In our last study, we were examining “Why” questions such as “Why does God allow so much tragedy in the world?”  “Why does he allow wicked men to get away with it?”  “Why do bad things happen to good (God’s) people?”

In examining this topic, we first returned to the beginning, considering the story of Adam and Isha.  We found that God originally protected Adam so that he would have never known the difference between good and evil or calamity.  However, he gave Adam a choice, putting a poison fruit in the garden on a tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Calamity.)  Although it would have seemed easy not to ever eat of this fruit, God wanted Adam to be able to prove his love for God in some way, and so this tree was given so that Adam’s love for God could always be a choice.

Then we learned how the Shining One came into the picture and tricked Adam’s wife Isha into eating the fruit.  Then we saw how Adam chose to eat the fruit as well in an attempted suicide.  So we learned that the mess our world is in and all the problems we face were not in God’s plan, but are a result of the rebellion and disobedience of Adam and Isha.

The second thing we need to realize in connection with the “Why” question is that God will indeed fix the world up someday.  God could indeed save us from our own folly, and the Bible teaches that that is exactly what He will do.

In writing on this some time ago I compiled a list of relevant verses that I will repeat here.  Read the following verses and see what plans God has for our world in the future!

“He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.”    Psalm 9:8
“Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”    Acts 17:31
“Arise, O God, judge the earth; For You shall inherit all nations.”    Psalm 82:8
“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.”    Psalm 46:9
“The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”    Isaiah 40:5
“All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You.”    Psalm 22:27
“I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.”    Joel 2:28 (quoted in Acts 2:17)
“But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”    Psalm 37:11
“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.”    Isaiah 11:9
“I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water.”    Isaiah 41:18
“And the inhabitant will not say, ‘I am sick’; The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.”    Isaiah 33:24
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.”    Isaiah 30:21

These verses tell us of a future day when God will indeed reverse the effects of sin and death on our world.  No more will there be wars.  No more will men be sick.  No more will there be deserts and lack of water and other problems on earth caused by sin and the flood.  No more will violent and wicked men rule the earth.  All will know God.  His knowledge will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.  The sea in the Hebrew mind meant not necessarily the water but rather the bowl in which the water was held.  Thus we can imagine how deeply the waters cover the sea.  There is basically nowhere you can go in the sea where the waters do not cover it.  And imagine the earth filled with the knowledge of the LORD like this!  And perhaps most wonderful of all, the voice from God directing us where to go in every step we take.  What a wonderful future prediction this is for our earth!

I believe that Paul saw this wonderful future for our earth.  In II Corinthians 12:1-2 he tells us how he was caught up and saw the third heaven.  But then he goes on in verses 3-4 to tell us how he was caught up to another place.  We read, “And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of it I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up to Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”

This term Paradise is always used I believe for the future world that God will create on the earth.  Thus Paul tells us that after being caught up to the third heaven he was caught up into the future Earth and saw all the glorious things that will exist there and heard things which he was not allowed to tell.  And I believe that it is in light of this vision that he speaks in another verse.

In Romans 8:18, a book written after II Corinthians and after Paul saw the third heaven and the future earth, he tells us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Paul saw what our future would be like, and he claims that our sufferings are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that is coming!

Now one might question if Paul really knew what he was talking about.  Could he really have suffered as much as I have, one might wonder?  Can he possibly know what I’m going through and the terrible things so many on Earth have experienced?  Well, I believe that God chose the perfect person in Paul to make a statement like this because in many ways I believe that Paul suffered more than most of us could imagine!  Look at the list of terrible things Paul says he went through in II Corinthians 11:23-30.

“Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I am not weak?  Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?  If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”

What a terrible list of events this is!  Paul did indeed suffer many tragedies and much pain in his life and his ministry.  And II Corinthians is not even one of his later books!  Think how much more he went through even after this.  Yet it is this same man who tells us by the Holy Spirit that these sufferings aren’t even worthy to be compared with the glory that is coming!

Have you ever done something you really didn’t want to do just because you were looking forward to the reward you would receive at the end?  Something that you normally would never want to do, but because you were anticipating what you’d get for it you did it gladly?  That’s kind of what Paul is saying here.  The reward that he knows he will receive is so wonderful that even these sufferings he was going through seem like nothing when he looks at them as something he has to do to get the reward that he knows is coming at the end.

So that is another thing we must remember in answering this “why” question…that no matter how bad things may seem here, it is nothing compared to the glorious future that God has planned.  And no matter what we may suffer here, there is nothing we can go through that won’t be more than made up for in the life that is to come.  God sees that end, that goal, and He knows that every injustice now and every wrong that we suffer will be made right.

