Good God .. Bad World. Why?
Making sense of evil
God has left His fingerprints across our world. The dazzling splendor of a sunset, the majesty of snow-capped mountain peaks, the glory of a starlit night, the beauty of an opening rosebud, and the carefree laughter of children playing speak to us of a loving God who delights in making His people happy.
Another's fingerprints give evidence that someone else stalks our planet. Ours is a world in trouble - a world consumed with war, famine, and poverty; a world writhing in sickness, disease, and sorrow.
Rising from this troubled planet like an incense of doom is the persistent question: Why? Why war and suffering and heartache and death?
Doesn't God care? Are we only a forgotten cinder out on the edge of an unimportant galaxy? A world that doesn't matter? If God is a God of love, why is there so much suffering in our world? And why do the good suffer as well as the bad?
The Bible draws aside the curtain on one of life's greatest dramas, allowing us to look behind the scenes in the great controversy between good and evil. Today's lesson will provide a clear answer to who is responsible for this world's suffering. It will also reveal God's ultimate solution to the problem of why innocent people suffer.
01. Is God the author of human suffering? What is God's eternal nature?
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
1 John 4:8
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
The essence of God's nature is love. He desires only what is best for us. All of His actions toward us are loving. They are designed to produce lasting happiness. God would never do anything that is not ultimately for our best good. For God to act any other way than loving would be to act contrary to His very nature.
02. If God is not responsible for human suffering, Where did it originate?
24. Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;
25. but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.
26. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
27. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
28. He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’
03. Who is the enemy referred to in Question 2?
The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.
04. Since God is not the author of sin and suffering, whom did sin originate with?
1 John 3:8
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
05. Where did this diabolical being come from?
And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
It is shocking but true. The devil originated in heaven. But he was not a devil when God created him! Many people imagine the devil as dwelling in some hot spot of burning flames deep within the bowels of the earth. On the contrary, the devil existed as a pure angel until he fell from heaven.
06. Did God create the devil?
12. “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.
14. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.
God created Lucifer a beautiful, glorious angel. He was perfect in his ways. God gave this magnificent angel the capacity to choose. To remove the power of choice is to remove the power to love. Genuine love is not forced or coerced. It springs from divine love. To take away the power of choice is to destroy the ability to love. To destroy the ability to love is to deny the opportunity to be fully happy and completely free. Since God longs for all His creatures to be fully happy and free, He has given them the power of choice.
07. What occurred in Satan's mind that lead to open rebellion?
12. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
13. For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Lucifer means "light bearer." God created a beautiful light-bearing angel who used his position to challenge God's authority. He wanted God's power, not His loving character. Lucifer defiantly declared, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne, .. . I will ascend above . . . the clouds, will be like the Most High". Notice that Lucifer uses the word "I" four times. Pride gradually developed in his heart. Lucifer came to believe God was arbitrary, unfair, and unjust. He concluded that he could run the heavenly government better than God.
08. What did this open rebellion lead to, and what ultimately happened to Satan as a result?
07. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
08. but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
09. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Every angel chose either the path of loyalty or that of rebellion. The same option is available to every human being. There are only two ways: the way of loyalty to God, or the way of rebellion against God.
09. How did our world become involved in the conflict between God and Satan, between good and evil?
01. Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
02. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
03. but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
04. Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
05. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
06. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--
Through deliberate disobedience Adam, the head of the human family, opened a door that God desired forever shut. His conscious choice to disobey separated him from God and resulted in death. Our world was not created as a "dumping-off" place for Satan. It was created perfect (Genesis 1:31). Through sin Adam's dominion was forfeited. The apostle Paul writes, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". We are sinners by birth. We have inherited a sinful nature from Adam. We are also sinners by choice. Through our own deliberate disobedience we have participated in Adam's sin of rebellion against God.
10. As a result of the fall, what did Satan claim as his?
05. Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
06. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
11. What has God done in order to redeem this planet in rebellion?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
1 Peter 1:18–19
18. knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
19. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
With a heart of inexhaustible, infinite love God decided to pay the price of sin Himself. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came to this sin-cursed world. He entered into the arena of human affairs to redeem us from the curse of sin.
12. What promises does God give His children, who are caught in the grip of suffering and injustice?
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’
In the midst of our personal suffering, God promises to be with us. He promises never to allow any temptation of the evil one to overwhelm us. He promises to provide strength to meet the temptations of each day. In tones of tenderest love He encourages us with these simple words: "Fear not, I will help you."
13. What is Satan's ultimate fate?
16. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
17. “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.
18. “You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you.
19. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.” ’ ”
Satan has been defeated and will soon be destroyed. Through Calvary's cross he has been proven a liar. God is love. The principles of His government will ensure the happiness of His creatures throughout all eternity. God invites you to be on His side, the winning side.
14. What will God eventually do with this planet?
2 Peter 3:10,13
10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
13. Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
The Bible tells us that the suffering of the world was never Gods intention, and He only wants us to be happy, safe and peaceful. We can experience His everlasting peace and hope for the future when we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Would you like to tell Jesus, "Lord, I choose to stand with You. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I invite You to enter my life as my King"?
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Read the following Bible passages:
Isaiah 59:1, 2;
Hebrews 4:15, 16;