This is an age-old question that atheists espouse, agnostics debate, and believers avoid. It is an ongoing battle to reconcile the realities of wickedness on the earth and a compassionate and loving God. And yet, in all of the arguments I have heard on this issue, there is one question that is overlooked, and one that should precede all others:
If God is omniscient and foresaw this wickedness from the beginning
– why did He create the beings that would unleash it?
To answer this question requires one to go beyond theological debates and philosophical quandaries. To know the WHY of His creative plan is to consider more than just His laws or His methods. It requires one to truly seek the heart of God. It requires one to know what compels Him. What motivates this King of the Universe to create a world where good people suffer at the hands of the bad? What is in the heart of this God that “allows” such evil to exist in the first place?
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
Scripture is clear that everything, both in heaven and on the earth, along with every dominion, power, and authority, both visible and invisible, were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Every detail of His creation was made complete and perfect from the very beginning. This included both men as well as the heavenly hosts whom He created to serve both the seen and unseen realms (Nehemiah 9:6). And everything He made was good – actually very good.
Even Lucifer, called the “star of the morning,” was “the model of perfection.” In Ezekiel 28, God speaks of His favored cherub who was “blameless in his ways,” and “full of wisdom and beauty.” From the very beginning of his inception, Lucifer had been anointed of God and “walked among the fiery stones” of God’s throne as a worshiper of the Most High. He was even ordained as the guardian of Eden where God entrusted His most sacred treasures to Lucifer’s care.
Unfortunately, Lucifer had other plans.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezekiel 28:15-17).
It was Lucifer’s pride and jealousy that cost him his favored position and got him expelled from heaven. This was not God’s doing, but Lucifer’s. Declaring himself to be his own master, Lucifer led the first rebellion against God and took a third of the angels with him. Though God’s plan had been to showcase Lucifer as an example of the Creator’s beauty and perfection, Lucifer became full of himself and took matters into his own hands. Thus, the pattern of God’s creation rebelling against their Creator was initiated.
BEING MADE IN HIS IMAGE IS COSTLY
Not only was Lucifer full of pride in his own beauty and wisdom, he became extremely jealous of the man and woman God created. They had been granted authority never offered to him. God had given men a domain of their own where they could rule.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
Just like a passionate father who wants the best for his offspring, God decided to give His sons and daughters a capacity for greatness. When He made us in His image, it meant that we could think His thoughts, know His ways, and speak His words. He breathed His Spirit into us, imparting His very DNA into our hearts and minds. And, just as He did with His heavenly beings, He gave us the freedom to choose whom we would serve. Desiring for His creation to initiate fellowship with Him of their own free will, He gave us the choice.
Regrettably, baited by Lucifer, the man and woman made the wrong choice and were expelled from the Garden. By disobeying God, the seeds of rebellion were now sown, and the price of freedom took its toll. Not only did their choice bring a curse upon the ground and pain in their journey, it paved the way for evil to grow and flourish. By the time Noah came on the scene, roughly 1600 years later, the entire earth was filled with wickedness.
WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart. So, the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-8)
To be clear, God knew ahead of time what things would look like. Scripture is not written to merely learn God’s laws or understand our history as much as it is to know His heart. Throughout the Word of God, He expresses His deepest longings and passions in hopes that we can relate and draw even closer. Seeing this depth of depravity was painful for God to see. He had always hoped that men would choose good over evil.
Even after the Garden debacle, He had kept their free will intact. Instead of taking away their choice between good and evil, He believed in their potential for good. Even as Lucifer continued in his evil plots and schemes, God had held out for a better outcome. But now He was faced with the consequences of sin and rebellion on a global scale. The worst-case scenario had come to pass and their partnership with evil had now corrupted His entire creation.
Except for one.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
In the middle of the mayhem and mess of a world gone bad, stood one righteous man. Though millions had chosen otherwise, there was one man that stood out – and it moved God’s heart. One man loved God with purity and humility. One man believed God’s promise for a better world and refused to make the wrong choice. Just as God was about to wipe out everything He had made, this one man stopped Him.
In Noah, God saw what He had been waiting for. That seed of greatness. The seed from His own heart. His own creation expressing the goodness of the Father and choosing to trust Him with pure and simple faith. It was this seed of faith that reignited God’s plan. Even though He could justify the destruction of His entire creation due to their rebellion, He relented. That which He had first breathed into man was still at work and still bringing life. Through one righteous man, the world was saved.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:20-22)
In declaring His covenant to mankind, God let all the powers and authorities know His intentions. Even though evil still existed, it didn’t change His plan. It didn’t matter that men could still be corrupted by Lucifer’s agendas. It was clear that even in the midst of the worst kind of sin, God’s goodness would prevail. Where Lucifer would seek to bring out the worst of God’s creation, God would bring out the best. In the choice between good and evil, God’s seed would always prevail because His love will always conquer Lucifer’s hate.
We see this battle for men’s souls continue throughout biblical history. Lucifer has continually sought to bring man to his knees through suffering in hopes he will deny his God. When given the chance to destroy Job’s faith, God allowed it because He saw in Job the same thing He had seen in Noah. A man after His own heart. He knew that, ultimately, Job would not “lose” anything – not by earthly standards. In His omniscience, God saw that day when Job would be fully restored, healed, and vindicated. Not only would Job live a full and fruitful life on the earth, he would go down in history as one who overcame evil through simple faith in God. His short time of suffering would produce a testimony for all eternity.
TIME IS IRRELEVANT
If we truly desire to know God’s heart in this issue of “allowing evil,” then we must remember God’s vantage point in all of this. We only see our life from this temporary plane of existence. What seems like endless years of suffering is but a blip on God’s radar. But God is beyond time and sees our existence in the light of eternity. He knows the brevity of life on earth and speaks and acts outside our continuum.
For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. (Psalms 90:4)
Knowing the power of His love to eradicate all suffering and heal every painful memory, God provides the necessary grace to persevere. He knows that evil will never win over His seed. Knowing that our freedom to choose good necessitates the freedom to do evil, He allows it to remain. He knows the high price that is being paid. But, He also knows it’s the only way for His creation to be truly free. He has already determined the fate of our oppressors and sealed Lucifer’s demise.
Though there will be many who will refuse Him, His heart is moved by those who believe Him. The aroma of our praise and thanksgiving, especially when there is great loss, moves Him to grant us even greater grace, favor, and blessing. We do not serve a God without a heart or a God who is callous towards pain and suffering. Rather, we serve a God who is so passionate for true and authentic love that comes from a pure heart, He refuses to settle for anything less. He is determined to see His sons and daughters rule and reign on the earth with Him. Knowing the battles we face, He has made provision for us to defeat the devil’s schemes and overcome all the power of the enemy. His covenant is assured.
So – in the end – perhaps we will have to acknowledge that God DOES allow evil. But, not for the reasons the world would think. He allows it to continue because He knows its end. Better still, He knows OURS.
Let that be enough to trust His plan and be faithful to the end.
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)
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