This is an excerpt from my Revelation commentary which I have edited for this site:
By Dennis Coulter
11:13 “In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city (of Jerusalem) fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed.” Each and every person who died was known by name to God. There are no accidental deaths. Though untimely deaths are often tragic to the loved ones left behind, God’s sovereign timing is never off. The real tragedy of these deaths is that they died in unbelief.
If there was ever a question, a dilemma really, that I have asked God about, it would be this: “Why would You, the Almighty, create an intelligent, living, breathing, procreative race of beings, give them free will, and then allow the majority of them to spend eternity in the flames of hell; why would you do that, Sir?” You might think, “The audacity of that little piss-ant, Dennis Coulter, who does he think he is questioning God?”
I’m one of his children, born again through faith in Jesus Christ, that’s who! Do you have any idea how much He loves me? He sent His first born to die for me! So, it’s not audacity, it’s interest in one who would do such a thing.
So, that’s what we’re going to talk about. Why did God do that? As you shall see, He did it in order to glorify Himself. Before we begin, please understand that God is not a megalomaniac. He is God: sovereign, righteous, just, love, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, immutable, and veracity. And he wants each and every of us to know Him in order to be appreciated for Who and What He is. And, so, we have a sovereign choice to make. Here is the question: who will you choose to serve? Since God has given us freewill, this choice becomes our responsibility and our’s alone. What shall it be? Will we choose to serve, ourselves, Satan, the world, or Him, God Almighty? And for that choice, each and every one of us shall be held accountable. Now here’s the cool part, no matter which one you choose, your choice, your decision, will ultimately bring Him glory. Watch, I’ll show you:
“And the rest,” of the unbelievers, “were afraid, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” How can unbelievers glorify God? In order to answer the question, it is necessary to discuss God’s ultimate purpose in creation and the plan by which He will accomplish it.
God’s ultimate purpose, in creation is to glorify Himself through Christ. When Adam fell, he generated a serious problem for the entire human race through spiritual death. God provided the solution to man’s problem through the person and work of Jesus Christ, His Son. God is worthy of worship, as is His Son (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 4:11), and demands to be worshiped as the only true God (Ex 34:14). The fact that some choose not to worship Him does not hinder the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose. All creation will eventually submit to the authority of God and confess that Jesus Christ is Creator, Lord, and Savoir of the universe (Isaiah 45:20-25; Rom. 14:11). The issue here is not if, but when.
Our God is a jealous God:
If you don’t understand the word jealous, then you have never been in love.
Exodus 34:14 “You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, (Yahweh) whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”
Jesus is God and worthy of worship:
Hebrews 1:6: “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:
“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
Revelation 4:11: “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
The Word became flesh, the Son of man, and the Son of God:
John 1: “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, καὶ θεὸςἦν ὁ λόγος (Yup, that’s what is says). 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” That would be the Shekinah Glory. The Shekinah Glory was the manifestation or theophany that Moses beheld in the burning bush; the pillar of fire that arose from the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, that supernatural aura that dwelled between the cherubim on the Mercy Seat, the cover or lid of the Arc of the Covenant.The Shekinah is His glory, which they saw in the flesh as He walked and talked and did His Father’s will in the land of His forefathers. The Shekinah Glory which, since the day of Pentecost, now dwells in us through the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The Shekinah Glory as described in 2 Chronicles 7:
Solomon Dedicates the Temple
“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. 3 When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying:
“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever.”
John 16:12-15 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
If you want more information about the Shekinah Glory. You can Google it. There are several articles on the subject, but here’s my take. Let’s keep it simple, it’s really not that complicated. The Shekinah is the physical manifestation of the glory of God. We can’t see God, neither can we stand in His presence in our present physical state. That would kill us. “But He (God) said, “You (Moses) cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20). So how does God manifest His glory today? Did the Shekinah depart with the ascension of Jesus? No!
Why don’t we just let Our Lord Jesus explain it:
John 14:1-28 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
“5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jesus is saying that if you have seen Me (Jesus), then you have seen the Father. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all share the same divine essence. So, if you have seen one, you have seen all three.
8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
How can we do greater works than Jesus? My friend, that’s why He left, so we could carry on the work that He began. We, the church are now the body of Christ. “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Corinthians 12:27). How many people did Jesus lead into the kingdom of God? Quite frankly and reverently, not that many. That was not His primary purpose. He did what He came to do, which was to die for our sins. And, having done that, He passed the baton to us, the church, the present day body of Christ. However, He did not leave us without the assets necessary to complete the job. Let’s move forward:
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (God the Holy Spirit), that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Doesn’t that just give you chills? God the Holy Spirit actually dwells in us. This is what theologians call the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is to be distinguished from the filling of the Holy Spirit. That topic will be covered at a later time.
