The question of why God
permits evil first requires a definition. Webster defines evil
as "that which produces unhappiness; anything which either
directly or remotely causes suffering of any kind." Evil
can be divided into two categories. There are moral wrongs or
evils of individuals that inflict suffering upon others. Also
the disasters of nature have wrought much suffering.
This treatise adds another
dimension to the question. Evil not only results in human
suffering but also in God's suffering. Isaiah 63:9 states,
"In all their afflictions, He [God] was afflicted."
Yes, when man suffers God suffers. God's suffering is basic to
any discussion of—Why God permits evil.
Many aspects of church
theology concerning God's character have been Hellenized by
Grecian philosophy. Some Christians accepted the Greek idea of
Divine impassibility, the notion that God cannot suffer since
God stands outside the realm of human pain and sorrow. Catholic
theology early declared1 as "vain
babblings" the idea that the Divine nature could suffer.
Calvin broke with Luther and fostered this Hellenistic concept
on his wing of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin and the Reform
theology he founded taught Divine impassibility. The Westminster
Confession of Faith teaches that God is "without body,
parts or passions, immutable."
We strongly take exception to
"without passions." No wonder Calvinists have neither
a reasonable nor compassionate answer to why God permits evil.
They assert that no one dare question the sovereignty of God. If
God has ordained a plan for the human race that requires evil—so
be it. Who is man to question God's sovereignty? No wonder such
a doctrinal concept of God teaches that the vast majority of
mankind are predestinated—before they were even born--to
eternal torment. Such an answer to the question of evil is
Many have responded—Can an
unfeeling God love? A concept that embraces the idea that God
cannot suffer has to answer the question—Can God love? The
prophet Jeremiah's reference to the "tears" of God (Jer.
14:17) confirms the beautiful insight into God's love penned by
The principle taught in the
divine Word, that true love weeps with those that weep and
rejoices with those that rejoice, is one which is also
exemplified in the Divine character.
But God is not man. He is not
bound by man's limitations. God's ability to suffer does not
disturb His peace of mind. His fatherly love that shares the
sorrows of His human family contains no anxiety over their
eternal welfare. With Divine serenity His wisdom has planned for
the eternal welfare of all, and in His serenity He knows His
Divine love and power will attain that end.
The title of this booklet—And
God Cried—is based on Jeremiah 14:17 where God
speaks of shedding "tears day and night" for the
"daughter of my people" (KJV). Calvinists insist that
it is Jeremiah, not God, who is crying. However, it was God who
told Jeremiah to tell Judah that He, God, was crying for their
Only God could say the
"daughter of my people." The generation of Jews living
in Jeremiah's day were the "daughter" or descendants
of God's people, Israel who came out of Egypt. In verses 17 and
18 God, as a loving father, deeply feels the chastisement
inflicted on His wayward people.
In verse 19, Jeremiah is
speaking. He asks God, "Hast thou utterly rejected
Judah?"…Why has thou smitten us?" Notice the us.
Jeremiah includes himself as a part of Judah, God's people, or
the "My people" of verse 17. Yes, God says He was
crying over the plight of His people. Jeremiah includes himself
in the "My people" for whom God was crying.
First, this treatise will
consider the Scriptures that reveal the tenderness of God's
fatherly love as He shares the sufferings of His children. Then
the question—Why does god permit evil?—is Scripturally
answered against the backdrop of both man's suffering and God's
And God Cried
"Let my eyes run with
day and night let them not cease,
for my hapless people
have suffered a grievous injury,
a very painful wound."
Jeremiah 14:17 (JPS)
PRE-FLOOD (2850-2270 BC). "The Lord
saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth…
and it grieved Him to His heart" (Gen. 6:5,6 NRSV). Yes,
EUROPE (1096-1100). During the crusades,
Christian soldiers enroute to the Holy Land slaughtered Jews on
the way. Some were herded into their synagogues. Cries of
anguish shrilled unto heaven as the wooden structures were
torched. And God cried.
EUROPE (1204-1799). Protestant blood
flowed freely in Roman Catholic countries. The victims of the
so-called "Holy Inquisition totaled in the millions. And
CHRISTIAN WORLD (1490-1850). Over 20
million Black Africans killed in Middle Passage on way to slave
markets for purchase by white Christians. And God Cried.
EUROPE (1941-1945). Six million Jews were hunted,
hounded, driven, butchered, gassed and burned in the Holocaust.
HIROSHIMA (August 6, 1945). A single
atomic bomb claimed 129,558 victims and terrified the world.
THE WORLD (1914-1996). Over 175 million
were killed as a result of the insane policies of governments
like Germany, Communist Russia, Cambodia, etc. And God cried.
THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES (1990s). Each day
40,000 babies die of starvation. And God cries.
Then there are the personal tragedies of
loved ones endured daily by hundreds of thousands—senseless
death or mutilation on the highways, babies born physically
deformed or mentally deficient and victims of senseless crime.
Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other disasters
steal the lives of millions in their onslaughts of destruction
and deprivation. Psychological tragedies of dysfunctional
families, drug addiction and the multitudes of lonely, neurotic,
homeless people in turn have left tens of thousands of families
And God cries.
Yes, these statistics fill
the daily news, but only when they strike us or our loved ones
are we overwhelmed with the pain of tragedy. Everyday these
statistics have faces—millions of faces of real people
shattered emotionally and mentally. The cries of sickness,
sorrow, suffering and death encircle the globe. Not one of us
can comprehend the enormity of the total sufferings of all
humankind. Only God can and does see this humongous picture of
And God continues to cry.
Jeremiah 14:17 assures us God even
cries over the tragic loss befalling those who have rebelled
against Him. Yes, God does care when we suffer. He is concerned
when tragedy strikes. God knows our frame that we are but dust
(Psalm 103:14 ). He realizes the enormity of human suffering
could and would cause some to doubt His love and others to doubt
He even exists.
