Summary: When we ask God "why" He doesn’t always give us a seemingly direct answer or any answer at all. Why does God do that? This text addresses the deep no answers of God.
September 18, 2006 Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Out of all of the questions, “who, what, when, where, and why,” one of the most difficult questions to answer is the question “why?” What, when, who and where questions are often dry facts that can be answered in a matter of seconds. Take for instance the Hurricane Katrina. You know who did it. You know when it happened. You know what happened. You know where it hit. But the big question is why? Because of global warming? Because God is angry with America? Or is there no specific “why?” Was it just a result of living in a sinful world? That’s the tough question.
God often gives us the answers to the easy questions when He tells us about Himself. He tells us who created the world. He tells us when Jesus rose from the dead - three days after He was buried. He tells us where He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. But we often have a difficult time getting an answer for our “whys”. That’s what Paul addresses today.
There’s a Reason for God’s Answer to Your Question
I. The question
When Hurricane Katrina did recently hit people naturally wanted to know “why”? Some claimed it was President Bush’s fault for not signing the Kyoto Treaty against pollution. Others claimed it was Satan’s fault. Reverend Phelps and the Westboro Baptists said that God did it because he hates America. Sometimes that reason just can’t be determined. Sometimes, even when God does explain the why, it is hard for us to swallow. I think for instance of the command that God gave the Israelites. Deuteronomy 7:1-2 1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations -- the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you -- 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. My mind naturally asks the question, “why? Why didn’t God allow at least the infants to live? Couldn’t they have brought the foreign infants up in the faith?”
Another judgment that has raised questions in my mind was when Ananias and Sapphira had tried to cheat the Lord. They had sold a piece of property - but instead of deciding to give all of the proceeds to the Lord, they decided to only give a portion of it to the Lord. So when they brought their offering to Peter, they lied about how much they had given. As a result, God first struck Ananias dead on the spot, and then He struck Sapphira dead as well. I look at that situation and say to myself, “wasn’t that kind of harsh?” Why would God act in such a way? Maybe you’ve had similar questions.
Even in every day life these questions come up almost every day. When your little eight year old cousin is found to have a brain tumor, you naturally ask the question. When you even come down with the flu for a day or two, you want to know why. It happens all the time. Why would a God of love allow this to happen to a little child? Why would a God of justice decide to save a known murderer and allow him into heaven why he takes the greatest humanitarian and sends him to hell?
II. The answer
It’s not as if God leaves us completely in the dark. He gives us some answers to these questions. For instance, He told the Israelites why he wanted them to completely annihilate the Canaanites - so that there would be no chance for them to fall into idolatry. And we can often times search God’s Word and find reasons for why God does what He does by applying God’s principles to situations. For instance, in the case of Ananias and Sapphira we could use our Bible based reason that God was sending a message to the rest of the believers by putting them to death - and maybe they still went to heaven since it may have been a sin of weakness. God wants us to search the Scriptures to look for these answers.
Sometimes the answer is found in the result. When the Israelites didn’t completely annihilate the Canaanites, what happened? They ended up falling into idolatry just as they said. Joseph may have wondered why God allowed him to be sold into slavery. But God’s wisdom showed through when he ended up the king of Egypt and saving thousands of lives. When Job ended up with humility as well as two times more than he started with, it all seemed to come out in the wash. It reminds me of a poem written by a Confederate soldier - who came to realize that God was wiser than he -