Today: [Proverbs 21] Did God Create Evil? In Proverbs 21 Solomon again addresses the issue of the sovereignty of God. There are times that the fear mongers and apocalypse theorists seem to forget this. No matter what is going on around us or how dark the days may seem – God is in control. All things are under God’s rule and nothing happens without His direction or permission. His purposes are all inclusive and are never thwarted. God not only has the power to rule all things but in fact does so always and without exception. In that light then we adjust our perspective from one of trembling from what we see happening in the world to trusting from what we see coming of the kingdom.
[Pro 21:1-31 KJV] 1 The king’s heart [is] in the hand of the LORD, [as] the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. 2 Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. 3 To do justice and judgment [is] more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. 4 An high look, and a proud heart, [and] the plowing of the wicked, [is] sin. 5 The thoughts of the diligent [tend] only to plenteousness; but of every one [that is] hasty only to want. 6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue [is] a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. 7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment. 8 The way of man [is] froward and strange: but [as for] the pure, his work [is] right. 9 [It is] better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. 10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes. 11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.
Verse 1 of Proverbs 21 tells us that the heart of a king is in the hand of the Lord and He turns it where He wills. Does this only include godly kings? Exodus 7:13 tells us that Pharoah’s heart was hardened and that God did it for His own purposes to show His glory to the ancient Egyptians. Again Solomon references in his wisdom saying the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men. Consider the following verses:
[Pro 16:1, 9 KJV] 1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, [is] from the LORD. … 9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
[Pro 20:24 KJV] 24 Man’s goings [are] of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
[Psa 105:25 KJV] 25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.
The subject of the sovereignty of God is a daunting one for those of us who have been taught that self-determination is the highest of expression of what makes us human. What is the take away for us? Even though God ultimately is in control that does not mean that man is not responsible or held accountable for His actions. There is something within us that rejects such thinking. We want to come up with explanations that work around such suggestions so that we can live with ourselves or live with the idea of a God who controls the affairs of our life but we cannot control Him.
[Pro 16:4 KJV] 4 The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
In Isaiah we read the following.
[Isa 45:7 KJV] 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].
Isaiah went on to declare by the Spirit of the Lord what is one of the least quoted and most quoted scriptures in the bible:
[Isa 54:16-17 KJV] 16 Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [that] shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This [is] the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [is] of me, saith the LORD.
Whatever the implications are for us and for Christian theology we have to bear in mind that though God is sovereign, He is also the personification of love, goodness, mercy and justice and we can trust Him. Whatever these verses mean to us they do not imply that God wants to harm us, taunt us or toy with us in any way. What they do tell us is that there is no such thing as randomness in the earth. Whatever the lasting outcome of any particular process we are a part of – God is ultimately in control of both the process and the outcome and we can trust to His providence and His loving care for each one of us.
12 The righteous [man] wisely considereth the house of the wicked: [but God] overthroweth the wicked for [their] wickedness. 13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. 14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath. 15 [It is] joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction [shall be] to the workers of iniquity. 16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. 17 He that loveth pleasure [shall be] a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. 18 The wicked [shall be] a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. 19 [It is] better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. 20 [There is] treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. 21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Verse 18 tells us that the wicked shall be ransom for the righteous. As believers we look around us at a post-Christian world and feel increasingly alienated. There was a time that we felt sheltered and that our liberties to worship God as we see fit were unfettered. That is no longer true. The values of secularism and the principles of individualism in our society have become so pronounced that they are encroaching upon those who even suggest that there is higher accountability to anyone other than one’s self. Regardless of man’s rebellion or the institutional persecution that is becoming increasingly more common even in the US against people of faith we have to remember that God’s word is still true. The wicked will be ransom for the righteous. God is in control. No matter if society denigrates itself to the level seen in ancient Rome God is still capable of causing kings to tremble at the foot of the cross. Our focus is not to get distracted by what is happening in the world but to keep our eye upon the throne of God and know that He works all things – even the outcomes of court cases, legal proceedings and elections, to our good. Jesus addressed such things and gave us the following words of comfort:
[Luk 12:32 KJV] 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
22 A wise [man] scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof. 23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. 24 Proud [and] haughty scorner [is] his name, who dealeth in proud wrath. 25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. 26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked [is] abomination: how much more, [when] he bringeth it with a wicked mind? 28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly. 29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but [as for] the upright, he directeth his way. 30 [There is] no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. 31 The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.
Verse 22 tells us that wisdom will empower us to defeat the boundaries set up against us in society. A wise man scales the city of the mighty and casts down the strength of the confidence thereof. It doesn’t matter if leaders in high places boast themselves against God and flaunt their disobedience to God’s word. Looking back on the historical books we have studied, when Israel was taken captive by Babylon and then Persia – God’s men and women rose to great prominence in the very empires that held them captive. Just know that God is in control of what happens to you next. Put your confidence in Him. Walk in the wisdom that He affords us from the leadership of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Do not be deceived or misled by the fear mongers and conspiracy theorists who refuse to see anything but the problem. Put your trust in God and know that He will promote you and empower you regardless of what is going on round about you.
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