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Christianity is arguably one of the largest religions in the world. Christians use the Bible as their source of spiritual reference and for various teachings. The bible has many teachings and spiritual themes which guide the Christians through different aspects of life. There are different themes that are continuously dominant in the bible which act as pillars for Christian living. Others are less pronounced and they may only have localised attention though their importance in day to day Christian life is still valuable.
Perhaps this is one of the most important themes in the bible, the pillar and the basis of Christian faith and foundation. It can be argued that Merciful punishment plays the central role in the Christian faith. God is the supreme judge who judges good and evil, he alone can administer justice and punishment according to the commands that he has given out in the bible. As much as he is the supreme judgeand the source of punishment for those that defy his commandments, he does it in a merciful way.
Throughout the bible he always gives fair treatment and gives an exit plan for those who wish to follow his ways. In addition his punishment is based on true love and as such his punishment should be seen as an act of love to his own creation. Merciful punishment meant to bring back to the righteous path those who in one way or another have defied his ways.
The bible continuously expresses the theme of merciful punishment and this can be seen in the ultimate idea of the God’s only son Jesus Christ who came from the throne to the world. He came to live as an earthly man so that he can understand man’s weakness and eventually be crucified to carry away man’s sin. According to Camping, “Christ would obediently endure God’s wrath on their behalf. For only then can God’s holy justice be completely satisfied” (Camping 1).
Throughout his stay in the world he had the chance to relate with man and preach the message of hope and redemption from sin. Having to leave the heavenly throne and to come and suffer as a man in the world is arguably an act of mercy. Through him justice and punishment is eventually found.
The whole idea of God sacrificing his own begotten son to die on the cross for the sin of mankind is an act of merciful punishment. He doesn’t just impose punishment to the sinners but due to his mercy, he provides a valuable exit from the ultimate eternal fire punishment by giving his only begotten son, through which salvation is provided – Luke 2. 52:“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (The Bible 712).
Merciful punishment can also be seen on the whole story of the children of Israel. God decides to deliver the children of Israel from captivity in Egypt and he uses Moses to deliver them. After a long struggle with Pharaoh the Israelites are eventually delivered and begin perhaps one of the longest and phenomenon journeys in the bible. It is believed that the journey was to take the shortest time possible but that was not the case. They stayed in the wilderness for a period of 40 years.
The events that happened in the wilderness clearly demonstrated the theme of merciful punishment. The Israelites used to stray away from Gods ways and in return God used to punish them with catastrophes, not because he hated them but because of his mercy. Through the punishment they would come back to their senses and seek his face in which he would forgive them and lift the punishment and life would continue. However it used to take a little time for them to forget about his love and mercy and
Go back to their evil ways. It is important to note that no matter how many times they strayed, God always instilled a punishment that always brought them back to him.
There are two particular events in the bible that demonstrates merciful punishment, the event by which God wiped out the sinful world through flood and with fire in the Sodom and Gomorrah. After people had sinned and turned against God, he used Noah to preach to them and tell them to turn away from their wicked ways. It took Noah many years to build the ark but despite his spirited efforts of warning them of what was to come, they still didn’t listen to him.
Through his mercy he preached to them and prepared redemption through Noah and the ark. Whoever listened was saved and the rest perished in the floods. Then followed the event in the Sodom and Gomorrah whereby despite spirited efforts to make the residents change their wicked ways they still didn’t heed to the warning.
In addition, God effortlessly refused to wipe the whole population claiming that there were still some faithful people in the population that would still hold him from executing his punishment. Eventually he saves the righteous and punishes the rest with rain of fire. Through the two incidents God demonstrates merciful punishment by providing authority to choose either to obey or to disobey and face the consequences.
Good versus evil in the bible
We can arguably say that the bible is all about good and the evil. The whole essence of Christianity lies in the existence and the conflict of good versus evil. To begin with, God is good whereas Satan on the other hand is evil. Everything else revolves about the battle, fight and conflicts arising between these good and evil. From the book of genesis God create the universe and all that is in it.
One of his angels decides to overthrow him and in the process he is cast out from heaven and that marked the beginning of good and evil. Throughout the whole bible good and evil exist. God uses different people, avenues and perspectives to deliver man from evil. On the other hand the devil, representing the evil, uses all means possible to lure man into his evil ways so that he will never perish alone.
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From the word go Adam is created and is warned not to take the fruits from the tree of good and evil.God, in the book of Genesis 2:17, warned Adam from eating from the tree of good and evil “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (The Bible 2). The Satan lured them and they ate fruits from the tree.
After taking the fruit, it is recorded in Genesis 3:22 that: “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (The Bible 2).For man that marked the beginning of the unending struggle between good and evil.
