God Is To Blame
All the evil, pain and suffering in the world come from God. He is to blame. He is responsible. We don’t do our enemies or the people who might be searching for God any favors by skirting around or avoiding the issue. We need to thoroughly understand how our God allows evil in the world and still be good. God doesn’t shy away from taking responsibility for all the pains in your life or the troubles you experience until death.
Ecclesiastes 1:13 – I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men!
If people would honestly take a moment to contemplate the condition of this world, they would have to say it’s very evil, and full of heavy burdens, and life is miserable. The world tries to grab on to entertainment and escape by drugs, drinking, or just having fun. People attempt to get out from the burden that God has laid upon all mankind. The more mankind tries to get out from underneath that burden the more sinful he becomes. God brings us burdens for a reason. Look at verse 13. “What a heavy burden God . . . .” It doesn’t say Satan puts a heavy burden on men.
A lot of people like to blame Satan for all the misery in the world, but Scripture doesn’t say that. “What a heavy burden God has laid on man.” The headaches I suffer from come from God. He allows and permits them; it’s the same thing.
If I knew that somebody would break into your house and murder your children, and I had the power to stop them, but just stood by and let it happen, would you say that I’m responsible for allowing that evil to do its work? Would you feel justified in attacking and saying, “Why didn’t you do anything?” And if I were to coolly not answer or just stand there and say, “Just trust me, I let this happen for a good reason,” but offered no real answer except just to have faith, wouldn’t your anger increase more and more?
But God doesn’t shy away from standing up before all of mankind and saying, “I’m the one who did it. I laid the heavy burden on you.” It was God who created the universe, it was God who created the earth, and it was God who put a tree in the Garden of Eden knowing that in the future Adam and Eve would sin. He who has the power to stop all things could think of no other arrangement. He knew from the beginning, before He created the world, that Jesus Christ would have to come and die for our sins. He knew we would sin.
God allowed, God permitted, God arranged, these things—however you want to look at it. The only conclusion we can come to is that God is ultimately responsible for the evil in the world. God accused Adam and Eve of doing wrong and told them that the ground would produce thorns and thistles and they would have to work and labor. It was God who turned to the woman and said, “You will now have more pain in childbirth.” God increased the pain. It was God who came along and said, “Now you can’t live forever. I banish you from the Garden of Eden.” It was God who said, “Your years will only go this far and then they’ll stop.” And God says in Scripture that He sends earthquakes and famines. Scripture says that God stirs up wars. It was God who certainly created hell.
God judges us for things He knows we’ll do that are evil, but does not stop us from doing those evil things. Even when we go into the prayer closet and say, “Lord, I don’t want to do those evil things,” God seems to stand back and make it difficult for us to lay hold of righteousness. He is a God who knows that we want righteousness and tells us we are saved, but we still have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He has laid the burden upon man and He claims the responsibility.
Ecclesiastes 1:13 – I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven.
The conclusion to all of this study is this, “What a heavy burden God has laid on man.” Why try to excuse God when God doesn’t excuse Himself?
We need to step up to the plate and say, “God, why would You do such a thing? You are responsible so why would I trust You in all of these things?”
Some people think that the book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but Job sets forth very plainly how God is responsible for the evil that happens in our life. After all it was God that sent Satan to earth. He could have sent him all the way to hell, but no, God stopped for a moment and sent Satan to earth to let him do his work. What a heavy burden God has laid upon man to have to battle Satan.
Job 1:1 – In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
God said that Job was a blameless and righteous man.
Job 1:2–6 – He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
I know many parents who have a hard time seeing any sins in their children and yet Job was so concerned with sin and not offending God that he was afraid his children they might have cursed God inside their hearts, so he offered a sacrifice to purify them in the middle of their feasting and drinking. Without a question, Job was a righteous man and by all appearances did not deserve anything that was about to happen in his life.
Job 1:6 – One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
So God was there with all the angels and Satan was with them. Satan wasn’t brazen enough to just stand up and speak to God. Satan wasn’t the one who said, “You know, I’ve got a question about Job.” Notice who brought up the conversation. Who initiated the evil that was to be unleashed upon Job’s life?
