September 11: Bad Things, Good People, and Grace
Amos 6:1–7:17; Acts 10:1–33; Job 20:12–29
We often wonder why God allows bad things to happen. We’re not unique in this; people have asked this same question since the beginning of time. Job struggled with this question after he lost everything. Job’s friends strove to answer it as they sought to prove that Job had somehow sinned against God and brought his terrible fate upon himself.
At one point, Job’s friend Zophar offers up the common wisdom of the time: “Did you know this from of old, since the setting of the human being on earth, that the rejoicing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless lasts only a moment?… [The wicked man] will suck the poison of horned vipers; the viper’s tongue will kill [the wicked man]” (Job 20:4–5, 16). Zophar is right about one thing: Eventually the wicked will be punished.
The rest of Zophar’s words prove his short-sightedness. The wicked are not always punished immediately. And God does not allow evil to continue without end. Instead, He chooses to intercede at certain times to ensure that His plan stays on course. Furthermore, bad things happen because people are bad—not because God allows or causes evil to happen, and not necessarily because the afflicted people are somehow evil. Evil powers are at work in the world, seeking to thwart God’s plan. We, as humanity, chose our fate when we went against God’s will that first time and every time since.
God has good news for us. As Peter tells his Gentile audience in Acts, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.… They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day … [and] everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:38–40, 42 ESV). There is redemption to be found in His Son, who will return to earth to make all things right. Every moment between now and then is a moment of grace.
How are your beliefs about evil closer to Zophar’s than to the truth? How can you find a new perspective?
JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R.
- Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are famous at the beginning of the nations: and the house of of Israel came to them. Go you unto Calneh, and see: and from thence go you to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or near the border of their land greater than your border, Ye that put far away the evil day, and approach to the seat of iniquity? They lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their beds, and eat the lambs of the flock, and the calves out of the stall. They sing to the sound of the viol: they invent to themselves instruments of music like David. They drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments, but no man is sorry for the affliction of Joseph. Therefor now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the sorrow of them that stretched themselves, is at hand. The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. And if there remain ten men in one house, they shall die. And his uncle shall take him up and burn him, to carry out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him, that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? And he shall say, None, Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not remember the Name of the Lord. For behold, the Lord commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts. Shall horses run upon the rock? or will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood. Yet rejoice in a thing of nought: ye say, Have not we gotten us horns by our own strength? But behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God of hosts: and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of the wilderness. Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me, and behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the latter growth after the King’s mowing. And when they had made an end of eating the grass of then land, then I said, O Lord God, spare, I beseech thee: who shall raise up Jacob? for he is small. So the Lord repented of this, It shall not be, saith the Lord. Thus also hath the Lord God showed unto me, and behold, the Lord God called to judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, O Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: who shall raise up Jacob? for he is small. So the Lord repented for this. This also shall not be, saith the Lord God. Thus again he showed me, and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by line with a line in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A line. Then saith the Lord, Behold, I will set a line in the midst of my people Israel, and will pass by them no more. And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the temples of Israel shall be destroyed: and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword. Then Amaziah the Priest of Bethel sent to Jerobaoam king of Isreael, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to hear all his words. for thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall be led away captive out of their own land. Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou the Seer, go, flee thou away into the land of Judah, and there eat thy bread, and prophesy there. But prophesy no more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no Prophet, neither was I a Prophet’s son, but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of wild figs. And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go prophesy unto my people Israel. Now therefore hear thous the word of the Lord, Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and speak nothing against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line: and thou shalt die in a polluted land, and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land. Amos 6:1-7:17
- Furthermore there was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a captain of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God (about the ninth hour of the day) an Angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. But when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? and he said unto him, Thy prayers and alms are come up into remembrance before God. Now therefore send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter. He lodgeth with one Simon a Tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the Angel which spake unto Cornelius, was departed, he called two of his servants, a soldier that feared God, one of them that waited on him, And told them all things, and sent them to Joppa. On the morrow as they went on their journey, and drew near unto the city, Peter went up upon the house to pray, about the sixth hour. Then waxed he an hungered, and would have eaten: but while they made something ready, he fell into a trance. And he saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel come down unto him, as it had been a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and was let down to the earth. Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts and creeping things, and fowls of the heaven. And there came a voice to him, Arise, Peter: kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord: for I have never eaten anything that is polluted, or unclean.spake And the voice spake unto him again the second time, The things that God hath purified, pollute thou not. This was so done thrice: and the vessel was drawn up again into heaven. No while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen, meant, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius, had inquired for Simon’s house, and stood at the gate. And called, and asked, whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. And while Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, and doubt nothing: For I have sent them. The went down to the men, which were sent unto him from Cornelius, and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the captain, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nations of the Jews, was warned from heaven by an holy Angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear thy words. Then called he them in, and lodged them: and the next day, Peter went forth with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the day after, they entered into Caesarea. Now Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen, and special friends, And it came to pass as Peter came in, that Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up: for even I myself am a man. And as he talked with him, he came in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew, to company, or come unto one of another nation: but God hath showed me, that I should not call any man polluted, or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without saying nay, when I was sent for: I ask therefore, for what intent have ye sent for me? Then Cornelius said, Four days ago, about this hour, I fasted, and at the ninth hour I prayed in mine house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter (he is lodged in the house of Simon a Tanner by the Seaside) who when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Then sent I for thee immediately, and thou hast well done to come. Now therefore are we all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Acts 10:1–33
- When wickedness was sweet in his mouth, and he hid it under his tongue, And favored it, and would not forsake it, but kept it close to his mouth, Then his meat in his bowels was turned: the gall of Asps was in the midst of him. He hath devoured substance, and he shall vomit it: for God shall draw it out of his belly. He shall suck the gall of Asps, and the viper’s tongue shall slay him. He shall not see the rivers, nor the floods and streams of honey and butter. He shall restore the labor, and shall devour no more: even according to the substance shall be his exchange, and he shall enjoy it no more. For he hath undone many: he hath forsaken the poor, and hath spoiled houses which he built not. Surely he shall feed no quietness in his body, neither shall he reserve of that which he desired. There shall none of his meat be left: therefore none shall hope for his goods. When he shall be filled with his abundance, he shall be in pain, and the hand of all the wicked shall assail him. He shall be about to fill his belly, but God shall send upon him his fierce wrath, and shall cause to rain upon him, even upon his meat. He shall flee from the iron weapons, and the bow of steel shall strike him through. The arrow is drawn out, and cometh forth of the body, and shineth of his gall, so fear cometh upon him. All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: the fire that is not blown shall devour him, and that which remaineth in his tabernacle shall be destroyed. The heaven shall declare his wickedness, and the earth shall rise up against him. The increase of his house shall go away: it shall flow away in the day of his wrath. This is the portion of the wicked man from God, and the heritage that he shall have of God, for his words. Job 20:12–29