Why Does God Tolerate Evil?

November 16, 2022

Are you not from eternity, LORD my God? My Holy One, you will not die. LORD, you appointed them to execute judgment; my Rock, you destined them to punish us. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.

So why do you tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are you silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself? You have made mankind like the fish of the sea, like marine creatures that have no ruler.

The Chaldeans pull them all up with a hook, catch them in their dragnet, and gather them in their fishing net; that is why they are glad and rejoice. That is why they sacrifice to their dragnet and burn incense to their fishing net, for by these things their portion is rich and their food plentiful. Will they therefore empty their net and continually slaughter nations without mercy?

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Written by Marlin Keel

The Reality of Sin

The moment Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, sin entered their hearts. Ruthless trust in God became ruthless disregard of Him. That sin will infest the hearts of their descendants until God’s redemptive plan for mankind comes full circle. Until then, mankind will live in a broken and sinful world. You can open the Bible to almost any location, begin reading, and you will soon encounter an individual or a group engaged in some form of sin. It’s easy to wonder: why does God tolerate evil?

Joshua had long seen the sin and disobedience of the Israelites during the Exodus and during the occupation of the Promised Land when he proclaimed “… choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD” (Joshua 24: 15).

Daniel was told by the man clothed in linen, “Go on your way, Daniel, for the words are secret and sealed until the time of the end.  Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand” (Daniel 12: 9 – 10, NIV).

Recently, Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute made the comment, “This is really a difficult period in world history, and there is not a lot of peace being made.”

The Boldness to Question God

The prophet Habakkuk lived in the same sinful and broken world. He saw the conflict and injustice around him in Judah, and he saw the idol-worshiping nation of Babylon prospering while enacting violence on defenseless people. Habakkuk approached God with questions on behalf of the people, boldly asking God, “Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habakkuk 1: 3). The prophet also wondered why God would tolerate evil.

The Faithfulness of God

God, knowing the sincerity of Habakkuk’s heart, responded that the Babylonians will have their day of accountability for their sinful ways. In addition, God told Habakkuk, “But the righteous one will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).

Habakkuk was a faithful believer in God, clinging to ruthless trust. He is challenged by God to hold fast to his faith and understand that even during times of seemingly endless havoc on earth, God remains sovereign.

What About Today?

Fast-forward to 2022. Our world is not much different than Habakkuk’s day. Individuals and nations continue in their evil ways. The answers to why He puts up with it are not always clear. Yet Habakkuk’s questions to God remain appropriate for today, and God’s response is even more relevant for today.

You and I must live by our faith. Our faith must not be a ho-hum assent that God is in control and will work it all out while we observe from the sidelines. Our faith must manifest itself in a ruthless trust in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Faith compels us to ask God how He wants us to be a part of His redemptive plan for humanity and then respond in obedience when He answers. He tolerates evil for each person to have an opportunity to put their faith in Jesus.

And God is eternally faithful to those who seek Him.

Now What?

Ask the Lord how He would have you participate in His plan of redemption. Who can you reach out to with the hope of Christ? How can you exhibit ruthless trust in God as you do, no matter the results?

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