
A limited God would deserve even more love, respect, devotion, loyalty and worship from us, his created beings. His love may be unlimited, but his power might be limited, and that would be a great enlightenment and liberation for us. We would not blame him for “allowing” all the evils, all the disasters, all the wars that destroy us. We would come to understand better the tragedies that befall us, that he cannot prevent. We would come to understand his suffering, when he sees us being tormented in this world, and he cannot stop it. We would be in awe of all he has been able to create and accomplish, without being omnipotent, without knowing all that will happen to us. We would know that he suffers when we suffer, he cries when we cry, he rejoices at our joy, he is proud when we gain wisdom, just like our earthly fathers and mothers.
Indeed, Jesus taught that we should address God as “Abba”, which is roughly translated as an affectionate term for father, like “daddy”. We know all the limits and obstacles our earthly fathers face, and know all that they sacrifice to provide for us, because they love us, but they cannot protect us from everything, and that puts great meaning into the affectionate term “daddy”. Jesus wanted us to apply all of that earthly sentiment concerning our earthly fathers to God. But God does not protect us from most harm, and this may be evidence of God’s limits. Our earthly fathers may be able to protect us from some harm even better than God, in some cases.
Concerning the attack on Pearl Harbor, God could not stop it from happening, but he did turn its evil to work for the good, with all the events of extremely good luck for the American forces, and all the “errors” of the Japanese forces, as Admiral Nimitz explained above. In this article, I have explained my view of God’s actions at Pearl Harbor, in all of history, and in the Bible, as being understandable only if God is limited and not omnipotent. But theologians will turn this topic into a discussion of “free will” and how God grants it unconditionally to all of us. In their view, God is unlimited and omnipotent, but he grants us all an unlimited “free will”, in this earthly life. According to orthodox religious doctrine, an omnipotent God severely limits himself by granting all of us our “free will” to live our lives as we choose, whether for good or evil, to be rewarded or punished in the afterlife. I have explained how this doctrine makes no moral or logical sense, and should be viewed as morally irresponsible and grossly negligent.
Theologians raise “free will” to a sacred status, that God will not violate, even if we use our “free will” to destroy everything. This is the only way they can explain all the evil and tragedy in the world, and still argue for an omnipotent God. But it is a very poor argument, as I explained in the last article of this blog. https://goldenmeantx.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/a-different-easter-celebration-jesus-with-a-whip/ In that article, scroll down to the section “Free Will VS. Permissive Inaction”. What if the “free will” argument only hints at the whole truth? What if it is only a crude distortion of the whole truth? What if it is the cover story for a larger truth that we do not want to face? What if our obsession with “free will” is merely a manifestation of human selfishness and stubbornness, and not a loving gift from an omnipotent God? It is something to seriously consider.
But in considering that, you must also consider the need to take on a great deal more personal responsibility yourself, in countering the evils of this world. And that would be a worthwhile consideration, even for an atheist or agnostic, regardless of any consideration of God.
If you have read this far into my article, after having read all of it, I welcome you, and I know, as if we were soulmates, that you will empathize with this expression of one of my basic messages :
When does violence become morally justified, if ever? That is a crucial question, which has been debated for thousands of years, and here is my answer, in the form of a paradox….. VIOLENCE BECOMES JUSTIFIED AGAINST THE VIOLENT. When a person, or a spirit, or an angel, becomes violent for any reason other than the basic need to survive….. when a person becomes a dominating, manipulative tyrant, disrupting the lives of everyone around them….. when an angel in heaven became resentful of God and rebellious, and could not be returned to reason….. when destruction or domination or predation becomes the goal of any entity….. THAT is the precise moment when violence becomes justified against the violent. That is when the stopping of the destroyer becomes the imperative moral goal, the duty, the responsibility of anyone in contact with the destroyer, and the destroyer must be opposed by all means, for the common good. The initiator of predatory violence brings a righteous violence upon himself.
That exact message was given at the beginning of this article, but I have covered so much religious and philosophical grounds, that some readers will not have realized the possible truth and value of this message, until after reading the entire article. So I have repeated that imperative message here, to give more victims of evil the chance to stop being victims, to stop believing the religious and philosophical propaganda that focuses only on “love” and “peace”, which is incomplete and crippled, therefore wrong and harmful. It is my hope and intent that more victims of evil will emerge from their cocoons, and step forward as volunteers, as active participants in the war against evil, which rages around us at all times.
One of my favorite Bible verses is a plea to God for help : “Rescue the poor and the needy; deliver them out of the hands of the wicked.” — Psalm 82:4. But this could just as well be God’s plea to us for help, God’s command for us to fight the wicked and rescue their victims. Moral principles like this are universal….. binding to God, binding to us, binding us to each other in moral harmony. God is already doing all he can against the wicked, and still the wicked are seizing and controlling much of our world. He needs our help.
So, the proper question is….. are you and I doing all we can against the wicked? The proper answer is….. we are not….. and that should cause us great shame….. but sadly, it does not seem to cause us any shame at all. We are too busy with our own self-centered interests, too busy making a living, too busy with our family, too busy having some fun. Those few who recognize the wicked, will focus on avoiding the wicked, instead of attacking them to stop their crimes. There is a widespread basic moral failure to attack the wicked and rescue their many victims. We are too busy with the affairs of our own lives, to trouble ourselves with the victims of the wicked….. until we ourselves become victims of the wicked, and then it is too late….. just as it was too late for the 3800 American dead at Pearl Harbor, and too late for the 400,000 Chinese dead at Nanking, and too late for the Christians who are being murdered every day in Iraq and Syria by the wicked monsters of ISIS.
We are not all willing or able to actively fight the wicked, but we should all support those who are willing and able to fight the wicked, on all fronts, local and global. We should support the fighters, instead of condemning them, or condemning their mission. Yet that is what many “progressive” radical liberal pacifists do to our warriors, and they are sadly gaining the majority in America.
I will end with a quote from Admiral Nimitz, that noble warrior who defeated the wicked Japanese forces, who saved millions of people from death or slavery, which summarizes all he learned at Pearl Harbor and in the rest of World War II :
“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right, even though I think it is hopeless.” . . . . – – five star Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II