For the week of October 1, 2011 / 3 Tishri 5772
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-17


Trusting in the God Who Is

The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:4; ESV)

I think that understanding this verse and its implications is key to truly knowing God and understanding how life really works. First, let me muse over what the words here are saying. The God of Israel is "the Rock" - absolutely dependable and stable. He is who he is and he does what he says. "His work is perfect" - what he does, he does exactly as it should be done. It is never incomplete and lacking in any way. "For all his ways are justice" - whatever he does is right for everyone everywhere. He sets the standard for justice and meets that standard every time. "A God of faithfulness" - He is consistent and loyal to all of his commitments. You can count on him. "And without iniquity" - there is no evil, weakness, or decay in God nor in anything he does. "Just and upright is he" - he is always in the right and is honest and forthright.

For this verse to be the key I contend it is, it needs to be grasped within the reality of living life as we know it. If the Torah portrayed God as disconnected from human activity, then it would be relatively easy to accept these attributes. If God was a distant cosmic power who existed to fuel our spiritual fantasies, then what difference does it make how our holy book describes him. We might even be inspired by stories of other worldly exploits of divine super powers. But the Torah creates a problem for us, because it claims that this amazing Supreme Being is involved in our day-to-day lives. If God as described by these attributes is truly involved in human affairs, how do we reconcile his attributes with the prevalence of tragedy and suffering?

The Torah reveals to us that the reason for the invasion of evil is our first parents' rebellion against God's command. Since then life on earth has been out of whack. While retaining so much of God's original design, humans, animals, and the environment are tainted through and through, which is the effect of sin.

But this does not change God, nor his dealings with us. Our predicament is not a reflection upon God, except in the sense that his oversight of our predicament is an example of his wonderful attributes discussed earlier.

The reason the verse I read is the key to knowing God and understanding how life really works is that something happens when a person is able to fully accept the reality of the goodness and power of God in a world as broken as ours. This is not spiritual escapism. In fact it is when we grasp the reality of the attributes of God and are willing to face the state of the world as it is that we can begin to live life to its fullest.

The Bible gives us examples of many people who understood this. Noah knew that God called him to prepare the rescue mission for his family and the animals in the face of impending doom. The evil of his day and the resulting judgment were as real as God's word to him to build the ark. Moses trusted God to do the impossible in the freeing of his people from the tyranny of foreign control. David did the same, not only in his slaying of the giant, but throughout his entire life. In the midst of all sorts of difficulties he lived his life based on the belief that God was greater than anything.

Noah, Moses, and David lived as they did not because God was somewhat powerful and sometimes gets involved in our affairs. They knew he was altogether trustworthy and all powerful, which freed them to do his will in their day regardless of their circumstances. No other example is as vivid as the Messiah's conquering of death. His entrusting of himself to the will of God even in the face of execution and his resulting vindication through his resurrection is proof positive that God can be trusted no matter what.

One day, we will no longer have to live with the tension between the attributes of God and life as we know it. But for now if we are willing to do so, we can know him as he is and live life as we were meant to. Let me quote the verse again: "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he."

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