God and Evil

“And Gideon said to him, ‘Dear me! My Lord! Yahweh is with us, but to what end has all of this happened to us? Where are all of the miraculous deeds that are repeatedly recounted to us by our fathers, saying, ‘Didn’t Yahweh bring us up from the land of Egypt? And now Yahweh has forsaken us and he gave us into the hand of the Midianites.’”

(Judges 6:13)

Notice how Gideon responds to the presence of the Angel of Yahweh. He does not begin with, “I and my father’s house have sinned,” which would be, for example, how Nehemiah approached God (Nehemiah 1:6), but acts almost as if he is just confused at why God is allowing the people of Israel to face such hardship. And, while that might seem somewhat odd to us when we look in hindsight, it is not so surprising when one listens to how even Christians today respond to the discipline of God.

When God brings hardships into our lives, more often than not, our attitude is “why me?” or “it’s not fair” or “why is God allowing this to happen? The catch is that there is nothing in this world that God simply “allows,” but when we speak of things — both that are pleasant to us and that are challenging to us, we should say, “God has ordained that this takes place.”

Of course, the idea that God ordains that tragedies take place is a notion that is uncomfortable (at best) for many of us…yet, is this not what Isaiah is speaking of in Isaiah 45:7? Is that not what took place in the life of Job? Did God not ordain the rise of kings in Babylon, under most of whom faithful Daniel suffered? Did God not ordain the wicked men of Jerusalem and Rome who put his Son to death? Did God not ordain the terrible suffering that the Apostle Paul would face on account of the Gospel? Be careful how you answer. For if you reject that it was God that ordained this suffering, you will be contradicting Scripture (cf. Acts 2:23; 9:16). Yet, if you affirm Scripture by affirming that God ordained all of these things, you are affirming that God actively ordains terrible things take place, not just good things.

Yet, we shall add one additional qualifier from the Scriptures. That which God ordains and brings to pass, God does sinlessly and for good purposes. So, for His elect, God brings calamity and evil into our lives to mature us and to grow us into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29 & James 1:2-4). For the reprobate, the wicked, for those God chose to face judgment from before the foundations of the earth, God uses the evil and calamities of this world to give them a foretaste of their judgment in Hell to come…punishing their sins in this world and the next (Psalm 5:6; Nahum 1:2; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6; Hebrews 9:27).

So, what should our response be when faced with trials? We should examine our hearts. If there is unrepentant sin, we should confess it to God and repent. If the Holy Spirit does not bring unrepentant sin to the surface, then we should glorify God in our time of trouble and discover what God is teaching us through the process of suffering. He is sanctifying us with fire. How should Gideon have responded? “My people and I have sinned and God has brought these Midianites upon us; forgive us of our sins and deliver us from evil.”

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