From a sermon by A. W. Tozer, quoted in Randy Alcorn’s blog September 3, 2016 (www.epm.org).
We are told in in Proverbs 3:19 and Jeremiah 10:12 that the Lord created the earth and stretched out the heavens by wisdom, understanding, and discretion. Those are two of many verses in the Bible that tell us about the wisdom of God. We have to grant goodness and wisdom to God, or we have no place to go, no rock to stand on, no way to do any thinking or reasoning or believing.
But someone will ask, “If God is good and wise, how do you explain cancer, prison camps, mass executions, wars, and all the other evils that are in the world?”
Let me answer by an allegory. Let us say that a man is very wise, and not only wise, but is rich to the point of having all the money in the world. And let us suppose he decides to build the most beautiful palace that has ever been built in the world. So in some little country, let’s say in Europe, he gathers together the finest artists and architects, the finest designers that can be found anywhere.
Then he says, “Money is no object. I want the most beautiful building in all the world. I want its floors to be gold, I want its walls to be jasper. I want it to be studded with diamonds and rubies. I want it to be the epitome of all that is beautiful. Now go to work and give me the best that you can give.” So pooling their wisdom and genius, they built a most beautiful building— a building that makes the Taj Mahal look like a barn.
Let us then suppose that after a year or so, the political fortunes change and a conquering army comes in and takes over that little country. They take over the palace, and crude, careless, barbarian soldiers with hobnailed boots make it their home. They care nothing about beauty, about art, about the diamonds and gold. Let us suppose that they stable their horses in the palace, that they spit on the floor and throw garbage all over the place and make a shambles out of it. Eventually, the beautiful palace is filled with dirt, old rags, and filth of every kind. The man who owns it and the artists who built it have fled into exile.
While the heel of the barbarian treads down the little country, one passerby whispers to another, “There’s the great palace, the greatest concentration of universal beauty known in the world.” And the other person says, “But look at it. It’s a pigpen! How can you say it’s beautiful?”
“Just wait for a while,” the first passerby replies. “There’s been a war and this is an occupied country. The fortunes of war will change again and the oppressor will be driven out.”
So then let us suppose that these bestial and brutal men are driven out. Then the rich man comes back from some far away retreat and says to his artists, architects and sculptors, “Let’s get to work and clean this up.”
After a year or so of work, the palace stands once again, shining in the noonday sun— the epitome of all beauty.
Once there was someone named God— God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. He turned His mighty wisdom loose on the making of man. He said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). Then he made a garden eastward in Eden and He put man in it.
Then Satan came into the garden and the fortunes of moral war changed. Satan took over and man sinned, betraying the God who made him. That which used to be the most beautiful of all gardens and most lovely of all worlds, was turned into a pigpen and plunged into darkness.
And so the critic walks about as the passersby did by the palace, and he says, “Are you telling me that a wise God made this pigpen?”
But I say, “God in His great wisdom and in His providential dealings with this world has allowed a foreign power to occupy it for a time. And this epitome of all beauty, our earth, is now under a cloud, a shadow.” Romans 8:19–22 says:
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
God’s wise plans will be carried out, but God in His wisdom has allowed, for a little time, this foreign occupation. The world we live in, with its cyclones, tornadoes, tempests, tidal waves and other forces of destruction, is under occupation.
But do you think that God Almighty has surrendered and gone away forever? No, he has not, and one of these days the great God Almighty is going to send His Son “from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God: and the dead in Christ will rise first; and then we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the clouds. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Encourage one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:16–18).
We will be changed, raised, glorified and made into the image of God. He’s going to clean house down here and there shall be peace. Then we will see that God was wise. But we’re going to have to be patient and go along with God for a little while, because we’re under occupation.
Proverbs 3:19 — By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place.
Jeremiah 10:12 — God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
Romans 8:18 — I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.