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Sunday: The Days of Evil — 10 Comments

  1. How many times have we discussed the problem of evil? Why do we discuss it so often? It is not just a Christian discussion either. What do you think they spend most of their time discussing in philosophy and ethics classes?

    I am going to be a bit naughty here and cut to the chase. I know that Ps 73 comes up later in the week but I want it to set the tone for the week. So here it is in its entirity from Eugene Peterson's "The Message"

    1-5 No doubt about it! God is good—
    good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
    But I nearly missed it,
    missed seeing his goodness.
    I was looking the other way,
    looking up to the people
    At the top,
    envying the wicked who have it made,
    Who have nothing to worry about,
    not a care in the whole wide world.

    6-10 Pretentious with arrogance,
    they wear the latest fashions in violence,
    Pampered and overfed,
    decked out in silk bows of silliness.
    They jeer, using words to kill;
    they bully their way with words.
    They’re full of hot air,
    loudmouths disturbing the peace.
    People actually listen to them—can you believe it?
    Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.

    11-14 What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
    Nobody’s tending the store.
    The wicked get by with everything;
    they have it made, piling up riches.
    I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
    what has it gotten me?
    A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
    a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.

    15-20 If I’d have given in and talked like this,
    I would have betrayed your dear children.
    Still, when I tried to figure it out,
    all I got was a splitting headache . . .
    Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
    Then I saw the whole picture:

    The slippery road you’ve put them on,
    with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.
    In the blink of an eye, disaster!
    A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare!
    We wake up and rub our eyes. . . . Nothing.
    There’s nothing to them. And there never was.

    21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
    I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
    I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
    You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.

    25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
    When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
    Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
    But I’m in the very presence of God—
    oh, how refreshing it is!
    I’ve made Lord God my home.
    God, I’m telling the world what you do!

    The Message (MSG)
    Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

    • While I do love Gene Pedersens paraphrase “the message“ I have recently found the Remedy Bible by Tim Jennings, an SdA psychiatrist who has composed the remedy paraphrase New Testament and the Psalms…Here is his rendition of Psalm 73


      1 We know that God is good to the upright — 
      to those who are pure in heart.
      2 But I almost tripped myself up;
      I nearly slipped away from the truth:
      3 I began to envy the arrogant
      when I saw how the selfish prospered in this world.
      4 They don’t suffer with physical disabilities;
      their bodies are strong and healthy.
      5 They are privileged — not burdened with the problems of ordinary people;
      they do not have the daily struggles that others endure.
      6 Their pride and arrogance are flaunted like a necklace;
      violence and exploitation cover them.
      7 They go about draped in extravagant riches,
      intoxicating themselves with whatever their selfish hearts can imagine.
      8 They belittle others and speak harmful words designed to injure;
      they exalt themselves, lording over others and threatening oppression.
      9 They claim to speak for heaven,
      and with their decrees they seek to rule the earth.
      10 People turn to them
      and sadly, have the water of life drained away from them.
      11 These haughty ones say, “God will not know.
      The Most High will not find out.”
      12 Look at what the selfish are like:
      concerned only with self, they get richer and richer.
      13 I wondered, “Has my pure living been for nothing?
      Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
      14 All day long I am touched by problems and temptation;
      every day is a struggle.”
      15 If I had shared these ideas as truths with others,
      I would have betrayed all who are loyal to you.
      16 When I tried to understand why the selfish seem to prosper,
      it made no sense to me
      17 until I studied the lessons revealed in the holy places of God:
      then I understood their inevitable end.
      18 Truly you gave them the freedom to slip around your design for life;
      you surrender them to their own terminal condition.
      19 Their desolation is swift — 
      they are consumed completely by the terrors of unremedied selfishness.
      20 Selfish success is like a dream when one awakes:
      When the Creator restores earth to his design of love,
      all will realize that selfish prosperity is mere fantasy.
      21 When my heart was sour,
      discontented and torn up inside,
      22 I was ignorant and didn’t understand reality at all;
      I must have seemed like a dumb animal to you.
      23 Nevertheless, I have always stayed close to you,
      and you hold my hand as I journey through life.
      24 With your wise counsel, you lead me in the way of life
      to the complete restoration of your glory within me.
      25 There is nothing in all the heavens
      or anything on earth that I desire besides you.
      26 My mind and body may grow weak,
      but God is my remedy — 
      my source of eternal life.
      27 Those who separate from you will perish;
      all who choose selfishness betray you and your kingdom of love — 
      they will be severed from life and cease to exist.
      28 But as for me, being united with God is my greatest delight — 
      to find healing and restoration with my Creator,
      and to proclaim all that you have done!

      (Psalms 73::1 - 27, The Remedy)


  2. We do not have to leave our homes to see that we are living in actively evil times. Just watch the daily news.
    Subtle thieves of our time comes in the form of technology, social media, idle talk, the busyness of life, and ungoverned thoughts.
    We can only survive by living wisely, setting our minds on things above, self-control, staying alert, keeping our lamps trimmed and burning, and walking uprightly in favor with God and man. Ephesians 5:15-16, Colossians 3:2.

