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Post  Admin on Sun 02 Aug 2009, 1:47 pm

GOD'S WAYS ARE UNSEARCHABLE

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Rom. 11:33)

Why do bad things happen in life?

Why did your mortgage fall through? Why did those tornados rip through your town? Why did your husband get sick?

At my house, the questions went like this: Why did my father-in-law die when he did? Couldn't he have lived another year so that he could meet my second son? Why did my nephew have the accident that cut off his hand? Why did my dad have to die?

The Jewish nation must have had the opportunity to ask some hard "Why did" questions throughout their history as well. Especially as the time of the Babylonian captivity drew near . . .

Our story today begins in 2 Kings 21:19-23. The Israelites had been split into two fractions: The northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah. By this stage, after hundreds of years of idolatry, God had already passed judgment on the northern kingdom. It had been taken captive by the Assyrians and Israel had ceased to exist. Although the southern kingdom had also been heavy into idol worship, their history sported distinct periods when the people did turn back to God.

Take Hezekiah for example. He was a good king, and the land was blessed throughout his reign. He returned the people to the ways of the Lord (See 2 Kings 18:1-3). But then Manassah, his son, came to the throne and he did what was "evil in the eyes of the Lord . . ." (2 Kings 21:2):

And God's response? "I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah . . . I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down." (2 Kings 21:12-14)

We'll pause here to ask an important question: Doesn't the punishment seem a bit harsh? And while we're asking, didn't annihilation seem a bit cruel for the kingdom of Israel to the north? Isn't God a loving and forgiving God? Doesn't it seem vindictive to simply "wipe" them "out"?

To answer this question, we have to remember that Israel was a chosen nation, one that God handpicked as His own; one that would one day bring forth His beloved Son as a resolution to the problem of sin. God needed them to stay true to Him, and they had been well-warned through the years, even as early on as Moses:

"However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands . . . The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth." (Deut. 28:15-18, 25)

In allowing the annihilation of Israel, God was not only fulfilling the warning given hundreds of years earlier, but he was also giving a new warning to the Southern Kingdom: God is true to His Word!

After Manassah, Amon was king. He was also an evil king (See 2 Kings 21:19-23), but upon his murder, Josiah, who was probably the Godliest king Judah had lived under since David, became king. Josiah cleansed not only Judah, but the land that had once been Israel, of idolatry; he repaired the temple; and he reinstated the feasts. He did everything in his power to turn the people back to God (See 2 Kings 22).

Despite his reforms, however, history records that Josiah was only 38 years old when he was killed in battle against Egypt. Just a few years later, Jerusalem was destroyed and the nation was taken captive to Babylon.

The story raises a couple of interesting questions: First of all, why would the people still be punished, despite all the reformation the Josiah brought about?

The answer lies in the story of Josiah's son, Jehoahaz. "Jehoahaz . . . Did evil in the eyes of the LORD . . ." (2 Kings 23:31-32)

Friends, if the hearts of the people had really been turned back to God during Josiah's reign, they wouldn't have slipped so quickly back into idolatry! You can reinstate religion. You can make the bad things illegal. But if the hearts of the people aren't turned back to the Lord, repentance hasn't happened! God wanted more than just a king turning back to Him. He wanted the hearts of the people! Judgment had to happen so that the people's hearts would be turned back to Him!

But my second question "why?": Why did Josiah die so young? If he had lived a few more years, wouldn't he have brought about more reforms? Maybe he would have succeeded in bringing the hearts of the people to the Lord!

Perhaps, from the human perspective, it does seem like a waste; but we, as humans, can't always see the big picture. You see, this was all some big orchestrated plan. The people had turned so far from God that even good king Josiah couldn't get their attention. God's plan would bring the people back to Him included disaster, and that plan was already rolling. But God recognized Josiah's efforts, and prior to His death, He made the following promise: "Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD . . . I will gather you to your fathers . . . Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place." (2 Kings 22:19,20)

And in order for the promise to be kept, God simply took him home.

Friends, God is in control of history. When he allows what we label "bad things" to happen, it is so that all the pieces fit together. We think it's bad, yes. But is it really?

A few months after my father-in-law died, his oldest son was thrown into prison for unspeakable crimes. My father-in-law would have been devastated. He would have disinherited his son. My mother-in-law would have taken the side of her son, the family would have been ripped apart, and the one who would have suffered the most would have been my own husband. God always knows what He is doing!

The hand accident also turned out to be a blessing. He was allowed to spend the summer at home, getting to know his kids, getting the rest his body so desperately needed after so many years of farming. This time also helped him realize that God has something better in mind for him than being a dairy farmer.

What about my dad?

Friends, I don't have all the answers. When I look at these stories, however, I realize that I don't need to understand. Why? Because there is Someone who DOES have the answers, and that Someone is God. God's "judgments" are "unsearchable", and His "ways past finding out" (Rom. 11:33)!

Can we trust Him enough to know that when "bad" things happen, He can turn it around for the good?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Eccl 3:11a)

In His love,

Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
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