When God does not restrain evil
I just returned from a ministry conference in the Chicago area. During my trip I traveled in and out of the two busiest airports (O’Hare & L.A. International) in the world, purchase which seemed uncharacteristically calm and silent in the wake of the terrorist attack on our country. What a contrast these last few days have been for us all, sales remedy and what a contrast between the message those terrorists left on September 11th, and the one Jesus, the Son of God, left two thousand years ago. The terrorists intentionally massacred innocent men, women, and children in order to attain for themselves a heavenly position, while Jesus gave up His life in order to bring all to heaven (John 19:17-18).
Why does God allow such evil men to exist, and why do they have the freedom to inflict such diabolical hurt and loss on others within the realm of God’s control? These questions are important for parents to answer for their children. Aside from our own questions, our children also want to know God’s role in such tragedies. It is vital that you give them a biblical perspective; if you do they will have no need to gain the world’s perspective which will not help their developing faith.
The Bible teaches a great deal about God’s allowance of seemingly uncontested evil. Although God has historically restrained evil (Exodus 14:13-14, 18), He has also tolerated it, and given it freedom to act out its intentions(Exodus 2:15-16, 22). It is impossible to fathom how many evil deeds and acts God thwarts every day, but be assured He does.
Your children may ask, “Why does God not stop every evil act?” Is it because He can’t keep up with the multiplication of evil? Of course the answer is “No.” God is infinitely greater than evil. (I John 4:4). Your children may ask, “Was God angry with those who died, were they bad people who deserved to die?” Once again the answer is “No,” because as we know now through the testimonies of others that many of the victims in this tragedy were dedicated Christians.
Was God angry with America’s spiritual decline; was this God’s wake up call? Perhaps, God has allowed evil in the past to spiritually wake His people up (2 Chronicles 29:9-10).
The overriding reason why God allows evil to succeed is due to a decision He made even before He created the angels and man. From the very beginning, it was never God’s intention to make spiritual robots out of His creation.
God gave His creation a capacity to be like Him, filled with a desire and will to be holy and loving like Himself(Genesis 1:27, Lev. 11:44). This God-given desire and choice began with the angels, and continued with man. Satan (God’s highest angel) was the first to choose his own lordship over God’s (Isaiah 14:12-13). Adam and Eve (first man and woman) were next. While fully enjoying all that God could give them in the Garden of Eden, they decided to make the choice to test God’s Lordship (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6). Because of the choice they made, inherent sin came into the world afflicting every man, woman, and child born. God would have been justified at this point to simply end creation, but God loved man so much He could not bear to destroy him. So He constructed a plan to recover man. And once again man’s choice would play a big part in the recovery. The salvation plan was simple; God would do all the work necessary to bring man back (Ephesians 2:8-9). He would send His Son to die for man’s sin (Romans 5:8). In addition, God would take full responsibility to set all the circumstances necessary to draw man back (John 6:43-44). Not one single work on man’s part would be required; only belief was necessary for his return (John 6:29). All man had to do was respond by repenting and believing. And if he found himself short even in this, he could call on God to help him with his lack of belief (Mark 9:24).
In light of this overwhelming salvation offer, God still allows man to make the final decision. Regretfully, many still reject the offer and maintain their own lordship and consequently afflict the world in which they live in. Terrorist actions are one of the extremes in this self-lordship choice. Therefore until every man, woman, and child created by God has that opportunity to respond to God and choose Him as Lord, evil will be allowed to show its head as it did recently.
Your children may want to know about those who innocently lost their lives in this tragedy. Did they have a chance to choose God? Tell them that the Bible teaches that God desires all men to be saved, and that His Son’s sacrifice on the cross covered every man’s sin (2 Cor. 5:15, 2 Tim. 3:3-4). Assure your children that God created every man, woman, and child born into this world in an atmosphere of love, purpose, and gives each an opportunity to respond and choose Him (Psalm 139:13,17- 18, Jeremiah 29:11, John 1:1,4,9). Assure your children that there are so many days given to each of us here on earth, and that whether we die of old age, or as a result of a plane crash, all live exactly as long as God has planned (Psalm 139:16). Finally, tell your children that God is in control; nothing catches Him by surprise. At the moment of the United and American airlines impact God was already at work(predestination) turning a tragedy into a triumph (Romans 8:28).
Take your children to a safe location where they can observe a busy street, highway or freeway. As they watch the cars race by, have them pick out at least one bad driver. Ask them to describe this bad driver. What made him/her so dangerous to others? Hopefully they will say things like, “The bad driver goes too fast, weaves in and out of traffic, and doesn’t really care about the safety of others. The bad driver only cares about his/her own needs.” Then ask your children to predict an outcome for this driver and the others around him/her. I believe your children will predict a horrible accident, one that could claim the lives of others. When they have finished making their comments compare the selfish interests of the driver to the terrorists that took the lives of so many this last week. The key is the self-interest, and uncaring self-lordship of both driver and terrorist. Tell them that those who do not know Christ as Savior will often put their own needs above others. In the extreme, even innocent men, women, and children will suffer.
So far, you have illustrated with your children the nature of what self-lordship and choice can do to others. Now you want to reveal the reason why God allows this. Share with your children how you and your husband/wife dated, fell in love, and finally married. It is your goal to highlight the necessity of your mate’s voluntary choice to return your love. Explain to your children that God likewise extends His love toward all men, but if His love is rejected He will not force His love on any. Those who turn His love down are left to their own vices. With only their own lordship to depend upon, they are capable of anything. Some may choose to live peaceful lives before they spend an eternity in hell, and others slam themselves into the World Trade Center. But God will not remove any of them because of their current deeds or future acts. They will only be removed when their predetermined life by God is completed, or when all of His creation has had the opportunity to return His love (Christ’s second coming).
John 19: 17-18 They took Jesus, bearing His own cross, and crucified Him
Exodus 14: 13-14, 18 13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lordwhich He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”18 “Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
Exodus 2:15-16, 22 15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives and said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death.” 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile.”
I John 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
2 Chronicles 29: 9-10 9 For behold, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. 10 Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord, that His burning anger may turn away from us.
Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Lev. 11:44 ‘For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.
Isaiah 14:12-13 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.
Genesis 2:16-17 16 The Lord commanded, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.”
Genesis 3:6 the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 5: 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
John 6 :43-44 43 Jesus answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day.
John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
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. 5:15 And He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
2 Timothy 3:3-4 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Psalm 139: 13, 16-18 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
John 1: 1, 4, 9 1: In the beginning was the Word 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
Psalm 139:16 And in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Romans 8 :28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.