I continue sharing about decisions when we wait for the Lord to show us what He wants, but in fact many times He has no perfect will because He delegated the decision to us. Here are some core decisions delegated to us: Crime & punishment, what we eat, marriage.
Obviously we can ask that He become involved in revealing wisdom, but the decisions remain ours to make. Knowing when to make a decision and when to wait on Him is what this series is about. But first…
You may recall from Genesis 1:29-30 that at creation both man and animals were vegetarians, and God personally handled crimes, as seen in the cases of both Cain and Lamech. (Genesis 4:6-16, 23-24)
The big change
But all that changed after Noah’s flood, for when he got out of the ark the Lord first promised never to flood the whole earth again, and then delegated 2 things to man while renewing a third as part of what is called the Covenant of Noah, in Genesis 9:1-7.
To Noah and mankind He renewed His very first act of delegation from Genesis 1:28, when He told Adam & Eve to be fruitful in life, multiply, and have dominion as good stewards over the animals and creation. He renewed this with Noah.
The 2 new things delegated were: You may eat animals for food (but I’ll make it fair by making animals afraid of you), and if man sheds man’s blood, man has the right to require blood of that person.
Ever since Noah got out of the ark we’ve had the freedom to eat any animal, the responsibility to handle crime and punishment, and the responsibility to determine how we become fruitful and multiply on the earth.
We have the freedom to eat all things, but the later Law of Moses defined for Israel animals that would be healthy to eat and animals that would not be healthy, as well as laws of sanitation (like washing your hands) and other more detailed laws that built upon the Covenant of Noah’s freedom to eat meat.
Crime and punishment
Mankind has the responsibility of crime and punishment, and again the later Law of Moses detailed for Israel many specifics ranging from the death penalty to lesser crimes requiring only fines. However that doesn’t mean each crime worthy of death requires the death of the guilty, for example:
Joseph could have had Mary executed for adultery, a capital crime, but was going to not press charges and just quietly divorce her instead because as it says, “He was a good man and didn’t want to make a public example of her.” (Matthew 1:19)
Jesus also extended mercy to the woman caught in adultery in John 8, instructing her that He forgave her that instance, but to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
But Jesus didn’t repeal Noah’s covenant that delegated to man crime & punishment: The proof being that every nation continues to set its own laws for crime and punishment, and mankind continues to eat all sorts of creatures, and continues to multiply across the face of the earth.
Be fruitful and multiply; separate and together
The Law of Moses and even the New Testament detail ‘be fruitful’ when Paul says for just one example, that if we don’t provide for our own it is worse than being an unbeliever,* and other exhortations that we are expected to be responsible for our lives through work. Other verses about being fruitful include employees working their job as if they were working for the Lord, Christian bosses considering their employees as equals in Christ, and other such things. *(I Timothy 5:8, Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 4:28; 6:4-6)
And of course ‘be fruitful’ is also linked to multiplying, again showing this is our responsibility, with great freedom within that delegated authority. Jesus even said in Matthew 19:12 there are some ‘eunuchs’ born to be single from the womb, and some as unto the Lord have chosen to remain single. Paul was single and said for the gospel’s sake he wished more were, but that each person has their own grace from God on the matter. But he did say to not be unequally yoked on purpose, and gave advice for those already married when they came to Christ and find themselves in an unequally yoked marriage. (I Corinthians 7:7; II Corinthians 6:14, I Corinthians 7: 12-16)
Freedom for us to decide
So within each item of delegated authority to mankind there is great freedom, and the Lord works within those structures man gives Him for those structures are man’s to establish, with each nation offering unique foods, unique laws for crime and punishment, and unique customs for marriage. God’s command to man at the start was to fill the earth, and He also is trying to fill the earth, therefore He will work within any structure man sets up to the degree that structure allows Him to function.
And various structures give Him varying degrees of freedom, like house church has one degree of freedom to go with the flow of what He wants in a meeting, while the auditorium with its never changing 4 songs, offering, message and out the door to beat First Church to the buffet, has more restrictions. But He works within each to the extent He is allowed by us to do so.
And some businesses allow Christians great freedom, others do not. Some marriages give the Lord much freedom within them, others do not. But food, crime & punishment, and marriage are our responsibility and He seeks to fill each delegated structure to the extent each structure allow Him to fill it.
When the Lord put Adam in the Garden and told him to cultivate it, He wasn’t hanging over his shoulder telling Adam where HE wanted each plant to be moved – He allowed Adam to do as he pleased. And I’m convinced once Eve saw how Adam had arranged the Garden, she immediately set about rearranging it more to her liking – and the Lord wisely stayed out of it!
How this works in the real world
First the disclaimer – things happen in life outside of our control as we are on a flawed planet. There is no one key that answers every question about why this or that happens to people. As Barb has said, “When I get to heaven I’ve got a lot of questions for the Lord.” Don’t we all.
But in sweeping generalizations:
Diet – we can eat whatever we want, therefore we are responsible for the consequences good or bad, of what we put in the body, and each body reacts differently to various foods. Let us say someone is 4 feet tall (1.2 meter) and weighs 300 pounds (136kilos).
They may love God, but when they are in the hospital with heart/lung conditions, diabetes, and worn out knee and hip joints and call out to God for healing, He will usually lead them back the way they came to that condition in order to attain that healing. He isn’t going to zap the pounds off them or heal their heart condition – He will use man’s devices and technology – but they got themselves into that condition and the only way out is to lose the weight – He works within what He delegated to us. What we plant, we harvest.
Crime – If someone is guilty or innocent and in jail or prison, He isn’t going to step in and override the system. He will work within the system because He delegated to mankind back at Noah to establish laws for crime & punishment. He will work within the system and through the system, which could take years to effect change for that person to get some measure of grace to that person.
Now we come to marriage…
And I’ve run out of room…until next week then! Blessings,