Does God observe all the terrible individual and collective sins of mankind?
We said the following in a Q&A, titled, “Did the Father really forsake Christ?”:
“When Jesus was dying a terrible death on the cross, He cried out, just before He died, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46)…It is true that for a brief moment the Father forsook Christ on the cross (Matthew 27:46). This happened just before Christ died (see verse 50), because at that time, He was carrying, symbolically, the sins of all of mankind (compare John 1:29), and the Father, being of purer eyes than to behold iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13), turned His eyes from Christ, as unrepented sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2)…
“God—both the divine Father and the divine Son—cannot look on iniquity…
“Notice what we read in Deuteronomy 23:9-14: ‘When the army goes out against your enemies [as true Christians, we are today engaged in a constant spiritual battle with Satan the devil, as well as the world and our own selfish and carnal desires], then keep yourself from every wicked thing… you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the LORD your God WALKS IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAMP [today, both the Father and the Son live IN us through the Holy Spirit, compare John 14:23], to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may SEE NO UNCLEAN THING AMONG YOU, AND TURN AWAY FROM YOU.’
“Interestingly, we understand that it was Jesus Christ, as a divine being in the God Family, who spoke these words, but He spoke them in obedience to the Father’s Will (compare John 14:24). As divine God beings, both the Father and the Son are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity–that is why the world is cut off from God, and why only those who repent of their sins can come to God. Of course, this is not to say that God is not aware of our sins, but His eyes can’t stand them…
“At the time of Jesus’ death, He carried on His shoulders the load of the sins of the world. Think about it! He carried all the terrible crimes, abominations and perversions which the world committed since creation–including the very sins which caused God to bring the flood on this earth and to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as sins which were so terrible that God said He never considered the possibility that man would commit those (compare Jeremiah 19:4-5; 32:35)…
“When Christ had all the sins of mankind placed upon Him, thereby having ‘become’ sin in that sense, He had to experience separation from God, the Father! God, the Father saw all of the sins of man placed on His Son and He could not look at them. His eyes were ‘purer than to behold’ those sins. Remember, those sins included mass murders, rapes, terrible wars, tortures, sorceries, demonic idolatries, holocausts, martyrdom of the saints—all of the wicked, evil, rotten, despicable and deplorable abominations man has done, and continues to do—and all of these were placed on Christ!”
As God can’t tolerate sin and does not really want to look at it, we must have the same attitude. For instance, we read in Psalm 101:3: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” In Job 31:1, Job says: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” The idea is, to commit adultery or commit fornication with her (compare Matthew 5:28).
As God is of purer eyes than to look at iniquity, so David prays to God to turn away his eyes from looking at worthless or evil things (Psalm 119:37).
On the other hand, does God really look attentively at all the individual and collective sins of mankind before He closes His eyes towards them and turns His eyes from them?
First, let us realize that time and chance does not rule over those whom God had preordained to be called in this day and age. For the rest of the world, which is cut off from God, time and chance does rule. God leaves mankind to their own devices, and even though He could focus on and know about every terrible sin of every person being committed in this evil world, is there really a biblical indication that He does?
In a Q&A on “time and chance,” we said this:
“[In the book of Ecclesiastes,] Solomon is making a distinction between the people living in this world, being cut off from God, and those whom God has called to His way of life, including himself. Solomon said that “evil occurrence” or “chance” did not govern his own life, because God was controlling his life and had given him rest. Christ made the same distinction, in Luke 13:1-5: ‘There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 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? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will ALL LIKEWISE perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but UNLESS YOU repent, YOU will all LIKEWISE perish.”’
“Christ’s teaching is unmistakable: If we don’t repent, we might very well die as those did, on whom the tower of Siloam fell; that is, through an accident, apart from, or being cut off from God — by time and chance. If we repent, however, according to Christ, we will NOT likewise perish or die in that way. Rather, even if we were to die in an ‘accident,’ God would have specifically DECIDED not to intervene and to LET US die. God is always in control over our lives — nothing happens to us which God is not aware of (compare Job 1:21-22; 2:10).
“True Christians are NOT in the ‘hand’ of time and chance. Rather, Solomon tells US: ‘… the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God’ (Eccl. 9:1). David understood, too, that he was in God’s hands. He wrote, in Psalm 31:15: ‘My times are in Your hand.’ He knew that he, as well as all true Christians, are always, constantly and completely, under God’s observation, His protection and in His loving care… God promises that nothing too difficult for us to bear, will happen to us (compare 1 Corinthians 10:13). This means, then, that God must be watching us every second to guarantee the fulfillment of His promise… Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who love God. The only way that EVERYTHING can work for our good is that GOD will work it out for our good — and not ‘time and chance.’