  3. As evil spirals out of control, it is critical to understand that our battles are spiritual, our weapons and defense clearly outlined in Ephesians.
    Our prayer life is battlefield
    Our message brings life
    Jesus said to be as wise as a snake and harness as a dove.
    Assuredly, that snake is always aware of what's going on around him.

  4. I do believe when we study the Psalms with the Holy Spirit as our guide and teacher, we will come to understand that our honor of God and honor of Christ builds our character. Christ taught the disciples the respect and honor of God the Father, with that they came to honor Him. Then He promised them the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit our hearts cannot be made pure. How can we honor God and Christ if we don’t let the Holy Spirit work in us? How can we see God as a loving God and a God of forgiveness and justice if we don’t spend time in the Bible. We can’t! The Holy Spirit impresses our minds of the truth of the character of God, while we are reading His word. The Holy Spirit is ours for the asking. I do believe the Holy Spirit is a good gift. Luke 11:13.

  5. We wonder why God does not use His power to push evil back. I hear God toss the same question back to us..."Why don't YOU use my power to push evil back?"

    "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof...2 Tim. 3:5

    When Israel was first on the edge of the Promised Land, 10 spies returned with a report that there were giants and fortified cities there. The people answered, "This is far too great a risk. We have little children. We have to think about what's best for the children. If we follow God's leading and go into the land, our children will be taken captive. And our wives too." (Num. 14:3; Deut. 1:39). Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

    The disciples following Jesus around for 3 1/2 years, arguing non-stop over who should and would be greatest in His kingdom. The disciples on the mountaintop want to build boxes to contain the power radiating off Jesus. The disciples at the mountain's foot powerless, full of self and drowsy. Asleep when the whole Garden of Sanctuary is praying. Wearing His name and skulking away as Jesus's trial begins. Disconnecting. Peter swearing just to reinforce that the truth has gone out of Jesus's words for him. Peter, like Judas, thinks Jesus is powerless at this point.Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

    Christ's request that we bring the gospel to all the world. Oh no! Does sharing the Good News about being saved and rescued from sin look like.... the Crusades; the Inquisition; the Thirty Years War; the Native American cultural cleansing and dead children buried in mass graves behind boarding schools; witch hunts; American slavery; the Pogroms; the Holocaust where "Christians" went after the "Christ-killers"; ongoing genocides and ethnic cleansing against Muslims; the militant, partisan, cross-carrying figures lurking maybe even in our own DNA... Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.

    People who call themselves God's friends sometimes act like His enemies. People who call themselves God's enemies sometimes act like His friends. The camps in the Great Controversy War are often set up pretty close to one another. As the captive Israelites lived amongst the enemy Babylonians, they had a chance to better learn God's goodness and to see His character of justice and patience and love, both towards themselves and towards those they called "enemy" who they thought to be outside God's love.

    God's true people, who do not carry His name in vain if they carry it, treasure Him above all else, think not of personal gain, and plug into His power to do His will. They will reveal His true character.

    "Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. Were we to deal with these souls according to our imperfect judgment, it would perhaps extinguish their last hope. Many who think themselves Christians will at last be found wanting. Many will be in heaven who their neighbors supposed would never enter there. Man judges from appearance, but God judges the heart." Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, p.72

  6. Do we really believe that our God is just and merciful, that He chastens His children when they go astray because He loves them? Do we really believe that He does not want that any should loose their faith and hope as we encounter the ‘valleys of the shadows of death’, stumbling and buffeted by this world’s ways when attempting to follow God’s Way?

    If the evil mentioned in the psalms is primarily theological, then we need to ask the question: “Do we believe unreservedly in this God described to us by the psalmists and in the rest of the books of the Bible?”
    Can we still accuse Him of being unfair, biased or uninterested in our lives, knowing and believing that, ultimately, all that which God created will be placed unter the authority of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – willingly or otherwise? - 1 Cor.15:28; Eph.1:22-23; 1 Cor.3:23; 1 Cor.12:6.

    Psalms are for my soul what food is for my body – it quenches my spiritual thirst and stills my spiritual hunger – it fills me and satisfies my soul! By now we have learned so much about Him; it is time for all who still harbor doubt and uncertainty about His character to get to know Him personally through letting faith govern their life! Everyone confessing His Name can diligently walk the Way of faith laid out before them.

    Do we dare to love Him with all our heart, unconditionally, if we get to know Him through the lens of the Old Testament times? Or, to complete the picture, do we go and include the New Testament which introduces the new Covenant governing now the relationship between God and man through faith?

    I agree, it is all about ‘the defense of God’s character in the world’ – “How many people have been turned off to our faith by the actions of those professing the name of Christ?” My hope is that not anyone of us be found among them!

  7. Psalm 34:17 says, "The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them from all their troubles." So my question here would be: How "righteous" does a person have to be for God to "Hear and Deliver?" When I look at Psalm 40:11,12: It is very clear in these verses that the Psalmist here was "Very Far" from being flawless or even "Righteous" to say the least. The Psalmist here very clearly claims that his sins were so many that he could not look up and his heart was failing him because they were more than the hairs of his head.

    • That is a good and logical question Pete. I just think of Psalm 51:17 where it says, a broken and a contrite heart the Lord will not despise. God looks at our hearts, and I believe he knows if we are actually being contrite and sincere.


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