Satan is evil and the root cause of all evil, God’s enemy number one. Satan continuously lures mankind into sin to deviate him from the goodness of God. It is the responsibility of each and every person to shun from these evil ways and resort to goodness. According to 1 Cor. 6:19, 20, a man’s body is the temple of the Lord, a sanctified holy place:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (The Bible 794)
The only way to avoid evil is to keep oneself pure by doing according to his will.
The bible stresses the importance of avoiding the evil. Almost all of the biblical teachings revolve about advocating for goodness. The bible refers to the church as the body of Christ.This in essence means that Christians should shun the evil and seek righteousness, or in other words goodness.
Camping claims that man is responsible for his actions “God had created him good, with every conceivable blessing; and because he was created in the image of God he was fully responsible for the consequences of his disobedience” (Camping 1).
In the book of 1 Thess. 5: 22 Christians are warned to abstain from all forms of evil “Abstain from every form of evil” (The Bible 821). According to the bible Satan, who is evil, tries to snatch away as many people as possible from the goodness of God so that they may never all the good promises that comes with following the good ways (Camping 1).
As a matter of principle the Bible advocates understanding good and evil in order to discern the tricks of the evil one. Christians are continuously advised to increase on their spiritual knowledge through reading the bible.This will enable them to stand strong through the temptations of the evil one. The bible illustrates the need of wisdom in fighting evil.
According to the bible Jesus was able to overcome the three temptations in the wilderness because he had a lot of wisdom about God and his teachings in the bible. Of particular concern are those who might want to blur good and evil. The bible, in the book of Isaiah 5:20-21 warns that:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!” (The Bible 479)
Treatment of women
It can generally be argued that women in the bible have not been given the same importance as men. Most of the leadership and religions positions in the bible are occupied by men. In the book of genesis it can be seen that women only came into play after God discovered that Adam was lonely in the Garden of Eden. It can also be argued that women were created as a helper to men.
The fact that eve was created after Adam and also not created like Adam but from his limb insinuates that the two were not to be equally treated eve was to be the helper. The holy trinity and all the angels were all men. Many scholars argue that sin came through to mankind through the woman and this seemed to have set the wrong foot for women in the bible. After they disobeyed God both Adam and eve were given different punishment. For women painful birth was one of the punishments (Powell 1).
The women seem to be given more of house hold related obligations -1 Tim 5:9, 10, 14:
Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. (The Bible 824)
This implied that for women to be considered for any church favours they had to demonstrate exemplary performance in the home based duties for which they were obligated to do.
In the Old Testament mixed reaction on the treatment of women ensued. There were outstanding women such as Ruth, Sarah, Esther, Hannah among others who took an imperative place in the shaping of biblical events.
In the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy women were displayed as inferior. It is claimed that women were considered to be unclean for some period immediately after giving birth. At some instances men were even allowed to stone a woman to death if they discovered that she had broken her virginity before marriage (Powell 1).
In the New Testament however, women get equal and fair treatment as their male counterparts. Jesus treated both men and women equally and in fact had close association with women such as Mary Magdalene. It is of importance to note that when Jesus resurrected, he first appeared to his female adherents. This indicates the importance of the role of women in a biblical concept (Powell 1).
It can arguably be concluded that women generally were unfairly treated by the general society. It is claimed that prior and during the time of Jesus the Jewish community was more male dominated. Women were usually placed in the same class as slaves, neither enlightened nor distinguished asleaders.
For instance, Jews hardly spoke to Samaritans and Samaritan women in particular until the incident at the Jacob’s well. Although Jesus advocated for fair treatment of women and in fact allowed them to be with him during his teaching he did not demonstrate the same when he was appointing the 12 disciples. This demonstrates a rather inferior treatment for women (Powell 1).
The bible is the central pillar for the faith and belief of all Christians. The events in the bible have diverse and intensive teachings about different aspects of a Christian life. Some of the most important themes in the bible revolve about good versus evil, merciful punishment and treatment of women.
The whole bible revolves about good and evil. God himself is holy and righteous whereas on the other hand Satan is evil. Satan tries all his best to lure man into his evil and wicked ways whereas God on the other hand presents opportunities to deliver man from evil to his goodness. In the process of delivering man from evil God employs different techniques of merciful punishment.
The treatment of women in the bible is rather not a one sided deal but a mixed one. Throughout the bible women receive mixed treatment which appears to bend more on unfair treatment in general. All in all a journey through the bible is worthwhile for anyone interested in the various teachings of the bible.
Camping, Harold. God’s Magnificent Salvation Plan.Oakland, California: The Mountain Retreat Organization, 1981. Web.
Powell, Bud. Women in Church Office. Oakland, California: The Mountain Retreat Organization, 1981. Web.
The Bible. The Holy Bible, NIV. New York: International Bible Society, 2007. Print.