Ezekiel 14:1–15:8, Revelation 5:1–14, Job 33:29–33
There are floods in the Carolinas, shootings in Oregon, bombing in Syria, massive pileups on freeways, our neighbor is suddenly killed, children have cancer, people are murdered, the world if filled with violence and sorrow. Many people refuse to trust God. “How can He allow all these things?”
In the OT, God brought disaster on His people to judge them for their sin. I cannot say this is the reason for the trials and struggles of today, but am comforted to read that one day I will see and understand what He is doing.
God was judging His people because of the seriousness of their sin. He pointed to three righteous men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, saying if they were there, they would be spared, but no one else. Then He told Ezekiel: “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold, when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They will console you, when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 14:21–23)
All that I can think from that is when it was all over, the prophet would understand because God would show him the seriousness of their sin. Again, the disasters of today may or may not be evidence of God’s wrath, but that is not my point. I am touched and relieved that God will make known the motivations and reasons behind things that happen. I don’t have a clue now, but someday He will show me.
Job’s young friend Elihu jumped the gun. He looked at the disasters that befell Job and figured the older man had sinned, was not confessing it, and God was disciplining him. He rashly said, “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have any words, answer me; speak, for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” (Job 33:29–33)
God was not doing that at all. He was proving Job’s faith and had not shown even Job the reasons for his troubles, never mind showing it to his ‘friends.’ They had jumped to conclusions based on the idea that if life is going well, God is blessing us, but if not, He is angry at our sin. The point is, what does mere man know about the motivations of God?
In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John wrote about being taken upward to see a vision of the Lord, seated on a throne holding “a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.” A mighty angel shouted, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or see what was on it. John began to weep, but was told, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
John then saw “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” who “took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.” At that, those present sang a new song: “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:1–10)
They were joined by “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands” angels who said, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Then “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them” said, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” (Revelation 5:11–14)
Reading these passages one after the other put my heart in an awesome place of submission to Almighty God. He hides what I do not need to know and reveals what I do need to know. This is not about what, where, when or even why. It is about Who — Who is in control, the One who makes no mistakes, the One who is worthy, the One whom I worship, not because I understand His working in the world, but because He has shown me enough about Himself that I can totally trust Him.