Job 1:7-8 – The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
Now God knew Satan’s thoughts. God knew that by phrasing the question where this would go, and God allowed Satan to unleash the evil in Job’s life—the pain and the burden. God is responsible. God is to blame. “Satan answered the Lord ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’”
In verse 8, again God stepped up to the plate: “Then the Lord said to Satan.” Satan wasn’t brazen enough to take the conversation to the next level, was he? God initiated the conversation. It was God who brought Satan closer to what He had in mind.
Job 1:8 – Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?”
God directed the conversation and the attention of Satan himself toward a blameless man. There is no one on earth like him, he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.
On the surface of things it appears God dialogued with Satan and man was a pawn used for God’s fun.
Job 1:9-11 – “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
God knew the heart of Job. God knew that Job would survive this trial and yet He unleashed the trial. Why couldn’t a God who is all-knowing and all-powerful just come down and bless the heart of Job and bypass letting Satan loose in his life?
Job 1:12 – The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
We know how the story unfolds. Would Job have been right in saying, “Why did You let Satan do this? Why did You instigate it? Why did You bring this misery and pain upon my life?” Job would have been extremely correct in his accusation toward God.
The burden in work, the decaying of our bodies, the things that we endure, the pain, the suffering—not to mention persecutions—and everything else that we go through, can be blamed and set unto the shoulders of the living God.
John 9:1 – As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.
We tend to think, “He was blind from birth. Something must have gone wrong somewhere. Surely this involves some sin.”
John 9:2 – His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Surely a cause and effect exists. This man would not just suffer needlessly like this. His parents must have sinned for God to discipline them and draw them to Himself. He allowed these things to happen in their son. Or perhaps the son sinned that it happened in the womb. We’re all sinners from the beginning; therefore he was born blind as judgment. We can handle that. We can handle that kind of God. That would seem fair wouldn’t it? You get what you deserve?
John 9:3 – “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
The pain and suffering in his life did not result from sin. It happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. God did this that He might someday come along and make the man see. But the whole process had to do with God glorifying Himself.
From our human perspective, it looks like God used this to bring attention to Himself. But the man that was born blind could have stood up and said, “I was blind just because God wanted to make me blind. The things I suffer, the things I endure, and the way I am made, are a direct result of God’s hand in my life. I can’t blame Satan and I can’t blame my parents. The living God who says He’s a God of love made me blind just so He could make me see.”
God takes the responsibility, let’s give it to Him.
Exodus 4:10 – Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
What is important for us today is verse 11.
Exodus 4:11 – The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”
Look at what God said, “Is it not I, the Lord?” I suffer from dyslexia. Who made me that way? Is it a result of some genetics, or something falling apart? The Lord made me that way. I would rather not be that way. I find it extremely difficult to memorize things. The Lord made me that way for whatever reason and He hasn’t offered me a reason as to why, except that He will glorify His name. The burden He laid on me comes from His hand.
Luke 13:10-11 – On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.
A demon bent this woman over. Doctors would call it some other name today, because they don’t want to say, “A demon is causing you to be bent over.”
Luke 13:12-14 – When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
They were off on peripheral issues. We want to go deeper than that issue today.
Luke 13:15-17 – The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
A woman of faith—the highest compliment that any of us as Christians can have in this world. Abraham was a friend of God. Jesus called her the daughter of Abraham and yet the daughter of Abraham had been bound up and bent over by Satan. Jesus said, “Whom Satan bound for eighteen long years.”
Where was God for the first eighteen years and why did He permit it in the first place? Why did God allow all of the years of pain and suffering that this woman had to endure while waiting for Jesus Christ to come? Just so she could be healed on the Sabbath and be persecuted by the Pharisees?
Luke 13:16 – . . . whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?
Whatever you’re experiencing in your life, whatever you experienced in the past, God allowed. At best He allowed it. He could have stopped it in an instant. In many of the things that we suffer we can understand that God allows free choice. He lets people do things. We can understand, “He allowed those things to happen,” but to contemplate that God would raise the issue with Satan that would send forth the demon is hard to understand. It’s one thing to say God allows the hurricanes and the turmoil, death, pains, sickness, and all the things that happen in our life, but to think He would send them directly at us, that’s a different kind of God to grasp. That’s a harder one to wrestle with, but that’s who our God is. He is to blame for the pain and suffering that you hurt over.
