God's Use of Evil and the Allotment
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1995
This excerpt is Chapter Seven of the booklet:
"The ABC’s of the Gospel" published in 1995 and updated in 1998.
(This book is still in print and can be obtained from A.S.K. See Publications page on this Web Site.)
The Bible from beginning to end shows that God is Almighty. He is the Almighty God! This means the Godhead is in charge of all that happens in the universe and there is nothing that occurs within the heavenly or earthly realm that God is not supervising. He is in complete control of everything. His utter and thorough power is summed up well in First Chronicles 29:11. ‘Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." So powerful is God that Satan the Devil obeys every command that God gives him (Job 1:6-12;2:1-8). There is no controversy going on between God and Satan because there is no match and\or comparison between the two. Satan’s power is merely a reflection of that which emanates from God and God could cut off the power and authority of Satan by a snap of the finger if he so wished. Also, the Bible shows that God governs the evil found in the universe and is ultimately responsible for it. Truly, God is Almighty.
James stated that God knows all things that he has planned from the beginning and that the details of that plan will be carried out precisely according to God’s dictates (Acts 15:18). God projected that Christ would enter the world and die in place of mankind for their sins. He would be "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). Christ was prophesied to die at a particular time, in a certain spot, and by a select group of people, and it was all in the strategy devised by God from the beginning.
The crucifixion of Christ (God’s own Son) was the greatest evil that had been planned within the foreknowledge of God the Father. And the exact detail of the crucifixion was prophesied beforehand and was an evil planned by God. Indeed, we are told in the Bible that God not only creates good that he dispenses to any in the universe as he pleases, but he also creates evil and uses it in the best way he knows in order to accomplish his purposes. God says: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). Yes, God creates evil. See all of Isaiah 54:16 and Amos 3:6 for two of the many scriptures that show that God creates and uses EVIL in any way he wants.
Let us understand one thing clearly, however. In the Bible "evil" and "sin" are two different things. In no way does God ever ‘‘sin’’ because ‘‘sin is the transgression of law’’ (I John 3:4) and since it is God who is solely responsible for the creation and allowance of all laws, then all God has to do is to change any law (even one that he has legislated as being the most holy) and he can do just the opposite of what he once commanded and without the slightest "sin" being attached to his character. But "evil" is something different. It is a relative term that simply signifies actions that we consider as "bad things." While all sin is "bad" (or evil), not all bad things that God allows to happen are "sin." Evil in the Bible can be described by such words as calamity, misery, woe, hurt, wickedness, and of course bad.
Examples of such evil would be a hurricane that destroyed a whole section of south Florida, a tornado that leveled a Kansas town, or a rampaging river system that flooded millions of acres of valuable farmland causing vast numbers of people to be in misery or to suffer calamity. The word evil describes such things in the Bible, and "sin" is never associated with the term when it is recognized that God is creating and performing that evil by his free will and by the supreme power that he has. Indeed, in courts of law, such evil events as these are called "Acts of God." And so they are!
The crucifixion of God’s own dear Son was in the plan of God the Father before the foundation of the world, and it has to be reckoned as one of the greatest evils that God has ever created and performed. In order to accomplish this task, God needed some actors. What he did was to pick certain people who were "ordained by God" beforehand to do the heinous deed. Jude (who was legally the half-brother of Christ) describes these kinds of people. He said: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). Such people who were ordained by God in the long ages of the past to do these terrible acts were people like Judas whom Christ selected to betray him, and others like the authorities in Jerusalem who gave the order for Christ’s crucifixion.