So now we have looked at the distant past 6,000 years ago and seen why we are in this mess in the first place.  We have looked ahead at the future and seen what God has planned for us in the end.  But then we come to the question as to why there is so much time in between?  Why didn’t God just bring about His goal right away?  If He could forgive Adam and Isha, why didn’t He just restore them to sinlessness and take away their sinfulness right then?  As Mr. Otis Q. Sellers has said on the subject, “It hardly needs to be said that it is not at all strange that God will some day put forth His power to bring about the victory of good.  It is what you would do if you were God.  It is what I would do if I were God.  It is no mystery at all that He will do this.  THE GREAT MYSTERY IS THAT HE DELAYS SO LONG.”

This is very true.  And so we wonder, why does God wait so long?  Why doesn’t He act now to stop the evil that there is in the world and bring an end to it?

Adam and Eve must have seen no reason for God to wait either.  Eve was anxious to see their redemption, and so when she brought forth her first child, a boy, she thought that this must be it!  “’I have gotten a man from the LORD,’” she said.  And remembering God’s promise to redeem them from the mess that Satan had gotten them in, she called his name Cain.  “Cain” means “Acquisition,” and was her way of saying she thought she would acquire salvation through this boy she had.  Probably she remembered how Adam had pleased God when he changed her name from Isha to Eve, and she thought she would please God too by believing Him and calling her son Cain.  But how disappointed she must have been when, instead of being God’s Chosen One to redeem her and Adam, this boy she brought forth instead rebelled against God and killed his own brother Abel!

Surely Eve in that time long ago could not have conceived of 6,000 years of sin and death that have happened since that time.  She thought that their salvation would come soon, any day!  But there was one big problem with that.

You see, there are two sides to God.  And as much as they wanted to receive God’s mercy and grace to save them from the mess they had gotten in, that could never happen until His other side was satisfied.

I like to compare these two sides of God to the two poles on a magnet.  All magnets that have ever existed have two poles, a north and a south pole.  No matter how thin you slice a magnet, all the pieces of it will always have these same two poles, a north and a south.  No scientist has ever been able to figure out a way to isolate the one from the other, and indeed there probably is no way, for the two go together.  Yet at the same time the two are very different.  If you have ever tried to force the two north sides of a magnet together, you will know that they will resist you with all their strength.  At the same time, if you place a north with a south pole, they will attract each other, and will clamp themselves together so that you will have trouble getting them apart again.  Because of this, you can never fail to notice that the two sides of a magnet are different, and you can always tell which sides go together and which don’t.

The two sides of God are the same way.  Although very different and resulting in very different effects, they are nevertheless essential to God and always exist in Him no matter what.  These two sides of God, these two polar opposites, are God’s government and God’s grace.

God’s government is His justice and judgment.  When God’s government acts, people will always get what they deserve, no more, no less.  God’s government is always fair, always right, always repays sin, always rewards righteousness.

God’s grace is His love, forgiveness, and mercy.  When God’s grace acts, people always get blessings that they don’t by any means deserve.  God’s grace is always lenient, always giving, works in spite of sin, and offers righteousness to the ungodly.

These are the two opposite sides of God.  When one is working, the other must remain silent.  For these two cannot work at the same time.  Yet when God works, both must be satisfied.  Thus we see why God could not just forgive Adam and Eve and give them back their sinless perfection and eternal life right away.  Although that would have been very loving and gracious of Him, it would not have satisfied His government side.  Adam and Eve had sinned, and they did not deserve grace, but rather the righteous penalty of death.

This is why God couldn’t make everything right in the past.  In order for Him to do that, He would have had to do one of two things.  He could have ignored justice.  Although Adam and Eve knew the penalty for sin was death, He could have told them that He changed His mind and He was going to let them live after all.  God would never do this.  He is the righteous Judge, and for Him to ignore Adam and Eve’s sin without worrying about the righteous penalty that they had to pay would have been unjust.  God could not forgive Adam and Eve unless He first in some way paid for their sin.  The other thing that God could have done to make everything right would have been to exact justice.  Unfortunately, that would have meant letting Adam and Eve die and ending any possibility for the human race, including you and me, to ever exist!  This would not have been gracious, and would have been contrary to God’s love and mercy.

So instead of doing either one of these things, God decided to wait until our penalty for sin could be paid some other way than by their deaths.  And we know what that one way was…the only way that our sin could possibly have been paid for.  That is that He took the penalty for our sin Himself.  He died for us, and His death paid the penalty, not only for the sins of Adam and Eve, but also for our sins as well.

So that is why God couldn’t just redeem Adam and Eve right then.  He had to wait for the right time for Christ to suffer and die for us.  But now we know that Christ HAS died for us.  And He rose again so that we could live an eternal life.  So why is our world still so messed up?  Why didn’t God put an end to all our problem now that He had the chance?  Why did He instead appear to forget all about us?  This is the question we will examine in our next study.

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