WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF EVIL?
Eric V. Snow, sermonette, Ann Arbor, MI, UCG, 07-08-06
Why do bad things happen to seemingly good people? Why does a good God allow evil to exist? After all, if He is good and almighty, wouldn’t God have the desire and the power to stop evil? We humans could come up with our own ideas about why God allows natural disasters, grinding poverty, and terrible crimes to occur. But what does the Bible itself say about the problem of evil?
High level theologians and philosophers will use human reason to figure out reasons why God is temporarily allowing evil in His created universe. But they may be devising clever theories that have no real truth or foundation.
S.P.S. Instead of using human reason alone, we should use what the Bible itself teaches about why a good God allows evil to exist.
Theodicy: “defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil,” Webster’s. Formal term.
These people suddenly had their lives ended early. But we’re all going to die anyway. Some very unlucky people just happened to exit this life before we did. So what are we going to do about it? “Existential dilemma.” We’re all alive now, but know we’re going to die. Can we do anything to stay alive permanently somehow? Is there a God? If so, that’s not enough to solve the problem. Does that God grant human beings eternal life? How can we satisfy that God so that our lives don’t end after (say) 70 years on earth and being lowered in an oblong metal box into the cold dark earth? If told I could gain eternal life by walking on my hands once a day, I would figure out how to do it.
So because death will come to us all, we must repent. Preferably do this before any such unplanned disaster will occur. For death will come to us all; unexpected natural disasters or crimes merely speed up the end for some. Just because bad things happen to others doesn’t mean we shouldn’t repent because we think, “What happened to them is unfair!” It’s our duty to repent regardless of what happens to others to get our lives right with God before we die. It’s cutting off our nose to spite our face for us to reject God because others have had bad things happen to them.
Can we judge God? Do we know enough to condemn God’s actions that we don’t like? Are we competent to judge Him?
Parent-child analogy: Parent may do things that the child isn’t happy about. His parents may punish him for his good, but he doesn’t know enough yet to know what is in his best self-interest. Example of punishing a young child for running into the street to get a loose basketball. The child may cry and complain, but his complaints are without merit. Can we admit that the intellectual and moral differences between us and God are far bigger than the differences between parents and children? Pet cat analogy, Sheba’s scratching of screens, chairs, etc.: Doesn’t know own destructiveness.
Character development issue: May be painful at time, but good comes from it overall in God’s master plan. Boring musical piece for some instruments in a stirring symphony example.
Job 40:1-5, 6-10
God has the power, not us. God holds all the cards. Complaints that insult God don’t change that reality. We are in no position to issue demands towards God’s throne. We’re the ones who are going to die unless we comply with His will. God will live forever regardless of what we do or don’t do. We depend on God; God doesn’t depend on us. Satan holds us captive; only God may set us free. The boss is the boss, and the Lord is the Lord. We can’t fire the boss, nor can we knock the Eternal off His throne, and install some other god more to our liking.
Conclusion: The Bible directly and indirectly comments on the problem of evil. We are all going to die, one way or another, if left on our own. Therefore we should repent regardless of what happens to us or others. The Bible also teaches that we don’t know enough to judge God about why he allows bad things to happen. Since God is Almighty and the Ever-Living, He doesn’t have to comply with our wishes. Since we’re in no position to choose another god to replace the Eternal, it’s our job to comply with the God who is there whether we like it or not. Many sad things happen to people in the world, and even in our own lives. They shouldn’t keep us from building a good relationship with the true God through repentance and faith despite He allows them for His own purposes.