WHY WOULD GOD CREATE HUMAN
A few weeks ago the above question was asked in our mid-week Bible study. It is a question that has been asked by many sincere people, and I would suggest that it is a logical question for human beings to ask.
Ironically, this is also a question that has been used by atheists and skeptics in an attempt to weaken the faith of those who believe in the God that is revealed in the Bible. They use it to try to place doubt in our minds about God's justice and trustworthiness, much as Satan tried to place doubt about God in the minds of Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 3:1ff.
I would like to begin our study by looking at the character and heart of God as revealed to us in the Bible. We are beginning with the character of God because I don't believe that it is possible to give an adequate answer to this question until we come to know the true character of God. The facts that we are going to set forth from the Bible are necessary to our knowing God, and it is necessary to know God before we can find the answer to the question.
There are many ideas about God. Some reject God because they view Him as a cruel and inhumane being. They see a God of continual anger, hatred and vengeance. They see one who commanded His people to "murder" little babies and whole nations "without just cause."
I submit to you that this is not the God that is revealed to us in the Bible. Rather, the God that is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments is a God of mercy, love, grace, longsuffering, abundant goodness and justice.
As we study what the Bible teaches about God's character, it is our hope that it will not only help us answer the question that has been asked, but that it will draw us closer to Him, and cause us to love Him even more and thus motivate us to obey the One in "whom we live, and move and have our being." So, let us begin by asking the following question:
WHAT DOES THE
BIBLE SAY ABOUT GOD
Let's begin with a passage in the New Testament:
Notice the phrase, "for he makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." When it comes to physical blessings, God blesses both the evil and the good. I believe that we can conclude from this that God desires to bless everyone, not only physically but spiritually. In reality, the physical blessings that we receive on this earth are just a glimmer of the spiritual blessings that God is ready and able to bestow upon us if we would but come to love and obey Him.
Notice also that this passage teaches that if we are to be children of God, we must treat others like God treats them. We must not hate our enemies because God does not hate His enemies. Rather, we must bless them, do good to them, and pray for them. We do this so that we can be children of God, because that is how He treats His enemies.
What this tells us is that God desires more than anything to bless and do good for all people. This is the kind of God that is revealed in the Bible.
Next, let's look at an Old Testament passage:
Notice the words that are used to describe God: He is gracious, full of compassion, slow to anger, great in mercy, and good to all. I submit to you that the God we serve is not a God of hatred toward anyone - even toward His enemies. He is a God that desires more than anything to exhibit His graciousness, compassion, longsuffering, tender mercies and goodness to all people. He is a God who loves all people and who has proven that love down through the ages time after time.
When you really study with an open mind the accounts of God commanding the Israelites to destroy the nations of Canaan, you will come to understand that God had exercised great longsuffering with those nations. He had given them time to turn from their wickedness and they would not turn from it. So, because God is a God of love and justice, He had no other choice but to take the leaven of sin out of the world by destroying those nations.
We will study the question of why God would direct the Israelites to destroy whole nations in some future article, but suffice it to say now, that when all the facts are known and understood, God's graciousness, compassion, longsuffering, mercy and goodness as well as His justice are exhibited in every one of those cases. That's why the Psalmist was inspired to write: "His tender mercies are over all His works." Every decision that God made in regard to those nations who rebelled against His will was made in light of and in harmony with His tender mercies. And the decision He made to create people in the first place was because of and in light of His tender mercies.
REVEALING GOD'S HEART
I would now like to direct your attention to some explicit statements from God Himself that reveals His heart -- His character. The first is where God is speaking in reference to the nation of Israel:
In this great passage Yahweh was expressing what He thought about the nation of Israel in relation to bringing them back from Babylonian captivity. Notice how He shows His concern for them in saying, "I know the thoughts I think toward you." I don't know how you feel about it, but I think it is wonderful to know that we serve a God who thinks about His people. He thought about Israel then, and He thinks about the church today. He thinks about the individual congregations that make up the church and He thinks about the people who make up those congregations. God thinks about us as He thought about Israel. Thus, God is not a being who just created the earth and then left it alone with little or no interest in the people He created. He is intensely interested in each individual who lives on this earth and desires the best for each one of us. We know this because when God used the word "think," He was talking of more than just an occasional thought about someone. The word "think," according to Strong's concordance, carries with it the idea of "making plans." It deals with one's intention to do or accomplish something in reference to someone else. So God was telling Israel that He had plans for them. And His plans for them were for peace, not evil.
That is what God plans for His people in any age. He wants His people to be at peace. At peace with Him, at peace among ourselves, and at peace with others. A cruel, violent and inhumane God would not plan peace for His people.
