Difficult Bible Passages About why God Allows Suffering is Explained.
You have a very interesting question. If indeed God is all-powerful, why would He permit anarchy and suffering?
What if God had offered all His creations (subjects) complete freedom. God could very easily force all His created beings into obeying Him. He is all powerful, He could do that. However, what if He really does value the free choice of His creations. How can God allow free choice if He forces all to obey Him? He cannot, God cannot do both. It does not make sense!
Even though God is all powerful, God cannot just zap people out of existence or to change their memory, etc. because that would go against His goal of having His creations with free choice. From the Bible, we see that it goes against what God's wishes to do. It would go against God's own value system because He is merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6).
To say it another way: What if God wanted all His creations to worship Him by choice and not because He forces them to worship Him? How would He do that? Would He destroy all who would choose to go against Him before they are able to do so? Would He just change their thinking so they don't even know what they were thinking about earlier? Would He have created His creations so they could not have revolted against Him?
No, none of these options work. God Himself would know that He was not allowing complete free choice. If God really wanted His creations to actually love Him and appreciate what He does for them. He would have to work out this rebellion/sin problem right out in front of the whole universe, so that God's own created beings would be able to know for themselves, what God is like and they would be able to choose to really serve Him. They would want to serve Him!
When I read the Bible, I see evidence that God really does value free choice and freedom for His creations. We can see that in the stories of the Bible. We do not see God changing people's thoughts, but rather, we see that God works with us so that we can make a free choice.
On the other hand, it is Satan who forces others to follow and serve him. When people are possessed, they no longer have the will to leave Satan behind. Satan takes control of them and he will never let them go, not if he can help it. We also see that Satan tries to either trick or he will use fear to force people into serving Him. In addition, we find that when Satan cannot get a person to follow Him, he will want to try to kill them.
You are right, there are so many things in this world that are unfair. Sure enough, survival of the fittest does seem to reign supreme on this earth. Existence on this earth is sometimes pure survival. Some people try to get ahead in this world and they don't seem to have a chance.
I do not believe that laws like the survival of the fittest are what the Lord had in mind when He created the world and the Universe. I believe that they became law on this world when Adam and Eve fell into sin. Satan himself does not want people to have free choice at all. If people were to choose God instead of him, then Satan would loose out, as he will in the end.
A week ago, or so, I read the story on the judgment on the house of Jeroboam, found in I Kings 14. What happened is that the son of Jeroboam, king of Israel, a wicked king became sick. Jeroboam told his wife to disguise herself and go to Ahijah the prophet to ask him what will become of his son. There were other elements to the disguise, but of course, God told His prophet what was happening. When she came, he said: come in wife of Jeroboam, why do you pretend to be another person? Well, the prophet told her that because king Jeroboam, whom God had placed over Israel, did not follow God but acted wickedly, this king was extremely wicked; that disaster will strike his family. Every male member will see death.
Now the point that I want to make is this: This son who became sick, that originally caused Jeroboam's wife to see the prophet, was the only thing in Jeroboam's family that was good. So because this son was good, he was going to be the only one who would die a natural death. All the other members were going to have violent deaths.
This is what is said in 1 Kings 14:12-13.
Here is a story that, on the outside, seems to indicate that this son had no chance at all. He had the wrong father, and so he had to die because all members of his family were to be killed. However, I believe that God will save that son when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven to take back His people to be with Him. Apparently, that son had decided to follow God. He had that freedom of choice, and God is going to reward that choice when Jesus comes again.
So here is a story of a son who had the wrong father. It looks like he had the worst of luck and that he would never have a chance of doing anything ever again. However, if we look at this story from a different perspective, we find that it is the opposite of our original view of the story. That boy was allowed to die only after he had chosen to follow God. He had already exercised his free will to choose God. Now, the next moment that he will be aware of, when Jesus comes to collect His righteous people and take them to heaven, this boy will be among them. He has excercised his free will and God will reward that choice!
