Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief:
The Hebrew word (Qal) “pleased” here means, “To incline to, to bend, to be pleased with, desire.” The word clearly communicates the idea of willful intent driven by a happy desire. There is no sense of regret or recrimination. The Father was pleased to bruise the Son.
Now understand this pleasure of the Father in bruising the Son is a pleasure as seen in the context of what could be argued as the greatest cosmic injustice ever to be seen in the chronicles of the history of man. Here, we find the innocent and morally perfect God-Man being offered up as a sacrifice and in all that the Father is pleased with this bruising that is assigned to His agency. The Father is pleased with His bruising of the Son.
Now, in retrospect, we understand that the Father was pleased with that bruising because in that bruising of the Son the Father’s character as Holy and Just are sustained and His character as merciful and loving are demonstrated. Further, the Father is pleased because in His bruising of the Son, His name is glorified inasmuch as His character is seen as perfect as it never ceased nor ceases to be, sin is seen as consequential as it always was promised, and His people are atoned for.
Now, if the Sovereign Father was pleased with His bruising of the Son, can there be any other action of our sovereign God with which He is not pleased?
I bring this up in the face of those who want to suggest that God is sad about the Wuhan pestilence that we are currently experiencing, as if God is a spectator of an event He is helpless to alter. Indeed, if the Father was pleased to bruise the Son how much more must the Father be to have bruised with the Wuhan virus? If somehow you have missed it this is a greater to lesser argument.
Yes, God is pleased with what is happening now with the Wuhan virus, just as He was pleased with smiting Sodom and Gomorrah, just as He was pleased with the fall in the Garden, just as He was pleased with smiting Egypt during the Exodus, just as He was pleased with Rome’s descent on Jerusalem in AD 70, just as he was pleased with bruising the Son. There is nothing that God does that He is not pleased with.
That God has done the Wuhan virus is indisputable given the teaching of the Scripture,
Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? (Amos 3:6b)
I form light and create darkness; I bring prosperity and create calamity. I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)
But he (Job) said unto her (his wife), Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? (Job 2:10)
So, what we have established so far is that,
a.) If God was pleased to bruise the Son then He is pleased in everything else He does.
b.) Everything that happens is what God does.
Let us consider next if it is possible for God to both be pleased in doing what he does while lamenting over what happens? I bring this up because Christianity was represented in TIME magazine by Dr. N. T. Wright who emphasized God’s lamenting over the Wuhan virus at the price of giving up God’s sovereignty and God being pleased to bruise us with Wuhan. Dr. Wright’s God brings us back to the Open Theist God who is good for sitting down next to the suffering and crying with them about their hardships but who, excelling at lamenting, sucks at being able to do anything about your problems. Dr. Wright’s motto might be something like,
Times may be tough
Times may be gritty
But God has limits
Though He sure takes pity
This is not to say that God doesn’t lament. It is to say that if God laments His lament is not inconsistent with His pleasure in bruising us with Wuhan. There are times when God bruises and laments simultaneously.
When I was a child I had a bad go with impetago. At that time the recommendation for the disease was to scrub the wounds till they bled and then apply a medicine on the wounds after the scrubbing. My recollection is my father would hold me down so that my mother could scrub my wounds. My recollection is also that my Mother was weeping — weeping because she could observe how much pain her child was in from this scrubbing routine — while she was scrubbing my wounds. She was lamenting though it pleased her to bruise me. Lamenting and being pleased to wound me were not inconsistent.
In the same way God can be both pleased to ordain both the disease and the cure while lamenting with His people of the necessity of the wounding.
Also, we have to consider that
But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you. (Proverbs 1:24-26)
The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. He struck down the firstborn of Egypt, the firstborn of men and animals. He sent his signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants. He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan and all the kings of Canaan. (Psalm 135:6-11)
There are times when God belly laughs when the wicked perish since what the wicked are receiving is the just deserts of their wickedness. Would any of us not delight in the destruction of a serial murderer? Would any of us not delighted in the destruction of a Stalin or a Mao or Pol Pot or a Castro? All who are outside of Jesus Christ who are perishing from the Wuhan virus results in God being delighted. After all, He had warned them to repent or they would “perish in the way.”
Speaking of repentance brings us then to a further point in this brief essay.
There was a time in our history when our Christian father’s understood that such visitations of pestilence such as we are now experiencing with the Wuhan virus were times wherein God’s people especially needed to repent. Such times were for the proverbial sackcloth and ashes. This would be preached from pulpits. Assemblies would be called for the purpose of public repentance. God’s people understood then that “Judgment begins in the household of God,” and believing that they set about a season of repentance.
For example, during the Pequot war (1637-1637) when the Pequot Indians attacked Boston, the area ministers called a synod to ask: “What are the evils which have called the judgment of God upon us? What is to be done to reform these evils?” The Boston area clergy did not search for sinners to whom they could ascribe blame. Rather, they asked what they themselves had done to test God. They assumed the need for their repentance.
And why wouldn’t they? This need to repent in light of tragedy seems to be the point of Jesus at the tower in Siloam incident.
Luke 13 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
There is never a time that is not a good time for repentance as Luther reminded us in theses #1 of his 95 thesis,
“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
however, in times of crises the need for repentance is perhaps even more necessary if we are to take the example of our Reformed forefathers as precedent.
We should understand that there was a reason why our fathers in Christ immediately moved to repentance when crisis was at hand. The reason was that unlike us they believed that the world was God’s world and that everything that happened in this world was an effect behind which God was the cause. They believed in God’s personal providence. They believed that God was involved in the affairs of men, and so unlike moderns they did not just chalk up “natural disasters” to nature. They saw the finger of God in what today we refer to as “natural disasters.” For them God was the ultimate cause and as such the ultimate cause must be considered in any and every event and so they would cry out to God for relief, while at the same time teaching that God’s ways are altogether just.
Of course, the danger in this kind of thinking is the ever present temptation to say with authority and certainty, “this is that.” There is a danger among certain clergy to step forth as the spokesman of God and say the reason we are experiencing this earthquake, or this flood, or this pestilence is that the wicked are committing this or that particular sin. To be sure we can always speak truly enough by saying things such as “just as God justly judged Sodom so He is justly judging America and the world,” or “If God is just then His justice is unquestioned in judging a world where the judicially innocent are tortured and murdered.” However, this kind of speech, apart from considering our own need to repent for our own sins come across more as “I told you so” then the prophet who is laboring over his people’s sin.
Having said all the above, I close by offering the caveat that I’m not convinced that the Wuhan Virus is all that the doomsayers are saying that it is. Personally I’m more concerned about the death and mayhem that will come from the result of what looks to be largely manufactured crisis. I’m more concerned by the liberties lost as a result of the Tyrant-State gone wild.
But even if that happens … it will be the case that God was pleased to bruise us by means of the Tyrant-State