God's plans for Israel was "To give you a future and a hope." This is the kind of God we serve. The kind of God that planned to give Israel peace and a future and a hope. And the same is true of His plans for the church today. God has planned to give us peace, a future and a hope.
Thus, we must appreciate the fact that everything that He does is to that end. Even if we do not understand everything He has done or required, we must understand that His motivation in doing what He did and requiring what He required, is to give us a future and a hope and peace, just as He did in the case of Israel.
Let us read another passage from the Old Testament:
This is the account of Moses receiving the Law on the tables of stone for the second time. You will recall that Moses broke the first tables because of the wickedness of the people who rebelled against God even while Moses was still on the mountain receiving the Law the first time. Yet, even after that happened, Yahweh described Himself as being merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth. God is a merciful and gracious God even when we rebel against His will. He is longsuffering, allowing us time to "come to ourselves" (Luke 15:11-24), allowing us time to realize our lost condition and to turn from sin and come back to Him. He is a God who is always willing to forgive us -- who always desires to forgive us. He is a God who is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus shows us this willingness to forgive on the part of God very vividly in Matthew 23:37 when He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" Can you see the tenderness, the desire to forgive in these words? But God could not forgive them because they would not allow Him to.
God is also described in Exodus 34 as a God who is "...by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." We should be so thankful that God is not only a God of love, mercy and compassion, but that He is also a God of justice. Think about all the wrongs that would never be made right if God was not a God of justice. The consequences of sin is shown in the latter part of this passage. God is not saying here that the children are held responsible for their father's sin or are guilty of their father's sin, because that would contradict Ezekiel 18:20 which clearly says that they are not. Rather He is saying that the consequences of the father's sins will be felt for generations. Yet, not forever, which again shows God's mercy and compassion.
There are many more passages we could read that show how God reveals His true character, but these are enough to show that Yahweh is a God of mercy, grace, longsuffering, goodness, truth and justice. These passages also show that He has always had these characteristics.
He is the only God that we could really serve with our whole heart, and the only God that we could ever really come to love. And this realization needs to be considered when we answer the question that was proposed in the beginning of our lesson.
Next, I would like to direct your attention to the fact that:
GOD'S LAWS REVEAL HIS TRUE CHARACTER
The following is a brief list of some of the laws that God put in place in the Law of Moses. These are all taken from the book of Deuteronomy.
These laws are all windows through which we see into the compassionate, thoughtful, and caring heart of the God of the Bible. A cruel, dispassionate God could never have made these laws. It took One of compassion, mercy and justice to make such laws. Who but a compassionate, thoughtful, caring and just God could make laws that would treat the slave in the right way; would recognize the new wife's need for the presence of her new husband; would direct people to take care of and return their brother's straying livestock; and would see to the needs of those who could not see to their own needs?
These examples, and many others that we could list, clearly show that God was interested in the success and happiness of His people. He was more than gracious, consistently forgiving, patient and delighting in His people. This is the true heart of God.
OF GOD'S TRUE HEART
The pre-eminent revelation of God's true character is shown in the life of His Son. Jesus' character, message, life and death all demonstrate the immense love that God has for all people.
Jesus once said to His disciples:
Jesus' life shows us what the Father is like. Jesus was the full-embodiment, the "express image of His (the Father's) person" (Hebrews 1:3). If we appreciate Jesus' message of forgiveness, love, kindness, truth and loyalty. If we appreciate His healing, His teaching, His encouragement and compassion, then we can appreciate who God is.
Jesus' life and death carries so much more weight, in revealing the love and goodness of God, than any number of highly questionable applications to different passages of Scripture that the skeptics make in trying to prove that God is a cruel, inhumane being. God, coming in the flesh, experiencing the punishment of a criminal for the benefit of unthankful, sinful people, is a complete contradiction of the idea that the God of the Bible is a cruel and inhumane being and one who delights in the loss of souls. But it makes perfect sense as an expression of the depths and extent that a totally loving God would go to for those whom He created. One would have to be forced to explain away all of Jesus' life and especially His great sacrifice, to prove the theory of a cruel and inhumane God. Jesus' life just does not fit with the low view that some have of the God of the Bible.
So, in attempting to begin to answer the question ask in the beginning of our lesson, we have set forth some of what the Bible teaches about the character of God. We have shown that the Bible does not teach that God is a cruel, violent, inhumane being with selfish interests and the desire to hurt people, but rather He is a God of compassion, mercy, love, longsuffering, abundant goodness, grace, truth and justice. He has proven this to be so, not only by the many passages where He describes His own character, and not only by the many actions He took in regard to people in the past, but in the life and death of His Son.
We must remember what the Bible teaches in regard to God's character, as we consider the question as to why God would create man if He knew that many would reject Him and be lost.