Cannot a God who created the universe stop auto accidents? Can He not stop accidents from happening in the world? He can; but He either turns a blind eye and lets them happen, or He sets into motion certain things that will cause them to happen. I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I do know this; He lets them happen, which, according to my logic, is the same thing. You might as well have committed the act.
Exodus 21:12 – Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.
“You couldn’t stop the killing? You allowed it? You permitted it? You saw it and You knew it would happen? Before the foundation of the world was laid, You’re telling me You knew, God? You knew that murder would take place and You did nothing to stop it?” God is ultimately responsible for the evil that occurs in the world.
Exodus 21:13 – However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
Look at what it says, “But God lets it happen.” God takes responsibility for the evil that goes on—for the accidents that take place. He could have stopped it. Indeed I daresay, many things He has stopped. But that’s not what we’re looking at today; we’re looking at the ones that He didn’t stop.
Do we have a good answer for people? Are we able to present this kind of God to them to confound them and answer their questions? Or do we run from this issue and do we run from the pain in our own lives? Do we just ignore it? Think about what happens when somebody dies. Everybody goes to the funeral and they all say he or she went to a better place. We live in complete denial of the heavy burden that God has laid on our backs. What absurd lies we believe.
Look at Amos 3:6.
Amos 3:6 – When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?
One effect causes another. The trumpet sounds, an alarm goes out, and people begin to tremble because they know disaster is coming upon the land. But look at what Amos said by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He declared to us the very words of God. This is God’s statement.
Amos 3:6, When disaster comes to a city…
Whether earthquake, war, destruction, famine, or whatever it might be:
Amos 3:6 – …has not the LORD caused it?
We’re way past permitting it. I can understand a God who says, “I will let man have free will and box him in a little bit. I’ll let a Hitler arise. I’ll allow some flooding over there and I’ll let certain things happen over here, but I’m not actively causing those things.” But that’s not what it says in Amos. It says, “When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it to happen?” If God is all-powerful and He permitted a Hitler, it is the same thing as causing it to happen because He could have stopped it from happening.
In Genesis 3:5, the serpent came along and impugned the character of God. The serpent asked all of these questions and raised concerns that we have about who God is. Satan said,
Genesis 3:5 – For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
We doubt God and have every cause to look at God and ask, “Why should I trust You? You put the tree here. You made the woman who sinned first, and You put me in this relationship. You formed us. You did all of these things and sin resulted. Why should I be blamed for how You made me, knowing what I would do?” Can’t an all-powerful God make my character so that I would choose to love Him without sinning?
I think the church is just dumb about its God because we don’t want to get in and wrestle with this kind of God. We don’t go in before Him to get answers, instead we hold this bitterness inside toward God. We’re not willing to go into the prayer closet and say to God, “What kind of God are You and why do You allow these sufferings in my life?” We hold these resentments deep down inside and so we never wind up trusting Him. But the person that says, “Okay God, I’m willing to debate and listen. I’m willing to be humble. What is all of this about?” To the degree that you’ve done that you’ve experienced grace and mercy, haven’t you? To the degree that you finally fell down and said, “I’m a sinner, I agree with what You say about me,” did you not receive forgiveness of sins? How much more then when we discover the hidden things of God, the wisdom in God’s heart?
I love this kind of God who is so complicated I can’t talk about Him. I can’t even find the words to frame the question. I just know He’s complicated. I just know He’s so far beyond all of our glories and joys that I cannot even envision it because I cannot even envision the question. I don’t care what Satan’s petty questions are, “Why does God allow this, and why does He allow that over there?” I’ve tasted of the Lord enough to know there is goodness behind all of this. He has a plan and a purpose that I cannot even fathom and I am willing to embrace the question. I’m willing to see the famine and the starvation in this world and all the grossness that occurs and say, “Okay God, You are responsible, now how does love fit?”