There are also places in the Bible where it says that God will cause some righteous people to have short lives. Now that can be seen as a bad thing, because nobody really wants to die. However, this is actually a good thing.The first two verses are scripture examples showing that when the righteous die, God is being merciful to them, separating them from the evil of this world. They will be brought up again when all the evil is past.
God wants to preserve His people from destruction. Sometimes the only way to do that is to have them die sooner than later. After all, the very next thing that the righteous people will see when they die is Jesus, when He comes to take all His people home with Him.
Life on this world is very short, usually under a hundred years. However, once this war is over between Jesus and Satan, all those who have chosen God will no longer be tempted and attacked by Satan, and they will be able to explore the whole universe for googles of years, and that is only the beginning ( 1 google is 1 x 10100 or 1 with a hundred zeros after it.)
Now, what happens to those who become discouraged? I remember that John the Baptist was discouraged and later he lost his head (he was killed). But I believe that He will be saved in spite of his discouragement.
Here is a verse showing that God treats a good man or a righteous man differently from the wicked when they fall. If a wicked man who is a evildoer, falls; God will cut them off. They will be no more. But we know that the meek will inherit the earth. If a good man falls for some reason, God will hold them up! He will not utterly cast them down!
I believe, that in spite of what looks like to us today as being totally unfair, I see that in the end, in spite of the fact that things are not fair today, that God will make things fair in the end. He will turn the tables. Even though Satan has caused total unfairness in this world, God will turn wrong into right judgement. He will judge fairly and with compassion to the righteous!
You ask why Satan has not attacked the Bible while he is attacking God's precious creations. The Bible has been severely attacked. During the dark ages, it was almost destroyed out of existence. People often had to read it under the pain of death. Satan has tried to destroy it and to keep people from reading it. Today, he is causing many to loose faith in the Bible by scientific arguments such as evolution and critical thinking.
But I believe that God has held His hand over the bible so that those who chose to seek God with all their heart will find them.
It seems like you are saying that God needs Satan, or that He has a specific purpose for Satan, (So that God's purpose will be fulfilled.) Or you are saying that God is not perfect. He is struggling with evil, meaning that He is weak and not able to overcome evil. So, in His love, He is trying to protect us from the evil that He is unable to destroy. You also suggest that maybe evil was present from the very beginning or that evil has always existed. You also suggest that man was designed to fall.
I was also interested in the fact that you would appreciate the circumstance more if God was really at war with evil and that evil was not created by God. But then you mention your doubt that God might not actually be fighting evil, that God is not perfect.
I believe what the Bible says. In Scripture, it is mentioned concerning Satan: "Till iniquity was found in you." That suggests to me that evil began with Satan. God did not create evil, it originated with Satan. Satan started to think evil thoughts! He started wanting power for himself.
Before sin began, there was no need for anything. Heaven was a happy place, where all living served God with their hearts in love.
However, when Satan began to accuse God and actually convinced 1/3 of the angels that he was right, that God was holding back blessing from them, that they could also be gods. It was at that point that Satan's continued existence was actually needed by God to show the results of sin. The angels who sided with God needed to know for themselves what Satan's kind of thinking would result in. So I think you are at least partially right. God needed Satan to play out his hand so that the remaining angels and the other worlds could see the actual results of sin. They would see to what extent of evil, Satan's way of thinking and doing would lead them if they chose to follow Satan's rebellion.
If 1/3 of the angels were convinced enough to take Satan's side, then what about the rest of heaven? Did they have questions? Did they almost follow Satan only to hold back for some reason? Were they afraid of God because they knew He was much more powerful? Did they still think that God was still loving? Did they believe that Satan could be partially right? Did they really believe that God would play fair and abide by the rules that He set up?
What about the other worlds. Did they have questions when this rebellion broke out at the very center of God's Kingdom?
How was God going to convince all the remaining angels and the worlds of the whole universe that what Satan said about God is not correct? And that Satan was only looking out for himself even if he had to destroy everybody else in the process.