The infinite Creator and God of
the universe wants to convey to mere earthlings—frail humanity—His
compassion and love for us. How can one so omnipotent communicate
His capacity to suffer with finite man? He uses an imagery we can
understand—"tears." Far from being an indication of
weakness, God's imagery of shedding "tears" assures us
of a profound fatherly care and concern. Just how deep is God's
God's dealing with Israel past,
present and future is a microcosm of His relationship with all
humankind (Isa. 43 & 44; Rom. 11). A parent might discipline a
child by remanding the child to his room for the evening. A loving
parent feels the pain of the child's punishment and often recalls
the many wonderful times they shared together. Likewise it hurts
God when he chastens His people. Listen to the parental sorrow of
God in Jeremiah 6:26. "Thus says the Lord… Oh my poor
people, put on sackcloth,…for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us (NRSV). This is incredible. The "us"
class is God and Israel. God puts Himself in the picture of
sharing Israel's suffering. This assures us that God chastens in
love. He chastens to heal (Isa.19:22 ). Listen to a loving
father's thoughts of nostalgia while He is chastening Israel, a
Like [as pleasing as] grapes in
the wilderness, I found Israel,
Like the first fruit on the fig tree,
in its first season,
I saw your ancestors…
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
Hosea 9:10;11:1 (NRSV)
Yet the more God called Israel
the more they disobeyed.
The more I called them,
they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.
Hosea 11:2-4 (NRSV)
Israel continued to pervert the
laws of God and neglect the "fatherless and widows."
Severe punishment was inflicted, but not without its toll on God.
God's heart sank to the depths of sorrow, as he withdrew his
loving protection. God exclaimed," I have given the dearly
beloved of my heart into the hand of her enemies." (Jer.
When the punishment came Israel
cried, but the Creator and God of the whole Universe cried with
Thus saith the Lord of host…
Call for the mourning women.
And let them…take up a wailing for us,
That our eyes may run down with tears,
And our eyelids gush out with waters.
Jer. 9:17,18 (KJV)
They were scattered to the ends
of the earth. God's punishment was most severe upon Ephraim the
ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. But the Creator and God of the
Universe was suffering with Ephraim (Jer. 14:17) in this severe
chastening of dispersion as noted in His further expressions of
Truly, Ephraim is a dear son to
A child that is dandled!
Whenever I have turned against him,
My thoughts would dwell on him still.
That is why My heart yearns for him;
I will receive him back in love.
Declares the LORD.
Jer. 31:20,21 (JPS)
Even while Ephraim (Israel) was
cast off from favor, God in His tender nostalgia spoke of him
prophetically as a son who would be received back in love.
How do we know that God's
expressions of fatherly love – a love that felt Israel's
sufferings during her chastening – were true? How do we know
God's nostalgic longings to restore Israel back to His favor were
true? The rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 is the proof. It
is a miracle of history. Never before had the polity of a nation
been destroyed, its people scattered to the ends of the earth and
then regathered nearly 2,000 years later to their ancient homeland
to be reborn as a nation. God's fatherly chastening of love will
continue to restore the Jewish people to full favor and belief.
Yes, God chastens to heal. Israel's gradual restoration is the
precursor of all mankind's restoration to God's full love and
favor in His Kingdom. In fact, Romans 11:15 states Israel's
restoration to Divine favor will mean life from the dead for the
Oh, what a marvelous God we
have! "In our affliction He is afflicted (suffers)" and
we are assured God's chastenings are rehabilitative so that His
beloved wayward children might be restored to the bosom of His
favor. Yes, God chastens to heal (Isa. 63:9; 19:22).
God's symbolic tears convey the imagery of a
profound fatherly love and concern. God's capacity to experience
the sufferings of another is also conveyed in the Hebrew verb yada
which is sometimes translated "to know" or
"knew." Yada denotes both an
intellectual and emotional act. It is frequently used to note a
deep emotional experience between two persons. Therefore, it also
means the ability to have a deep sympathetic love – the ability
to feel the emotions of another.
In Exodus 3:7, "The Lord
said, I have seen the afflictions of my people, who are in Egypt,
and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know (yada)
their sufferings." Here God expresses His ability to feel
Israel's sufferings when they were slaves in Egypt. Psalm 31:7
contains a precious promise all Christians should cherish: "I
will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindness, Because Thou hast
seen my affliction; Thou hast known (yada) the
troubles of my soul."
Yes, God's sympathy runs so deep
that He actually knows, in the sense of feeling, our troubles,
sorrows and tragedies. A suffering God puts the question of the
permission of evil in a practical perspective. It is no longer an
academic question or an abstract philosophy. If God suffers when
man suffers, why does God permit suffering? Why does God permit
the evil that causes the suffering of humankind? God knows the end
from the beginning (Isa.46:9,10). The foreknowledge of God adds
another dimension to the scope of God's suffering.
If God shares our suffering why
would He conceive a plan that would result in His own suffering?
The question is no longer—why do good people suffer or why do
innocent children suffer? Rather, why has God permitted a horrific
human history of blood, tragedy, pain and mental anguish that
would just tear away at His Fatherly emotions of love?
Some believe in God and His
tender care for His people but in their own situation feel God has
been too severe—seemingly unjust.
Many Feel God
Perhaps you feel like a modern-day Job
— God is
unjust, the tragedies of life are too harsh. Although the prophet
generation since. Job was blessed with
family of seven
sons and three daughters, possessed immense wealth and enjoyed a
high rank. Job was considered "the greatest of all men in the
East" (Job 1:2, 3).
Then a series of disasters
struck. All his children were killed in a storm. His wealth was
lost, his possessions destroyed, his devoted employees and
servants killed. Physically he was afflicted with painful sores
from head to toe. There is an indication that he was suffering
from a form of leprosy. When his close friends saw him, they cried
aloud at his pitiful condition and excruciating pain. With the
heart piercing words, "curse God and die," his wife
deserted him. What else could happen? Job cursed the day he was
born (Job 3:1-3). Yet he maintained his faith and trust in God.
Even under the onslaught of his supposed comforters, Job asserted:
Though He slay me,
Yet will I trust Him. Job 13:15
But time and continued
opposition take its toll. Job's distress mounted with intensity as
his comforters continued to distress him with wild incriminations.
Now prostrated physically by total pain, mentally by opposition of
friends and emotionally by total bereavement over his children,
Job turned to God in passionate protest against God's unjust
dealing with him.
I cry to you and you do not
I stand, and you merely look at me.
You have turned cruel to me;
with the might of your hand
ou persecute me.
You lift me up on the wind,
you make me ride on it,
and you toss me about in the
roar of the storm.
I know that you will bring me to death.
Job 30:20-24 (NRSV)
He pleaded with God not to
ignore his cry for help.
Surely one does not turn against
when in disaster they cry for help.
Then he reminded God that he
(Job) did not ignore the needs of the poor and those in distress.
He spent much of his life caring for the poor and distraught.
Would God do less for him?
Did I not weep for those whose
day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the poor?
Although Job didn't ignore the
needs of others, he implied that God forsook him to evil and
darkness and then ignored his cries for help.
