An Authoritarian, Disciplinarian and Punishing God?

When did man stop believing that God was a Loving God, wanting to provide, nurture and bless, and became an authoritarian, disciplinarian and punishing God? Was it In Noah’s day? Or was it at Sodom and Gomorrah? Maybe is we on the day God gave Moses the law and put up with then for 40 years. I have heard all of these answers at one time or another from very knowledgeable theological scholars. But none of them are right. The truth is our lack of knowledge of God’s love and fear of punishment started long before any of the aforementioned events.

If you remember God made man and loved him. He prepared a special garden for man and provided everything in life for man. Then entered the “LAW” God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Was God being hateful and mean, keeping man from eating from that tree? No! With the commandment there was a warning in Genesis 2:17, “If you eat of it you will die”. Gods’ commandment wasn't to be mean or keep something from man. It was a command to protect man form death. It was a commandment out of love.

However being deceived by the devil, man believed that God was holding out on him and they ate from the tree.

So when man ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was God mad? What changed, or should I say, who changed?

We know God loved man and saw that man was very good. The proof of God’s love is found in Genesis 1:26-31. Out of every living thing god created, God made man in His own image and He gave to man dominion over all that He had created on earth. What higher honor or act of love could there be then to create something in your own image, then give that creation power and dominion of all that you had made.

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:26-31

Was God mad? Did He change?

No. Because God loved man He would frequently visit man and walk with him in the cool of the day. So on the day that man ate of the tree in the middle of the garden, do you suppose that God didn't know? God is the only omnipotent being in existence. God knew what man had done but yet, God still came for His cool evening to walk with man, calling out to him, “where are you”.

So who changed? Man changed.

When man and women ate of the knowledge of good and evil it changed them. Their eyes were open. They saw life differently. Independently form God. They had, in that moment died. They were separated from God’s Spirit, the love of God.

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. Genesis 3:6-7

Their eyes were opened. What was the first response to their understanding that they had been separated form God? Man and women realized their nakedness and in their own effort, they tried to fix the problem. They sowed fig leaves together as coverings to hide their nakedness.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?" He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." Genesis 3:8-10

What was the second thing man did. Because of man’s inner change, his separateness form God, he became afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid of God. The Lord said, “Where are you” and Adam replied, “I heard the sound of YOU in the garden and I was afraid because we were naked”. Adam before the knowledge of good and evil, only knew a loving God. But after, once sin begat death, he could only see fear.

Note. Adam was more concerned about his condition then his disobedience to God that he and women had just done. Man was not afraid of their actions against God, but rather the condition it left them in. That condition was nakedness, death!

Still the questions still lingers. When did man start fearing God as a punishing God and not a loving God?

It was the very moment man sinned. The moment man ate of the tree of knowledge of good an evil. That is when man saw God as an object of fear. Man no longer saw Gad as love.

Some might say that God proved His authoritarian, disciplinarian and punishing attributes in Genesis 3:14-24. This caused man to fear Him when he outlined the consequences for what man had done. This is just not so. God didn't just come up with these consequences at random or off the cuff. God’s word cannot be changed. God cannot lie. So God cannot recant. God told man that the moment man ate of the tree in the middle of the garden, man would die. The punishments, as some call it, were just the consequence of the death God had declared.

In my heart of hearts I know that God doesn't take any pleasure nor get any joy out of imposing any of the consequences of sin on man. The opposite is true. God doesn't want any man to parish.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

But what about God kicking Adam and eve out of the Garden??? Doesn't that prove God’s authoritarian, disciplinarian and punishing attributes? Again, No! Not in the slightest.

Even before man had ever sinned, God already had a plan for the redemption of man. But there was one issue that could hinder this. In the Garden there was a second special tree. The tree of LIFE! God knew that if man ate of the tree of life in the state of sin and death he was in, man would forever and all eternity be lost to sin. The truth is God loved man so much that He could never allow this to happen. So God because of His great love for man, had no choice but to drive man out of the garden.

Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24

Let me ask you this. If you have a child and there is something so harmful in a room your child is in, that is could cause utter destruction. Would you leave that child in that room? Not if you loved them. You would get them out of that room as fast as you could. You wouldn't ever let them return to that room again. Well at least until the destructive nature was dealt with. That is exactly what God did.

Out of love for man God took man out of the garden until He dealt with the destructive nature.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

God isn't mad at man. God is not an angry God as so many preachers would have you believe. God is love by His very nature and He loves man above all things. God from the very beginning, before the moment he breathed life into man, loved man. He has never stopped. God is not an authoritarian, disciplinarian and punishing God, just waiting for you to mess up and sin, so he can pour His mighty wrath down on you. When God gave His word “The wages of sin is death”, it was binding. And with death comes consequences. However, God because of His great love for us, that even when we were still sinners, He made a way out of sin and death.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6:8

God loves you. Even though you may have sinned. You may feel that you could never be worthy of God’s love. Well, you can’t. No one can. No matter how good or how bad you are, God’s love is constant and unconditional. The condition of God’s love is not measured by what you do for Him or what you don’t do. God’s very nature is Love… God is love!

Man’s nature is to try to fix his fallen condition in our own self effort and to hide out of fear from an angry God. But God’s nature is to love man even at man’s worst. God is not asking us to fix anything. He has already done that. Nor does He want us to hide in fear of Him. God love is so great that He fixed what man broke. He gave us His Son Jesus for that. All God is asking man to believe in what He has done to fix it. God sent Jesus to be the punishment for all our sins. All God wants us to do now is to believe that. Please listen to that voice of the Spirit in you. “. He who believes in Him is not judged”.

Yes God loves you that much.