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Many atheists claim a major reason for not believing in God is that they cannot reconcile the existence of an all-powerful and loving God who is unable to stop war, suffering and injustice. The Bible, however, gives credible explanations for these concerns.
Jeremiah asked: “... Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1). Job also complained to God: “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (Job 21:7), and a similar question is posed in Psalms: “Lord, ...how long will the wicked triumph?” (Psalms 94:3).
Evil began long before the creation of Adam and Eve when Lucifer, a mighty angelic being, led a rebellion with a third of the angels against God (Isaiah 14:12-17). The rebellion was beaten back and the sinful angels were thrown down to the earth (Revelation 12:3-4; Luke 10:18). Lucifer became known as Satan or the devil, meaning an adversary or accusatory liar. Since that time Satan, filled with hatred against God and man, has been actively preoccupied with destroying God’s creation and plans. The world we live in is Satan’s domain—at least for now.
God told Adam and Eve they could freely eat of the tree of life and warned them eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would end in death, as it symbolized determining for oneself what is good and evil. Satan lied to Adam and Eve and encouraged them to disobey God: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).
Adam and Eve believed Satan and did exactly what God told them not to do. This resulted in them being expelled from the Garden of Eden and cut off from access to the tree of life. Their decision thrust them into Satan’s world, which is a painful chronicle of endless disputes, war and every imaginable evil.
The account of the temptation of Christ provides further confirmation this world is ruled by Satan. The devil offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” if He would worship him: “Then the devil...showed Him all the kingdoms of the world... And ...said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You...for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours’” (Luke 4:5-7).
Paul also reminded Christians that before their calling by God they had been deceived and controlled by Satan: “... you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, ... fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath...” (Ephesians 2:2-3).
God is all-powerful and could eliminate evil at any time, but His purpose in creating humans with free will necessitates letting them make wrong choices and learning powerful lessons from experiencing the consequences of those wrong decisions. Although the rule of Satan is bent on destroying what God is doing, he is not thwarting God’s purposes.
Satan’s evil reign will soon come to an end when Jesus returns to restore His Kingdom and: “... there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain...” (Revelation 21:4), and there will be access to the tree of life (Revelation 2:7; 22:14).
Beyond Today Magazine