But when I looked for good, evil
and when I waited for light, darkness came.
My inward parts are in turmoil,
and are never still;
days of affliction come to meet me.
I go about in sunless gloom;
I stand up in the assembly
and cry for help.
Yes, Job stood up as an innocent
man pleading for justice in an assembly court, but his cries fell
on deaf ears.
My skin turns black and falls
and my bones burn with heat.
My lyre is turned to mourning,
and my pipe to the voice of those who weep. Verses 30, 31
Many feel the same anguish when
tragedies devastate them. Seemingly, God does not heed their
prayers for help. Like Job they cry—Oh God, where are you?
Job was not an atheist. He was
not an agnostic. He was a man of faith. In essence his plea was,
Why, oh why, God, do good people suffer? God didn't answer Job
directly. Rather, God raised questions about the mysteries of His
creation (Job 38-40). These questions were designed to remind Job
that he really knew very little about God. Job had limited
knowledge in all the diversified areas of God's works. He should
not be surprised at failing to comprehend fully why he was
permitted to suffer. God's questions revealed the wisdom, power
and concern of God demonstrated in all of His creative works.
God asked Job if he was present
when God laid the foundation of the earth, if he understood the
laws by which the tides of the sea were controlled. God asked him
about the instincts and habits of the various birds and animals,
and even of the great monsters of the sea. Then Job was asked if
he could explain the wisdom and power represented in these marvels
As the questioning proceeds, Job
interrupted to say:
Behold, I am vile; what shall I
I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
Once have I spoken; but I will not answer:
yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
Job 40:4, 5 (KJV)
In Job's expression,
"Behold, I am vile," the meaning of the Hebrew word
translated "vile" is, according to Prof. Strong,3
literally, "swift, small, sharp." Apparently Job
acknowledged to the Lord that he had spoken too quickly; that his
viewpoint was too limited and voiced too sharply.
The Lord replied to Job:
Gird your loins like a man;
I will ask, and you will inform Me.
Would you impugn My justice?
Would you condemn Me
that you may be right?
Have you an arm like God's?
Verses 7-9 (JPS)
Then the Lord continued to raise
questions concerning the wonders of His creation. Three of these
questions found in Job 38:31, 32 illustrate the dynamic logic
conveyed in God's questions.
Canst thou bind the sweet
or loose the bands of Orion?
Canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?
"Canst thou…loose the
bands of Orion?" Garrett P. Serviss, the noted astronomer, in
his book CURIOSITIES OF THE SKY wrote about the bands of Orion:4
At the present time this band
consists of an almost perfect straight line, a row of
second-magnitude stars about equally spaced and of the most
striking beauty. In the course of time, however, the two
right-hand stars, Mintaka and Alnilam, will approach each other
and form a naked-eye double; but the third, Alnitak, will drift
away eastward so that the band will no longer exist.
In other words, one star is
traveling in a certain direction at a certain speed; a second one
is traveling in a different direction at a second speed; and the
third one is going in a third direction and at a still different
speed. Actually every star in Orion is traveling its own course,
independent of all the others. Thus these stars that we see
forming one of the bands of Orion are like three ships out on the
high seas that happen to be in line at the present moment, but in
the future will be separated by thousands of miles of ocean. In
fact, all the stars constituting the constellation of Orion are
bound for different ports, and all are journeying to different
corners of the universe, so that the bands are being dissolved.
"Canst thou bind the sweet
influence of the Pleiades…?" Notice the amazing
astronomical contrast with the Pleiades. The seven stars of the
Pleiades are in reality a grouping of 250 suns. Photographs now
reveal that 250 blazing suns in this group are all traveling
together in one common direction. Concerning this cluster, Isabel
Lewis of the United States Naval Observatory tells us:5
Astronomers have identified 250
stars as actual members of this group, all sharing in a common
motion and drifting through space in the same direction.
Elsewhere Lewis speaks of them
as "journeying onward together through the immensity of
From Lick Observatory came this
statement of Dr. Robert J. Trumpler:6
Over 25,000 individual measures
of the Pleiades stars are now available, and their study led to
the important discovery that the whole cluster is moving in a
southeasterly direction. The Pleiades stars may thus be compared
to a swarm of birds, flying together to a distant goal. This
leaves no doubt that the Pleiades are not a temporary or
accidental agglomeration of stars, but a system in which the stars
are bound together by a close kinship.
Dr. Trumpler said that all this
led to an important discovery. Without any reference whatsoever to
the Book of Job, he announced to the world that these discoveries
prove that the stars in the Pleiades are all bound together and
are flying together like a flock of birds as they journey to their
distant goal. That is exactly what God said. "Canst thou bind
the sweet influences of Pleiades?" In other words, Canst thou
keep them bound together so that they remain as a family of suns?
INCREDIBLE! God's laws of
cosmology are loosing or dissolving the constellation Orion.
Sometime in the far distant future, Orion will be no more.
Conversely, wonder of wonders, every last one of the 250 blazing
suns in the Pleiades are ordained of God to orbit together in
their symmetrical beauty throughout eternity.
"Canst thou guide Arcturus
with his sons?" Garrett P. Serviss wrote:7
Arcturus, one of the greatest
suns in the universe, is a runaway whose speed of flight is 257
miles per second. Arcturus, we have every reason to believe,
possesses thousands of times the mass of our sun. Think of it! Our
sun is traveling only 12½ miles a second, but Arcturus is
traveling 257 miles a second. Think then of the prodigious
momentum this motion implies.
A further observation of
Arcturus by Serviss:8
It could be turned into a new
course by a close approach to a great sun, but it could only be
stopped by collision head on with a body of enormous mass. Barring
such accidents, it must, as far as we can see, keep on until it
has traversed our stellar system, whence it may escape and pass
out into space beyond to join perhaps one of those other island
universes of which we have spoken.
Charles Burckhalter, of the
Chabot Observatory, added an interesting note regarding this great
This high velocity places
Arcturus in that very small class of stars that apparently are a
law unto themselves. He is an outsider, a visitor, a stranger
within the gates; to speak plainly, Arcturus is a runaway. Newton
gives the velocity of a star under control as not more than 25
miles a second, and Arcturus is going 257 miles a second.
Therefore, combined attraction of all the stars we know cannot
stop him or even turn him in his path.
