Before God created the cause-and-effect world we live in, He reviewed in His mind all possible scenarios. He could create a universe where no one questions His word or command, a universe where everyone is a sort of fleshly robot operating according to its predetermined program. This universe would never deviate from what He wanted. In this type of universe, God is pictured as a mathematical, scientific genius sitting on His throne proudly surveying all of His marvelous inventions as they do exactly what He wants them to do. But in this scenario, God seems more like that mad scientist you see in movies who is a real control freak, who relishes His power and glories in His ability to move everything according to His will. In describing Himself He would say, “I am powerful, look at all I command, worship Me.” And, in truth, that is all He could say about Himself—“I am powerful!”
But what if He is not a mad scientist type, able to be content as a mere ruler of puppets and robots? What if that was not who He really is in His core? Then the above scenario would not appeal to Him. What if, instead of power and outward glory being His greatest values, it was goodness and caring? What if He were more concerned with moral and spiritual issues, than with architectural and political ones? What type of universe would He create? It seems logical that He would create a universe in which creatures existed that also valued goodness and caring as He does, creatures that He could fellowship with in a personal and intimate way. At this point, He is faced with two alternatives. First, He could create creatures that valued goodness and caring without the ability to not value them. But although this would be more sophisticated than the mad scientist type we read about above, it would still be a universe inhabited by puppets and robots, moral and spiritual puppets and robots. A good and caring God would reject this scenario, also. Second, He could create creatures with the capacity to value personal goodness and to care about others but also have the capacity to not value personal goodness, to not value Him as the supreme expression of goodness. The problem with this scenario is that those who reject Him do not remain neutral. They become destructive enemies of God. They become the opposite of what He values. They actually work against His purposes and plans. They will actually work to overthrow Him from their lives. This scenario is not one where only a few reject Him but one in which there is mass rebellion and wickedness. Not a pleasant scenario. He seems stuck. Either He creates a universe where He rules over puppets and robots, or He lives in a universe where He is a mere spectator as all His creatures go their own destructive ways. But since He is good-to-the-core, He cannot allow wickedness and rebellion to reign in His universe. It would be against His nature to idly stand by as selfishness and destruction take over. He could not be good and just watch as blood was shed and the weak were exploited. He could not be Himself and not react. He could wipe them out. End of problem! No, not end of problem. God would be alone, again. Back to square one.
The Bible tells us in two major passages who God is at His core. The two passages are Isaiah 6:1-4 and 1 John 4:7-8. Listen closely to what both passages say about God, as God. “In the year king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Hovering around him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two wings they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. In a great chorus they sang, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory! The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4). And 1 John 4:7-8 adds: “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love.” God is, at His core, holy-love. Holiness points to His goodness. Love points to His caring. God loves His own goodness and is willing to defend it from all who would try to pollute and overthrow it. God cares about His goodness because it results in blessings for His creatures. God’s goodness cannot help but overflow into the lives of His creatures, it is His nature to care. A definition of God’s holiness offered by Thomas Traherne gives us a connection between holiness and love. God is not two qualities at His core but one viewed from different perspectives. Traherne said this about God’s holiness: “The infinite love of his own goodness is the holiness of God…. Holiness is that virtue in God, by which he loves the most perfect things, and infinitely delighteth in them. For by virtue of this affection he shuns and hates all that is profane, pursuing and delighting in all that is holy” (Christian Ethicks, p. 87). Now, How does someone who is holy-love in His core respond to the creation dilemma? He gets involved! Personally!
To create at all, God must commit Himself to getting dirty. He must enter into the lives of filthy sinners to clean them up. The historical life of Jesus Christ is where God gets dirty. Calvary is where He totally immerses Himself into our rebellion and wickedness. Calvary is where He makes it possible for a rebellious sinner to become a lover of God, a lover of all that is good, like Himself. Traherne paints a picture for us that helps us grasp what God was doing at Calvary: “Is this He that was transfigured upon Mount Tabor? Pale, withered, extended, tortured, soiled with blood, and sweat, and dust, dried, parched! O sad, O dismal spectacle! All His joints are dissolved, all His blood is shed, to the last drop, all His moisture is consumed! What is here but a heap of desolations, a deformed carcass, a disfigured countenance! A mass of miseries and silence, footsteps of innumerable sufferings! Can this be a joy? Can this be an entertainment? Can this delight us? O Jesus, the more vile I here behold Thee, the more I admire Thee. Into what low abysses didst Thou descend, in what depths of misery dost Thou now lie! Oh what confusions, what stripes and wounds, what desolations and deformities didst Thou suffer for our sakes! In all the depths of thy humiliation I here adore thee! I prize and desire always to see those stripes and those deformities. It is sweeter to be with Thee in thy sufferings, than with princes on their Thrones, and more do I rejoice with Thee in Thy misery, than in all their solemnities. I tremble also to see thy condescensions, the great effects and expressions of Thy love! Thou wast slain for me: and shall I leave Thy body in the field, O Lord? Shall I go away and be merry, while the Love of my soul, and my only Lover is dead upon the cross. Groans, here, in the sight and apprehension of thy love are beyond all melody, and the solemn sorrows of a loving Soul, a faithful friend, a tender Spouse, a deep and compassionate true Lover, beyond all the entertainments in the world. Thine O Jesus will I ever be while I have any Being” (Centuries, pp. 45-46). Traherne is describing God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. God not only got dirty, but He got bloody!
Notice that what Christ did at Calvary occurred thousands, or more, years after he created everything. The Old Testament records how God prepared the world to experience and understand Calvary. The Gospels record the life, mission, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts, the Epistles, and the first portion of Revelation record His workings with people after Calvary. And the end of Revelation records the end product of it all. Listen to what God says about the end of it all (Revelation 22:1-5): “And the angel showed me a pure river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will anything be cursed. For the throne of God and the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” This is how God wanted it from the beginning! And notice how He will be involved in the lives of His people. He will literally shine on them. This is God’s plan. At that time we can rejoice and repeat what Isaiah said in Isaiah 25:1: “O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.” God’s holy-love moved Him to seek a plan to reconcile the world to Himself. His wisdom found the way. And Christ’s death and purposely shed blood is the solution to the creation dilemma.