So do not be blasphemous and deny the goodness or the greatness of God. And do not be depressed and hopeless thinking this world has gone haywire…Fight for righteousness, and show compassion on those who are being buffeted by God’s strange but wise plan. And do all this while keeping your eye on the prize — the “well-done” of Jesus and life eternal in the paradise of bliss. Contrary to the words of a well-known false teacher, “This is not your best life now.” For those in Christ Jesus, the best is yet to come.
Did God decree the Holocaust? Has God, from before the beginning of time, predestined the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls by Boko Haram? Did God foreordain the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by Russian trained rebels in the Ukraine? Is the current Middle-Eastern chaos going according to God’s eternal plan?
Or more personally, Has God decreed the affair that is killing your family? Have you been predestined to be born with a sin nature that came from Adam? Is your struggle with addictions and sin part of God’s eternal plan? Did he ordain the fall of Lucifer? Did God foreknow and foreordain the disease that devastates your loved one? What about the money that was unjustly taken from you? Did God really “number the days” of your friend who took his or her own life?
Some would say that God cannot know the future because this would limit human freedom and turn individuals into robots.
Some would say that God cannot control the future. He is doing the best he can, but the world is too big for him to watch over, much less control.
Some would say that God will not control the future. Occasionally he gets involved in the “big stuff,” but for the most part, he chooses not to get actively involved in the daily affairs of men.
What do you say? Is God great? Is God good? But more important than what others say, or what you say, what does the Scripture say? With this question in mind, I quote from Isaiah 37:
This is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him (King of Assyria): “‘She despises you, she scorns you— the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you— the daughter of Jerusalem. “ ‘Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon, to cut down its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses, to come to its remotest height, its most fruitful forest. I dug wells and drank waters, to dry up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt. “ ‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins, while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown (Isaiah 37:22-27)
According to the sacred text, the Good God foreordained the rise of Assyria. The Good God predestined the fall of Israel. The Good God eternally decreed the 8th century B.C. Holocaust. Yes, the Good God even planned and performed the kidnapping of thousands of Hebrew boys and girls.
It may be confusing why God does what he does, but it should not be confusing that God does what he does. He is not the author of sin. He does not delight in sin. He promises to judge those who commit such sins.
I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came (Isaiah 37:28-29).
However, even the most vile of sins find their place within the eternal decree of the Good and Great God.
So do not be blasphemous and deny the goodness or the greatness of God. And do not be depressed and hopeless thinking this world has gone haywire. And do not become bitter by failing to worship God in the midst of your horror. And do not think, for one moment, that those who commit wicked deeds will get by with their sin. Instead, humbly and confidently, submit to God’s plan in prayer. Fight for righteousness, and show compassion on those who are being buffeted by God’s strange but wise plan. And do all this while keeping your eye on the prize — the “well-done” of Jesus and life eternal in the paradise of bliss. Contrary to the words of a well-known false teacher, “This is not your best life now.” For those in Christ Jesus, the best is yet to come.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.