Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Did This Tragedy Happen?

Tragedy strikes a small up and coming nation.  They are in the middle of a fierce drought.  They are ravaged by this famine.  People are starving to death.  Babies are starving to death.

The famine gets so bad that this nation is easy prey for a much more powerful nation.  At first it is a good relationship.  The more powerful nation takes this fledgling nation under her wing to protect her from the famine.  But eventually the policies change.  It’s not long before the bigger nation enslaves the smaller nation.

As if slavery were not enough, these people are abused by their owners.  They are no longer starving but now they are being made to work ruthlessly for cruel task masters.  These are cruel task masters that eventually attempt ethnic genocide.  They put together a cruel plan to kill every male child among this people.

For those knowledgeable of Scripture you probably guessed that this was the beginning of the history of Israel.  Hang with me as I ask a rather deep question.  Was this part of God’s plan?

Mull that over for a moment while we consider Job. 

A guy loses EVERYTHING…well, all accept his unhelpful friends and his very unhelpful wife.  The same wife that told him after this tragedy, “curse God and die”.  So, yeah Job lost EVERYTHING. Was this part of God’s plan?  Or was it an aberration; a plan “B”, of sorts?

Listen I do not understand how all of this fits together but I do want to let Scripture speak for itself.  Consider what God said to Jacob before he began his journey into Egypt:
“I am God, the God of your father.  Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.  I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” 
God is reassuring Jacob that going to Egypt is keeping with his promises.  Notice how God recapitulates his promise to Abraham.  We can see the themes that will run throughout all of redemptive history: “I will make you a great nation…I will be with you…I will also bring you up again”. 

The Israelites are in Egypt because the all-knowing God told them to be there.  This is not plan B.  God is reassuring Jacob that their presence in Egypt is absolutely NOT plan B.  This is plan A.  And certainly this includes their slavery. 

Or consider Job.  You know how he answered our question?  In Job 12:9-10 he says, “who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” 

This whole chapter is Job proclaiming the absolute sovereignty of God.  If something happens ultimately it happens because of God.  Job does not allow us to hide behind secondary causes.  You can say that he was a loon, a raving mad man.  Job said this much about himself.  But at the end of the story it is Job that God says has the proper theology.  It’s hard to get around that. 

When tragedy strikes we like to say, “the devil did this”.  I am not so certain that Scripture allows us that freedom. 

So what does all of this mean?  Ultimately you will have to wait for eternity to get that one.  But I hope to try to tie a couple of loose ends together and consider where Jesus is in the midst of all these question. 

For that you will have to read my response....

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