CAUTION: WE ARE
As we seek an answer to our question there is one thing that we need to remember. We are talking about God -- who is so far above us that we must confess that anything we say in trying to find an answer to this question will be said in ignorance at best. It is as Paul stated, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33). The Psalmist said of God, "Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite." (Psalm 147:5). Who can really understand an infinite God whose "judgments" are "unsearchable" and whose "ways are past finding out?"
As we proceed with our study I would also like to give this word of caution: It is possible to get so wrapped up in questions like this that it can cause problems for us. If there are questions we can't readily find the answer to, it can take time away from studying other things that may be more beneficial for us to study. It can also cause strife if we begin to bind our opinions on others concerning these questions. Remember Paul warned Timothy, "nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." (1 Timothy 1:4). He warned Titus, "But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless." (Titus 3:9). So, in seeking an answer to this question or any other question, let us be careful not to fall into that which would cause contentions or cause us problems.
And that brings us to our next point:
THERE MAY NOT
BE ENOUGH REVEALED
In Deuteronomy 29:29 the Bible says, "The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." If we cannot find the answer to our question, it should not weaken our faith or make us question the wisdom of God. There are just some things that God has not seen fit to reveal to us, and we need to have faith that He has a good reason for not revealing those things to us. We need to realize our need to accept and obey those things that He has revealed to us.
It is easy for us to go beyond the things revealed to us when we think about these questions. I am not saying that it is not good for us to present good, sound, logical arguments in trying to answer questions like this (especially in view of the skeptics' and unbelievers' use of such questions), but it is also very easy to speculate without evidence. And it is just a short step from speculation to believing that our speculations are fact. We must make sure that we know what is speculation and what is fact.
It is hard for us as finite human beings to come up with a good reason for God to create a world where the majority of the people that He has created will be lost. This is especially true when we consider what the Bible teaches about God's goodness, mercy, compassion, love and justice. It is easy for us to see a contradiction between God's goodness and His allowing people to be lost. Yet, simply because we can not imagine a good reason, does not mean that God does not have a good reason. Simply because we think we see a contradiction does not mean there is a contradiction.
God said, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says Yahweh. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). It is very hard for some folks to accept what is stated here, but it is the truth. God's thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours (so much more advanced), that it is not possible for us to answer this question unless He reveals the answer to us in His word. We may think we have good reasons for God not creating mankind and allowing so many people to be lost, but that does not mean we are right about the matter. God's thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways.
In light of what we studied concerning God's character, we can safely conclude that God had a good reason, perhaps we might even say a great reason, for creating human kind even though He knew many would be lost. If we can't determine why He would do so, we just have to accept the fact and go on. We must realize that God's character really answers the question as to the legitimacy of creating human beings even if we can't learn the reason.
Let me say this too: our ignorance of God's reason for creating human beings is no reason to act like we are not ignorant. It does not give us the right to act like we have all the answers and have the right to charge God with wrong. It may not be possible with what has been revealed to us to answer this question to our satisfaction. But that does not mean that there is no answer and that God made the wrong decision when He created us.
Now let's go to the next point which has been proposed by some as an answer to this question:
"IT IS POSSIBLE
THAT GOD DOES NOT KNOW
This argument goes against what I have always been taught concerning God being all-knowing (Psalm 44:21; 139:1-8; 147:5; 1 John 3:20; Acts 15:18, cf. Isaiah 46:10; ). But here is how the argument goes:
God is all-knowing only in the sense of knowing those things that are possible to know. There may be things an all-knowing being can not know just as there are things an all-powerful being cannot do. For example, God even though He is all-powerful, cannot make a square circle. No one can make a square circle, even one who has infinite power, because a circle by definition is round not square. There are just some things that are not subject to power. But God's power cannot be questioned because He cannot do what it is not possible to do.
In the same way, it may be impossible for anyone to know what a free human being (free moral agent) may decide to do or not do. Thus, God knows at any time all that it is logically possible to know, but He does not know what it is not possible to know.
If God cannot know what a free person will do, then that would answer the question before us, wouldn't it? According to the theory, He created human beings desiring that we would make the right decision and come to know, love and obey Him, but He left it up to man's free choice as to what to do. But He could not know what choice each individual would make because it is not possible for anyone to know what a free moral agent will choose.
There are several passages used to support this theory: For example the Bible says, "Then Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And Yahweh was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." (Genesis 6:5-6). The argument goes like this: If God knew ahead of time that the people He created would become so wicked in Noah's day, why would the Bible say that "He was grieved in his heart" at this time? Looking at this from a human viewpoint, it just doesn't make logical sense. Why was He not grieved on creation day if He already knew that many people in Noah's day would reject Him and that they would fill the earth with wickedness and have to be destroyed?
