These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
One of the most common and most frustrating things that I run into as a pastor is an error that God points out in the above verse. There are times when I, as a pastor, will share with someone simple truths from the word of God. While I know and heartily acknowledge that I am imperfect and quite fallible, I also know that God has blessed me with training and resources to help to interpret the Bible faithfully in accord with sound hermeneutical principles. Thus it is frustrating and difficult when I run into a person who, upon hearing something from the word of God, responds with a statement akin to the following: “Well, I just don’t think God would do it that way,” or “I just know that God. . .”
The dangerous error that any of us can fall into if we fail to make our theology from the scripture is the error of making our God into our own image. God rebukes Israel for this harshly. That second line of the verse above, “you thought that I was one like yourself” is the key. When we do not allow the Bible and the Bible alone to help us to know who God is, what he is like, and how he will act, we instead assume that God thinks along our line of reasoning. When we say, for example, that God would never do something, we should immediately ask ourselves if that is something that is revealed in his word. God will never lie, as his word clearly states in Titus 1:2. But for someone to say that God would never allow their country’s government to fall or that God would never allow his church to suffer at the hands of an evil government is for someone to claim something which God most certainly did not reveal in the scriptures.
You might wonder if this happens often in the life of the church. I submit to you that it happens all the time. When Christians debate issues such as eschatology (end time events), how often are their arguments based on what they think God would do rather than what God has said? How about when we study the issue of the order of the events in our salvation? Do we make our arguments based on what the Bible says or what we think we have experienced? It is likely that, if you look deeply into any controversial doctrinal issue, somewhere near the bottom of the issue will be an argument that forms, not from scripture, but from someone’s opinion of how God ought to do things.
What about you? When you think of God and how God accomplishes his will, do you think in purely biblical terms? Do you allow the scripture to inform you as to God’s ways? Or do you assume that God would never allow something to happen based on the simple fact that, if you were in God’s place, you do not think that you would allow it to happen? God is infinitely greater than us in his holiness and in his wisdom. His ways are beyond our comprehension at many a time. How dare we assume that God would or would not do something simply based on our own likes and dislikes? Let us not remake a god in our own image. Let us not assume that God is one like ourselves. Let us learn who God is as he has revealed to us in his word.