In the book of Revelation, we see the things that Satan is going to do, wicked things to try to get his own way. Utter destruction or absolute demonic control of all the people on the earth! Also, near the end of the book, we see how God is going to do away with evil. Everyone in the rebellion, both human and evil angel, will be thrown into the fire that was made for them.
Yet we also see in Revelation, that the angels in heaven are praising God that He has finally judged and has taken the reigns and rules not only heaven but the earth. Satan is no longer the prince of the earth. They have seen that God is even fair with the wicked. We saw that very same thing in Jesus in the way He treated Judas. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do, yet He tried to reach him like the other of his followers.
So it seems that the book of Revelation predicts that the angels (and I am sure, the other worlds as well) will love God because of how He has handled everything. If God had killed Satan, after Satan had just accused God of being selfish, etc. It will have looked like: God killed the opposition and you better not think that way either or God will zap you too. There would have been a great fear of God. Not the fear that means respect and honor, but of fear fear. They would have been afraid of Him.
This kind of fear, the fear of having God zap you, would have been the breeding place for more rebellions in the future, or because they might be afraid of God: they would want to rebel against God if it were possible.
Because of this long battle against Satan, the fear of God (being afraid of God for what He might do to you) in the Universe will have been done away with because it will be seen that God's ways are really best. They will see that it really was Satan who was the destructive selfish one. The seeds of rebellion will have been fully destroyed. The survivors of the universe will realize the intensity of the evil that was in Satan and they will not want any part of it!
In the future, no one will want to rebel against God because they will know the results of rebellion against the love of God. But especially, they will realize that God really does love them. He loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten son! What better example of God's love for His creations could there ever be than the giving up of His only begotten Son so that we could be saved from certain death?
Only when we include the book of Revelation in our studies, only when we include the whole Bible, do all the pieces of the puzzle start fitting together. Yes, there are some things in the Bible that are hard to understand, but with a better understanding of the whole Bible as a unit, we will be able to see the forest for the trees; these problems become easier to understand.
Now, concerning "freedom of choice"; It makes no sense to say that God does not believe that "freedom of choice" is important. All one has to do is to look at the whole of the Bible. God is trying to woo us to love Him, to accept His grace and be saved from certain death.
God is not limited to just trying to convince people to follow Him. God is all powerful and He is well capable of creating a miracle that will make all of us become perfect Christians because He has willed or forced us to do that very thing.
God has not done that to us. He does not force Himself on us. Since He does not do that to us, we know that He has not done that to the angels or the other worlds either. On the other hand, we can see that Satan chooses all the time, when he is able to do it, to control people against their own will. Satan does not believe in the "freedom of choice" of his followers. Rather he believes in forcing them to do things against their will so that he (Satan) can get his own way.
Also, reading the book Revelation, it is clear that the angels in heaven, the elders, etc. are responding to what God is doing. They are praising God because of the relief and happiness that the awful wickedness is being done away with, that God is finally doing what He promised to do.
Now that Satan has shown his true intentions (as seen in Daniel and Revelation), is there any question in the minds of the angels and elders in heaven that the fruit of Satan's teachings results in having no "freedom of choice" for the subjects of Satan's kingdom? Satan ended up showing what he really wanted. He was selfish and was really into self glorification. If anyone gets in the way of his ambitions, Satan is willing and quite happy to destroy anyone, in the most cruel way, to get what he wants. He cares for nothing else. So, the angels and elders in heaven are happy with relief that the awful wickedness is finally being destroyed!
So, what do you think? I think we see a loving God who is caring for all His creations on all the billions and billions of worlds in the Universe and in heaven. He is making sure that the universe will be safe from the same type of wickedness in the future, because all angels and people will know where that type of thinking leads. It is really selfishness and it leads to wickedness, unhappiness, and the destruction of others for power etc. It is sin!