“When a Christian dies, it is because GOD has DECIDED that it was time for His son or daughter to die…”
What we want to emphasize here is that this does not apply to non-Christians who are cut off from God. To them, time and chance applies, which means in turn that God is NOT observing constantly and protecting every person living on the face of this earth. This explains too why terrible things may happen to some, and rather than blaming God, we should realize that it is man who is to be blamed, due to his willful ignorance and his intentional decision not to be subject to God and His Way of Life (compare Romans 1:18-22; 2 Peter 3:5; John 5:40).
In this context, it is also important to focus on the special role of certain angels.
We write this in our booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”:
“We find… accounts in the Bible, describing angels as fiery horses…
“We are specifically told in [Zechariah 1:8–11] that God sent ‘red, sorrel and white horses’ to walk to and fro throughout the earth. These horses are angelic beings. Zechariah 6:1–8 confirms this conclusion… The horses walking to and fro throughout the earth are called ‘spirits of heaven.’ They are spirit beings, or angelic beings, that look like horses. In Revelation 5:6, some of those spirit beings are described as ‘seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits… of God sent out into all the earth.’ Notice that Zechariah, too, identifies these spirit beings as the ‘eyes of God,’ in Zechariah 3:9 and 4:10: ‘Upon the stone are seven eyes… They are the eyes of the LORD, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.’ 2 Chronicles 16:9 adds, ‘For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.’ Proverbs 15:3 goes on to state, ‘The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.’…
“God’s angels watch on the good and the bad, and they report their findings to God…”
Therefore, when we read that “God’s eyes” keep watch especially over the bad, it is a reference to some of His angels whom God created and is using for that very purpose of giving Him reports as to how badly bad people behave, prompting God to have a closer look at the unspeakable evil to determine whether His direct action is needed at that time, before turning His eyes away again from the terrible atrocities of man.
We find support for this statement in several incidents describing God’s actions. The most obvious example can be found in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We read Christ’s words to Abraham in Genesis 18:20-21:
“Then the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’”
We then read that Christ sends two angels to Sodom to test the wicked inhabitants (compare Genesis 19:13).
The “outcry” which reached God would have been the reports that angels had brought Him, about the wickedness of the people living there. Maybe, it also included the prayers of righteous Lot who was living there. Following that outcry, God’s personal attention was directed at finding out how terrible the people behaved. Some commentaries tell us that this wording [of God coming down and seeing how bad it was] is “anthropomorphic” (applying human characteristics, traits or attributes to God) or a figurative way of speaking, allegedly “proving God’s omniscience or all-embracing knowledge.”
Of course, most commentaries do not believe that God has form and shape, and that man was made, in a physical way, after the spiritual likeness of God. Nor do they believe that God travels, going from one place to another. But the Bible clearly teaches both.
It is of course true that God could have known what was going on in Sodom, but He purposefully determined at first, not to look at all the terrible sins being committed there, until the outcry had reached such an extent that He decided to do something about it… considering that normally, God will not bring judgment on carnal man until the time of Christ’s return who will replace Satan, the ruler over this wicked evil world.
A similar conclusion can be gleaned from the account about the Tower of Babel. We read in Genesis 11:5-8:
“But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.”
This passage implies that Christ came down, apparently in response to a report by His angels, to see what was really happening at Babel, and after having analyzed the situation, both the Father and Christ determined to go down to confuse the languages.
In both cases, quoted above, it is emphasized that God came down to SEE the evil occurrences. Also, in Genesis 6:5, referring to Noah’s Flood, we read about God’s response after man had engaged in despicable prohibited sexual practices: “THEN the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continuously.” After that observation, God decided to destroy mankind in a great flood, only sparing Noah and his family.
God knows of course about the general depravity which exists in the world today. But He is of purer eyes than to behold all of it in detail; He is not focusing on every horrible and despicable sin of the masses, only to “confirm” in His own mind how bad it all is. Likewise, when we report on the evils of this world, we do not quote news articles describing in most intimate detail the egregious violations of the kinds of sins which only a demonically-inspired mind could come up with. God knows that it will be as it was at the time of Noah and of Sodom… and His angels run to and fro throughout the earth to report their findings to God as to how depraved mankind has become so that, in combination with the success of the preaching of the gospel in all the world as a witness, God the Father will make His decision as to the appropriate timing of Christ’s Return.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link