Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"How can God allow such evil?"

Day #69

Scripture Reading:  II Samuel 1 - 4 ...

Before the flood we read in Genesis 6:5:  “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”  Most people seem to think that things must have changed after the flood, but God says otherwise in His Word.  People were and are still EVIL!  Such a revelation certainly disagrees with the assessment of human beings given by many today, so you must choose what you will believe.  And you also need to understand that your view of mankind will affect your view of God.  As you read the opening chapters of II Samuel it is hard to understand how God could allow such evil to take place.  This sounds like what is happening in the Middle East and we condemn such actions.  So I ask again, “How can God allow such evil?”

You will never understand the message of the Bible until you accept the truth about evil and its origin.  Evil began in the halls of heaven when Satan rebelled against God and led one-third of the angels in rebellion against God, and evil came to earth when Satan tempted Adam and Eve and they, too, rebelled against God and disobeyed His command.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned ...”  And he continues in Romans 8:5-8:  “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires ...  The mind of sinful man is death, ... the sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God!”

THIS explains II Samuel 1-4.  Human nature is on display in these chapters for all to see, and it is not pretty!  Politics is nothing new.  While God has some of His people in places of power and influence, the old saying, "Power corrupts!" is all too often descriptive of what happens when people are placed in positions of authority.  So it was in the days of David and so it is today. Reading these chapters, it is hard to imagine that David and Joab and others who were "fighting for God" were really chosen by God or accepted by God in any way.  The things they did were horrific and many people use these things as examples to "prove" that the "God of the Old Testament" was somehow different than the "God of the New Testament."  The problem with that is simple:  It is the same God who reveals Himself in the Old Testament who foretells the coming of the Savior, His Son.  It is the same God who promises to bring salvation to His people.  It is the same God who allows sinful men to crucify the eternal Son of God!

The Bible does not present two different “gods!”  What makes more sense, based on the consistent testimony of Scripture, is that God's character does not change from the beginning of time to its end.  He truly is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  He is both just and loving, righteous and merciful, all at the same time.  Just because David and his men responded as they did does not mean that God condoned or approved of such behavior.  Even the actions of David, as radical as they were, reveal God’s just judgment against those who do evil.  But how do we explain it?  How can we possibly understand the swift judgment that was often executed by the armies of Israel in the name of God?

Think of it this way:  In the Old Testament, God accomplished His purpose through fallible, sinful human beings who were often overcome by their sinful natures and did despicable things - in the name of God.  In a sense, this was the best God had to work with.  Throughout the centuries of the Old Testament, a period of time that covered only a few thousand years from the flood to Christ, God was preparing the world for the coming of the Savior, revealing both the horrible consequences of sin and the desperate need of redemption.  PEOPLE don’t just change!  People are lost, spiritually dead sinners, separated from God and deserving of His judgment unless and until GOD changes their hearts.

As you read through the Old Testament you need to remember that this was the period of time before Jesus had died, risen again and ascended into heaven, and therefore before the Holy Spirit came to live within those who were born again.  Certainly, David and others who believed in the true God were influenced by the Holy Spirit ... the Scriptures tell us this is so.  But it was a different time and God overcame the sin of man, overruled the sin of man and accomplished good IN SPITE OF the tools He used!  And in a way, God does that today, too.  As the saying goes, God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.  So God had anointed David and in spite of his weaknesses and failures, David would be King of Israel.

David was a man after God's own heart because he sought the Lord and because he was aware of his sinful nature.  Later on you will hear God tell David that he would not be the one to build the temple because he had shed so much blood (I Chronicles 22:8).  God uses imperfect people to accomplish His eternal purpose.  (He uses you and me!).  Many people make the mistake of attributing everything people do to God because He is wise enough and powerful enough to turn evil to good in some way.  God, however, is NEVER the cause or author of evil.  People do not have to be "forced" to do evil ... it comes naturally!

As you read through the books of history and the kings remember that men (and Satan) are responsible for evil and that God always, in every way, is righteous AND RIGHT in all His ways.  And because He is good and right and faithful and just, you and I can trust Him in every way at all times. Entrust your present and your future to the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  Seek Him ... set your mind on things above, where Jesus is seated at His right hand, and live to make HIS Name great.  And when all is said and done, He will lift you up!

"Father, it seems sometimes that evil is winning and that even those who know You get caught up in the consequences of the old nature that is in conflict with Your Spirit.  O Lord, my God, empower me to overcome the sin that remains and stir my heart to praise You and to bring glory to You in the way I live my life ... in the way I live the life YOU have given me.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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