But wait, it gets better:
19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” Did you get that? “I in you.” What’s that mean? Well, in all my experience, you know what? Shut my mouth. It says what it is, and it is what it says. Jesus lives in us and through us and that’s what the church is all about. The Shekinah is the glory of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Where is Jesus now? The Bible says that His divine resurrected presence is sitting on the right hand of God the Father, but His earthly presence is right here. Don’t believe me? Go look in the mirror. There He is.
Please, stay with me just a little longer because this is where it starts to get personal:
“21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
“22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
“23 Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’ “ Dads, when you walk through the front door, collapse on the couch, and say, “Honey, I’m home,” you’re not just talking to the furniture. You’re making an announcement: “Daddy’s home, Abba, Father, is in the house. And then we push ourselves into that cushy little place that is ours and ours alone and just relax. Why? Because, we know we are home; we are with our family.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.27 Peace (through the filling of the Holy Spirit) I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”
Well, there it is, my take on the Shekinah Glory of God. Where is it today? In each and every member of His body, the church. And what does that make us? It makes us responsible. The only glimpse that the world will ever see of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is through us. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” The words come from a tune we learned in Sunday school, but the theology behind those words is based on an understanding of the Shekinah. Get it?
Now, a few words about God’s sovereignty:
Every knee shall bow:
Isaiah 45:20-25 “Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
24 He shall say,
‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
25 In the Lord all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory.”
It is not a matter of if; it’s simply a matter of when.
In order to fulfill His ultimate purpose without compromising His sovereignty or His justice by hindering man’s freewill, God designed a plan, βουλήμα which is to be distinguished from His will, θέλημα. God’s plan encompasses all that He will do with His creation. God’s will, on the other hand, represents all that He desires to do for His creation. Let me illustrate: as parents, we desire or will to bless and reward our children for their righteous accomplishments. However, our plan, with regard to our children, is to hold them accountable for their actions, which sometimes involves discipline. Disciplining our children is never a pleasant chore, but it is a necessary aspect of adult life. Out of love, we, as parents, discipline our children in order to train them and guide them. In other words, we do this to teach them, so that they will become responsible citizens of society and capable parents of our grandchildren.
With regard to God’s plan, Paul wrote: “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” Here, Paul used the Greek word βουλήμα, which is translated will. The problem here is that the word, βουλήμα, has a much more specific meaning than simply, will. The more precise meaning would be God’s set purpose or plan (Rom. 9:19). This plan or purpose has a threefold objective. First, it is designed to teach man that God’s ultimate purpose (to be glorified) will be fulfilled. Next, we need to understand that we are accountable (not a popular word these days) to God for every choice that we make in this life. The third objective is to demonstrate God’s perfect justice and thereby establish His righteousness because, simply put, justice is the execution of what righteousness demands. The sovereignty of God is emphasized in the fulfillment of His ultimate purpose, but His righteousness and justice are demonstrated through His plan.
This is one of the most misunderstood aspects of God’s character. You hear this all the time, “How can a loving God cast his creation, or more dramatic, His children, into hell? What I’m teaching here is theology, the reason and purpose of God, not Warm and Fuzzy 101. The contact point between God and mankind never was nor ever shall be love. How can a holy God enter into a personal relationship with a sinful creature without compromising His integrity i.e. righteousness and immutability? God simply cannot have contact with sin. When our sins were poured out on our Lord Jesus, He screamed, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” Why did our caring and loving God turn His back on His only begotten Son in His darkest hour of need? Do you want to know why? Here is the answer: because He had to. You see, when our sins were poured out on the humanity of Christ, the Son of man, what happened? On this point, Paul is very clear: “For He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus)who knew no sin to be sin for us,” While bearing our sins on the cross, the humanity of Jesus became sinful and unfit to be in fellowship with any member of the Godhead. As a result, Jesus hung on that cross between heaven and Earth, completely alone, separated from the divinity of God and forsaken by man, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ).
If I have ever had a profound thought in my life, it would have to be this: the picture of our Lord, Jesus, Having asked, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me” (Mark 14:36), enduring the torture of a loneliness that only He could experience. You see, our Lord, Jesus, before this moment in history, had never been alone, ever. And so, He screamed out to His father, “Dad! Where are you?” And God, our Father in heaven, could only look down, in the presence of thousands of angels, in helpless agony, as He watched His only begotten Son die, alone and forsaken.
So where does love fit in to this scenario? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 cf. John 3:16). Love is God’s motivation. Love led Jesus to the cross, but love does not justify God to enter into a personal relationship with anyone, not until He is justified to do so.
Therefore, love is the motivation, but justice is the contact point. So, why do I call justice the contact point?
When a person accepts the gospel (that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins) by faith, and not a moment before, the righteousness of God is imputed to him or her. On the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, God is there by justified to enter into that person, and regenerate him or her. This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Paul described it this way,“Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (regeneration i.e. born again); old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).