When Mr. Burckhalter had his
attention called to this text in the book of Job, he studied it in
the light of modern discovery and made a statement that has
attracted worldwide attention:10
The study of the Book of Job and
its comparison with the latest scientific discoveries has brought
me to the matured conviction that the Bible is an inspired book
and was written by the One who made the stars.
The wonders of God's universe
never cease to amaze us. Arcturus and his sons are individual
runaway suns that seem to be out of orbit in our galaxy. Traveling
at such immense speeds, why don't they crash with other suns or
planets? Where are they headed? Only God knows. Indeed they are
not runaways. They will not crash. Why? God is guiding them.
The Lesson of the Pleiades, Orion, Arcturus
Few have suffered the multiple
tragedies of Job. How could God reach through the enormity of
Job's self-pity? (Job thought God just didn't care.) In these
three questions (Job 38:31, 32) God is in reality saying:
Job, you think I am not
concerned about your suffering. Well, let Me ask you these
questions. Can you loose the bands of Orion? No, you cannot. But
My Divine power will—some day Orion will no longer exist. Job,
can you bind the 250 stars of the Pleiades together in their
symmetry of beauty and not have a single one drift off? Only I
have this power and wisdom. Can you prevent the runaways—Arcturus
and his sons—from colliding as they go dashing out of the
Milky Way? No, only My Divine power and wisdom can.
Job, if I am caring for the details of the
universe, do you doubt that I not only care for the details of
your life but I have the ability to solve your problems? Trust
that there is a good reason I am permitting these tragedies.
Remember, Job, I work from the perspective of your eternal
What an awesome way
God chose to tell Job that He was in full control of human
affairs, including Job's life! When God finished His series of
questions, Job exclaimed:
I know that thou canst do
and that no thought can be
withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel
Therefore have I uttered that
I understood not;
things too wonderful for me,
which I knew not…
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:
but now mine eye seeth thee.
Job finally learned the meaning
of his severe trial. He learned that its loving purpose was to
give him a clearer understanding of God, that he might serve him
more faithfully and with greater appreciation. He speaks of this
clearer understanding as "seeing" the Lord, instead of
merely having heard about him. Since he had gained such deep
insights of God, Job's brief period of suffering was a most
Besides restoring Job's health,
"the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his
beginning" (Job 42:12-15).
The Lesson of Job for Us
Perhaps like Job in utter
misery, you have cried out to God—even questioning his justice.
Some write off the history of Job as Old Testament folklore.
Whoever heard of God talking to a man! These are hand-me-down
tales! However, the account of Job cannot be gainsaid. Whatever
the method of communication used by God, the astonishing facts
cannot be refuted. These scientific facts recorded in the book of
Job concerning the Pleiades, Orion and Arcturus anticipated
scientific discovery by nearly 3000 years. Scientists only
discovered these startling facts in our 20th Century, yet they
were recorded in the book of Job nearly 3000 years ago. What an
awesome confirmation of the Bible! Who can doubt the Bible is the
inspired word of God? Yes, the book of Job has a powerful,
exclusive lesson for 20th Century man. Twentieth Century science
proves God's Word, the Bible, is true. The Bible does contain the
answer to why God permits evil.
Job 2:10 states: "In all of
this Job sinned not with his lips." How does this harmonize
with chapter 42 where Job accused God of being unjust? Where there
are facts, there can be no doubts. But our relationship with God
is by faith, not facts—"according to your faith be it unto
you" (Matt. 9:29). Where there is faith, there is room for
doubt. Through trials and adversities (1 Peter 1:7) the man of God
must develop a mature faith, "a full assurance of faith"
(Heb. 10:22). We watched the drama of Job's struggles to a mature
faith. An immature faith has doubts. Job had doubts, but they were
not sins because he didn't try to inflict his doubts upon others.
While doubting he lacked trust but still had belief in God. So he
took his doubts where a man of God must take his doubts—to his
God. And God dramatically answered Job's doubts and developed in
him a full assurance of faith.
We will have doubts in our
journey to maturity. At such times we must copy the example of
Job, Jeremiah, David and John the Baptist, and take our doubts to
the Lord in prayer. If our heart is sincere, God will answer our
doubts. He will speak to us. And He speaks to 20th Century man
through His Word, the Bible. In God's providence the book of Job
was especially written for 20th Century man. Much of the
scientific probing of chapters 38 through 41 can only be fully
understood in the light of modern scientific discovery. God in his
foreknowledge knew the cunning deceptions of human philosophy and
sophistry would reach their zenith as a challenge to faith in the
"last days" of the Christian Age (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). In
arrogance, modern man dares challenge the very existence of God.
As will be seen in the following chapter, this debate between
modern man and God is a part of the many vital lessons humankind
is learning during God's permission of evil.
How do we know there is a God?
Where do we find the answer to—Why does God permit evil and
suffering? In the book of Job God is telling us:
Just as I answered
Job's questions and doubts, I can answer your questions and
doubts. My answer is found in My Word, the Bible. How do you
know the Bible is My inspired Word? Many of the startling
scientific facts I caused to be recorded in the book of Job
nearly 3000 years ago were only discovered in the 20th Century.
This is My assurance to you that the Bible is inspired. Thus it
provides a logical faith and hope-inspiring answer to modern
man's question —
Why does God
Why God Permits Evil
A suffering God puts the question of the
permission of evil in a practical perspective. If God shares our
suffering, why would He conceive a plan that would result in His
own suffering? Remember our definition of evil—anything that
causes unhappiness or suffering. To fully understand why God
permits evil, we must go back in time before man lived on the
earth, before the mountains rose majestically over plains, before
the millions of galaxies sparkled in orbit around and through each
other, before the angels graced the heavens, back, back to when
God dwelt alone.
God desired to have a family, to
be a parent—a father or life-giver—the Heavenly Father. All
things were created by and for God's pleasure (Rev. 4:11).
Evidently angelic children and human children were the desire of
His heart. Ephesians 3:14, 15 speaks of God as the Father of
"the whole family in heaven and earth."
Raising children entails
suffering—both the suffering of the parents and the offspring.
How much suffering does parental love demand? The most loving
parents are not overly protective; rather, they are willing to
permit hard knocks, realizing it will cost themselves dearly in
pain as they watch their children struggle to maturity. Our
Heavenly Father, the most loving and wise parent in the universe,
is willing to suffer to the ultimate degree for the eternal
welfare of His children. How could utopia be attained for His
God desires mankind to live in
peace, harmony and happiness. He knows this will happen only as
each practices the principles of righteousness and love.