1 John 4:16 – And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
Love allows a Hitler to exist. Love allows an accident to take place. Love makes me toil the ground. Love puts pain in my life. Love framed me as I am with all of my weaknesses. Love has laid a heavy burden on my back and I want to hear from that love and I don’t have to have the answers.
Please understand when I say that. This is just joyful dialog with me. It isn’t like if I don’t get an answer today, or God won’t tell me, or the answer isn’t satisfactory to me, that I will be burdened because I didn’t get a good answer. I know there is nothing hidden in His character. I know there is no shadow or darkness. I know if there was some other way that God could have made the universe and put Adam and Eve on the earth, He would have done so because love would have done that.
And if there was some other way than to let an accident happen, God would have done that, but His love brings the wars, His love brought the black plague, His love brings things in our life and the sooner we embrace that love, the sooner we will experience that love.
We’re looking at things which we cannot fully understand. So I hope nobody comes to me about this sermon and says, “Well you didn’t answer this question. You didn’t make it clear.” I’m not even attempting to.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
We cannot fathom eternity, who God is, what He’s about, or why God does all of these things. But it’s fun trying. It’s a joy to engage the living God; to debate with Him.
When my children were young, we would have debates. They’re still younger than me and I’m still smarter than them, but I still enjoy the debates. I love it when they try. I love to lead them all the way to where they think they will win and then I come in with the trump card. I’m not trying to win points—we’re just fellowshipping, talking, and exploring wonders. We talk about ideas, the way God made us and so on. God calls us into His chambers and asks, “What do you have in mind?”
God has given us a lot to talk about, a lot to examine about who He is, and every time He unfolds a little bit more and a little bit more and our joy increases all the more. It’s no wonder in heaven they bow down and worship saying, “Holy, holy, holy” all the time, because they constantly discover new things about God. So I’m not ashamed of any issue, problem, or disaster that happens in someone’s life.
Isaiah 55:9 – As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God views evil in the world differently from the way we do. As the heavens are different higher than the earth, how can God try to explain to me who cannot even comprehend? In Isaiah, God said:
Isaiah 65:17 – Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
Now I want to move into a little bit of why God allows all these things to take place. Again I’m not telling you that I have all the answers. There’ll come a time when we will not remember the evil in this world. You’ll be up in heaven and at some point in time, earth won’t come to mind. You won’t even know that you forgot. There’s that certain point in time you’ll be thinking, “Oh yeah, I remember, that’s kind of fuzzy.” Then ten years later you won’t even remember that you forgot.
We have to look at everything in the context of eternity. If look at your suffering and pain, if look at the wars, famines, and all the destruction, from the context of eternity, the more that you back out from it the smaller and smaller it becomes—the less significant it becomes.
Do you remember when you were a small child and you bumped into the edge of the table and how you screamed and yelled? Do you remember that? No you don’t—unless some of you are awful big babies that need some therapy. You can’t remember all those pains of childhood. You don’t remember all the times you bumped into things and hurt yourself—you’ve forgotten it. In the same way, you’ll forget all of the pains, sufferings, and things that you endured.
The sins that you wrestle with, the problems you have, the pain and the suffering you experience, the deaths that hurt us, all of these things in the context of eternity don’t even matter.
Now am I insensitive to suffering? By no means! Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus knowing He would raise him from the dead, but our weeping and hurting are for different reasons than the way the world weeps. When your children get hurt and they’re screaming and crying and you know it’s not that bad, you tell them, “Just relax, it’s not the end of the world.” Jesus Christ died on the cross to tell us, “It is not the end of the world.” Well, it is the end of the world and that’s what makes us happy.
2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
What an understatement. That’s like saying, “The universe is big.” In the context of eternity, He could have said, “Your afflictions mean nothing. Why are you even talking about them?”
2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
It’s ridiculous that God rewards us for the sufferings we go through, but that’s the kind of God we worship. It’s just insane. Some of you know the illness that I suffered with several years ago. I still did a lot of things while having that illness and somehow that’s achieving for me something that will give me eternal rewards and glory in heaven. So every headache then becomes a source of eternal glory. It’s achieving something. Every suffering, every accident, every pain, every labor, and every tear achieves something. Yet how light and momentary in the context of a God of love that fills all eternity. Eventually you won’t remember it anymore.