So, to answer the question: how can God send His creatures to hell? Because of sin, He is justified to do nothing else. And here is the clincher: It’s not even your fault that you are a sinner. It’s Adam’s; not Eve’s; Adam’s. The world was not cursed until He ate. You already know that. As I have said over and over to my students, “You are not a sinner because you sin; you sin because you came into this world a child of Adam. Through no choice of your own, you were born a sinner.” God allowed it, because in His infinite wisdom, He had made provision; a back door, so to speak, and better yet, a trap door for Satan.
Now, please listen to these next few words very carefully:
Adam and Eve never possessed eternal life until after they sinned. In the Garden, there was always the threat of death hanging over their heads. “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The fact that they were without sin was no gateway to heaven. It only allowed them to live in the Garden on a day by day basis. They were not eternally secure until they accepted the gift of eternal life by faith in God’s promised redeemer. “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman (ultimately, Mary), And between your seed (fallen humanity) and her Seed (Christ);He (Christ) shall bruise your head (Satan),And you (Satan) shall bruise His heel (a reference to the cross)” (Genesis 3:15). By accepting the covering of animal skins, they were forevermore, through faith in the blood of Christ, secure in their in their home with our heavenly Father. “ Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Geneses 3:21).
After the fall, Adam and Eve continued to make animal sacrifices as a show of faith in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
In conclusion, through this demonstration of love, through the cross, God is justified to enter into an eternal and personal relationship with anyone who is willing to accept the gift of the imputed righteousness of Christ. Therefore, it is the imputed righteousness of Christ, received by faith alone,which justifies God to enter into a personal relationship with anyone without compromising His divine integrity.
Moving on with the original question:
There are two aspects of God’s plan that are designed to respond appropriately to the freewill decisions of man. They are His will, (John 3:16-17, 36a; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9) and His wrath, (John 3:36b; Rom. 1:18).
Let’s pause to look at the Scriptures:
John 3:14-17: “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so, oὕτως, literally, in this manner,loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
1 Timothy 2:4:“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,”
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”
Pretty straight forward isn’t it? God does not want any member of His creation to go to hell.
God’s will for all mankind is blessing. That is what God desires for us all, but will do only for those who trust and obey His Word.
His plan, on the other hand, includes another clause, His secondary purpose for mankind. That would be His wrath. Clearly, this is not God’s desire. He is our Father! No one grieves more deeply than He when we reject His revealed will. But remember this, God’s preference is grace. And, as a result, He always provides grace before judgment.
If man rejects God’s will, then he rejects His grace. After that, all that is left is wrath, and His wrath is devastating. His wrath includes all that God will readily do to those who reject His will through disobedience to His Word. Wrath is an aspect of God’s sovereign plan, but it does not in any way reflect His will for mankind. God’s will is that man appropriate grace, His plan of blessing, by believing in Christ and trusting His word.
In summary, the justice of God imputes blessing to man each time he expresses faith in His Word. Blessing provides us with positive reinforcement. This is an encouragement to our expressed faith in God. On the other hand, God’s wrath imputes discipline to man when he rejects His will. Therefore, as our Heavenly Father, His motive for wrath in time, that is our time here on Earth, is love. In eternity the motive behind wrath is justice. The purpose of divine wrath in time is to discourage rebellion and turn man toward Christ and obedience to His Word. All God really wants is to prevent having to dispense His wrath to unbelievers in eternity i.e. the lake of fire or hell.
In conclusion, it is God’s desire or will to bless man and keep him from experiencing His wrath. On the other hand, it is within God’s plan to curse man in order to turn him away from evil. In eternity, it will be too late for those who died without Christ to repent. They will face God’s wrath forever. It is God’s ultimate purpose to establish His divine essence by bringing His entire creation into submission to His sovereign plan through justice. If man repents in the face of God’s wrath and accepts His sacrificial love (the solution to man’s problem), then God’s will has been accomplished. If man rejects God’s love through unbelief, then he will face God’s wrath in eternity in accordance with His sovereign plan. Either way, justice will be served and God’s ultimate purpose will be accomplished. The issue here is not if, but how.
Now we can return to the question of how the unbelievers in our context “gave glory to the God of heaven.” When the unbelievers witnessed the resuscitation of God’s two witnesses in Jerusalem they “were afraid.” Their fear is an acknowledgment of the fact that the God, with whom they are at war, has the power over life and death. Also, they are afraid because the message of God’s two prophets has taken on new significance. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he who disobeys, the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Therefore, they are glorifying God by acknowledging His sovereign power over the situation they are experiencing. Even though they acknowledge their problem saying to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” they are rejecting the solution. The only solution to their problem is to submit to His will, and we now know what that is. It is faith, and faith alone in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Only faith in Christ can avert God’s wrath and relieve their fear. If they continue in unbelief, they will incur additional wrath and will eventually burn in Hell. Either way, they are functioning within God’s sovereign plan, and His ultimate purpose is in the process of being accomplished.
I hope this was helpful,
Any questions? Please don’t hesitate to ask.