God keeps bringing the same theme up in my spirit. I’ll try to make some sense of it… because He’s most likely bringing up similar themes for you, too. We are all moving into a very interesting season. If He goes before us (and He does), then He is already there in the future, leaving signs for us and preparing us even now for whatever the future holds.
The other day I received an email from my daughter’s English teacher. Her teacher wanted all the parents to know that soon and very soon, they will be immersed in the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel. “Recommended reading for all of humanity,” said Oprah about this book. Elie, when he was a teenager, lived through the Holocaust in Europe. Survived the concentration camps. The murder of his family and friends. The starvation. The abuse and humiliation. And lived for years with survivor’s guilt because of it. His main question, which forms throughout ‘Night,’ is one that each person must grapple with. If God is good, how can He allow such atrocities? How?
Look around. Christians, Jews and Muslims are being slaughtered by Islamic terrorists. Anti-semitism might be in check for the moment in France, but in 2014 Israel received more French Jews making aliyah than from any other country. Anti-semitic tweets from UK government higher-ups are being exposed and decried. Anti-semitism is running rampant on US college campuses. Even the Church – participating in BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) against Israeli products – is participating in a thinly veiled anti-semitism. Oh God have mercy. Do we not know? “For thus said the Lord of hosts, after His glory sent me to the nations who plundered you (Israel), for he who touches you (Israel) touches the apple of His eye…” (Zechariah 2:8 ESV) I sure as heck don’t want to be the one poking God in the eyeball.
So, then, back to Elie’s question. If God is good, how can He allow such atrocities? There are a couple of issues present that the Church at large doesn’t really talk about much. Sin is a big one. Justice is another. Yes, God is good. All the time. And He is sovereign. All the time.
Jesus paid for the penalty of sin (everlasting life in a lake of fire), the power of sin (sin no longer has the authority on its own to rule me. I break its authority through repentance; conversely, I give sin authority when I refuse to repent), and ultimately the presence of sin. When Father brings the New Heaven and the New Earth, all tears will be wiped away and the presence of sin will be no more. Even though sin and death were defeated at the cross, when I sin, I still reap the consequences of that sin. As a preschool teacher, I know which of my little students have no consequences at home and which of my little students do. Consequences are a blessing. Consequences are a loving tool God uses to discipline me and correct me. If He didn’t love me, I would have no consequences for my bad behavior. My sin.
God is sovereign, yes, but He is so NOT in control of my will. He has the power to be. He has the authority to be. But He chooses to limit Himself toward me. Because He wants love from me, not robotic obedience. If I were a robot and had no free will, I would have no true love for Father. And His love would be more akin to rape. But I am not a robot. God wants me to conform my will to His, but it’s my choice. He gives me the freedom to choose for Him, and He gives me the freedom to choose against Him. Because loving Him, learning to love Him, knowing Him, relationship, is what He truly wants with me.
So if I look at our nation and the ways we have abandoned our First Love, I also have to accept the consequences of our adultery as a nation, toward our First Love. Only two nations in the history of humanity have covenanted with God Almighty upon their inception: ancient Israel and The United States of America. I see what happened when Israel left her covenant relationship with God (just read through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel). And I can expect the same because America has left her covenant relationship with God. Natural fall-out from sin.
I do not believe sin was necessarily the main issue for Mr. Wiesel, though. Remember, sin was one issue. Justice is another. God’s Throne sits on righteousness and justice (Psalm 89:14). If I have done nothing to provoke the enemy, and the enemy comes in and does what he does (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10a ESV)), then I have every right to ask Father, the Just Judge of the Universe, for justice on my behalf, and to expect just settlement and punitive damages, up to 7 times the amount stolen from me (And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily…” (Luke 18:7, 8 ESV).
During World War II, 6 million Jews were slaughtered by our enemy, the dragon of old. Hitler was coming into power in Germany in the early 1930s, and was in full-fledged war with the free world by late 1939. The US entered the scene in 1941 with the attack on Pearl Harbor. By then, though, God’s ancient people, the Jewish people, had been gathered and sent to their deaths. Horrible, horrible uninvited evil. War ended in 1945 with the atomic bomb and Hitler’s suicide. And then, only three years later, Justice for the remnant. In May of 1948, the nation of Israel, after almost 2500 years in diaspora, came back to their ancient lands. To their own Land. “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.” (Isaiah 66:8 ESV)
The issue we all must settle in our hearts is the issue of whether God is good. Can we trust His Justice. Or not. As we see evil intensifying, as we see our national leadership aligning with intents opposite of Father, this issue will become prominent. My prayer is that you will settle in your heart His Goodness. His Justice. His Righteousness. No matter what we see, no matter if 1000 fall at our side, and 10,000 at our right hand (from Psalm 91), my prayer is that His Goodness settles in your heart first. And that as we reap the consequences of sin in our land, and also ask God for justice for our families, that His Goodness will prevail. His Light will penetrate the darkness here. America will turn her heart back toward the Lover of Her Soul.