Think of how many things you will forget the minute you enter the glorious gates. I have a lot of questions I want to remember when I get there, because I will have a whole lot of new questions after arriving.
This is important for the world because God seeks to get mankind’s attention so they don’t go to hell. That is the clearest, most simple answer that we can give right now. That God allows certain people to experience accidents to get their attention so they’ll repent. God allows certain people to have pain, suffering, or illness to get their attention. God has made each of us in such a way that we’re not totally complete. We need one another, we need answers, and we need the living God. Even if mankind took all of who he is in terms of his handicaps, he still needs God. Most importantly, you must turn to your neighbor with whom you’re trying to share Jesus Christ and say, “God allowed that death to give you time to cry out to Him.” I know that it sounds cold and calculated, and most people won’t like it. It seems very heartless to go to somebody who’s been bent over for eighteen years and tell her that God did it so that He could glorify His name and so that she would cry out to Him and worship Him.
When somebody has lost a son or a daughter in a car wreck comes in and you say to them, “Well praise God that happened because God’s trying to get your attention.” You won’t be well received, but you know, some people will come to their senses. A lot of people carry around bitterness wondering why God allowed things to happen and they’re looking for answers. The church does not answer them so no wonder they’re bitter and caged up in their emotions. The church has not come boldly in and said, “This is why God allowed it to happen. He’s trying to get your attention. I can’t tell you whether your son, daughter, or uncle, is in heaven or hell. That’s not the issue. God is trying to get your attention so you will cry out to Him and surrender everything to Him.”
Acts 17:24-25 – The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
He is in complete charge. He has in complete control. He is responsible for the evil; He is the one that stopped Satan. Everything we looked at He’s done. He is the God full of all kinds of wisdom.
Acts 17:26 – From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
God arranged everything before He created the earth, and He said, “Timothy will live in this particular town at this particular time.” He determined the time set for each person and the exact place—the exact address—where each would live. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the slums of New York, or in upscale Manhattan. God determined it long ago—you had no choice in the matter, though you thought you did. “And he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
God formed me with the handicaps that I have, and He put me in a particular place in this world at a particular time for one purpose; that I cry out to Him. He put each of you in a particular home and place, and He allowed things to happen around you in your sphere of influence. All the pains and sufferings that you go through happen so that you will cry out to Him. And had you been in another house, another place, or had different parents—everybody growing up always wants different parents—it would have made it harder for you to get to Jesus Christ. I’m not condoning the evil that happens in this world. Scripture demands that if we see evil we take responsibility to take care of that evil. I’m not saying that when somebody’s beaten or robbed that we say, “Okay, that must have been God’s will.” Jesus Christ came and engaged this world. He wrestled with demons, the Romans, Jewish authorities, and everything else. He was involved in speaking out against injustice.
But when injustice has happened and you’re not able to do anything about it, then come in with the good news and say, “God allowed that for a reason. He allowed that beating of your back so that you might cry out to Him.” I know from our perspective it seems extremely cruel, but hell is a hard reality. Since most people are headed there God will do anything necessary to wake people up in order to get them to cry out to Him so that they can freely choose to love Him.
God doesn’t want robots. He doesn’t hang all of us over the fires of hell and say, “You’d better worship me.” I daresay most everybody would volunteer to worship. He wants fellowship and love. I don’t want any of my children living in my household because they are forced to do so. Those who don’t choose to follow my rules are free to leave. I wouldn’t want my wife to remain with me just because she has to, but because she loves me. “He determined the time set for them and the exact places that they should live.” God did this so that men would “seek Him.”
So let’s just take an example. When I was younger I didn’t seek God. When I got a cold the first thing that came to mind was “I get to stay home from school.” The second thing that came to mind was, “Turn on the TV.” The third thing that came to mind was, “Mom, get me something to eat.” I enjoyed the time off, but that’s not why God sent the cold. That’s not why God allowed, permitted, or instigated those things—however you want to look at it. God did it so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, “though He is not far from each one of us.”