Otherwise, evil will result with its consequences of suffering and
unhappiness. Here we glean an insight into what may be referred to
as the "dilemma of God." The planetary systems move in
mechanical obedience; the animal creation is driven mainly by
instinct; but God desired the human race to have a free will and
to "worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). God
could have programmed the ideal man—utopia would have been
inevitable; but man would be no better than a robot, without true
happiness. God knows it is only as man is fully motivated by the
principles of righteousness, that he can really attain happiness
for himself and be in that attitude of cheerful concern for the
happiness of his fellows. This is the true meaning of worshipping
God "in spirit and in truth."
Free will has a built-in
dilemma. Man can rebel against his Creator. The Lord was willing
to bestow free will, fully aware that it would cost Him dearly
before man became fully responsible to this freedom. And what an
awesome power! Man can stand in stiff-necked rebellion against his
Creator. He can refuse to submit to His authority. He can refuse
to accept His favor. He can choose to avert the mercy of God and
adamantly stand upon his decision against God. For by free will,
man is man, created in the image of God and neither an animal nor
Put yourself in God's place to
appreciate this dilemma. A parent will tell a baby not to touch
the stove because it is hot, but what does a baby know about pain?
The anxious parent knows the inevitability of the baby touching
the stove before learning the consequence of heat. A wise parent
will create a controlled experience with heat—lightly and
quickly placing the child's hand where the heat is not too severe.
All through life parents will admonish their children, knowing
that they will only learn certain lessons the "hard way"—by
experience. Likewise, God is giving mankind a controlled
experience with sin.
As our Father, God knew man
would not comprehend His warning about sin—disobedience—and
its dire consequences. So God formulated a plan whereby man, by
his own choice, might first experience evil and then righteousness
(in God's kingdom). This contrasting experience will manifest, as
no other educational process could, the wholesome influence of
God's law and the dire consequences of its violation.
The process of recovery from sin
is called redemption in the Bible. Redemption simply means the
release from sin and death through the payment of a price. The
thought is similar to the release of a person from prison when a
benefactor pays the fine the prisoner couldn't afford to pay. This
release through the death of Jesus is generally considered as an
afterthought of God to salvage some of the human race. However,
the depth of God's wisdom is shown in His foresight to devise a
plan that provides for man's free choice and experience with evil,
redemption through Christ and ultimate eternal happiness. Thus
Isaiah 46:9,10 speaks of God knowing and declaring the end from
The Blessings of Eden
God created Adam and Eve and
established them in Eden—a perfect paradise. There they enjoyed
a perfect home. Eden provided an abundance of food containing all
the wholesome nutrients to sustain their perfect life. Adam was
given dominion over the whole earth and all the animals therein.
The crowning feature of this experience was Adam's close
fellowship with his Creator and God (Gen. 1 & 2).
The third chapter of Genesis
details the history of man's free will choice. God instructed man
that if he practiced righteousness, he would live forever. If he
disobeyed, then "dying thou shalt die"
(Gen. 2:17). Death
would be a process of sorrow and suffering culminating with the
grave. Note well that death, not eternal torment, is the penalty
for sin (Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4). Like the child and the hot stove,
Adam did not know what suffering and death would mean. These were
mere words to him. By information he knew that his disobedience
would lead to his own death. No matter how many times God
reiterated "dying thou shalt die," these were only words
devoid of meaning. Adam never saw anyone die. The dying scenario
was never played out. Adam could not look down through the
corridors of time and visualize all the suffering and death that
would be brought about by human sin and selfishness, all of which
would have their beginnings in his own disobedience.
Let's set aside his eating of
the fruit for a moment and focus on the principle. Something far
more weighty was involved here. Adam of his own free will chose
not to continue in the fellowship of God. This important detail is
recorded in Genesis 3:8.
And they heard the voice of the
Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [breeze] of the day:
and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord
God amongst the trees of the garden.
This account indicates that a
very familiar routine had developed between the Heavenly Father
and our first parents. "They heard the voice of God walking
in the garden in the cool (Heb. breeze) of the day."
Evidently, God spoke to Adam frequently, perhaps daily—"in
the breeze of the day." A familiar pattern developed by which
they knew when God was approaching. Now that he had disobeyed,
Adam heard God approaching to fellowship with them and knew the
consequences of his actions. By his disobedience, Adam realized he
had willfully chosen to withdraw from God's fellowship; therefore,
he hid from the presence of God. Notice that even before God cut
off fellowship with him, Adam hid or withdrew from fellowship with
his Heavenly Father.
A Fully Responsible Choice
Ponder well Adam's choice. Just
think, Adam enjoyed perfect communion and fellowship with the
Heavenly Father. Communion with his Creator was not just a
momentary experience. Some teach that from Adam's creation to his
disobedience was a short time—a few minutes or a few hours at
the most. No wonder many are repelled by the absurdity that a
momentary decision by a minutes-old Adam plunged the human race to
long centuries of horrific tragedies. The record in Genesis 2:7-9,
15-23 allows for a much longer period of time. It elaborates on
the events that occurred between Adam's creation and Eve's.
After Adam's creation, God
planted a garden in Eden and put Adam in it. Adam, after receiving
instructions from God, worked in the caring of the garden. This
took time. There was extensive communication pertaining to things
Adam could and could not do. Then Adam was instructed to name all
the birds and all of the living creatures. This took time. And,
during this time of extensive responsibility in caring for all the
plants and naming all the animals, Adam enjoyed communion with
God. Then Eve was created and became the wife of Adam. Now Adam
had time to spend with his wife and enjoy her companionship. All
of these events covered a period of time. Other scriptures
indicate a period of two years.
In his talks with God in the
"cool of the day," Adam should have realized there was
something vastly different about his God compared to himself and
Eve. He was such a loving Father. God not only practiced
benevolence, kindness, love, justice and mercy, but God also loved
these qualities. They were the very fiber of His being. He loved
them so much that He wanted to exercise them in every relationship
with His creatures. This was the "spirit" or
"essence" of God's holy principles which He wanted to
crystallize in the human heart. If God had programmed these
qualities into man's heart, man would have been a mere robot,
devoid of fulfillment and happiness. But in order for mankind to
live eternally in peace, harmony and happiness with each other,
they must have these qualities crystallized in their heart. The
only way this moral crystallization of God's likeness could have
been developed by Adam, would be by Adam choosing (free will) to
maintain close fellowship with his God and daily choosing to learn
and practice—obey all of God's holy principles. God was the
epitome of holiness, wholesome benevolence. Due to a lack of
experience, Eve chose the way of self-interest, selfishness. The
Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:13,14, Eve was not fully
responsible, but Adam was. Adam was faced with a choice between
loyalty to God and His benevolent ways or loyalty to Eve and her
ways of self-interest.
