Seeing God's Gracious Hand in the
Hurts Others Do to Us
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- The author
tells the story of Elie Weisel, as told in Weisel's book "Night"....
Weisel was a holocaust survivor and the book tells of his absolutely horrific
experiences - - - and the author's conclusion was that human brutality to other
humans shattered Weisel's faith in God.
- Open theists say - God is not responsible for
this evil because he gave us freedom and he can't interfere with that freedom -
- so, blame the people but you can't blame God.....
- But - - God can't be sovereign and not
responsible for everything that happens - - evil evil....
- And - - God doesn't want to be let off the hook
- - He put himself on the hook at the Cross...
The God of the Bible
- God never does evil.
- Yet - - God can and does create,
send, permit or even move others to evil, for Scripture is clear that nothing
arises, exists or endures independently of God's will.
- Ephesians 1:11 - 11In him we were also chosen,
having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything
in conformity with the purpose of his will,
- God can manage to turn
the evil aspects of our world for His glory:
- Exodus 9:13-16 - 13 Then the LORD said to Moses,
"Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is
what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may
worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against
you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is
no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could
have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that
would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very
purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in
all the earth.
- John 9:3 - 3"Neither this man nor his
parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened
so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
- God can manage to turn
the evil aspects of our world for His people's good:
- Hebrews 12:3-11 - 3Consider him who endured such
opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4In
your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding
your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses
you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do
not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he
loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 7Endure hardship as
discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his
father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then
you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had
human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more
should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers
disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his
holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on,
however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have
been trained by it.
- James 1:2-4 -Trials and Temptations - 2Consider
it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you
know that the testing of your faith develops
perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.
- Nothing that exists or occurs
falls outside God's ordaining will.....Nothing - including no evil person or
thing or event or deed
- Isaiah 45:7 - 7 I form the light and create
darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the
LORD, do all these things.
- God can send
- I Samuel 16:14-23 - David in Saul's Service -
-14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. 15
Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting
you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can
play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and
you will feel better." 17 So Saul said to his attendants, "Find
someone who plays well and bring him to me." 18 One of the servants
answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play
the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking
man. And the LORD is with him." 19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and
said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." 20 So Jesse
took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them
with his son David to Saul. 21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul
liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul
sent word to Jesse, saying, "Allow David to remain in my service, for I am
pleased with him." 23 Whenever the spirit from God
came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to
Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
- God sent angels to destroy Sodom &
Gomorrah (Genesis 19)
- God sent 10 Plagues (Exodus 7-12)
- He sent poisonous snakes to grumbling
Israelites (Numbers 21:6)
- He sent a pestilence on Israel that killed
70,000 men (2 Samuel 24)
- God sent foreign peoples against Judah to
destroy it because of Manasseh's sin (2 Kings 24)
- God sends Assyria against godless Judah
- God sent a plague to Assyrians soldiers -
- God can send
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11 - 11For this reason
God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will
believe the lie
- God permits others to
- like satan - Job 1:12 - 12 The LORD said to
Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in
your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
- other nations - Acts 14:16 - 16In the past, he let all nations go their own way.
- like those who killed Jesus - Acts 4:24-28 -
24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God.
"Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth
and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the
mouth of your servant, our father David: " 'Why do the nations rage and
the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the
rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles
and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant
Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided
beforehand should happen.
- God moves others to do evil
- Isaiah 19:2 - 2 "I will stir up Egyptian
against Egyptian brother will fight against brother, neighbor against
neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.
- 2 Samuel 24:1 1 Again the anger of the LORD
burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and
take a census of Israel and Judah."
- Nothing - no evil thing or
person or event or deed - falls outside God's ordaining will......Nothing
arises, exists or endures independently of God's will. So when even the worst
of evils befall us, they do not ultimately come from anywhere other than God's
- So, if all happens within the
will of God - - are humans responsible for their actions?
- Romans 1:18 - 18The wrath
of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness
of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness
- Romans 2:5-12 - 5But because of your
stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing
up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous
judgment will be revealed. 6God "will give to each person according to
what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek
glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are
self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and
anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:
first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for
everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does
not show favoritism.
- Romans 3:11-18 - "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who
understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have
together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips." 14"Their mouths are
full of cursing and bitterness." 15"Their feet are swift to shed
blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not
know." 18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
- Neither God's foreknowledge or
foreordaining of all things, including all human choices and acts, preclude
- Acts 2:22-23 - 22"Men of Israel, listen to
this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders
and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and
foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by
nailing him to the cross.
- The response? an overwhelming sense of
responsibility - - Acts 2:37-38 - 37When the people heard this,
they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the
other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38Peter replied,
"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for
the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Choosing and
- Scripture clearly states we have "freedom of choice" as evidenced by
the following verses where our choices and their consequences are
- Deuteronomy 30:19 - 19 This day I call heaven
and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death,
blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may
- Proverbs 1:29 - 29 Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the LORD.......
- Proverbs 3:31 -31 Do not envy a violent man or
choose any of his ways,
- Isaiah 56:4 - 4 For this is what the LORD says:
"To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold
fast to my covenant-
- Luke 10:41-43 - 41"Martha, Martha,"
the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42but
only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be
taken away from her."
- Other Scripture presupposes our
freedom of choice but doesnt explicitly state we have freedom of choice:
- Leviticus 19:4 - 4 " 'Do not turn to idols
or make gods of cast metal for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.
- Psalm 85:8 - 8 I will listen to what God the
LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints but let them
not return to folly.
