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What the Bible says about God Creates Calamity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

God is aware of everything regarding our lives. Not even a thought can be hidden from Him regardless of where we are, regardless of what justifications we might give for what we decide to do. So, when it comes down to the issue of sovereignty, do we allow God to be sovereign in our lives? One of His names, Yahweh Shammah, means "The Lord Is There." Since we are His children, wherever we are, He is. If we allow ourselves to entertain ideas that He is unconcerned about us, we are gravely mistaken.

God's supremacy is so great that He can keep track of all that is happening across the entire expanse of what He has made. Therefore, He is allowing what is occurring in the world. He is permitting it to occur and even directly causing some of the calamitous events to happen. He is not detached from what is going on—in fact, everything is under control. He who sees every sparrow fall also has His eyes on us for our good.

Whatever we do, we must not allow Him to slip from our thoughts. Every thought of those who live by faith should begin with Him and His will.



Job 2:10

Should a Christian allow himself to bemoan God's goodness even during a trial? When Job's wife wanted him to curse God for bringing trials upon him, Job expressed the right principle of God's universal goodness and fairness when he rebuked her for grumbling.

There are times when we may feel like God is not treating us fairly. Job points out that, as God's creations and recipients of His generosity and benevolence, we have no right to complain when He allows us to be afflicted or tests us through hardship.

Martin G. Collins
Fear the Lord's Goodness!

Ecclesiastes 7:13

Even as man makes many things crooked (Ecclesiastes 1:15), God, too, wrests things out of our hands and twists our paths in a different direction—and we certainly cannot undo what He has done. He exercises His sovereign authority, and it turns things upside down. He upsets the natural order of the cosmos, and the normal course of events for mankind in general and for individuals. He subverts the cause of anyone He chooses, according to His goodness and what He knows is best.

Many people have a hard time with this aspect of God, preferring to shy away from it. Yet He says Himself that He creates calamity (Isaiah 45:7). What is calamity if not crookedness on a monumental scale? He caused the Flood that destroyed all of mankind save eight. He removed a hedge around Job, which resulted in a tremendous trial. He decimated the nation of Egypt. When His people were obedient, He annihilated the armies of those who came against them, but when His people were rebellious, He fought against them and spoiled their efforts. He sent Israel into captivity, scattering them so thoroughly that most of them do not even know who they are.

Closer to home, He scattered His own church because He judged that its course needed to be upset—because it was not good. The course needed to be wrenched in a different direction in order for each child of His to examine his own ways to see what crookedness needs to be straightened out. And as Solomon rhetorically asks, who can undo what the Creator has willed to occur? Only He can—and only when and how He ordains.

If it seems like our every endeavor turns sour, or similar events are conspiring against us, it is not necessarily because we are being punished for being the worst of sinners. Perhaps we are—but we have to remember that even if we have the very best spiritual walk, perfectly resembling Jesus Christ, we will always encounter things that are crooked because the world is crooked, because Satan is continuing to make things crooked, and because God, too, is making things crooked (at least according to human reckoning). The reality is that His actions are always good and will always produce good fruit in the end, but that does not change the fact that they may also turn our world upside down in a most uncomfortable way. And that is all before we add in the crookedness that we cause ourselves!

Even so, we should not despair. God makes things crooked, but He also makes things straight. He supplies what is lacking when we cannot. Recall the crooked hands and legs that He made straight during His earthly ministry and the healing He performs for us. Consider the resurrections that He performed and the crookedness that He straightened out in them. Ponder the food that He provided and the truth that He supplied when they were lacking. He came to a crooked world and began setting things straight.

He did not do it all at once, though He is nevertheless continuing to make straight the crookedness introduced into His creation some 6,000 years ago. The Father and the Son are always working (John 5:17), and they are working for our spiritual benefit. Part of Their work is making things straight for the firstfruits, intervening to bring us to a vastly different conclusion from the end we would reach on our own.

God, at times, grants His children favor in the eyes of others when the normal course would be for them to be despised. He gives peace, which can include straightening out an interpersonal conflict. He takes things that are out of kilter and wrests them to bring them into alignment. “Power belongs to God,” the psalmist says, and so it should be common sense to seek favor with Him, because then He is willing to upset the order of things in a way that will help us toward the Kingdom.