We should not confuse God's power with this legal process.
I have friends who I visited once (we all went to school together so it was great to talk). They had a new son and they were having problems. At night, he would often wake up screaming from a bad dream. It seemed that he had these dreams often and they were concerned but they did not know what to do about it. I asked them if they asked God to protect their son from the attacks of evil angels, and they shook their heads no. For some reason, they never even thought of asking God for help. I told them that if they did not pray for their son, that he would be open ground for the evil angels to attack him.
The boy is too young to pray for himself, so it is the privilege and duty for the parents to pray for their children.
They started praying for their son every night, and immediately, it all stopped. What a change! I think my friends gained a much deeper appreciation of the war that is going over us, but especially of the help and love that God has for each one of us. God is always willing and waiting for us to ask for help. When we come to God, we place ourselves under His care and protection. There is nothing that Satan and his evil angels can do except what God allows them to do. Never forget that!
In the story of Job, when Satan comes to the meeting, he accuses God of over stepping His bounds in protecting Job. "Job really does not care for you", he says; "he only likes your gifts". In response, Jesus then tells him what He will allow him to do to Job. That is what happened both times they met. Satan can only do what God allows him to do.
Yes, I agree with you that Jesus has all the power. The power that Satan has is what God allows him to have. No more than that. Boy are we blessed!
However, Something else seems to be happening because Jesus does allow Satan to temp and harass Job in trying to destroy him. That seems clear. Why does God allow Satan to try to destroy Job? Obviously, the war is still going on and Job's worship of God must be tested.
So why does God still allow Satan to try to destroy us today? If all accounts were settled at the cross, then why are we still here? Why are we still being tempted. Why is our faith still being tested?
I believe that if every thing had been done at the cross, then evil would have been destroyed at that time. If the battle was won at the cross, why was not Satan thrown out at that time? But it is not. God is still allowing Satan to destroy people. Evil is being propagated and today, conditions are getting worse not better. It should be obvious that everything was NOT finished at the cross.
You are right, God claims this world.
If both God and Satan did not claim our world, there would be no war. But it is clear in Scripture that there is indeed a battle for our world. There is a battle for the mind and it is still going on. It is not finished yet.
Now, What about the fact that when Jesus was on the cross, He said "it is finished". Doesn't that mean that every thing was finished at the cross?
When Jesus died, He paid the ultimate price for me and you. However, that was not the only time that Jesus is going to say "it is finished"! I believe that the Cross was one big step in the process. But there are other steps that is indicated in Scripture. Look at the following Scripture:
Now notice what happens when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet! It is at that time and not before that the world becomes fully the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!
So when the seventh angel sounds, which is yet future! It is then, and only then, that God and His Son, Jesus will begin to reign over all the kingdoms of the earth! Satan will quickly loose all of his power to continue his torture of God's creations. God will at that time will begin to set things back to the way they should be, without sin and destruction. And the righteous will be taken up to be with Christ!
We must not forget the book of Revelation when we study what Jesus does for us to save us; Because, that last book of the Bible has so much of the information that we have of Jesus Christ! I think we only have a partial Gospel when we leave out what Revelation has to say. You know, the book of Revelation has a longer title: The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
You have questions that on the surface, appear not to have an answer. These questions make it appear that God is not what He says He is. The only possible answers these questions allow are that He is either malevolent, or not omnipotent, or He is even evil Himself! These questions do not allow any other possibility.
However, the reason why there does not seem to be any good answer, is that you are basing your questions on specific assumptions about God. Assumptions that can be wrong.
No matter what position we take, we must start with assumptions. In science, assumptions are used all the time. They are understood and used so that the scientific method can proceed.
On the other hand, from how I have heard theologians speak to people, they either are not fully aware of the assumptions they are making or they are "pulling the wool" over the eyes of the public. (Actually, I have heard scientists do the same thing.) They act as if there are no assumptions to make to arrive at their opinions.