Over a period of time, Eve
evidently had become a rival to God. Adam not only disobeyed God
but chose loyalty to Eve before loyalty to his Creator. He loved
Eve more than he loved God. Man had to learn this basic principle.
It is only as he loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and
with all his soul, and with all his strength, and with all his
mind, that man will be enabled to love his neighbor (fellowman) as
Educational Process Changed
The crystallization of
God-likeness in man ended, but only temporarily. Before God
pronounced the death sentence, withdrew His fellowship and
expelled the first pair from Eden, He did a remarkable thing. God
slew an animal and clothed Adam and Eve with its skins. What a ray
of hope! This pointed to the shedding of Jesus' blood that would
cover the sins of Adam and all his children who would be born in
sin—inherited from father Adam. "As in Adam all die, so in
Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22) in God's
Kingdom. Then they will individually be given the opportunity to
crystallize God-likeness in their hearts. Meanwhile, the
educational process has changed. Adam and his descendants would
first learn the bitter consequences of sin—disobedience to God's
law (Eccl.1:13; 3:10). Man would reap the dire results of the ways
of selfishness which Adam chose when he cast his lot with Eve and
Because of Adam's lack of
experience God knew he would disobey. Therefore, before God even
created the earth and man, He planned for man's redemption. First
Peter 1:19,20 speaks of Jesus as "slain before the foundation
of the world." From eternity God lovingly planned the best
for His future human children. This meant a plan that would deeply
grieve His fatherly heart as He watched man trampled down into
death by the machinations of evil while learning the consequences
of sin. Further, man's highest interests required a plan that
would cost God's fatherly love the ultimate in suffering—watching
His only begotten son suffer the agony of being vilified and
crucified. Only profound love would conceive and pursue such a
plan. The foreknowledge of God's own suffering proves that the
permission of evil is a necessary experience for man's eternal
welfare. God's gift of Jesus was the greatest demonstration of
fatherly suffering in history. Pastor Russell caught the degree of
this suffering love when he wrote:11
"Ah, did the Father let him
go on that errand of mercy without the slightest sensation of
sorrowful emotion? Had he no appreciation of the pangs of a
father's love when the arrows of death pierced the heart of his
beloved Son? When our dear Lord said, "My soul is exceeding
sorrowful, even unto death," did it touch no sympathetic
chord in the heart of the Eternal? Yea, verily the unfeigned love
of the Father sympathetically shared the Lord's sorrow. The
principle taught in the Divine Word, that true love weeps with
those that weep and rejoices with those that rejoice, is one which
is also exemplified in the divine character. God could and did
sacrifice at great cost to his loving, fatherly nature, the
dearest treasure of his heart and thus he manifested (1 John 4:9)
the great love wherewith he loved his deceived and fallen
The Consequences of Sin
Sin literally means,
"missing the mark"—disobedience to God's principles.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed, God withdrew His fellowship. This was
devastating! Alienated from God, man became alienated from his
human companions. Rivalry and jealousy raged, and soon murder
shattered the first family. Loneliness, stress and depression
overwhelmed them rendering both mind and body prone to disease.
The latest scientific research confirms the Biblical account of
man's "fall" into sin. Mental distress does disease the
body and mind. The dying process had begun and man became
alienated from himself. Man is out of harmony with himself and
struggles within himself. This adds to his mental anxiety. Fear,
hostility and aggression became the norm. Exploitation, crime and
violence were the inevitable consequences. Man was learning the
dreadful consequences of sin and its resultant evils. Yes, Adam's
children, the human race, were born sinners (Psalm 51:5) worthy of
death (Rom.6:23). This is "the sore travail God hath given to
the sons of man to be exercised therewith" (Eccl. 1:13;
After Adam and Eve disobeyed,
they were cast out of their Edenic paradise into the unfinished
earth, where the components of nature were yet unbalanced. Man is
learning by experience that death is the bitter consequence of sin
and evil. Yes, disease, another natural consequence of sin and
imperfection, has taken its ravaging toll. Natural disasters, too,
take their toll, but frequently selfishness is the cause. Man's
greed for industrial profit created the pollution that burned the
hole in the ozone layer. This has accelerated and accentuated the
scope of nature's catastrophes. More vicious than this, man's
inhumanity to man has resulted in the slaughter of billions. Man's
greed enslaved and exploited his fellowman, resulting in hunger,
pestilence and human depravity of every form.
Remember the illustration in
Chapter 1, of the parent who disciplined his child by sending him
to his room for the evening and had loving thoughts of their
continual relationship. God has remanded His human children to
their room—the unfinished earth. In their "affliction He is
afflicted" and He has wonderful loving thoughts—recorded in
the Bible prophecies—concerning their restoration to His favor.
Yes, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:22—"as in Adam all
die" but he continues, "so in Christ shall all be made
alive." Why? Because Jesus died "a ransom for all"
(1 Tim. 2:6 and Heb. 2:9).
Some will say, "Don't tell me
you still believe in original sin! Just because Adam and Eve
were disobedient, the whole human race are sinners?" In I
Timothy 2:13, 14; I Corinthians 15:21, 22; Romans 5:14; and John
8:44, both Jesus and the apostles refer to this event in Eden as
an actual historical event. What better proof can we have that
the Genesis account of Eden occurred? Unfortunately, the logic
of the original sin concept has been obscured by Dark Age
superstitions that have been attached to it, such as "hell fire"
and a vindictive God who must be placated. Modern man is rightly
repelled by the superstitions contained in some church theology,
but these superstitions are not taught in the Bible. Shorn of
Dark Age theology, there is no better explanation of man's
miserable plight than the Scriptural teaching of original sin
and its penalty, death—extinction, not eternal suffering.
During the first part of the
20th Century, sin was treated lightly. It was called
"ignorance," only a growing pain of the human race. The
prevailing theory then was to give man a bit more education, let
him become a little more civilized and he will evolve out of his
sin, leaving evil behind him. But now we are not so sure. The
heinous events of World War II (12 million murdered, leveled
cities, gas chambers), followed by the continuing senseless
acceleration of war, crime and violence (old people killed for
kicks, 80-year-old women molested) and other immoralities have
forced man to take a second look at the problem of evil.
