January 19: The Million Dollar Question
Genesis 31, Matthew 23:37–24:28, Ecclesiastes 7:13–21
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is an ancient question, though often asked as if it’s new. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes says, “There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing” (Eccl 7:15).
Answers to this age-old question do exist, the simplest is that since people gave into temptation near the beginning, havoc—caused by humans and by evil spirits—has taken hold. The time between now and when God takes full control of the world again is just grace; the moment He does is the end for all evil, including those who have not chosen Christ as their Savior.
The only way to fix the world is to rid it of all evil, but the Preacher doesn’t offer this deductive explanation. Instead, he notes that life is a series of balancing acts, and he uses hyperbole to make his point (Eccl 7:16–17).
The Preacher goes on to say, “For the one who fears God shall come out from both of them”—that is, the bad and good experiences (Eccl 7:18). The real answer to that age-old question is as profound as the original: learn to respect God.
We won’t ever truly understand the complexities of good and evil, or the interactions of light and darkness—just like we will never understand our ever-changing universe—but there is solace in the knowledge that in the end, it’s about respecting God. And the first step towards doing that is having a relationship with Christ.
In what ways are you currently not respecting God’s role in your life? How can you change that?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Now he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s, and of our father’s goods hath he gotten all his honor. Also Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, that it was not towards him as in times past: And the Lord had said unto Jacob, Turn again into the land of thy fathers, nd to thy kindred, and I will be with thee. Therefore Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock. Then said he unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not towards me as it was wont, and the God of my father hath been with me. And ye know that I have served your father with all my might, But your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times: but God suffered him not to hurt me. If he thus said, The spotted shall be thy wages, then all the sheep bare spotted: and if he said thus, the parti-colored shall be thy reward, then bare all the sheep parti-colored. Thus hath god taken away your father’s substance, and given it to me. For in ramming time I lifted up mine eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the he goats leaped upon the she goats, and that parti-colored with little and great spots spotted. And the Angel of God said to me in a dream, Jacob, And I answered, Lo, I am here. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see all the he goats leaping upon the she goats that are parti-colored, spotted with little and great spots: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, where thou vowedst a vow unto me. Now arise, get thee out of this country and return unto the land where thou wast born. Then answered Rachel and Leah, and said unto him, Have we any more portion and inheritance in our father’s house? Doth not he count us as strangers? for he hath sold us, and hath eaten up and consumed our money. Therefore all the riches, which God hath taken from our father, is ours and our children’s: now then whatsoever God hath said unto thee, do it. Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels. And he carried away all his flocks, and all his substance which he had gotten, to wit, his riches which he had gotten in Padan Aram, to go to Isaac his father unto the land of Canaan. When Laban was gone to sheer his sheep, then Rachel stole her father’s idols. Thus Jacob stole away the heart of Laban the Aramite: for he told him not that he fled. So fled he with all that he had, and he rose up, and passed the river,and set his face toward mount Gilead. And the third day after was it told Laban, that Jacob fled. Then he took his brethren with him and followed after him seven days journey, and overtook him at mount Gilead. And God came to Laban the Aramite in a dream by night, and said unto him, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob ought save good. Then Laban overtook Jacob, and Jacob had pitched his tent in the mount: and Laban also with his brethren pitched upon mount Gilead. Then Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done? thou hast even stolen away mine heart and carried away my daughters as though they had been taken captives with the sword. Wherefore diddest thou flee so secretly and steal away from me, and diddest thou flee so secretly and steal away from me, and diddest not tell me, that I might have sent thee forth with mirth and with songs, with timbrell and with harp? But thou hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters: now thou hast done foolishly in doing so. I am able to do you evil: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob ought save good. Now though thou wentest thy way, because thou greatly longedst after thy father’s house, yet wherefore hast thou stolden my gods? Then Jacob answered, and said to Laban, Because I was afraid, and thought that thou wouldest have taken thy daughters from me. But with whom thou findest thy gods, let him not live. Search thou before our brethren when I have of thine, and take it to thee, (but Jacob wist not that Rachel had stolen them.) Then came Laban into Jacob’s tent, and into Leah’s tent, and into the two maid’s tents, but found them not. So he went out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent. (Now Racel had taken the idols, and put them in the camel’s litter and sat down upon them) and Laban searched all the tent, but found them not. Then said she to her father, My Lord, be not angry that I cannot rise up before thee: for the custom of women is upon me: so he searched, but found not the idols. Then Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: Jacob also answered and said to Laban, What have I trespassed? what have I offended, that thou hast pursued after me? Seeing thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of al thine household stuff? put it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge between us both. This twenty years I have been with thee: thine ewes and thy goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. Whatsoever was torn of beasts, I brought it not unto thee, but made it good myself: of mine hand diddest thou require it, were it stolen by day, or stolen by night. I was in the day consumed with heat, and with frost in the night, and my sleep departed from mine eyes. Thus have I been twenty years in thine house, and served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy sheep, adn thou hast changed my wages ten times. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had been with me, surely thou haddest sent me away now empty: but God beheld my tribulation, and the Labor of mine hands, and rebuked the yestetnight. Then Laban answered, and said unto Jacob, These daughters are my daughters, and these sons are my sons, and these sheep are my sheep, and all that thou seest, is mine, and what can I do this day unto these thy daughters, or to their sons which they have borne? Now therefore come let us make a covenant, I and thou, which may be a witness between me and thee. Then took Jacob a stone, and set it up as a pillar: And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones: who brought stones, adn made a heap, and they did eat there upon the heap. And Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed. For Laban said, This heap is witness between me and thee this day: therefore he called the name of it Galeed. Also be called it Mizpah, because he said, The Lord look between me and he, when we shall be departed one from another. If thou shalt vex my daughters, or shalt take wives beside my daughters: there is no man with us, behold, God is witness between me and thee. Moreover Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold the pillar, which I have set between me and thee. This heap shall be witness, and the pillar shall be witness, that I will not come over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me for evil. The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, and the god of their father be judge between us: but Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac. Then Jacob did offer a sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread, and they did eat bread, adn tarried all night in the mount. And early in the morning Laban rose up and kissed his sons, and his daughters, and blessed them, and Laban departing, went unto his place again. Genesis 31
- Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the Prophets, and stonest them which are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as the hen gathered her children under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your habitation shall be left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth till that ye say, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple, and his disciples came to him, to show him the building of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be here left a stone upon a stone, that shall not be cast down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, his disciples came unto him apart, saying, Tell us when these things shall be, and what sign shall be of thy coming, and of the end of the world. And Jesus answered, and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my Name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars, and rumors of wars, see that ye be not troubled: for all these things muse come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and realm against realm, and there shall be famine, and pestilence, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are but the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my Name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall be increased, the love of many shall be cold. But he that endureth to the end, he shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through the whole world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, set in the holy place (let him that readeth consider it.) Then let them which be in Judea, flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the housetop, not come down to fetch anything out of his house. And he that is in the field, let not him return back to fetch his clothes. And woe shall be to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, nor shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, so that if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth: Behold, he is in the secret place, believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the East, and is seen into the West, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever a dead carcass is, thither will the Eagles be gathered together. Matthew 23:37–24:28
- Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and excellent to them that see the sun. For man shall rest in the shadow of wisdom, and in the shadow of silver: but the excellency of the knowledge of wisdom giveth life to the possessors thereof. Behold the work of God; for who can make straight that which he hath made crooked? In the day of wealth be of good comfort, and in the day of affliction consider: God also hath made this contrary to that, to the intent that man should find nothing after him. I have seen all things in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his justice, and there is a wicked man that continueth long in his malice. Be not thou wicked overmuch, neither be thou foolish: wherefore shouldest thou perish not in thy time? It is good that thou lay hold on this: but yet withdraw not thine hand from that: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all. Wisdom shall strengthen the wise men more than ten mighty princes that are in the city. Ecclesiastes 7:13–21