The world is full of darkness and sadness. Despite our best efforts, things happen that cause us to question God’s goodness. Most people despise evil because it is harmful, destructive, and a contrast to what is good and righteous. (a) [see end notes for Scriptures] Some even ask: “if there is a wise and all powerful God, why is there evil in the world” or “why did God let that awful thing happen to me?”
Despite a common notion that there is a dark side of God, He is “pure Light and full of unlimited Love.” (b) Not even a shade of darkness is in God, nor does any evil activity or temptation come from Him. (c) So, if evil is not of or from the Almighty, why does God allow evil to exist and complicate our lives?
In The Garden
There is a difference between the Eternal God and our temporal perceptions of Him. When God decided to have offspring and raise them as children, He created the natural world with day and night cycles. The natural realm was designed as an environment where He could birth offspring into existence and assist our development through the recurring process of time. The created cycles of day and night facilitate our growing development into levels of maturity.
Remember, during the creative beginnings, God planted “two trees good for food in the midst of the Garden of Eden;” the “Tree of Life” and the “Tree of the knowledge (awareness) of good and evil.” (d) Yes, both trees were good for food – to eat and partake of! Scripture goes on to say the Tree of Life represents the wisdom we receive from God’s instruction while the other is a source of wisdom we receive from natural experience. (e)
Notice how Jesus equated “good and evil” with the natural: “that you may be sons of your heavenly Father; for He causes His sun to rise on the good and the evil (natural life), and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (spiritual life).” (f) The second tree noted represents the wisdom gained from natural life – the good (productive) and evil (destructive) results of cause and effect. Bad attitudes and actions produce destructive results.
God’s caution in the Garden was: “In the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” (g) The Hebrew text of the Old Testament puts it this way: “In the time you partake of it you will be dying.” God actually spoke of an on-going condition, not an immediate or ultimate death.
It was their intimate communication with God that suffered the deathly hit. Their confusion developed a fearful perception of God and they hid from His presence. When we ignore God and focus only on natural life, we experience more ill results. Many people are good at hide and seek.
When we ignore God and focus only on natural life, we experience more ill results.
Perceptions of God
When we ignore or refuse our heavenly Father’s guidance, we develop mistaken perceptions that lead us into destructive evils. Many times the ill we experience is a result of someone’s activity forcing a “Cause and Effect Principle” and “we reap what is sown.” (h) The natural mechanism is a corrective factor to help us turn to God for help and hopefully change our behavior. God’s involvement is for our corrective good, not our destruction. (i)
The error in the Garden of Eden was a decision to ignore God’s insight and focus on gaining wisdom from the light and dark variances of natural life. (j) Turning away from God produced a relational stress and clouded their understanding. Our perception of God and His way still remains a bit cloudy.
Our Bibles say: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…the beginning of knowledge… instruction for wisdom…is clean, enduring forever.” (k) Our translations tend to hide what Scripture actually says here. There are two very different Hebrew words translated as ‘fear.’ One is pachad which means ‘dreadful fear’ and the other is yirah which means ‘reverencing awe.’ Vastly different words! The passages quoted above and many more translated as fear are yirah.
The difference is easily observed when we look at their usage in one event. Israel had a (yirah) ‘reverential awe’ of God while those who opposed God’s purposes had a (pachad) ‘dreadful fear’ of God. (m) This illustrates Scripture is not telling us to dreadfully fear God but that “a reverential awe of God is the beginning of wisdom.” Think about it!
Remember, we are all God’s offspring who are intended to become disciplined children of our heavenly Father. (n) During this life, we choose to hear, receive, and live in The Light and Love of God. We allow perceptions of God and His ways to enlighten us as developing children. The dreadful fear of God is a result of the confusion that comes from ignoring God.
God’s involvement is for our corrective good, not our destruction.
God created this natural atmosphere for us to initially live and develop into children who reflect and resemble Him. This natural life includes the created features of day and night. This allows us to experience its mix of various shades of light and dark, degrees of good and evil, times of productive and destructive results, and times of righteous and unrighteous activity.
Yes, a level of wisdom is gained from our productive and destructive activity; this life allows us to choose and pursue the good, better and best that is available. God offers to lead and guide us so that we suffer less from our ‘try and see’ mentality.
While many begin life with foggy perceptions, some choose to remain in various stages of a Prodigal Son’s life. When we choose to ignore our heavenly Father, we can appear to get by with it for a time. Some even manage to live in God’s house and fail to understand His fatherly heart. (o)
The destructive contrast of evil is a part of nature. Children mature better when they learn to discern and make good choices. Godly guidance encourages better choices. May our acceptance of God and His ways help our words and actions become better expressions of His heart!
Godly guidance encourages better choices.
a) Matthew 5:44-45; Acts 10:38; b) John 1:5; 4:8, 16; c) James 1:13, 17; d) Genesis 2:9-10; 3:6-7; e) Jeremiah 17:5-8; Proverbs 15:1-5; Psalm 1:1-3; f) Matthew 5:44-45; g) Genesis 2:17; h) Galatians 6:7; i) Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6, 9-10; Psalm 19:9; Isaiah 26:9; j) Genesis 3:6; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 John 2:16-17; k) Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; 2:5; Psalm 19:9; m) 2 Chronicles 19:9; 20:29; n) Acts 17:28; John 1:2; 8:12; 12:36; Romans 8:14; o) Luke 15:11-32