A fresh look at sin is pointedly
stated in the words of Dr. Cyril E. M. Joad, who was a noted
Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of
London, and listed by the editor of The American Weekly
as one of the world's great scientists.12
For years my name regularly
appeared with H. G. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and Aldous Huxley
as a derider of religion.... Then came the war, and the
existence of evil made its impact upon me as a positive and
obtrusive fact. The war opened my eyes to the impossibility of
writing off what I had better call man's 'sinfulness' as a mere
by-product of circumstance. The evil in man was due, I was
taught, either to economic circumstance (because people were
poor, their habits were squalid, their tastes undeveloped, their
passions untamed) or to psychological circumstances. For were
not psycho-analysts telling me that all the regressive,
aggressive, or inhibited tendencies of human nature were due to
the unfortunate psychological environment of one's early
The implications are obvious;
remove the circumstances, entrust children to psycho-analyzed
nurses and teachers, and virtue would reign.
I have come flatly to
disbelieve all this. I see now that evil is endemic in man, and
that the Christian doctrine of original sin expresses a deep and
essential insight into human nature.
As Dr. Joad, we must take
another look at evil. It can no longer be considered a growing
pain. It is too deadly a disease to be explained away by
environment. Standing at the closing of the 20th Century and
looking back, the sad history of this century confirms that Dr.
Joad was right.
In his book OUT OF CONTROL,
written in 1993, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security
Advisor and professor of American Foreign Policy at John Hopkins
University, notes that the 20th Century began amid great hope and
promise, but it became the century of insanity. In elaborating on
his observation of 175 million slaughtered in the name of the
"politics of organized insanity," he says:
Contrary to its promise, the
20th Century became mankind's most bloody and hateful century of
hallucinatory politics and of monstrous killings. Cruelty was
institutionalized to an unprecedented degree, lethality was
organized on a mass production basis. The contrast between the
scientific potential for good and the political evil that was
actually unleashed is shocking. Never before in history was
killing so globally pervasive, never before did it consume so
many lives, never before was human annihilation pursued with
such concentration of sustained effort on behalf of such
arrogantly irrational goals.
Dr Joad is right, sin is not
just ignorance—a temporary experience in man's evolution. Evil
is a basic flaw in human character that can only be explained by
the Biblical account of original sin.
Speaking collectively of the
human race, the Psalmist said, "In sin did my mother conceive
me" (Psalms 51:5). The Apostle Paul in Romans 5:12 says,
"By one man sin entered the world and death by sin; and so
death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Since father Adam sinned,
justice required that he die. Before he died, Adam had children
who were born in sin—they inherited Adam's imperfections. Thus,
the whole human race is born dying. This is how it is learning the
consequences of evil. However, the permission of evil is a brief
controlled experience when compared with eternity. What are some
of the grim lessons? God permits evil to demonstrate that man
without God results in:
through the science which created the H-bomb, and chemical and
affluence that spends
one billion dollars a year in the U.S. for pet food while 5
million humans starve to death;
whose assets total billions of dollars while millions live in
technology and its
deadly tentacles of pollution encircling the globe;
towering cities that
are concrete jungles of crime and violence, filled with
faceless people experiencing life without meaning and with
God permits evil to prove that
man's existence without God can only result in man's inhumanity to
The Problem of Communication
In our era of permissiveness,
the justice of God seems to be an offense to the rationalist.
Perhaps the problem is one of communication, which can be shown in
the simple illustration of an argument. All of us at some time
have been engaged in an argument in which we really never
objectively listened to the other party. We were too busy thinking
up our answers to hear their logic. Similarly, the rationalist is
carrying on a debate with God. If he would only stop and listen to
what God has explained in the historic account of Eden (Genesis
3), he would catch a glimpse of the wisdom and justice of God that
guarantees man's eternal happiness in due time.
Is God's Justice Severe?
Some question the severity of
God's justice in the death penalty. Could not a penalty other than
death have been a just recompense for Adam's disobedience? No
doubt another penalty would have been just; however, God chose
this penalty because it best suited His overall plan for mankind.
Once Adam was informed that death was the penalty for
disobedience, then the penalty was fair.
A basic fact to always remember
is that God in His foreknowledge knew Adam would disobey.
Therefore, long before the creation of Adam, God's wisdom devised
a plan of recovery and ultimate happiness for the human race that
would require the death of His only begotten Son. Thus I Peter
1:19,20 and Ephesians 1:4-7 speak of the blood of Christ as
foreordained before the world began for the redemption of mankind.
The Creator used man's experience in Eden to demonstrate the
dependability of His justice. It is vital for man to know that
"justice and judgment [just decisions] are the habitation of
thy [God's] throne" (Psalms 89:14). Justice is the foundation
of the government of the universe, the basis of all God's
dealings. Judgment is also spoken of as part of this foundation.
The Hebrew here means "a just decision." We can take
comfort in the realization that throughout eternity all of God's
decisions will be just.
Man was placed in the Edenic
paradise to thoroughly enjoy the love of God. Suppose that after
Adam and Eve had lived obediently for a while, God changed His
mind and expelled them from the garden condition into the thorns
and thistles of the unfinished earth. His love would be worthless,
whimsical, because it was not based on justice. It would be
Another hypothetical situation:
If when Adam disobeyed, God said, "Oh, I will overlook your
disobedience this time, I will not punish you as I promised to
do." Adam might say, "Wonderful! I am surely glad God is
more loving than just."
Wonderful? No! This, too, would
have been whimsical, capricious, arbitrary. The Creator and Ruler
of the whole universe could never be trusted throughout eternity.
At any time, in any place, with any order of intelligent
creatures, God might at the slightest whim change His mind and
turn on His creatures. Eden proved the unchangeableness of God's
justice. Thus God declares in Malachi 3:6, "I am Jehovah, I
change not." And James 1:17 states, "The Father of
lights in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of
How unchangeable is God's
justice? It is so unyielding that God's court of justice required
the payment of the costliest fine ever stipulated in a court of
law. What judge has been willing to give up his own innocent son
to death in order to cancel the criminal debt of the defendant?
Another Problem of
Our Creator wants us to know the
depths of His love, that He is the most loving Being in the
universe, but how can God communicate this to our finite minds? In
human relationships words of love can be quite meaningless.
Actions speak louder than words. How did God show His love? With
tender fatherly emotions of sorrow, God took the dearest treasure
of His heart, His only begotten Son, and sent him to earth to
suffer and die at the hands of man. At great cost to Himself the
wisdom of God formulated a plan which reveals that He is both just
(unyielding justice) and the justifier (benefactor) of mankind
The simple events of Eden and
Calvary tell so much about our God. Calvary is the greatest
manifestation of love and mercy in the history of the universe.
