Much has been written about why bad things happen to good people. The conclusions have been varied and mostly unsatisfying. “God is teaching you” and so He brings bad things into your life so that you will learn. What exactly have you learned after being mugged while walking down a street at night? “God is testing you to see if you truly believe”. Isn’t this along the lines of the logic used to tie a rock around a woman’s legs before throwing her in the water? If she gets back to the surface she is guilty and put to death but if she drowns she is innocent. Oh well, she was innocent, shame she died! “We simply don’t understand the ways of God” but you know what, I’m not so sure I want to understand His ways if He just used a hurricane to kill a few hundred people. “It’s all part of God’s master plan”. So you’re saying God planned this tragedy, this rape, this death? “There is no God and thus bad things happen to everyone on a regular basis”.
But there is a God and He does have a plan and He is trying to teach each of us. However, God’s plan has nothing to do with pain, suffering, torture, or death; except for his only begotten son who is God’s plan of redemption and salvation for all of mankind.
People come to God’s Word for answers and direction. Neither exists in any of these answers. People seek God looking for understanding and enlightenment but these answers only provide confusion and darkness. Our churches follow this logic with Sunday’s sermon focused on a God we must fear.
There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
Job was righteous [upright] and he had integrity [perfect]. Job turned away from evil [eschewed] because he had respect [feared] toward God. For some reason Bible scholars always want to translate [yare] as “fear” of God. It is true that yare can, and at times should be translated fear. But when it comes to God this word should be understood in terms of respect or reverence.
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
It’s God’s goodness that leads a man to repentance not fear! We fear things we don’t understand. We fear the unknown. God gave us His Word so that we can know Him; so that we can understand His heart of love and grace. He gave us His gift of spirit so that we might know the deep things of God. We should have awesome respect for His integrity and faithfulness to His words and a solemn reverence of His majesty and glory. There is nothing about God that is not worthy of our respect and reverence.
Even after Adam throws himself and mankind under the bus God is there to instruct and to comfort. The book of Job clearly shows us who is attacking mankind and who is blessing mankind. But the opening of the book of Job has caused Bible commentators massive issues trying to explain why God allowed Job to be attacked.
Why is Job attacked? Who is attacking Job? Could these attacks have been avoided? Let's see what God's Word has to say.
And these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn.
And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron.
Job was the son of Issachar the patriarch of the tribe of Issachar of the nation of Israel. Sometime after Jacob’s family goes down to Egypt Job moves on and settles in the land of Uz.
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
God had blessed Job with great substance and wealth and God protected Job’s substance and wealth as he continued to focus upon God and not the circumstances. But Job loses his focus and begins to question God’s protection.
Bad things happen to a good guy and the commentators open the floodgates of rationalization concerning God’s actions and purposes. To understand the simplicity of Job we have to go back to the beginning and understand what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam sinned.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
God gave to Adam and Eve dominion over all the earth [for an in-depth look at this subject go to Perfection to Corruption] and with the sin of Adam this authority and dominion is transferred to God’s enemy, the Devil.
And the devil said unto him [Jesus Christ], All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
The word “delivered” means to surrender, to hand over to another for their use, care, or management. Adam delivered the earth into the hands of God’s enemy. From Genesis 3 until the second coming of Christ, God’s adversary is known as the “god of this world”, “the prince of the power of the air”, “the rulers of the darkness of this world” because the adversary now has the authority and power God had given to Adam.
Adam’s decision to reject God places the earth and all of mankind [future generations] under the rule of the adversary. And this, the enslavement of the earth and mankind, God must honor because God is Just.
Figures of Speech
There is a figure of speech used in the Bible that is called idioma. Merriam-Webster defines idiom as, “an expression in the usage of a language that is peculiar to itself either grammatically (as no, it wasn't me) or in having a meaning that cannot be derived from the conjoined meanings of its elements (as Monday a week for “the Monday a week after next Monday”).
Dr. E.W. Bullinger stated, “The fact must ever be remembered that, while the language of the New Testament is Greek, the agents and instruments employed by the Holy Spirit were Hebrews”.
The Hebrews employed a figure of speech known as “idioma of the verb, by permission”. Dr. Bullinger on idioma of the verb, by permission, “active verbs were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do”.
In other words, people are described as taking the action when actually they only gave their permission for another to act.
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.
The “they” in this verse are those that “dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers” spoken of in verse 27. Did those who dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers take Jesus down from the cross?
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Joseph of Arimathaea took Jesus down from the cross after Pilate gave his permission. This is not a contradiction in the Bible it is a figre of speech. In Acts 13:29 when it speaks of the rulers taking Jesus down from the cross it is the figure of speech idioma of the verb, by permission. The vast majority of times this figure of speech is used, it is used of God taking an action that He has not really taken. Rather God has given His permission to allow the event to take place.
In the first and second chapters of Job we are treated to an amazing display of this exact figure of speech when it speaks of God giving Satan permission to attack Job. Satan doesn’t go to God and ask for permission to attack. Satan has had, due to Adam’s transfer of dominion, the right since Genesis 3 to attack any individual he so desires to attack. Due to Adam’s actions in the Garden all of mankind is subject to God’s adversary. Mankind legally belongs to the adversary, like a bondslave as discribed in the Old Testament.
Therefore, when we read that God has had enough of mankind during the days of Noah it is the figure of speech idioma of the verb, by permission. God does not take the action of destroying mankind, his adversary is acting. It’s God who works with Noah to provide an escape, a means of salvation. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, he told others what was going to happen and how they could avoid the consequences of the coming attack. They didn't believe what Noah had to say and therefore they died.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Jesus Christ came to destroy the one who has the power of death and that is the Devil. God isn’t killing anyone; it’s the Devil that has the power of death!
Once this figure of speech is properly understood and accurately applied in the Bible we gain a whole new outlook and awareness concerning the nature and character of God. Now when you read “God is Love” or “God is Light” your mind can accept these words without questions about God having a split personality!
Why do bad things happen to good people? Because we have an adversary who hates us.
So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job…
Who is attacking Job? God’s not trying to teach Job a lesson! God is not testing Job’s believing! God has put a hedge around Job to protect him and the blessings he has been given. How then is this hedge broken down? Is the adversary stronger than God that he could break through God’s hedge of protection? No! Job rips down the hedge of protection from the inside out as his focus is upon the circumstances and not the blessing and protection of God.
There was another man who lived during the Age of the Patriarch’s, his name was Joseph. One day his father asked him to go see how his brothers were doing as they cared for the sheep.
And when they [the brothers of Joseph] saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.
When Joseph’s brothers see him coming they decide to kill him and tell their father a wild animal got him.
And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.
After throwing him in a ditch they decide lunch sounds like a good idea. During lunch Judah comes up with the ultimate idea, let’s sell our little brother to the Ishmeelites. So when Jospeh was only seventeen years old, his brothers sell him to a caravan of Ishmeelites that are headed for Egypt.
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt and God prospers Joseph even under these less than best conditions. Not once in the account of Joseph does he question why God is doing these things unto him. Joseph never questions the righteousness or justice of God. Joseph does not even speak ill of his brothers who sold him into slavery. Job cannot make the same claim for he questions God and berates those who came to mourn with their friend.
Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.
Job started out refusing to question God but after continually justifying himself to his friends Job decides he is righteous and that God is attacking him without cause. Job considers God to be his adversary and he wants God to answer his questions and to explain the attacks and confirm his righteousness.
Job’s friends are moving along with the logic that declares; Job is suffering and God is Just therefore Job has sinned before God. Job’s logic on the other hand runs like this; I am suffering and I did nothing wrong therefore God needs to explain Himself to me. Both sets of logic leave out one important aspect, Satan. Too many today have been fooled along these same lines of illogic. Forgetting the Evil One while questioning the integrity or the character of the Holy One.
Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.
In the attack by the adversary Job needed to stay focused on God and His blessing and protection. However, Job decided to be focused on his own works and his own righteousness.
After faithfully serving Potiphar Joseph is unjustly accused of attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife and Potiphar quickly has Joseph thrown in prison. Some years after Joseph is put into prison he is finally brought before Pharaoh and Pharaoh elevates Joseph to second in all of Egypt. Then Joseph’s brothers, the ones who sold him, finally appear before Joseph because there is a famine in the land.
And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Joseph was seventeen years old when his brothers sold him as a slave. He was thirty years old when he came before Pharaoh and he was at least thirty-nine years old when he revealed himself to his brothers. Yet throughout these years Joseph does not question the Justness of God nor express anger or bitterness towards his brothers.
Bad things happen to good people because this world is run by one who only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. And good people, like Joseph's brothers or Job friends, help the adversary in his attacks because they fail to acknowledge his existence let alone his logic that has filled the world.
We have an adversary because we choose to stand with God. To others who choose not to stand with God bad things happen to them because God’s adversary is rightfully their master.
You can’t prevent the attacks but you can determine how you will respond. You can take any unbelief in your heart, due to an attack or even before an attack comes, and lay it at the feet of God asking for His help to overcome or lay it at God's feet declaring He is at fault for allowing an attack.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.