I was in my early 20’s working my way through college in a local hospital. I was the only orderly on the evening shift. I floated from floor to floor and for the most part I enjoyed my work. One task I didn’t enjoy was doing ‘post-mortems’. It was my job to arrange the body of the deceased so he would be symmetrical before rigor mortis set in. I was to assure proper identification by tying a name tag to the big toe and then remove false teeth, jewelry, etc. The first post-mortem I performed I was so overwhelmed by the reality of it I nearly passed out. But then, after several more experiences, I adapted to the emotional stress of performing such an unpleasant task and before long it became ‘old hat’.
Then one day I was called to pediatrics. A young child had passed away. Decades later it’s hard to find words to describe the feelings that surged through my heart. I was overwhelmed with sadness. It is one thing to prepare a man who has lived his three score and ten for the morgue. It is quiet another to prepare a five year old child who has been deprived of a life lived. Sadness turned to confusion. Why? Why would a loving and gracious God in heaven allow something like this to happen? When I failed to find an answer my confusion turned to anger and anger to bitterness. For a period of time, I, like so many others, questioned the very existence of God and if he did indeed exist then I questioned the nature of a God who would permit such a tragedy?
We experienced a horrible moment in our community last May when a mother driving with three small children in her car crossed the center line of the highway and caused a head-on collision with a car driven by a young, female college student driving in the opposite lane. The mother survived the accident but her two pre-school children and the driver of the other car perished. If there is a God and he really is good, why does he allow such tragedy? Why do babies die? Why does evil sometimes prevail? Why does a just God allow so much injustice to exist in the world he created?
With a little more maturity I was finally able to answer my questions about what seemed to me to be inconsistencies in the nature of God. God is not the cause of tragedy. Sin is what has caused this world to spin into a state of corruption and suffering. Mankind has lived in a corrupt and depraved world since the Adam and Eve chose their way over God’s way. Since their indiscretion, our world has been plagued by disease, death and destruction. These things are not what God wants for his creation. They are a consequence of the sinfulness of his creatures.
Hear the good news! This world is not always going to stay this way. God has promised to restore the hearts of those who are willing to repent. He was so earnest about his desire to save us that he sent his only son to die on a cross to make salvation a possibility to all and a reality to many. Not only has he determined to salvage the souls of the penitent, he also is determined to restore the earth and deliver his creation from the cancerous corruption she is plagued with.
If you want to know how the story ends, go to the end of the book. Revelation 20 describes the events that will lead up to the one thousand year reign of Christ. (Rev. 20:4) When we visualize the great contest between good and evil we tend to equate the opponents and wonder how the contest will end. Satan is no equal to an all powerful God. God doesn’t sully his hands with the filthy stench of the evil one. He sends an angel (Rev. 20:1), just one angel, to seize that “dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:2) God doesn’t need an army, he doesn’t even need a group of Navy Seals, he simply called on one of his angels to bind the enemy and drop him into a pit with no bottom, lock the gate and lose the key for 1,000 years.
In the millennial reign of Christ the earth will be healed and restored. It will be the time when God remembers his throne promise to David and Jesus Christ, descendent of David, will reign for one thousand years from his capital in Jerusalem. God will also remember his land promise to Abraham and the land of Israel will be restored to those to whom it was promised.
This millennial reign was prophesied thousands of years ago by the prophet Isaiah: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.” (Isaiah 65:19-21)
Isaiah speaks of a time when infant mortality will be non-existent. Has there ever been a time like that since the fall of man? So, the time he speaks of cannot be referring to time past. Some would say, “He must then be speaking of heaven.” Isaiah says that it will be considered a tragic thing when men don’t live well past one hundred. It will be quite normal for men to die after having lived hundreds of years. He cannot be referring to heaven because there is no death in heaven. The only period of history Isaiah could be speaking of is the millennium, the one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ.
God will soon embark on a new building project, a new construction project that will bring radical reform to the entire creation. It would pay well to invest in that project now while there is yet time.