The combination of Eden and Calvary stand as a pledge throughout
eternity that there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning
in God's justice (James 1:17).
Many natural calamities are not
a question of "Where is God?" or "What's wrong with
God?"—rather, "What's wrong with man?" Take for
example, the train of catastrophes around the world spawned by El
Ñino. A monster El Ñino could not exist without a large hole in
the ozone layer. There would be no hole in the ozone layer without
pollution. From whence came pollution? It came from diverse
sources that are all rooted in man's greed for profit. Many
natural disasters before and after the 1997 El Ñino also find
their cause in global warming—the mischief of ultra-violet rays
escaping through this hole in the ozone layer.
The extreme toll of human life
accompanying other natural catastrophes have often been aggravated
by man's selfishness. Over 4,500 lives were devoured in the 1988
Armenian earthquake. Such high casualties were due largely to
shoddy construction of high-rise apartments over a well-known
fault area, again illustrating human callousness. Californians
dwelling over a huge fault area are hoping it won't happen in
their lifetime. When the "BIG ONE" does strike, you will
hear the cry, "Where is God?", but it will be man's
gamble and loss, not God's.
Man has long observed and
recorded the patterns of natural calamities such as floods,
monsoons, hurricanes, etc., yet frequently he chooses not to
respect the danger of these killer patterns. It's well documented
that certain rivers will periodically—every 10, 15, 25 or 50
years—swell over their banks into an ocean of destruction. Yet
thousands continue to rebuild in the path of the inevitable ruin.
Hurricane paths have temporarily obliterated shorelines and
coastal isles. Yet the vanity quest for the ultimate in ocean
front luxury and prestige continues to provide a path of future
Some disasters could have been
eliminated or minimized if the recommendations of the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers had been followed. Yes, the killer force of
natural catastrophes spirals numerically thanks to human
selfishness and greed. This is one of the many lessons man is
learning from the permission of evil.
Another observation must be made
on the destructive forces of nature. Since the days of Voltaire
(1790s), atheists and agnostics always seized on nature's
catastrophes to loud-mouth "Where is God?" What a
distortion of proportions. Numerically, the victims of natural
disasters pale into insignificance compared to man's inhumanity to
man. Actually these atheists and agnostics need the lessons of the
permission of evil to explode their naive view of evil. At the
turn of the century they were predicting that Darwinism and social
evolution would usher in a 20th Century utopia. What has happened?
It Is Horrific
Remember, Zbigniew Brzezinski's
book notes that the 20th Century became the century of insanity.
In which a 175 million were slaughtered in the name of the
"politics of organized insanity."
million slaughtered" because of mankind's most bloody and
hateful century. Total all the deaths from natural disasters in
the 20th Century and what do you have? It is a drop in the bucket
compared to man's killing machine of our insane century. This is
what the schooling of the permission of evil is all about.
A Suffering Savior
and Suffering Christians
Even if humankind learns the lesson of the dire
consequences of sin in this lifetime, how do we know God's Kingdom
will succeed? What assurance is there that at least the majority
will crystallize the God-likeness that will enable them to live in
eternal peace, harmony and happiness?
Jesus is our assurance. He is
the "surety of a better covenant" (Heb. 7:22), the New
Covenant which will bless all mankind in God's Kingdom. As King,
Priest and Judge in that Kingdom, his name will be called
"Wonderful" (Rev. 20:6; John 5:22; Isa. 9:6). Yes, Jesus
will be a "Wonderful" success.
Why Jesus Suffered
Not only did Jesus die to
provide the payment, a perfect human life that will eventually
release the human race from death; but during his lifetime he
suffered at the hands of his fellow man so that he could fully
sympathize with their every need.
The Prophet Isaiah anticipated
the suffering of Jesus. "He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows acquainted with grief... Surely he has borne our
grief, and carried our sorrows... He was wounded for our
transgressions … and with his stripes we are healed" (Isa.
53: 3-5). Therefore, Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is a
sympathetic high priest who can be touched with a feeling of our
infirmities. Jesus continually permitted himself to be afflicted
through contact with sinful man.
Every time Jesus healed, it was
at the expense of his own strength. We read that "virtue
[strength] went out from him" (Mark 5:30) as he healed the
blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers. He was expending his own
strength so that he might be touched with a feeling of our
infirmities. Further, Jesus was mocked; he experienced brutality,
violence and murder at the hands of his fellow men. As a Jew, he
tasted the racial scorn of the Romans. He identified himself with
poverty, drudgery and obscurity. Full of compassion, his heart was
moved for the mentally ill, the physically sick, the lame, the
deaf and the blind. Why? So that in God's Kingdom Christ will know
just what lessons mankind will need. "Who can have compassion
on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he
himself also is compassed with infirmity" (Heb.5:2). Jesus
assumed upon his shoulders the ills of this world. Indeed, he can
have compassion on the ignorant and them that are out of the way.
Those whom he ransomed, he will know how to restore.
Your High Calling
Jesus died nearly 2,000 years
ago. The question naturally arises, Why the long delay before
setting up his Kingdom for the blessing of all mankind? One thing
is clear throughout the Bible: God has not been attempting to
convert the world since Jesus' death and resurrection.
The Scriptures speak of God
dealing with only a few for a specific purpose. Christ's followers
are spoken of as a little flock. "Fear not, little flock; for
it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom"
(Luke 12:32). God is only calling a few; a representative of every
type of the human race is being called into the church of Christ.
The Greek word translated "church" in the New Testament
means "called out ones."
What is this special calling or
selection of the church? Christians are called to the multiple
profession of judges, priests and kings of mankind in Christ's
Kingdom. What an honor! At first our faith staggers. But the
Scriptures are explicit on this point. First Corinthians 6:2
states that "the saints shall judge the world." First
Peter 2:9 shows Christians are called to be a "royal [kingly]
priesthood." Similarly, Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 states we are
called of God to be "kings and priests" and "we
shall reign on the earth." Revelation 20:6 states that
Christians "shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall
reign with him a thousand years."
Judges, priests, kings! What a
profession Christians have been called to! But what a rigorous
training course the Christian must pursue to attain this
Not Many Wise
For you see your calling,
brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many
mighty, not many noble, are called. But God hath chosen the
foolish things of the world to confound the wise;…and the base
things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God
chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things
that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence