It is the first intellectual reason that people use to crucify God. Scottish skeptic David Hume explains the case this way:
“Does he intend to prevent evil and is not able? Then he is helpless. Can he not and does not want? Then he is malicious. Is it both ability and will? From where then evil?”
Hume was certainly not alone in his thinking. Nobody seems to have a problem with having a god ensuring that only good things happen, but almost everyone suffocates the idea that God and bad things can coexist.
However, the Bible says otherwise in an unapologetic way. And it does so for a good reason.
While I previously published two articles on the topic of Theodosian, one on the Biblical answer to God and evil and the other on Jesus’ teachings on this topic, there are two specific biblical clues related to the problem that helped me understand why. The Bible takes the position it does.
Compatibility and purpose
The first key concerns understanding how God’s sovereignty and providence corresponds to human freedom. This brings us to the word compatibility.
Compatibility, by definition, refers to actions involving two or more parties that take place in parallel with each other. Usually these actions are different from each other (i.e. the role of one of the parties involved is not the same as that of the other party), but they usually coincide at some point in order to obtain an end result.
The second key is the purpose, and while I’m sure you know what it means, let’s define it anyway. The purpose includes the reason for which something is being done; It includes the desired intention and purpose.
When it comes to God and evil, compatibility and purpose involve, God willing, a good end result that most of the time includes a series of events that are freely and willingly executed by his creation. An important difference to understand is that while God has a good purpose for this chain of events, the people who carry it out can have bad purposes in their hearts and hope for a sinister end result.
Let’s look at two biblical examples of this in practice, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament.
It all started with a coat
What can go wrong when a spotted father gives his favorite son a colorful coat that the rest of his kids don’t have? It turns out, a lot.
Genesis 37-50 chronicles the life of Joseph, a child of Israel. After criticizing his brothers, obtaining a special coat from his father, and passing on some of the prophetic dreams he received from God to his family, Joseph’s life takes a steep decline and he ends up in Hell on Earth.
His brothers try to kill him, but end up selling him to a slave trader who takes him to Egypt, where he is sold to an Egyptian officer who ends up accusing Joseph of wrongly attempting to rape. From there, he languished in prison for years.
Talk about the bad things that happen to good people. You don’t think Joseph was looking up at the sky from time to time and thinking, “What the hell is this?”
If you know the story, you know that Joseph’s fortunes changed after that to the point that he became second in command over all of Egypt and ended up saving his father and brothers from actual hunger. As soon as the dust subsided, we got from Joseph’s lips one of the most brief statements of compatibility and purpose in the Bible: “As for you [his brothers], you intended evil against me, but God intended it for good in order to bring about this present consequence, to preserve many People are alive “(Genesis 50:20).
In other words, while Joseph’s brothers were carrying out their deeds freely intending to harm Joseph, God was working with sovereignty to see that his good purpose had been fulfilled.
It all began in the eternal past
The Bible tells us that God intended in eternity for Jesus to come and be the Savior of the world he created: “He who saved us and called us with a holy call, not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace, who was granted to us in Christ Jesus from eternity” (1 Timothy 1: 9).
However, it appears that from the moment Jesus took his first step in ministry, he was persecuted and persecuted persistently by evil men who wanted to kill him. People whose evil actions and purpose were consistent with God’s good deeds and purpose, and the end result was the killing of Jesus, which the religious leaders wanted, the substitute sacrifice of Christ for us and the resurrection that God wanted.
There was clearly a dispute of intent between God and those who willingly carried out the killing of Christ. Peter embodies this thought well in the Book of Acts when he says: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man who God has witnessed to you of signs, wonders and miracles that God made through him in your midst, just like you. You know – this man, whom you received a plan. God, predetermined and foreknowledge, nailed to the cross at the hands of unbelieving men and killed him ”(Acts 2: 22-23).
Often times – as in the case of Joseph – it takes years to see God’s plan unfold and overcome all the pain and suffering that has occurred. Other times, it takes only three days to witness God’s victory over evil. Whatever the time frame – even if it is in the next life – we can trust God to bring himself glory by showing how he always overcomes evil.
Work together for good
I bet you quoted more than once in Romans 8 from Paul’s famous phrase: “And we know that God makes all things work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). “All things” can certainly include bad things, but whether good or bad, God always fulfills His good purpose.
Sure, it might not be the case sometimes, and so we implore God to put an end to the problems we are experiencing. However, we must bear in mind a point made by CS Lewis: “Suppose what you are facing is a surgeon of perfectly good intentions. The more kind and conscientious he is, the more he continues to cut. If he responds to your pleas, and if he stops before the operation is complete, then all the pain will be until That moment is useless. ”
Understanding the concepts of compatibility and purpose helps put the cause of God and evil into proper perspective. It reminds us that no matter what happens, God is absolutely in control and brings us a good end result, just as the Bible says, “The Lord has made everything for his purpose, even the wicked for the day of the wicked.” (Proverbs 4:16).