- Proverbs 4:20-26 - 20 My son, pay attention to
what I say; listen closely to my words. 21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart; 22 for they are life to those who find them and
health to a man's whole body. 23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is
the wellspring of life. 24 Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt
talk far from your lips. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze
directly before you. 26 Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that
- John 12:35 - 35Then Jesus told them, "You
are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the
light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not
know where he is going.
- 1 John 1:5-7 -Walking in the light- 5This is
the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him
there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk
in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the
light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the
blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
- Galatians 5:16-25 - 16So I say, live by the
Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the
sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is
contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that
you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not
under law. 19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,
impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy,
fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness,
orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like
this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and
self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ
Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since
we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
- Proverbs 3:7 - 7 Do not be wise in your own
eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. Proverbs 4:14-16 Listen to this passage 14
Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. 15
Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16 For they
cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make
- So - - our freedom to
choose, along with our responsibility, is affirmed throughout Scripture.
However, Scripture emphatically denies that we possess the ability to remain
slaves to sin or become bondservants of righteousness. Scripture - and
especially the New Testament - drives home the fact that each and every one of
us is either still dominated by sin or has been set free by God to live a life
- Romans 6:16-19 - 16Don't you know that when you
offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one
whom you obeywhether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to
obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though
you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to
which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become
slaves to righteousness. 19I put this in human terms because you are weak in
your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in
slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in
slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
- 2 Peter 2:19 - 19They promise them freedom,
while they themselves are slaves of depravityfor a man is a slave to
whatever has mastered him.
- Ephesians 2:1-3 - Made Alive in Christ- 1As for
you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live
when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the
air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us
also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature
and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature
objects of wrath.
- Colossians 2:13 - 13When you were dead in your
sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with
Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
- John 8:34 - 34Jesus replied, "I tell you
the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
- John 8:36 - 36So if the Son sets you free, you
will be free indeed.
- Romans 6:17 - 17But thanks be to God that,
though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of
teaching to which you were entrusted.
- And, therefore, - - it is
neither "up to us" nor is it "in us" to choose whether we
will remain slaves to sin or become bondservamts to righteousness.
- John 6:44 -44"No one can come to me unless
the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
- So - it is only after God
has regenerated us that we possess true freedom of will, for it is only after
our spiritual rebirth that we are able through the power of God's Spirit living
within us to choose anything other than sin.
- Joseph's Story
- Genesis 45:4-11 - 4 Then Joseph said to his
brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I
am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be
distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here,
because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of
you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next
five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of
you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great
deliverance. 8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made
me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all
Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, 'This is what your
son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't
delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near meyou, your
children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will
provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come.
Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become
- Genesis 50:20 - 20 You intended to harm me, but
God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of
- It is clear - - Scripture
considers compatible with the claim that God ordained their choosing to do what
they did. God ordained Joseph's brothers evil willings, but as part of a
- Job's Story
- Job claimed God had a sovereign, ordaining hand
in the evils that Job encountered. God did not do these evils; satan did... But
the evils that satan did, he did with God's permission. satan did these things
to harm Job, but Go ordained them for his own glory and ultimately for Job's
- God foreordains what humans
choose. God is never absent or inactive when humans beings hurt each other or
themselves. Jesus holds each and every aspect of creation, including all evil,
in his hands so that He may carry it to where it accomplishes exactly what he
wants. The Lord's crucifixion is the supreme instance of how God ordains real
evil for His own glory and His children's good.
- God's will and
- The fact that God has ordained everything,
including our free choices, does not remove or lessen our responsibility, our
guilt, or our liability to be punished for our sins.
- Galatians 6:7 - 7Do not be deceived: God cannot
be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
- The biblical view is: God has
ordained or willed or planned everything that happens in our world from before
creation, from before time began. God is the primary agent - the primary cause,
the final and ultimate explanation - of everything that happens, yet the casual
relationship between God and his creatures is that his having foreordained
everything is compatible with - - and takes nothing away from - our
- How can this be? The author states we cannot
understand how these things can be....
- No one suffers anything at
anyone else's hand without God having ordained that suffering.
- Psalm 139:4-6 - 4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me inbehind and before; you
have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too
lofty for me to attain.
- We can be sure that when we hurt each other, the
God who has made us in His image is watching and will call us into account.
Even though He ordains all of our sinful choices, those sinful choices still
coount, and we are held responsible for them. Take Joseph Mengele, who pointed
his baton to direct Jewish prisoners to immediate death in thegas chambers or
to forced labor camps - - but God will not allow the blood of Mengel's victims
to cryout forever- God will bring Mengele to justice - - God will avenge
innocent blood by punishing Mengele.....for eternity...
- In Romans 8:28 - we can be
assured that even the worst of our suffering will someday be revealed to be an
integral part of all the good that is ours in Christ!
- So would anyone in their right mind say the
following- - No!:
- Would I tell someone who has been sexually
abused as a child, how God means that evil for her good? May it never be...But,
the author says "I know some men and womenwho have found their ownabuse to
be God's gift...."
- The mystery of why God has
ordained the evils he has is as deep as the mysteries of the evil in our own
- It is not always our place to
attempt to give an answer to those who are questioning God's goodness because
the evils that others have done to them or that they have done to themselves;
sometimes we should just stand silently by their sides. Moreover, we will not
always,rightnow,have these answers for ourselves. But, in glory the answers
will be clear.....
- Psalm 30:5 - 5 For his anger lasts only a
moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but
rejoicing comes in the morning.
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