Giving God What He Needs

Do you enjoy movies that involve angels? Although I do, I worry that secular films with biblical themes can cause us to confuse that which is actually in Scripture with what is just in the imagination of a Hollywood writer. Regardless, a while back Michelle, Mikey, and I watched Legion, whose overall plot is that God lost patience and is sending His angels to wipe us out.

With our world's rampant, abhorrent sin it's hard to argue that we wouldn't deserve it, but it is disturbing to see with what relish the "good" angels carry out their duties (and there is nothing that distinguishes their control of humans from popular perceptions of demon possession).

One angel, an archangel to be exact, decides we are worth saving and helps a group trapped in a diner in the middle of the desert. If you aren't one for violence in movies, you'll want to avoid the film, but you might find the final conversation between the good archangel, Michael, and the "bad" one, Gabriel, interesting. Michael gave his life to save a special baby…and it looked like Gabriel was going to be able to finish off the child (and the young couple that was protecting the infant). Just when all was lost, Michael returns and saves the day.

As you can imagine, Gabriel is shocked to see Michael…and quite a bit dismayed ("This can't be. You disobeyed Him"). Gabriel did exactly what he was told, and Michael rebelled. Yet, God resurrects the insurgent angel and then gives him the strength to defeat His loyal one. What gives?!

Michael explains:

"You gave Him what He asked for. I gave Him what He needed."

Quite a striking statement, isn't it? But, is there anything in Scripture that would support God rewarding insubordinate angels or humans?

With angels it is a definite no…but with mankind there are a couple of incidents with our spiritual forefathers that are quite interesting. First, you likely remember how Abraham was told that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed, and then instead of saying, "God said it. I believe it. That's all there is to it" he negotiated with our Lord. Starting with 50 Abraham "convinced" God to spare the cities if even 10 righteous people were found within their borders (see Genesis 18:22-33).

Or how about Moses who twice interceded for his rebellious people even though God promised to raise a new nation from his offspring after destroying the Israelites (see Exodus 32:7-14 and Numbers 14:11-20)? God doesn't make mistakes, so when He told Moses what He planned shouldn't Mose have stood aside and let it happen? Who was he to question the Most High?!

Yet, Abraham was called a friend of God (see James 2:23) and the Bible records that God spoke to Moses as one speaks to a friend (see Exodus 33:11). Maybe our Tinseltown archangel had something, eh?

However, then we have the case of Saul, who was told to devote to destruction the Amalekites and everything they had, including all the animals. Saul didn't, and when he was confronted by the prophet Samuel, he quickly came up with an excuse that both passed the buck and pretended it was all done for God:

And Saul said to Samuel, "I have obeyed the voice of the LORD. I have gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal" (1 Samuel 15:20-21).

There you go! I know that you asked me to destroy everything, but I wanted to save the choicest stuff for you. That, and I didn't really do it myself anyway.

Guess how that went over…

And Samuel said, "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

Wait a minute! Abraham and Moses challenge God and they are called friends, but Saul gets booted from his kingship?!

Please take time to read the references given above for the incidents with Abraham and Moses, and also spend a little time in 1 Samuel learning more about Israel's first king. What you'll find is that the first two showed respectful concern for how God would look, and Saul's #1 concern was, well, Saul. If you continue in 1 Samuel 15 you'll hear a monarch who sounds like a kid who is penitent only because he or she got caught and wants to avoid punishment.

But, would it be fair to say that Abraham and Moses gave God what He needed instead of what He wanted? Let me ask you this…what did God want? For instance, with Moses, did He really want to destroy every Israelite or might He have instead hoped to give Moses a character-building choice (that people would learn from for thousands of years)? With Abraham, God made a point of not hiding His plans from that patriarch, so all along He might have wanted to strengthen Abraham's faith by making sure he really understood that our Lord would not wipe away the righteous with the wicked.

No, Legion's Michael wasn't right…what God wants is what God needs (and, for that matter, God doesn't need anything…we do!). However, He does want us to feel comfortable to question Him—as long as we really are looking for the truth. Israel was spared, but Sodom and Gomorrah had sulfur rained down on them. Regardless of outcome, Abraham and Moses trusted God's final decision.

And like Abraham and Moses we can know that in any situation God welcomes questions, but ultimately what He wants is exactly what the universe needs…and that He wants what's best for all of us.

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