the weblog of Alan Knox

God would not allow it…

Posted by on May 6, 2008 in definition, scripture | 8 comments

Often, when I talk to people about how my understanding of church has changed from institutionally-focused to people-focused, I get one of several responses: 1) “Everybody knows the church is about people” – although their actions and priorities demonstrate otherwise, 2) “I don’t understand the difference” – which is a huge problem, 3) “If God did not want the church to become an institution, then he would not have allowed it to exist as an institution for so long” – ummmm… well, okay, I guess I need to deal with this answer.

If God did not intend for the church to be institutionally- and organizationally-focused, is it valid to claim that God would not allow it to exist in that state for as long as it has?

In Exodus 12, God commands the children of Israel to celebrate the Passover every year at a specific time, in a specific way. In Leviticus 23:5, the command to keep the Passover is repeated. In Number 9, the command to keep the Passover is repeated again. In Deuteronomy 16, Moses repeats the command to keep the Passover for the fourth time – this must be very important.

In Joshua 5, after crossing the Jordan River, the children of Israel celebrate the Passover for the first time in the Promised Land. But, the Passover is not mentioned again until 2 Chronicles (also 2 Kings).

In 2 Chronicles 34:8-15, we learn that in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign over Judah (around 620 BC), workers discovered the Book of the Law while restoring the temple. After reading the Law, Josiah decided to observe Passover. Specifically, Scripture tells us:

Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month… No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 35:1, 18)

(Note: In 2 Chronicles 30:1-3, we read that Hezekiah attempted to keep the Passover as God prescribed, but he kept in on the wrong date.)

Saul began reigning over the combined kingdom of Israel sometime around 1047 BC. According to 2 Chronicles 35:18, there had not been a Passover since before the kings – before King Saul. Thus, the children of Israel had not obeyed God in keeping the Passover for over 400 years. (By the way, some scholars suggest that judges ruled Israel for up to 400 years. Thus, Israel did not keep the Passover as God prescribed for 400 – 800 years.)

Saul did not keep the Passover as prescribed. David did not keep the Passover as prescribed – even though David was a man after God’s own heart. Solomon – the wisest of all of the kings – did not keep the Passover as God prescribed. The prophets – Nathan, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, most of the “minor prophets” who lived before Josiah – did not warn the kings or the people about failing to keep the Passover.

Would God allow his children to go so long without obeying him in a manner which he specifically prescribed?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-6-2008


    “There is a way which seems right to a man, BUT…”

    “If God did not intend for the church to be institutionally- and organizationally-focused, is it valid to claim that God would not allow it to exist in that state for as long as it has?”

    Not valid, in my opinion. I think you’ve argued your point well with your scipture references. The first thing that came to my mind when I read #3 was the “kingship” of Israel.

    On the surface it looks as if our actions are forcing God’s hand with reactions that are alternate to His desired plans. If this were true we would be the ones in control and WAY OFF His original plan. While I don’t agree with that logic, at the same time I’ll admit my mind doesn’t begin to comprehend His complete sovereignty. Somehow, He remains right on schedule, and right on track, despite our continual disobedience to His Will. Obviously, this does not mean “anything goes.” I think God does allow us to deviate, and we will suffer the consequences, but His way has always been straight and narrow. Thank God for His long-suffering and grace.


  2. 5-6-2008


    It seems to me that when people use the words of your title whilst speaking or writing, they assume they know all there is to know regarding the mind of God.

    During our married life, my wife and I have endured many trials, which “God wouldn’t allow”, such as false accusations which destroyed my denominational ministry,which brought on two years of deep depression (the only time in my life), much of which time I cannot remember, and in which time I apparently acted completely out of character.

    God then did what some said “God wouldn’t allow”: He opened doors to a ministry which I loved, and to people who loved me in return, until I retired with ill health.

    He did that through the death of a young married man, with two young children, with whom I had been privileged to share the Gospel, and to which he responded.

    My very best friend, a popular and effective pastor, also endured what “God wouldn’t allow; false accusations which affected his family, and the large church in which he was ministering, to such a degree that he committed suicide with the mistaken notion that he was protecting them from further harm.

    Then, of course, there is the Apostle Paul, a man whom God used to give us a large part of His precious word. Those who say “God wouldn’t allow it”, would need to be consistent when reading 2 Corinthians 11:21ff. Surely God wouldn’t allow that!

    King Solomon was showing just how wise he was when he said, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things” (Ecc.12:5).

    It seems to me that God has patiently allowed us to play games with ecclesiology, and now is CAUSING, a new awakening as to HIS ecclesiology. .

  3. 5-6-2008


    “Thank God for his longsuffering and grace.” Amen! I’m glad that God deals with us out of his grace and mercy, especially given that we disobey him so often.

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for the sharing the personal experiences. God often does what we think he would never do. God often allows what we think he would never allow. God is God… why do we always try to second guess him?


  4. 5-6-2008

    I agree with your point, overall, but have just a minor quibble with some of the text you used.

    Does 2 Chron 35:18 tell us that the Passover had never been celebrated since the time of the judges? Or does it tell us that it was not celebrated in such an elaborate way?

    In other words, does it absolutely preclude David celebrating the Passover, or is it just saying that David did not celebrate it nearly as elaborately (perhaps not as corporately with the whole nation) as they did in 2 Chron 35?

    Just a minor point, really, but one I wasn’t sure about.

  5. 5-6-2008


    “.. why do we always try to second guess him?”

    The many faceted answer would include:

    Because we discount the authority of the Scriptures, even though claiming to believe the Bible is our rule for faith and practice.

    Because many have the distorted idea that they can give intellectual assent to the Gospel and still hold personal sovereignty over their own life.

  6. 5-6-2008


    Maybe… possibly. I know we discussed this on your blog a few weeks ago. However, given the context of Josiah finding and reading the Law, then immediately calling for the Passover, I think its more likely that Josiah realized that the Passover either had not been celebrated at all, or had been celebrated incorrectly.

    As important as Passover is in the Pentateuch, it is not mentioned again after Joshua 5 until the time of Hezekiah, then Josiah.

    Aussie John,

    hmmm… Do you mean that I’m actually supposed to let God be the real master of my life? Can’t I just say that he’s my master and go on with my life? (tongue planted firmly in cheek)


  7. 5-6-2008

    Yeah, I remembered the discussion on my blog and had to go look it up. It was in November of last year (wow!). I looked it up because I thought that the point I was asking about here was one you had made there. It wasn’t exactly, but I still was a bit surprised to see your take on it here because I wasn’t sure how it lined up with what we had discussed then.

    Bottom line, your point is still very valid, and the fact that the very fact that the Law kept getting “lost” amongst bad kings and various captivities indicates the lengths to which God will allow people to drift away from what he has aked them to do.

  8. 5-7-2008


    Yes, I remember that I suggested a different reason for the apparent contradiction in 2 Chronicles 30 and 35. After looking at it again, I think a better explanation would be that Hezekiah’s Passover was not celebrated at the proper time. Thus, even if there were other Passovers from Joshua through Josiah, I think 2 Chron 35:18 is best explained as saying that another Passover had not been carried out exactly has God had prescribed. Of course, there could be other explanation as well – some of which were brought up in your blog post.

    By the way, thanks for mentioning the “lost” book of the Law. I had not thought of that in the same context as Passover, but it also shows that God allows his people to do things against his preferences (will?) for a long time.