Is GOD demanding?
Not in my view.
I personally feel that, given He is the Creator of the Universe and has sent His son to die in exchange for our rescue from hell on earth and eternal damnation, whatever Yehovah GOD might stipulate for a peaceful and joyful existence for us is perfectly reasonable. Is GOD demanding? I don’t think so…. But He’s clear about positive and negative consequences of our actions.
I want to take a look at a couple of chapters in Deuteronomy that will help us understand better the principle from Luke 12:48, To whom much is given, from him much will be required.
A read of Deuteronomy 18-20
Our heavenly Father asks the Hebrews (and fast forward to today, that includes those saved by His grace) to be different from the people of the lands surrounding. “For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.” (Deuteronomy 18:14)
He goes on to promise them a prophet; one who is genuinely of GOD will be proven to be so, through the fulfilment of his prophecies (Deuteronomy 18:15-22).
What does GOD say about wickedness
Let’s have a look at the LORD’s declarations…
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD…”
So, GOD is clear about whom to follow and what not to follow.
GOD sets up refuge
In Deuteronomy 19, GOD distinguishes between accidental injury leading to death vs murder. He sets up property structure and inheritance law. He distinguishes between true and false testimony, and makes it abundantly clear that, “Your eye shall not pity: life shall be for life, eye for eye…” in the context of deliberate guilt “so shall you put away the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 19:19)
The motive for GOD’s strictness is not so much to punish the guilty but rather to protect the innocent. The key is to deal with malicious intent, motive, for the sake of the innocent.
We see this played out in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphire lie to Holy Spirit.
“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Peter no sooner makes this statement that Ananias — and later his wife — dies. They each have the opportunity to come clean about their falsehood, but do not. Therefore, they experience the same consequence. It is harsh, but it is protective for the young Church. And they die, not because they didn’t give all their money away but because they claimed they did. Big difference.
Motive matters to GOD
It is less our behaviour that matters to GOD but more the motive behind our behaviour. We make mistakes. That’s behaviour. But we repent and move forward. That’s purification and the process of forgiveness.
This purity is what GOD wanted for the Hebrews, it is what He wanted for the early church. And it is what He seeks today amongst His children of faith. Now however, because of Jesus’ sacrifice and our surrender to Him in becoming born again, we are purified supernaturally. Repentance is the gateway to forgiveness… rather than punishment (though we can suffer consequences of our actions in the natural).
When GOD’s people venture into the promised land, they are told, “you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive…. lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 20:16-18) He wants His people to avoid temptation, to remain pure.
GOD is protective
Like a loving and committed father, GOD covers us. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)
And so, GOD does not ask what we cannot do with His help. He seeks to relate with us intimately and to protect us. In this world of darkness and evil, He wants us to be safe and so He sets standards within which we have absolute freedom.
GOD is not demanding. He is protective of His children, always has been, and I reckon, He always will be.