He allows accidents in a people’s lives so that all of us should wake up. We should each read the obituaries in the newspaper before we read the comics. Then we can remember, “That’s my destiny. That’s where I’m heading. What am I doing with my life toward God?”
Acts 17:28 – For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
We walk within God, we are part of God, and God is a part of us. It’s all Him working all of these things.
Acts 17:28-29 – “For in him we live and move and have our being.” As some of your own poets have said, “We are his offspring.” Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill.
I’m not offering you a God that I can easily explain, one that I can chisel out of a piece of stone and say, “This is what He looks like.” As I said before, this isn’t to minimize somebody’s suffering, but to give them answers for their suffering. They may not want the answers. They may become more embittered. Many people say, “I can’t serve God if He’s like that,” and they won’t. But the reality of hell for a man’s sin causes God to send these things in people’s lives and we can either choose to cry out to Him or we can become embittered because He’s disciplining us.
Acts 17:30 – In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Brothers and sisters, let us not be ignorant about who God is. Don’t let these issues be over our heads or so far away from our hearts that we can’t answer people with love. Let us not be so concerned with our own little salvation that we can’t understand the other aspects of God in order to answer mankind. Let’s not be so selfish in our love for Jesus Christ that all we’re concerned with is our own knowledge, our own wisdom, and salvation. Let us step out side of that and engage people in conversations that mean something to the point of life. God calls us to repent of ignorance.
Acts 17:30 – In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
It’s not a suggestion or an alternative. He commands all people everywhere to repent of our ignorance about who God is, what life is about, why we suffer and why God made heaven and hell.
Acts 17:31 – For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
Now we know why God allows accidents, wars, famines, misery, toil, why your paycheck’s always too short, why you only have one kidney, and why some people have handicaps. Because hell is a reality. The judgment to come is a firm thing and every accident, every pain, every suffering, every stubbing of your toe, every weakness that you feel reminds you that this world is dying and the judgment is coming.
For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice. It won’t be according to the laws of our land or the judges that we have today. If you talk to lawyers today, they’ll tell you, “If you want justice, don’t go to court because you won’t get it.” Someday it’ll come. “. . . by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” When people are dying and bad things happen in their lives, tell them the truth. But you’ll only be able to do that if you know that God sent everything that comes against you to remind you, wake you up, and call you to repentance.
Job 33:12-14 – But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man. Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words? For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it.
He speaks through accidents and through blessings—though man may not perceive it, he may not be able to grab hold of the fact that it’s God working it.
Job 33:15-16 – In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings,
Don’t think this is some abstract thing. Accidents, famine, and wars are real. I’ve known people who’ve experienced these dreams from God. We had a woman who visited our church many years ago. She kept coming in and out, liking the truth, playing with it, but never really giving herself to it. One time she showed up to church and talked about how during the week, she woke up screaming like she has never screamed before in her life. She was terrified at how loudly she screamed because she saw the judgment to come. It happened to her twice. She didn’t repent, but God did speak.
Job 33:17 – to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride,
Let’s say you don’t even have pride. Let’s take that absurd notion for just a moment. But to keep you from pride, you will stub your toe. Have you ever been in an argument or a discussion with somebody, and you’ve got your all words formulated, but you just stumble over everything? That’s to keep you from pride, to slow you down, and turn you from wrongdoing.
So the answer to a parent that has lost a loved one is that God is trying to keep them from pride and how he’s trying to turn them from wrongdoing, and keep them from sin. Don’t come in with a whitewash answer like the church does today and say, “Oh everything’s fine. God loves you. Your son is with Jesus Christ. God is a God of love.” It is a wake-up call. Even if you are a Christian, it is a wake-up call. If the doctors told me that I had terminal cancer and that I will be dead six months from now, I’d consider that a wakeup call. Not just, “Praise God, I’m just all set and ready to go. I was righteous six weeks ago. This is the best news that’s come along in a long time.”
Every trial and every persecution God permits in our life is to refine us and prepare us for glory. That’s why scripture says to endure hardship as if it were discipline. It may not even be discipline, but endure it as if it were. Learn something from it instead of whining about it. When the paycheck doesn’t quite meet your needs, welcome to the human race. Ask God, “Well God, what do You want me to learn? What are You trying to teach me?” When you get a cold and sneeze, I will bless you according to Acts 3:26. May God indeed bless us by turning us from our wicked ways.
