Jeremiah 5:12 They have belied the LORD, and said, It is not he; neither shall evil come upon us; neither shall we see sword nor famine:
This is a common refrain these days, that God does not bring trouble on the world, let alone His own people. One of my own family members accused me one day, saying, “What?! Are you saying God brought this on that person!?” as if to tell me in no uncertain terms that God is not the bringer of calamity in any way. The director for a rescue/recovery ministry in Canada spoke at my church one year, stating that God’s Word in Job where Job says,
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
is wrong, false, and not to be taken as gospel because after all, it’s in the book of Job and Job was a very messed up man being counselled by equally messed up friends.
Both this family member, and this ministry director along with others I’ve come across since those encounters, are forgetting large swaths of the Bible where God clearly states that He will take, will give, and bring troubles on the world and even His Children.
Thirteen times in the Old Testament, the KJV records God saying He will bring evil on those who have disobeyed and turned their backs on Him. The concept of God taking things away is also riddled through the Scriptures.
More recently, people around me are getting more vocal about whether or not God allows or brings calamity on people such as natural disasters, ill-health of some variety, accidents, lost jobs, etc. The greater community of these voices appears to be among the Word-faithers and the modern concept of prophecy as taught in today’s Schools of Prophecy whereby if you are prophesying according to the whole counsel of God, you are seen as a renegade, a heretic, and a false prophet. The modern prophet is supposed to ONLY say what is positive, uplifting, etc. They are NOT to say anything negative at any time for any reason. But that’s a bunny trail to the current discussion.
Of those near me who can see these troublesome teachings and understandings for what they are, some are noticing that the arguments used to support their positions are largely selfish in nature, short-sighted, and emotion-based. Some do try to use Scriptures to back themselves up, but they are refusing to acknowledge what appear to be contradicting Scriptures that tell another side of the coin.
I’ve begun going through the Scriptures to look at some of these arguments. The first being that God will never be the bringer of evil. According to the KJV version of Scripture, the word “evil” appears almost 700 times in Scripture, and at least 93 of them are in reference to what God will bring on people and nations. As for the term “will bring”, that phrase appears in the KJV 122 times, with 61 of those referring to God taking action in a disciplinary or punishment sense and another 42 times referring to God bringing healing, restoration, etc. Interesting that there are more references to God supposedly bringing evil on His people than bringing restoration and healing. These numbers fly in the face of those who claim God never does these things.
Verses in the New Testament (because many of these terms were OT only) would ask us to remember that trials and tribulations come for our growth and that when we let them run their course, we gain things like character-development, refinement for God’s Kingdom, and other benefits. The Apostle Paul’s series of shorter books in the middle of the New Testament refer to these concepts, among others of his writings. We are told as Christians to expect chastening from the Lord as well, and that those who are not chastened are not sons and daughters.
Scripture is full of uncomfortable examples of the discussion here so far. But one reason I believe it is so uncomfortable, is the human tendency to see things and interpret them at face value rather than go deeper into what might actually be meant by the words used. The problem is that English is dumbed down in comparison to the ancient languages in which our Scriptures were written. The word “love” for example, has five different words in the Greek! Even our own dictionaries give entire lists of meanings for single words, yet we tend to only ever acknowledge one or two of those meanings in any course of conversation or communication. Even when we read Scripture, the idea that a given word might have a different meaning than the one we’ve assigned to it in our mind, rare comes to the forefront of our thinking. Consequently, we’ve given colloquial or popularly interpreted meanings to words such as hate and evil that give context to God’s Word in ways God did not intend. The word “Hate” for example, has a tense of meaning different than what we give it today. So does the word “evil” I’ve come to discover.
My upcoming book on this subject will delve into these definition problems that shape how we’ve both read and discarded the 13 references to God bringing evil on those who disobey and turn their backs on Him. The book will delve into the scenarios where these and other statements are made, looking at what brought God to each of those scenarios. Do we serve a mean God? Do we serve an angry God? Or do we serve a God of love and grace?! Needless to say, a side of God’s character that gets conveniently and forcefully overlooked, will be brought out in this book. God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good! But as some are known to say, good does not equal safe. Stay tuned, when you get out of this boat, the waves WILL be choppy!