The apostle Peter was well aware that Christ had been crucified by the express command of God the Father that had been planned before the world’s foundation. He said: "Him [Christ], being delivered by the deter-minate counsel and foreknowledge OF GOD, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). Indeed, Judas and the Jerusalem authorities had been appointed by God himself to crucify His own dear Son. "Whereunto also they were appointed," said Peter (I Peter 2:8). Christ knew from the commencement of his ministry that Judas would become his adversary (John 6:70). "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him" (John 6:64). Christ knew he was going to suffer by the action of Judas. That’s why he said: "The Son of man goeth as it is written of him [he was prophesied by God to be crucified]: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man [that Son of man] if he [if Judas] had not been born. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said" (Matthew 26:24,25). Note the play on words. Christ knew that Judas had been foreordained in a special way to betray him, so if the prophesied one [Judas] would not have been born into this world to betray Christ, it would have been good for Christ in a personal way. However, since it was in the plan of God that Judas do what he did (in fact, Judas could not have got out of doing the pre-ordained job that he was selected to do), then Christ would not have been able to die for all mankind and to raise them up and deliver them all to God the Father as members of his divine Family. Judas was ordained of God to perform his task, and so were the Jerusalem authorities that had Christ crucified. They had been selected before the world’s foundation to fulfill the acts that they did, though they themselves were unaware that they were doing deeds that God had pre-ordained them to do before the world began. The crucifixion of Christ was an evil accomplished expressly by God the Father in order to give something good to the entire human race.
How were Judas and the Jerusalem authorities selected before the world’s foundation to perform the evil deeds that God had pre-ordained for them to do? They were selected to do that evil in the same way that all of us were selected to believe in Christ and to accept his forgiveness in this age in which we now live. All of the people elected before the world’s foundation were selected by lot! That’s right! The Bible shows we were picked out in the fairest way that God the Father could devise. In the Father’s plan there were to be certain people who would betray Christ and certain ones (such as you and I) who would (in spite of our faults) be selected to hear and accept the message of Christianity in this life. The roles were open (both those for evil, and those for good) and God in his own way had a lottery (yes, you read me correctly, God actually conducted an unbiased and unfixed LOTTERY) to determine who would do the evil against Christ and his mission throughout the ages. This was the same for those who would do good to perpetuate the Gospel of Christ. The apostles made this point clear in the Gospel.
In the original Greek, the apostle Paul actually said that all of us who are now called saints (the holy ones of God) are "partakers of the lot" (Colossians 1:12) which in Ephesians Paul said made us to be "in Christ." We were "chosen by lot" (Ephesians 1:11) in the period before the foundation of the world (verse 4).
In both verses above, the King James translators rendered the word "lot" by the English word "inheritance." Those trans- lators simply did not know what Paul meant when he said that our ability to understand the deep secrets of God at the present time was because we had been selected "by a lottery" which God conducted before the world was created in order to be fair and equal with all the human race in carrying out all parts of his divine plan.
This principle of being chosen before the world’s foundation in a divine lottery was well known to the apostles. Note that Peter said the elders who taught Christians in his day should not lord it over the Christians in their congregations (whom he called people chosen by "the lots" (I Peter 5:3). These were the ones chosen at the pre-creation time when the divine lottery was held to determine who would be given the knowledge of Christ during this age. See First Peter 5:3 where the King James translators render the Greek words "the lots," by our English words "God’s heritage." The English translators simply did not understand the ancient lots system of choosing important people to perform roles in the presence of God. An example of the lots system in action is that of Zacharias the priest who was the father of John the Baptist. He was assigned his duties in the Temple at Jerusalem by means of the customary lots system well understood and used by the Jewish authorities. "According to the custom of the priest’s office, his LOT was to burn incense when he went into the Temple of the Lord" (Luke 1:9).
The King James translators further misunderstood what Luke was stating when he recorded an incident which happened in Northern Greece concerning some people who had been converted to Christ by Paul’s teaching. Luke called these newly converted people "the allotted ones," that is, "the ones of the lottery" (Acts 17:4). Luke meant they had been ordained of God when the lottery took place that selected them in a favorable sense to know and to accept the Gospel in this age. The King James translators did not know what Luke was meaning, so they simply translated the Greek by the English word "consorted." Again, they were wrong.
Indeed, the apostle Peter addressed all Christians in the upper region of Asia Minor by saying that they were the ones who had "obtained BY LOT" the precious faith of Jesus Christ (II Peter 1:1). The King James translators were again wrong by rendering the Greek word meaning "to receive by a lottery," by the English word "obtained." They gave no hint that Christians were called by a lottery as Peter actually wrote.
