The Laws of Liability--Part 2
Feb 20, 2008
A creator owns and is responsible for that which he creates. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." John 1:3 says that "apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." Therefore, God, as the Creator of All Things, is ultimately responsible for all that He created.
We may understand this principle by looking at the family, because God is properly our Father, and we are His children. Parents "create" children in a sense, and the children are their responsibility. It is for this reason that parents lay down certain rules (laws) for them to obey. Authority and responsibility come in equal measures. Parents are responsible for their children because they have been given authority over them.
If a child breaks a rule, the parent holds him accountable and disciplines him for it according to his age (level of knowledge and maturity). But holding a child accountable in no way reduces or eliminates the overall parental responsibility for the child's actions.
So it is with God. Though He holds us accountable for our actions when we violate His law, this in no way absolves Him of either His sovereignty over us or His overall responsibility while bringing us to maturity. God is the ultimate Parent.
Back in the Garden, Adam and Eve sinned by violating the command of God not to eat of a certain "tree." Most people simply hold Adam and/or Eve responsible for their actions--and indeed, God did hold them responsible (Gen. 3:16-19). Others blame the Devil, or the "serpent," and certainly God held the serpent accountable as well (Gen. 3:14, 15).
But what about God's responsibility? Is God free of all liability? That is where His laws of liability give us revelation, for in reading them we find that God holds Himself ultimately liable on the highest level. First, He created the Devil, or "serpent," and thus as the Creator, He is automatically liable for his actions, even though "that old serpent" is judged in the end. In fact, the judgment itself is based on the fact that God is sovereign over His creation and therefore has the right to discipline all who violate His law.
So in the Garden, God created all things, including the tempter. If the Devil rebelled against God in a prior time, then he was like the ox that had a previous record of "goring" and ought to have been confined as a security measure. But Gen. 3:1 shows that the serpent was in the garden with full access to Adam and Eve. Thus, the law in Ex. 21:29 is applicable, and God holds Himself ultimately liable for the actions of the serpent--which He could have prevented.
The serpent did not sneak into the garden unawares. God is not so blind, nor was He taken by surprise. If it happened, you can be sure that God was well aware of it from the beginning, because He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. So the fact that God could have prevented the fall of Adam makes Him liable by His own law, and it makes Him responsible to rectify the situation in the end.
God loves His creation, of course, and needs no law to force Him to restore all things in the end. But He has put it into His own law, so that we would know that He has bound Himself by His own Word to restore all things lost in Adam. Neither did He have to bind Himself by covenant with Abraham, yet He did so in order that we might have a written contract to solidify our faith that He can and will do all that He has promised.
God planted the tree of knowledge in the Garden and did not put a fence around it. In telling Adam and Eve not to eat of it, He was merely posting a "No Trespassing" sign in front of the tree. But the law in Deut. 22:8 does NOT say that when a man builds a house, he is to put a warning sign on the roof. It says that he is to build a railing so that people will not fall, and if he does not do that, then he is liable if anyone falls from the roof.
Adam and Eve fell off the roof. God wrote the law in Deut. 22:8 to assure us that He takes ultimate responsibility for man's fall. He will do what it takes--even unto death--to restore all things in the end.
Likewise, according to the spirit of the law in Ex. 21:33, 34, God "dug a pit" in the Garden. He did not cover it to prevent the "ox" (Adam and Eve) from falling. In other words God ALLOWED man to fall. Some think that God is not liable, saying, "Well, God did not push them into the pit." That fact is irrelevant according to the law of liability. A man does not have to physically push the ox into the pit to incur liability. All he has to do is to ALLOW the ox to fall into the pit by not taking steps to prevent it.
So the real question is not whether or not God caused Adam to sin, but rather whether or not Godallowed Adam to sin. That is the issue in the law. Could God have taken steps to prevent Adam from sinning? Of course He could have. He could have made Adam incapable of sin in any number of ways. But God chose NOT to do so. Why God made that choice is a matter of debate among theologians. I leave it to them to argue about such things. My concern is the divine law of liability. Why God did it is of no concern to the law. The law asks only if the consequences could have been prevented by reasonable safety measures.
To this, we can only say that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He cannot plead ignorance, nor can He say that He lacked the power. To claim either excuse would make Him something less than God, and we would then have to search for the true God in another place.
It is not that God is unjust. The creature cannot accuse God of injustice when God Himself retains the right to define justice itself. Whatever God does is, by definition, justice and righteousness. But when man fails to understand the mind of God, he often thinks that God is unjust. For that reason, many are bitter against Him, and they take out their bitterness on their fellow man. I have said many times that half the world is bitter against God, and the other half does not know Him at all.
When religionists then propose that God intends to lose 99% of His creation, either by destroying them outright or by torturing them for eternity, it is great cause for bitterness in the world. In fact, I am convinced that this is why most people reject God. They cannot see how God could create people and retain sovereignty over them, and yet judge them in the end as if God were wholly free from any responsibility for man's actions. That makes no sense to them, and I have to agree with them.
In fact, God Himself is in agreement with them. Everyone would know this if they studied God's laws on liability, where God holds Himself liable as the Creator of all things. Knowing this simple fact, then, compels us to believe all the other statements in Scripture, telling us that God intends to restore all things. All that was lost in Adam will be restored in Christ.
This does NOT mean that God refuses to judge any man for his sin. The Bible is full of examples of divine judgment, which need not be repeated. But the purpose of judgment is not to destroy, but to restore, so that God's liability for creation can be satisfied according to His own law. Is this so hard to see? Are there no parents out there who judge their children with the view of bringing them into maturity and righteousness? Have we so few examples of righteous parenting that this way is unknown to us?
God is not a loser, nor is He a failure. Sin (Heb. khawtaw) is a failure to hit the mark, or to "fall short" (Rom. 3:23). God will not fail in His goal to be the Savior of all men (1 Tim. 4:10). Not all will be saved during their life on earth, but every knee will bow at the Great White Throne, and they will all confess Him as Lord.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Laws of Liability." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones