WHAT DID PAUL MEAN BY “ANATHEMA”

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

2015

 

Somewhat off the subject, but not too much, I've been struggling for some time to express with some cohesive structure, a general sense I've had re: the horrific commands by God for Israel to, in effect, commit genocide. This has caused great consternation among folks possessed of decent human sensitivity, and especially among many thoughtful Christians. In many cases it has caused some to take a position that abandons what I would call a deserved high view of biblical inspiration.

 

My first thought as this subject presented itself rather persistently to my thinking, was that I wondered why folks limit their horror at the notion that God could in anyway have been involved in the Israelite's slaughter of---if I'm recalling correctly in some cases---every living thing connected to a certain ethnic group, and yet not consider if or how God might be involved, for instance, in the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki when neither city was of any measurable military value for the Japanese war effort, and likewise, our blanket fire-bombing of German cities which only accomplished the mass killing of civilians. That purpose was deliberate, by the way, to demoralize the German populace entirely. This in spite of the fact that only a very small percentage of Germans belonged to the Nazi Party.  

 

Why do we concern ourselves about the hard-to-bear, hard-to-compute, possibility that God might really have commanded those holocausts of old, but are comparatively little exercised to consider the same kind of situations in modern times? Let's begin with what I believe to be a guiding principle: The world is in an abnormal state (biblically referred to as all creation subjected to futility), with there being at times, and with certain persons or groups, the abnormality reaching an extreme so horrific, that left to continue, would derail God's ultimate purpose for the entirety of the human race (which is always the larger picture in the administration of God), and within that abnormal state, for God to act normally (defined, in this case, with gentle kindness), would be ineffectual.

 

God is the eonian God, the eternal God, abiding in the ages, making concessions necessarily to the conditions of the ages. The place of making concession to where people are at, in order to bring them to where He ultimately wants them, is given too little consideration in theology. I'll insert a dramatic illustration of the above. We've all probably watched scenes on TV shows or in movies, where someone gets an object lodged in their throat, and nothing anyone can do, will dislodge it. They're minutes away from dying from lack of oxygen. Suddenly a doctor seeing the enormity of the situation, pushes everyone aside, asks for someone to bring him a sharp knife, and a straw, or any kind of hollow-tube object, like the inside of a ballpoint pen.

 

He then sets about (probably to the horror of some folks looking on), to slice into the person's windpipe below the obstruction, and insert the straw, so that the person can VERY ABNORMALLY breathe, until the obstructing object can be surgically removed (that qualifying also as abnormal action---you don't normally cut into a person's windpipe).To further make the larger point, suppose the person with the obstruction was the pilot on a plane without a co-pilot. That's the larger picture.

 

I'm going to continue to try to make my point using brother J. Preston Eby's teaching on the right hand and left hand of God. In scripture, according to Preston, everything associated with the redeeming and saving work of God is at, and from, His right hand, embodied in His Son, our Lord Jesus, with us in Him. But He has a mode of left-hand activity. This is, of course, a simplistic illustration, as I'm sure Preston would agree, but very helpful. The right hand of God where we are seated with Christ, complete in Him, is the hand by which and by whom, God gives "life, and that more abundantly." But it is by the left hand, by which, and by whom, He kills, and that, according to Jesus is by the "thief (who) cometh not but to steal, kill, and destroy."

 

God cannot inspire theft, killing, and destruction, by His Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, through the regenerating infusion of that Spirit, the out-flowing of the communion of His love, but He can see to it that such things do happen, and determinedly so, by withholding the grace by which His love comes to anyone. Grace is simply love freely given. Until the reality of anyone's identity with Christ at the right hand of God, in Christ, is realized, he is in some measure involved with, and complicit in God's left-hand activity. He does leave us to ourselves to see what we become and do, in order that finally, we might realize our utter dependence upon God. There is a difference by which God creates good, and by which He creates evil.

 

As Jonathan has dug out regarding the more essential meaning where often the word, "commandment" appears---especially, I would say, in John's writings, and more especially, in his first epistle. The root thought is "the implanted goal." In regeneration, God implants His goal of universal glory into our spirits, and that is the essential living command that calls us forward to the "telos" (goal). But when He determines that evil should present itself, He calls forth--by a different mode--the implanted goal existing within the negative instrument's flesh already. He simply commands that what is already in the heart of that instrument, to come forth and play itself out for His glory.

 

Through the prophet, God claimed, "I kill, and I make alive." "I create good, and I create evil." Jeremiah epitomized in his ministry, the truth that God tears down and builds up." Very boldly declaring His absolute sovereignty, the Lord goes so far as to say, "Is the evil in the city, and I, God, have not done it?"        

 

When God does (indirectly) evil, it is by that abnormal method by which that evil will serve the ultimate destruction of all evil, and leave preserved His purpose that "all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord." Some of the nations/tribes/ethnic groups that Israel wiped out were so abominably evil, that, if left unchecked, their infection would have spread beyond what would serve God's ultimate purpose, so God said, "That's enough. This far, and no further." We're talking about cultures given over to child sacrifice, to roasting young children (their own) on the white-hot arms of the idol of Molech.

 

God would not send an army filled with the love of God to carry out that task. We're very familiar with the much-agreed principle among conservative Bible teachers, that God used nations even more evil than Israel, to chastise and correct His chosen people. Those nations didn't carry out their divine task full of love for the Israelites, but also NEITHER were the Israelites full of the love of God in their attack, for instance, on the city of Jericho. And He didn't use a lily-pure woman to help facilitate the incursion into the city, he used a harlot. The love that God is was not the active dynamic at work in the stealing, killing, and destruction. BUT that love lay behind it all, moving inexorably by gore and glory, toward a state of universal ecstasy for all involved.

 

In modern times, the hearts of the allied soldiers were not filled with the love of God for Germans Japanese, and Italians, but there was within those nations, a strain of such cruelty toward their fellow man, that God said, "That's enough. This far, and no more." I will only touch on the fact that the U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, and France, with their own respective imperial designs (oh, yes) helped to call forth from the Axis powers the worst of their temperamental propensities.

 

Enormous profit-interests were driving our involvement from the beginning, We were not the lily-pure saviors of the world, by any means, and in terms of our own complicity, "what goes around, comes around." Do you think God has been unmindful of our treatment of our own Native Americans, or unmindful of the slaughter by the million (now reaching upwards of 60 million) of the unborn---the most innocent among us? Is there that much difference between the sacrifice of children to Molech, and the sacrifice of children to the abortion industry? Think about it. Do you think God was unmindful of our own government deliberately infecting black Americans with syphilis for experimental purposes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT DID PAUL MEAN BY ANATHEMA [John R. Gavazzoni] 2015          2

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