But we who now have received the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ and have accepted it, were not the only ones involved in that ancient lottery conducted before the foundation of the world. In the eyes of the apostles, all of us who now know and receive Christ were selected by lot to receive good things concerning the Gospel in this life while others were not. Some others were selected by lot to perform negative things on earth. They were elected by the lottery (before they were born) to do evil works in God’s plan.
"When Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth), it is said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9: 10-13).
The apostle Paul in the plainest of words states that Jacob was elected by God to be loved (even before he was born), and Esau was elected to be hated by God (also before he was born). Paul said Pharaoh who failed to let Israel leave Egypt was obstinate because God willed him to be that way. Pharaoh wanted to let Israel escape Egypt long before God wanted them to leave (Romans 9:15-18). Actually, God appointed Esau and Pharaoh before the world’s foundation to be negative in regard to the truths of God. Paul said they were "vessels of wrath" as we are "vessels of mercy, which he [God] had afore prepared" (Romans 9:22,23).
Now some may say that this is completely unfair because how could God find fault with evil people for their ways since it was God who appointed them to do what they did. Indeed, this is the very question that Paul himself raised. He said: "Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he [God] yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?" (Romans 9:19). Paul answered such a question by simply stating that the potter has power over the clay to make a pot good or to make one bad, and this means that God also has the power to do the same thing. In fact, Paul went on to state that God the Father had deliberately blinded the eyes of most Israelites who lived in his day from accepting Christ Jesus. He said God would continue to blind their eyes from accepting Christ until the full appointed number of the Gentiles come into their pre-ordained relationships with God. This does not mean, however, that God has abandoned Israel and the promises he made to them for salvation. Paul said:
‘For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so ALL Israel shall be SAVED’ (Romans 11:25,26).
All Israelites (every single one of them – Jews and those of the other tribes) will one day be saved in Christ. They have been promised this salvation, and they will receive it without doubt. This is the plain teaching of the Bible.
"For as concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance [on the part of God]. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief that he might have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:28-32).
Notice that it is God who has purposely blinded the eyes of most Israelites to prevent them from accepting Christ now. Some people (and nations of people) were elected by use of the divine lottery before the foundation of the world to accept the truth now, and others were elected by the same divine lottery to be negative in their acceptance of the truth.
This lottery was the fair way of letting all people and nations have an equal chance of being selected to do the will of God in regard to specific events pre-ordained in God’s plan for the redemption of the human race to himself. When one surveys the Holy Scriptures regarding this principle of using a divine lottery to determine who was to do what and at what time in history, then we can see the fairness and equality of God in action among all the people he was going to create. The outcome of such a lottery means that the Japhetic race of people could have been the ones chosen by God to do what the Shemitic races have in fact done in this world, had the lottery fell in their favor instead of Shem. The Hamitic races also could have had the same blessing had the lottery fallen out to favor them. The simple truth is, the lot fell out to favor Shem and to specific children of Shem to have the fullness of the teaching of God given to them in this age (and through them to bring forth the Messiah who would arise to save the world from their sins). God chose the lottery as a means of being fair with all the people he was going to create and bring into his divine Family in the future.
This is why none of us who have the truth now should boast because the lot fell out to us before the foundation of the world --before any of us were ever created or born. In fact, when one looks at the lives of (let us say) Jacob and David who got favorable positions from their lot, they did some pretty bad things that could cause any normal person to wonder why God would pick them as his servants while some of their contemporaries were far better people in character. Yet God still picked Jacob and he still picked David (no matter what their faults) because the lot had fallen out to favor them instead of others. So God retained his favor with Jacob and David and with their offspring. And so it is with all of us in spite of our faults.
