I am increasingly disturbed at the horrible atrocities committed against innocent people. Why doesn’t God step in and stop the advance of evil in the world? Surely He can do it. He is omnipotent and omnipresent. He knows what is going on, and I am sure it grieves Him terribly.
Why doesn’t He send down a bolt of lightning every time someone picks up a weapon to commit a crime against one of His innocent children? Why doesn’t He cause the vehicles of those perpetrators of evil to crash and burn before they are able to carry out their evil design? There are two parables Jesus taught that give insight on the matter.
The first is the parable of the wheat and the tares, and the other is the parable of the sheep and the goats. The parable of the wheat and the tares is found in KJV Matthew 13:24-30:
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, they were cast into a world of tares, so to speak. God didn’t create the tares to make men miserable. Tares were the consequence of natural law. Laws even God is bound by. If God breaks the law, He will cease to be God. He will have sinned, and no unclean thing can enter into His kingdom. In like manner, Adam and Eve transgressed the law that governs eternal life by eating of the forbidden fruit.
I don’t know what kind of fruit that was – apple, orange, passionfruit – but partaking of that fruit had the power to make Adam and Eve mortal. They became subject to the laws and consequences of mortality. In that mortality, wheat and tares grow together. Evil and good co-exist.
Mortality became a probationary period, a place of choices. Men and women could make choices. They could choose to work or not work. They could choose whatever fruit they wanted to eat and where they wanted to live, but more importantly they could choose to follow God or Satan. Adam and Eve chose to follow God, but, sadly, some of their children didn’t.
Cain was the first to commit a crime against innocence. God could have stopped Cain before he slew Abel. He could have struck him with lightning the minute he started thinking about harming Abel, or he could have had him bitten by a viper just as he raised his hand against his brother – but God doesn’t work that way. The crime must be committed before the consequence comes.
How could Cain’s judgment have been just and fair if he had been stopped before he committed the crime? He could have said to God, at the judgment day, “I really wasn’t going to kill my brother. I was just thinking about it. You can’t punish me for something I didn’t do.” Cain would have been right, but if he really commits the crime, he has no defense. God is perfectly just.
In other words, the tare must grow fully into a tare before it can be called a tare. It can’t have any resemblance to wheat at harvest. Day by day, people make choices that make them into wheat or tares. There will be no question what kind of plant we are at the judgment day.
But what about the innocent whose life is ruined or destroyed by the tare’s choices? Don’t you think they need to have some justice too? It really doesn’t seem fair. Life was not meant to be fair. It was meant to be just. The innocent who are killed by the hand of wickedness will go immediately into the merciful arms of the Savior. He will make everything right.
Those who live and suffer the terrible loss, day after day, will have the opportunity to turn to God for mercy. He will give it in abundance. He will teach them the power of forgiveness, and they will become more and more like wheat until the perfect day when He gathers them up in his loving arms and wipes away all their tears.
If those who suffer do not turn to Him for mercy, but seek revenge and obtain it, they will in the end show themselves to be tares, and their judgment will be just. You see, even Christ was the example of someone who suffered atrocities and forgave the perpetrators.
The parable of the sheep and the goats (KJV Matthew 25:31-40) is very much like the parable of the wheat and the tares:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
The sheep in this parable are like the blades of wheat in the other parable. Choices and decisions make up the character of individuals. We grow into the kind of persons we will be at the end of our lives. Day by day, hour by hour, we become the product of every thought, decision and action from the moment we are born to the day we die. We, like Adam and Eve, are subject to the consequences of mortality.
God stands as an impartial judge. He does not shield us from the consequences, and He does not force our obedience. He will warn us if we want to be warned. Like any loving parent, He will be involved in our lives as we choose to allow Him to be. He says, “Ask and ye shall receive.” He does not say, “I will give without your asking.” He says, “I will direct thy path,” but He expects to know that we are interested in His direction.
God will not force the outcome in our lives, any more than He forced the outcome in Adam and Eve’s life. He could have put a fence around the tree where the forbidden fruit was growing. He could have planted the tree outside the garden where Adam and Eve would never find it, but He wanted them to have the experience of mortality.
He wanted them to choose Him over everything else in the world. He wanted to give them all that He has, but He wanted to know that they really wanted it. For that to happen, He must allow evil to hurt good and good to influence evil, and we must choose to be sheep, not goats; and wheat, not tares.
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