He does not make everything perfect all at once, but as we continue to walk with Him, He straightens out sections of our road that we cannot straighten. He does not take away all of the consequences of our crookedness, nor does He undo all of the world's crookedness that impinges on us. Nevertheless, He straightens enough so that we can continue making spiritual progress and even receive unexpected blessings along the way.

David C. Grabbe
Crookedness

Isaiah 45:9-14

Verses 9-11 anticipate that there will always be those who murmur throughout the often calamitous ways God chooses to work out His salvation. Perhaps here God is specifically targeting the anticipated displeasure of some Jews disturbed that He would use a Gentile king, Cyrus, to free them. People who would not dare to grumble against God were they face to face with Him will do this, not realizing that God actually caused some of their discomfort in the calamities they experience. Israel did this in the wilderness. Deuteronomy 8:1-3 plainly says God caused them to hunger. The Israelites grumbled repeatedly, not realizing God was making them go hungry for their good (verses 3, 16). People ask, "Where is God? If He really cared, He wouldn't allow this to occur."

In reality, God cared about far more important things than the hunger pangs the Israelites endured. People frequently blame God with little understanding and in the wrong attitude. He indeed may be "guilty" of causing the calamity. Sometimes He may be blamed for doing nothing, when in reality He may be "guilty" of doing everything because He has a much greater end in mind! The problem with those who dare to accuse God is that they have a vague and weak understanding of how much He is involved.

Verses 11-13 are simultaneously a rebuke and a challenge to those who take this confused and whining approach. What God does is done in righteousness, and He will follow through with His will regardless of their opinions. He challenges them to ask Him about this prophecy and, if they think He cannot bring it to pass, to notice the power He displayed in His creation. The unstated question is, "Who is going to stop Me?" Further, Cyrus will not have to be bribed to perform what God has decreed—he will rebuild Jerusalem, just as God wills.

Passages like these clearly establish that God initiates calamitous events that on the surface appear to be disasters. But such passages also inspired Paul to formulate the well-known and oft-quoted Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." We most need to understand that God creates these events to produce a result in harmony with His purpose. Thus, they are always good whether or not they appear as such on the surface. This in no way means they are fun to go through. By definition, a calamity is not fun, invariably producing the destruction of things we may hold dear. It may be quite painful and frightening! But, if we believe God, and if we are coming to know Him, then we will strive to work through it in patient hope, trusting His wisdom, love, and power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)

Amos 1:2

In the wild a lion roars just as it is about to pounce on its prey. Symbolically and metaphorically, the roar of a lion or the crack of thunder shows the imminent intervention of God in human affairs (I Samuel 2:10; Isaiah 29:6; 31:4; Hosea 11:9-11; Revelation 16:18).

In the mid-eighth century BC when Amos preached, Israel's economic base was largely in agriculture, but a drought had begun to destabilize that foundation. The pastures had already begun to feel the effects of God's roaring, as had Carmel, the most verdant part of Israel, and incidentally, the supposed stronghold of Baal. Amos proclaims that the drought is the result of God's judgment.

The prophet uses this drought to illustrate that God is not an absentee landlord. He governs His creation (Psalm 104; Matthew 6:26) and knows everything that happens in it (Psalm 139; Matthew 10:29). He has neither abdicated nor delegated these responsibilities. If calamity strikes, God is involved in some way, possibly executing judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part One)

Amos 5:19

One calamity occurs after another. It seems as if a person escapes one of them, only to become caught in a worse calamity. The Day of the Lord will be a time of unending catastrophe and trouble.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Three)

Philippians 2:14-15

Comprehending God's sovereignty should begin to produce another necessary yet difficult quality: complete resignation to God's will. We Israelites have gained quite a reputation with God for being unwilling to accept life without griping.

Human nature naturally complains when it feels it has been deprived of what it had its heart set on. We think that our possessions are ours unconditionally. We feel that we are entitled to success when we have done something well. We believe that, when we work hard and competently, we deserve to keep what we have accumulated. We hold that, when surrounded by our happy family, no power may enter our beloved circle and strike down a loved one. We can even think that we should be immune from bankruptcy because God must honor our obedience! However, understanding and accepting God's sovereignty includes His right to do or allow anything He wills.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 




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