Job 33:17-18 … to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
God tries to keep us from going to hell. The real question isn’t why is there so much evil in the world. The real question is why isn’t there more evil in the world? Meaning that if God said, “I will judge the world right now for all its evil. I will judge you for how wicked you are and what you have done,” we’d all be dead, this instant, in hell—no lag time.
The sentence came down from our sin in the Garden of Eden that we will go to hell. We are being transferred from the courtroom to the jail and between the courtroom and the jail you have a chance to repent. And along the way as we experience accidents, pains, and sufferings. We have begun our punishment. Do you understand that?
We fell in the Garden of Eden, and everything that you endure that causes weakness or pain merely begins your punishment. And those that accept that punishment, those that fall to the ground and die, those who allow that punishment to do its work, will find resurrected life. Those who whine and become enraged or embittered will find themselves in hell. But those being led all the way to hell who say, “You know, I deserve where I’m going,” find mercy.
Job 33:18-20 – …to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones, so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal.
Our bed—the place where we hope to find relief from pain. God sometimes lays a man on a bed of pain that he can’t escape even when he goes to rest. Some of you may have experienced headaches or pain so severe that laying down causes you to concentrate more upon the pain.
Every pain, every obstacle, every frustration, every time your computer dies, every time your car goes bad, every time the universe is out of sync, we should remember that we will soon stand before the Living God. He’s trying to crucify the pride and get us to humble ourselves and say that we need Him. Sometimes a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones so that his very being finds food repulsive. His soul loathes the choicest meal. Very few of us in this room can say our soul has gotten to the place where we refuse the pleasure of food. So I don’t even want to hear any whining that your life is a little rougher than anybody else’s.
Job 33:21-22 – His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death.
How many people do you know that get close to the edge of hell? How close do we have to get before we will wake up and repent? Before we really get serious about our salvation, before we stop playing games about righteousness and let righteousness have its way? Do we have to be a people chastened on a bed of pain, brought to the very edge of the pit before we wake up and say, “Okay, Lord”? “His soul draws near to the pit and his life to the messengers of death.”
My wife worked in a hospital when she was young. She said when people died you could sense a presence in the room, the messenger of death. Some of you are lucky enough to be able to sense that the messenger is there. I pray that you accept it as one last reminder of a loving God. Humble yourselves to cry out in true faith.
Verse 23—this is the Good News.
Job 33:23 – Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him,
You must discover what is right for you in Jesus Christ, not play games with righteousness and holiness. You have to discover from the Living God what is righteous for you to do. Do not look at your neighbor. Don’t even look at your wife or husband. You have to get before the Living God and say, “What is the righteous thing for me to do?” He put you in an exact location, at an exact address to do what is right for you to do. Now all men will be able to testify and say, “That is righteous and that is holy.” But you can’t mock, you can’t copy, you can’t look at the Pharisees, you can’t look at what other people do, you have to discover what is right for you to do in a particular situation.
“Yet if there’s an angel on his side as a mediator…” Do you know what a mediator is? “One out of a thousand to tell a man what is right for him.” Are not angels messengers sent to serve those who will be saved? To listen to what God has to say and help you know what you need to do and how you need to respond. To everything there is a time and a season and a place, find out what that is for you. My only job as a preacher is to help you discover God’s will. To Him you must answer.
Job 33:24 – to be gracious to him and say, “Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him”
This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Each man must hear in his own heart, not from a sermon. Let’s say that tonight I walk into the room of a man who’s dying, who’s under this kind of pain and I tell him, “You know, Jesus Christ died for your sins.” He will not be able to rejoice in that unless he hears that from the Living God, either speaking through me or however God communicates it. He has to hear from God. There is a mediator that forgives.
You deserve the accident; you deserve the pains and the sufferings. If you cry out to Him you’ll discover why. “Spare him from going down to the pit.”
