A REFLECTION PAPER SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY II. (REVISED FOR THIS BLOG.)
The issue of theodicy is not so much an issue, as it is a failure to understand total depravity and the heart within. To be made in the image of God is not to be God Himself. We are not to assume power and glory given to God and blindly turn our eyes from the sin of oneself. I have often heard in churches that demons are the ones tricking us into sin and tempting us so that we fall. However, we know that where God indwells, there cannot be demonic power (2 Corinthians 3:17). This is a significant misconstruction of man for as long as they have been sinful. We give ourselves too much credit in the realm of resistances of sin. How can there be sin if God is good?
Remember, in the story of the fall (Genesis 3) that it was the Image of God which brought sin into the world, not God Himself. Due to this evil, we see that God pulled back from the physical relationship with His creation until Jesus. God used to walk in the garden (Gen 3:8), but we see after the events that unfold and the punishment of sin God is seen from a distance not up close. God now appears through a burning bush (Exodus 3) or as a cloud of smoke/fire (Exodus 13:21-22). This is not to reject God’s Omnipresence, but to say that if the question was merely how could God be okay with sin, He is not. The LORD punished the world (Gen 3:16-18) and destroyed the wicked (Gen 6:9-9:17)(Gen 19). Therefore, God is not okay with sin, but He will use it to get the most glory.
The Lord’s servant Job was not a perfect man, but a man who was by all earthly standards good and worthy of having a good life, family, and wealth. He had all of these things (Job 1:2-3). However, the Lord allowed the tragedy to come to him, even though Job appears to be a God-fearing man and someone devout in worship. Why would God let this happen, especially if God truly loves humankind (1 John 4:8)(John 3:16)? The story of Job shows a rare glimpse into the process of trials, some of which are formed from your actions, and some are allowed by God. The book of Job teaches that Job is righteous, that joy is in all things, and that God has not abandoned us. Even though Job faced many trials, he never blamed God. Job never outright blamed anyone. He understood that there was sin in the world and that people brought that sin into existence. Sin is the only thing God never created. Job understood this fact and, rather than blaming God; Job put his trust in Him.
The modern society we live in loves to ask, “How can God be good and allow bad things to happen?” They never ask the question, “How can God allow goodness in a world full of wickedness?” which is the proper question to ask. Common grace is the answer to the problem of theodicy. The grace which God gives to all men, such as a form of goodness, aesthetic beauty, love, emotions, and life, is revealed in the first chapter of Romans. Affirmation for this is in Psalm 145:9, which says, “The Lord is good to all; His compassion is over all that He has made.” This is good news! Because even though we know, we are wicked, God allows goodness into the world. This is not a question of Why does God allow sin, but thank you to God for allowing grace!
Through the book of Ecclesiastes, we see that everything is Hebel. Or in simple terms, life is not fair. The example which was given by Dr. Meek was just as Able was killed, even though he did nothing wrong and was in fact giving his best to God, he was murdered. And Cain moved on to have a family, start a city, and lived a long life. Just as this happened to Cain and Abel, life does not choose who it is going to favor and who is going to have it tough. Apart from God, all is wicked, all is Hebel, and all is without justice.
The fact that there is sin and wickedness also represented in Hebel is that the world, although it has good, the core is still vanity. All nature is corrupt apart from God.
God is not the one who created evil or tempts people. There is also the goodness that can bee seen in the sky, the birds, the lives of others, all is vanity, but there is still common grace. God allows this to happen as it is a result of man’s action in the Garden of Eden. Ecclesiastes focuses on the guide to a good life. This guide points future generations toward Yahweh by highlighting that life is not always going to go your way, a person is not going to be the best at everything, life is not fair, so things happen. “Good” people die, and bad people live.
The problem of theodicy is not one of a divine nature, but rather an issue of a personal misunderstanding of sin and how it affects every aspect of humanity. The church needs to reflect on Ecclesiastes and Job as it gives guidance for suffering and answers many deep physiological questions that arise in modern people’s minds. Bad things can and do happen to good people. Bad things happening is not to say that it is a punishment for something, but that life is a mix of ups and downs. The church deals with broken people. Life is a complex mixture of common grace and sin, with some divine grace mixed in. This side of heaven, we will always have pain, suffering, and wickedness plague us. By looking at the Old Testament, we see a guide on how to handle issues such as theodicy.
Bible Used: The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Containing the Old and New Testaments. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2014.