Summary: Preached after the Asian tsunami. It shows that we have an enemy who wants to steal, kill and destroy.
Job 1:6 -21 – War is Hard
Well, a week ago I had planned to start a series on the life of David, from now until the Lent season. As the week progressed, I felt the growing need to speak about the situation in Asia. Three years ago, after 9-11, I preached on, ”Why, God?” And after the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, I felt that I should revisit the topic of evil in the world.
I heard one man on TV ask the question, “Why did God let this happen?” That’s a pretty common question. And some would claim that it’s an easy answer. Some would likely say that since many of the flood-damaged nations are persecutors of Christians, then this is God’s punishment on them. For example, Indonesia was the worst hit, losing over 80,000 people. Well, according to a Christian persecution watchdog, Indonesia is the world’s 36th worst persecutor of Christians. Although it is legal to believe in Jesus, the Muslim majority, especially in Sumatra, the hardest hit section of Indonesia, puts some restrictions on evangelism, and many Christians avoid antagonizing the Muslims.
Then, there’s Sri Lanka, which lost over 28,000, and it’s the world’s 34th worst persecutor of Christians. India lost over 8900, and it’s the 33rd worst. But then, there’s Thailand, which lost over 4800. It doesn’t persecute believers at all. Although the Thai church is hardly thriving, they are still allowed all rights and privileges as other religions too. So if this tsunami is a judgement of God on misbehaving nations, why would Thailand be swept up into that as well?
Plus, you have to consider the Christians in these countries as well, faithful in spite of hard times. And yet they are among the lost. I read that in Sri Lanka, horribly affected, with reports of whole churches and congregations washed away.
And then there’s India. Compassion International is a Christian program that exists to break the cycle of poverty for children. They provide food, shelter, clothing, education, healthcare and Christian training to poor kids around the world.
And I read that in India, more than 25 fathers of Compassion-assisted children were lost at sea. There was also one project in India that all the homes in the project - representing over 400 families - were swept away. I have a hard time believing that it was God’s will to cause all this death and destruction to happen. If the simple truth of 1 Thess.5:9 is true, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” then what do we make of it all?
Let’s read Job 1:6-21. Let’s look at some basic truths about this passage. First, as far as unseen beings go, there is a good One and there is a bad one. That’s not to say that God and Satan are on equal footing – equal strength, intelligence, power, importance – they’re not. But just as God exists, so does Satan. Second, this bad unseen being, Satan, wanted to cause a man’s downfall. This Job fella was blameless and upright, feared God and shunned evil, as v8 tells us. But Satan wanted to overthrow him.
But the third truth is where things get tricky. Third, God gave Satan permission to cause some calamities in Job’s life. Satan used 2 different tactics: 1) he incited foreign armies to hurt Job – v15, 17, and 2) he used natural disasters to hurt Job – v16, 19. God allowed Satan to provoke people to do evil. And God allowed Satan to use nature to wreak havoc on unsuspecting, innocent bystanders.
So you can see how this gets tricky. It’s not God doing it, it’s Satan. Now, I find it entirely possible that this earthquake and resulting tsunami is part of what Romans 8 calls the groanings of creation, the pain that this world is in because of years and years of sin. And, I find it entirely possible that Satan is behind this too. Job seems to show that Satan can use nature for his own purposes. BUT, Satan can only do it because God lets him. That’s the tricky part.
And that’s where so many stumble in this thing. So many can’t get past the notion that God allowed it to happen. Whether it’s the earthquake, the tsunami, the Twin Towers, that divorce, that death, that emptiness… somehow it’s God’s fault. All these horrible and hurtful things that happen in the world, somehow it can be all traced back to God, and if we can blame all our problems on Him, somehow we’ll feel better about ourselves.
But that doesn’t really solve anything. Nobody ever continued to feel better when they blamed God. Sure, it may ease the burden momentarily, but blaming God doesn’t wind up filling the emptiness left behind by painful circumstances. Blaming God for your lack of what you feel you deserve doesn’t fill you. Blaming God for your difficult circumstances doesn’t fill you. Blaming god for your lack of spiritual vitality doesn’t fill you. No, what you need is to realize that we are at war. And until you understand that there is a being whose sole desire in life is to destroy you and your family and your spiritual life – until you understand that, you will never be satisfied with God’s performance.