So, did God really not know that man would become so wicked in Noah's day? Or can this verse be explained in another way? Wayne Jackson, in writing about this verse says this:
Brother Jackson believes that this is a figure of speech rather than proof that God did not know that the people in Noah's day would become so wicked,
Another verse that is used to support this view is when Saul was made King of Israel and failed to kill all the Amalekites as he was commanded by God. God told Samuel, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." (1 Samuel 15:11). Why would God be so disappointed in Saul after he turned back from following Him, if He already knew that Saul would do this? If the theory that God can not know that which cannot be known, (that is, what decisions a free moral agent would make) is true, then this question is answered.
Another passage used to support this theory is Jeremiah 19:4-5 where God said this about the nation of Judah: "Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind)..." How could God have said that the things that the people of Judah did had not come into His mind if He already knew what they were going to do? The answer to this question is answered if the theory that an all-knowing God cannot know what it is not possible to know (that is, what decision a free moral agent will make) is true.
The main problem with this theory is that it has not been proven that God cannot know what a free moral agent will choose. In light of the fact that the Bible teaches that God is infinite in knowledge, and that these passages can be explained as figures of speech, this view is rejected.
A modification of this theory is this: God has the power to know but chooses not to know what decisions each individual will make. This may be more in harmony with what the Bible teaches about God being all-knowing and all-powerful. Since God is all-powerful He would certainly have the power to limit His own knowledge if He so desired.
However, we have those passages that show that God did know at least what some individuals would chose to do. When Jesus (who is God) was on this earth, He knew that Judas would betray Him and He knew Peter would deny Him. Thus, it is hard to accept the view that God did not know what each individual would do.
Again, we are talking about an infinite God. Infinite means without limit. Thus, He is without limit in knowledge as well as all His other characteristics. So, even though this theory may sound plausible, in my mind there are problems with it.
Let me suggest the following to you:
GOD COULD NOT
HAVE CREATED A WORLD
In other words, God could not have created man in His own image without giving him free choice. If God were going to create a world where He gave mankind the ability to choose, then He would necessarily have to create a world where there was a choice. If the only choice was to choose good, then that wouldn't be a choice at all. Thus, without evil in the world, there would be no free choice.
The fact that God had to create a world in which evil could exist in order to give man free choice, necessarily means that at least some human beings would make the wrong choice and rebel against God and practice evil. It is the utmost tragedy that most people choose to reject a knowledge of God and practice evil.
However, the fact that most people choose to reject a knowledge of God is not God's fault. The Bible says, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse..." (Romans 1:18ff). The fact is that God has given evidence of His existence and has revealed Himself to mankind in both the material universe and His written word. He did this in the Patriarchal age through the heads of households, in the Mosical Age through the Law of Moses and the prophets, and in the age we live in now through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). Thus, people who reject a knowledge of God really are "without excuse" because they are rejecting that which is "clearly seen."
When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra and healed the crippled man, the people started to worship them. Paul and Barnabas responded like this: "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in past generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:15-17). God has not left Himself without witness. If people will pay attention to what God has created and revealed, they can know that God exists, who He is, and because of who He is, they can come to a desire to be in fellowship with Him. So, if people rejected God in the past or they reject Him now, they are without excuse. It is their fault that they are lost, not God's.
God is not "willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He is longsuffering, giving us time to learn of Him and to come to love Him and to come to a desire to be with Him forever.
Evil must exist for us to make a choice to obey God and receive the blessings He has in store for us. If evil exists, then some people are going to choose it over good. Thus, when they make that choice they will be lost.
In answering the question as to why God would create man even though He knew that many would be lost, we need to consider the following facts:
First, God is a God of love, compassion, mercy, grace, longsuffering, goodness, truth and justice. Thus, the decision He made to go ahead with His plan was made as a result of and in harmony with these characteristics. In fact, God could make no other decision but that which would be in harmony with His nature. Thus, we must accept the fact that He had good reason to create man.
Second, God can see what man cannot see and knows what man does not know. We read where the Bible teaches that God's thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours -- so much more advanced. Our thoughts are very limited when compared to His. So, we must believe that because He went ahead with His plan, then there must have been a good reason for it even though we may not be able to discover that reason. So, we have to be careful about using finite human reasoning when it comes to attributing motives to the actions of the infinite God.
Brother Thomas Warren stated:
Brother Warren's conclusion that God made the world the way it ought to be must be right in light of God's characteristics. That necessarily includes the fact that people will lose their souls. But it also means that God did the right thing in making the world the way He did and allowing evil to be in the world, as well as allowing men to choose to be lost. Although we may not be able to comprehend why He made the world the way He did, we must conclude that it is the best of all possible worlds to accomplish His will.