Isaiah 5:1–6:13, Luke 1:67–2:21, Job 2:1–10
Yesterday I shared how my mother had such an attitude of acceptance and belief in the sovereignty of God that whenever the weather turned sour, the government seemed unwise, or other bad things happened, she would say, “We must need it or we wouldn’t be getting it.” The person I was talking to said, “Then we must need this drought we are having in California.”
The sovereignty of God is a difficult concept for anyone, never mind those experiencing hardship. I didn’t know what to say other than there will be some good come out of it. My hubby kindly said that people were practicing water conversation, and that was a good thing.
In thinking about God’s power to control the weather, today’s OT reading made me smile. Even though the passage is about the sovereign power of God in judgment, I am comforted to think about His control of everything, including the elements.
“And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.” (Isaiah 5:5–6)
Lack of rain means loss of prosperity for some people. Right now, what God said would happen in ancient Israel, so it seems to be happening in modern California and other parts of the world, even this verse also: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.” (Isaiah 5:9)
Is this OT judgment valid today? Can the lack of rain and loss of prosperity be a judgment? It could be. The things God said back then certainly describe some of what is happening today, such as . . . “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands . . . . Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:11-12, 20)
However, I’m fully aware that I need to be careful in attempting to discern why bad things happen. Job’s situation is my warning. A spiritual battle started when the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”
And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (Job 2:3–6)
Job never heard that conversation. Neither did his wife or his friends. Job’s wife was the first to misunderstand what was happening. She said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:9–10)
Throughout the story, Job’s friends insisted that Job must have sinned and this is why such horrors happened to him. In their minds, all disasters were judgment, but they were wrong. Who can know what God is doing!
As I read the NT passage about the birth of Jesus Christ, His life stands out as the ultimate proof of what seems bad might be good. Jesus was sinless and crucified without cause, which seems a terrible injustice and tragedy. But God had His reason. His death was a judgment on sin; that is, sin is so serious a matter that God the Son had to pay its penalty. But this is not the whole story; His death means forgiveness and eternal life for those who would believe. Even as He was born, the angels declared that His arrival would mean great good . . .
Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13–14)
When sinners call evil good and good evil, we are giving a thumbs up to sin as well as condemning God’s ways. However, when God uses ‘evil’ for good, He is revealing His power and goodness, even when He uses ‘evil’ as His judgment on our sin.