We have all been selected by lot in what God calls his divine election that was performed before the world was ever created. None of us were there at the time, but God and Christ knew each of us in precise detail back at that period. And at a certain time designed by the Father, he sent out a call to each of you to respond to the Gospel. And you have done so. This is why everything about your election and call to God is something that comes by grace on the part of God and Christ. You have had nothing to do with your call (or election). Before the foundation of the world you were selected by a divine lottery in a very personal way (the lot fell in your favor) for you to come to a knowledge of the truth during this age. This is the simple teaching of the Gospel of Christ.
The divine lottery was designed by God to give good and positive positions on this earth to some people throughout history (and this came to them by grace -- being selected by lot), while others were chosen also by lot to receive bad and negative positions as their lot throughout history. Once this principle is understood, then we can better recognize that the salvation of mankind cannot be based on peoples’ works (be they good or bad) simply because it was God who elected beforehand who would be assigned the bad positions and the good positions. Even in this, however, salvation has to be given by grace and not by works because even those of us who have been given the positive positions of knowing the Gospel in this age and accepting Christ at this time still find ourselves not being perfect. We are sinners like all the rest of mankind and must equally be saved by grace along with those who have had negative positions assigned to them by God the Father. The fact is, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and that includes us who are now "in Christ" and reckoned by the Father as saved.
For example, Israel as a people were assigned by lot to have a good position on earth. But this does not mean that all Israelites are perfect and good. Many have done badly on earth (as have all of us), yet Paul states dogmatically that "all Israel" shall be saved (Romans 11:26) because God has promised that they will be saved and his promises will always be kept.
But let us understand one thing clearly. People are not saved by God to be bad or to continue to be bad. They are saved to do good. And one day, in the resurrection, when humans become full members of the divine Family of God, they will always be doing good in pleasing God. And for us now who have been granted good positions on earth by the lot being favorable to us before the foundation of the world, Paul says this:
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
Along with the good positions of knowing and accepting Christ in this age, there is also the command of God that we should always be practicing good works as it lies in our power to perform them. Even here, we are told by Paul that it is the Father’s will and efforts that are being worked out in us (Philippians 2:13), and we should be thankful for that.
This present life on earth is a learning experience for all that make up the human race. All humans on earth are here to gain an acquaintance with "good" and "evil" (or, with "bad" recall again that the word "evil" simply means "bad"). Being able to recognize the good and the bad and to familiarize us with their consequences, is the very reason mankind has been given some seventy odd years of life (fewer years or slightly more years for some). This is a learning situation for all humans and something that will create in us a knowledge of what "good and bad" are all about and why it always pays to practice "good" and to refrain from "bad" (or "evil"). It is the recognition of such things that makes us to be like God. Recall that God commanded our first parents not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). But Satan enticed Adam and Eve to partake of that very fruit. He said they would become like "God" (elohim) if they did (Genesis 3:5). And though it was Satan who said they would become like "God" (elohim), he told them the truth in this case because Moses recorded shortly thereafter: "And the Lord God said, behold the man is become as one of US, to know GOOD and EVIL: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever, therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden" (Genesis 3:22,23).
Our first parents were forbidden to eat of the Tree of Life and to become immortal. They would one day die and return to the ground from whence they came. Only by a resurrection from the dead at the end of the age will Adam and Eve live again. Only God and Christ are immortal (I Timothy 6:16).
Mankind now only has to endure "good and evil" for the span of their earthly life. In experiencing "good and evil," all humans are becoming more like "God" all the time. What we are learning is that "evil" (especially to ourselves, other humans and to the rest of creation) does not pay. This is what God is teaching us during this life, and why this life is valuable for all the human race whether they know the Gospel of Christ in this age or not. The human race is now undergoing a learning experience in what "good and bad" ("evil") is all about. It is an education in learning to compare the "good" from the "bad," and why choosing the "good" is better.
This is also the time when God can punish mankind for choosing the "bad" over the "good" in teaching us a proper value system for living in harmony and peace. The first thing God did as a loving Father to Adam and Eve was to punish them for their ways by expelling them from the Garden of Eden and placing on them a responsibility of enduring hard work and certain curses. The next chapter will explain how God still uses punishment and chastisement to teach mankind the value of choosing "good" over "evil."
Ernest L. Martin
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