“Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them.” – Jeremiah 10:2
“You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.” – Isaiah 8:12
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” – Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:6
ARE WE FEARING WHAT THE NATIONS FEAR?
There is no doubt that our world today gives us reasons to fear. A lot of people, myself included, see a marked increase in evil in many spheres and at many levels, and it is unsettling. Things in which we used to trust as rock-solid and unchanging have collapsed and worst-case scenarios are common. Most challenging of all is that the trajectory into the future seems to be for things to get more chaotic and for losses to continue to outpace gains. Yes, the view is troubling.
As we search for security and seek to keep our feet in the raging storm, we can begin to wonder if the Lord is still in control. How can all these “bad” things be happening unless God’s grip has slipped? Godlessness and lawlessness and evil are on the rise. Does this mean Satan is in control? Natural disasters. A global pandemic. Racial tension. Political division. Fear. Distrust. Chaos. “Lord, how can You allow these things on Your watch?” Has Satan broken out and is he now on the loose?
It is in times like these that we open our Bible and dig deep to find out what God has said in His Word. With regard to what we see in our present times, our Bible gives us a foundational truth that never changes:
This is implicit from the general tone and content of the Scriptures. In the Bible, the Lord makes statements about events that will take place decades or centuries in the future, because the Lord will control all things needed to bring those events into existence. See Genesis 15:13-14 about the captivity in Egypt; Isaiah 7:14 about the virgin birth of Immanuel; Micah 5:2 giving the Messiah’s birthplace.
But the Bible also makes explicit statements about the Lord’s sovereign control.
“But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” – Psalm 115:3
“. . . having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” – Ephesians 1:11
“But He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” – Daniel 4:35
So, if God is in sovereign control of all things, why do we see rampant godlessness in our world? Isn’t it possible that Satan is causing this rise in evil and is creating this open attack on the church and on the maligning of everything good?
Before we answer those questions, we must bury a myth that can easily insinuate itself into a Christian’s thinking, and the myth goes something like this: “If God is really in control, then Satan is powerless to cause evil to increase in my world and God will protect me from major problems in my life and bad stuff won’t happen to me.” (Read Satan’s words to God about Job in the first chapter of “Job” to get a biblical account of such thinking.) When those who have adopted this myth see growing corruption and wickedness and violence and conflict, they can conclude that God is no longer in control, and thus be deeply troubled and confused.
How do we deal with this?
First, we set our feet back on the rock of our foundational truth: Our God is always in absolute control of all things.
Second, we confess that this idea that “God proves He is in control by keeping me safe” is an unbiblical myth. God IS in control, and we trust Him to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
Third, I must realize that God is not ordaining all the events of history to ensure my personal comfort and happiness. Rather, God is ordaining all events because history is irresistibly moving toward a day of reckoning and final judgment when the Lord Jesus will come from heaven on a white horse to destroy the unrighteous and gather all the righteous to Himself forever (Revelation 19:11-21), and He has chosen me for salvation so that I can perform my small part in the grand drama.
Fourth, as we carefully read our Bibles, we see that Satan has, in fact, been given a significant role in world events at the end of the age. Therefore, if we have reached that time in history, we should not be surprised to see evidence of his activity in the world.
CAN GOD BE IN CONTROL IF SATAN IS RELEASED AND FREE?
Even with all that we have said, we are still left with the question, “How can God’s sovereign control be reconciled with Satan being able to increase evil and lawlessness in the world?” We will attempt to answer that question in our next post.
SDG rmb 1/29/2021