These are the assumptions that they think are our only options:
With these types of limited assumptions, we can explain God only in certain allowable ways. The assumptions limit our answers!
So, are wicked or impotent, the only posibilities we have to describe God? Are these the only possible reasons for the evil that is in the world?
When no other possibilities are entertained, we have no satisfactory answer at all. I believe this kind of thinking has caused many people to reject God.
But what they have done is to forget about the other answer that is actually in the Bible! The Bible does not have these hopeless ideas as the only options we have to choose from.
The other possible assumption is that God is all powerful and righteous but that He has also limited His actions because He values the free will of His creations. To do away with free will would be wicked in of itself. God would be a "control freak" just like Satan is if He were to literally force His creations against their wills.
We must always remember that it is Satan who will try to control you no matter what you actually want to do. If Satan cannot control you, he will then try to kill you!
So, if God were going to try to do away with evil by forcing His own creations against their own will; God would be doing an evil to His own creations by His very actions. Just because God is more powerful, does not make what He does right!
What God does, must be above reproach. So God has placed upon Himself constraints. He will have to solve the problem of Satan and his rebellion without doing either evil.
The Bible gives us the clue that God will abolish evil but it will take some time. Read Revelation 19. It specifically describes how God will destroy Satan and all His followers. Before this could occur; However, a heavenly court had to convene that would judge those who are evil. All those who have caused evil to start in Heaven and to cause it to spread to the earth will be judged. Also, all those who of our world who have chosen Satan as their leader will also be judged.)
In the book of Daniel, he speaks of this court as happening at the end of the world. It is at that time that Satan's dominion will be taken away from Satan and given over to Jesus:
So, the court in heaven will open and Jesus will be brought in before God, the Ancient of Days, and dominion and glory and a kingdom will be given over the Jesus at that time. In the process Satan's dominion will be taken away from him to be consumed and destroyed.
Also judgment will be made in favor of the saints of the Most High. All this is yet to happen!
In Revelation, this happens at the time when the seventh angel sounds the seventh trumpet:
Before this court session, the earth was not part of the kingdom of God. Not in the strictest sense. Even Jesus said several times that Satan was the ruler of this world. Only when the court meets does Jesus receive the Kingdom.
Also, in looking at these two places in Scripture, we can see that God is making all His decisions while being before the people of His Kingdom. Nothing is being hidden. Thus, God is actually making Himself open and transparent to the created beings that He Himself has made. He is allowing them to judge Him in this process.
God will win this battle against Satan and He will have all His creation agreeing with what He has done. Not because they have to or are forced to to agree with God but because they actually see such love in their Creator that they want to give thanks to Him because He has finally done what He said He will do.
I am not sure that I know the real or complete answer to this question. We will learn so much of what the real issues are when we begin living with Jesus, but I will try to answer your question:
I believe that the fair thing in Satan's case is to destroy him because he has destroyed untold trillions and trillions of people through the ages of time (to say nothing of the fallen angels who are now lost and will also have to be completely destroyed). In addition, Satan hates God and would, if he could, pull Him down from the throne of the Universe. The threat and the presence of that hatred and determination, just having that hatred in the Universe, I am sure, will not be tolerated by God in the ceaseless ages of eternity.
How can there be true happiness, how can all tears cease if sin is allowed to continue???
We are promised that all sorrow will be done away with. All tears will cease and there will be true happiness because all sin, its hatred and the heartache, will be done away with. All sinful things will be completely destroyed! This includes Satan and all his followers, whether human or fallen angel; Because they have become like the one they follow.
This war is not just a war between two sides. It is a war where Satan, who has become the father of evil, uses all kinds of evil methods against all who might oppose him. Let's remind ourselves what he will do to the people of God at the end of the world:
It is true, Satan is a murderer and the father of evil. He will use any kind of evil to anyone who might oppose him!
So, the wicked will be completely destroyed, as described in the Bible to bring happiness back into the Universe that God has created.