Job 33:25-26 – …then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth. He prays to God…
God put us at a particular address. He allowed certain things to happen so that perhaps that we might reach out to Him. Then when a man prays to God and is accepted by Him, he comes into His presence with joy, and God repays him for his righteousness. He sees God’s face and shouts for joy. How amazing that God can take the pains and the sufferings of this world and cause us to shout for joy because of them. I think we try to block them out or ignore them. We’d rather be entertained by the world or be doing something else more “productive.”
Who wants discipline? Who likes discipline? Who of us has a child that says, “I just need some discipline”? Our God is so loving and so full of mercy that we can boldly go in and say, “God, discipline me.” We can ask. If we listen and plead, He’ll make all things clear. “He prays to God.” Oh how he prays. Not token prayers, not mocking words, not finding the exact words. He just prays. A man this close to the pit prays, doesn’t he? He doesn’t have all the words, but he groans—it’s beyond words. That’s a broken heart, by the way, when you have no words to express.
Job 33:26 – He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state.
Not by the works of man or your efforts or anything, but by God Himself. We achieve and get the righteousness that we had before the fall and even more. If we cry out, if we seek him, if we lay the blame for all the misery in our life upon the Living God, He’ll restore us to our righteous state. And He’ll more than make everything clear. Do you come in before God with everything that you have and what you’re not and whatever you experience, saying to God, “All of it is Yours and I pray and cry out to You.”? You will be restored. You will see His face, and you will have the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The more stubborn you are, the more entrenched in who you are and all of your arguments, whatever sin you’re holding on to, you can forget seeing His face. It will not be granted.
The next verse shows how you can tell a man has a broken heart before God.
Job 33:27 – Then he comes to men and says, “I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.”
We deserve more torture than this world has ever experienced. I deserve all the tortures of this world. Every dictator, every wicked leader, every concentration camp—I deserve to be in every one of those.
Job 33:27 – Then he comes to men and he says “I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved.”
How many of you think you got more than you deserved? You just don’t know why God is so hard on you, and why everything goes against you, or why people don’t understand you, or whatever it might be. You are a long, long way from the holiness and righteousness in God.
Job 33:28 – He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.
Brothers and sisters, this ought to be music in our hearts. The joy of the light, songs in my heart, redeemed from the pit. Let every flu, every sickness, every pain, every accident, and everything that God brings in your life produce this. Don’t wait until He hangs you over the pit. Oh, you may cry out, but what glory is that anyway? I’m glad God does it, but that’s not how I want to be. I don’t want to be hung over the fires of hell feeling the heat and then cry out. I praise God He’s that merciful, but that’s not the kind of child I want to be. I want Him to raise His eyebrow and then I say, “Okay, I quit.”
Job 33:29 – God does all these things to a man—twice, even three times—
As you look at some people’s lives you can tell. You will see people who stand in glory and you will see what their lives were all about and where God brought pain, suffering, and many other things. God tried to call. He allowed these things to take place; He tried to wake mankind up, whether it was a consequence of their sin or whatever.
We see this a lot in Hollywood, and you ask “What is going on?” Sure a lot of what happens to them is a consequence of their sin, but who allowed the consequences of their sin to materialize? Who’s the one who framed them in such a way and such a fashion and put them in a certain place that it would come out that way? The Living God. God does all these things to man, twice, even three times to turn back his soul from the pit so that the light of life would shine on them. Every hospital stay, every accident, is a call from God.
There are three reasons why that we looked at.
1. For love’s sake. God wants to be loved and He wants to love. So instead of judging us all immediately for the sins we have committed, He gives us some time to repent. He seeks to wake us up.
2. Justice demands justice. Life is the beginning of our punishment. It’s the beginning of the sentence we deserve. Those who wake up along the way and say, “You know, I deserve this,” find mercy.
3. You are offered mercy before sentencing—before the final judgment call. Mercy is offered to those who confess their sins. I don’t care if you’re a Christian or not, when bad thing happen, there are still areas of our flesh that are falling to the ground and dying. There is still something God is working and weaving. There’s always something to be learned, always something to die to.
He is to blame, and I praise God that He’s this kind of God and not some other god who’s doing this.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional. The original audio tape can be ordered free of charge by contacting Sound Doctrine Ministries.