Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Above My Pay Grade

“That’s above my pay grade,” said the former senator.

It was 2008. The subject was abortion. Presidential candidate Barack Obama had been asked, “At what point does a baby get human rights?”

At bare minimum, his response indicated an aversion to being pinned down on the subject and a desire to avoid conflict over the issue as he campaigned to be president of the United States of America. There were “larger issues” at stake, he undoubtedly thought. He was prepared to let evil slide for the sake of what he perceived to be the “greater good”, which presumably included his assumption of the presidency.

Letting Evil Slide

God has been accused of letting evil slide too: “Why do you idly look at traitors?” the prophet Habakkuk asked him. The poor man was genuinely perplexed. He knew the character of the God he served, and to him the idea of a holy God giving evil a pass was intolerable:
“You … are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.”
Was Habakkuk right or wrong in his assessment of God’s character? Does God really let evil slide? In what sense is God “of purer eyes” than to see it?

Does it mean he is oblivious to — or worse, deliberately unaware of — what goes on in the world?

“Beholding” Iniquity

As the former president was so fond of saying, let me be clear here: When the prophet says God is of purer eyes than to see evil, and that God cannot look at wrong, it would be a mistake to understand from this that God’s purity and holiness make him so distant from mankind that he is unaware of our sins. Scripture makes that abundantly clear: “The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man … all the inhabitants of the earth … observes all their deeds.” He is referred to as “he who searches hearts”. As our creator, his knowledge of man is levels beyond atomic, including everything we do, say and think.

God sees evil — he beholds iniquity — all the time, doesn’t he? It cannot be avoided. With an all-knowing God and ubiquitous sin it could hardly be otherwise. Indeed, God could not be God, in the limited way we can comprehend the term, if he were not completely aware of every violation of his laws and precepts at every moment in human history.

He most definitely beholds iniquity in that sense. He sees evil more accurately, more completely and in more excruciating detail than anyone can ever imagine. He understands evil in all its aspects more comprehensively than either the most calculating perpetrator or the bitterest victim.

The Absence of Divine Neutrality

So what does Habakkuk’s statement mean then? It means that God, unlike the president, cannot allow iniquity to stand without intervention. God cannot see sin and take a neutral position as we would: “Oh, that’s just his business. That’s between two consenting adults. That’s above my pay grade.”

Nothing is above God’s pay grade. Nothing is outside his purview. Nothing escapes his attention, and no sin, however minuscule by our standards, is a matter of divine indifference. We can be certain that because he is pure, those who insist on thumbing their noses at our heavenly Father are storing up for themselves judgment to come.

Whether or not President Obama is prepared to give them a pass.

1 comment :

  1. Isaiah 30:13 - Therefore this iniquity will be to you Like a breach about to fall, A bulge in a high wall, Whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant,

    Judgment is stored up - it's unobserved, undetected but it is there building and building to the eventual breaking point. "As in the days of Noah" indeed.