God sometimes uses the unjust to punish those He loves because they, too, have been unjust.
A statement like this may not go down well with many in today’s modern church. Surely, if God loves us, He wouldn’t allow others who hate Him to harm His elect! How could that be? Our God is a God of love who only brings good things into our lives despite our failures. It must be that when bad things happen, they are the work of Satan outside the will of God.
If this is what you believe, you may want to read a little deeper into your Bible in the Old Testament to see how the Lord dealt with His unruly, unfaithful, ungodly people Israel. Isaiah shows us this truth. When those who are supposed to be righteous and following God’s decrees are deliberately sinful by elevating their own desires above those of God’s, and when they lift up other gods in His place, they will be punished. Not only that, but Yahweh will use other people who have no use for Him as His vessels of righteousness.
As He so often had to do, God rebuked Israel for her selfish ways that disregarded His just commands. Israel denied justice to the needy; she robbed the poor; her widows were abused; and orphans of the land were used (Isaiah 10:1-2). God saw it all and was displeased. This is how the prophet stated God’s displeasure of Israel in Isaiah 10:3-4:
What will you do on the day of punishment,
in the ruin that will come from afar?
To whom will you flee for help,
and where will you leave your wealth?
Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.
It was God who would bring punishment to His people. He would do so through an enemy that would come from a great distance. In the execution of His just reward upon those who were supposed to love and obey Him, He would subsequently exact revenge upon the very enemy that was the instrument of His chastisement.
In this case, what was the nation God used to act as His right hand of wrath? We see the answer in Isaiah 10:5-6:
Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger;
the staff in their hands is my fury!
Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
The godless nation was Israel. God would use Assyria to bring great destruction upon her because she had been so unfaithful.
But look at Isaiah’s next Word as to Assyria’s fate in Isaiah 10:12:
When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.
Assyria was a ruthless, godless nation. Does that matter? How can an idolatrous nation that follows other gods do what the Lord requires? Proverbs 21:1 gives us that answer:
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
How mighty is the Lord! The king of Assyria would do as God required. Can anyone resist His will? Not one, despite his hatred and disregard for his creator.
We know that after Assyria – the most feared and ruthless peoples on the face of the earth – overran the Northern Kingdom of Israel that this nation eventually fell to one greater. Babylon succeeded Assyria to then also be used by God to bring utter destruction to the wayward Jews of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
Despite God’s rebuke and severe punishment of Israel, He always left a remnant through which He would bring about His purposes. As Isaiah 10:21-23 states:
A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.
Notice how it’s phrased that this annihilation is righteous. When God decrees something, it flows from His love and mercy, even something as grievous to us in the flesh as utter devastation.
The ultimate result for God’s Chosen People in His Promised Land is outlined in Isaiah 11, which is an amazing description of what the world will look like in the 1,000 years of Christ’s Millennial Reign.
All that God does or allows has purpose. Can Satan act outside His permission? Absolutely not!
All around us today we see the workings of dark and devious forces. They are utterly demonic and appear to be sweeping us away into a lawless, chaotic, and grievous existence. But they are not operating independently of God’s plans and purposes. Just like we see in Job 1-2, Satan must ask Yahweh for permission to do anything. Whether harm or restraint, the enemy cannot accomplish his evil desires unless God decrees.
Why would the Lord allow such awful destruction to come upon the world as we’re currently seeing? Why would He provide the means for those who hate Him, such as Marxists and Islamists, to tear down so much of what we consider as good?
God’s ultimate motive is to destroy sin and all its effects, both in mankind and in the earth itself. He has to allow sin and deprivation to grow and flourish to such an extent that He can winnow out the population of the world. Who will choose to follow Jesus Christ? Who will deny Him? The same decisions must be made by those in the church so as to truly separate the sheep and wolves. Is a professing Christian actually one who belongs to God, or is he a ChINO – Christian In Name Only?
What is our response to this as true believers in Christ Jesus? I think that God’s instructions to Israel can certainly pertain to us in this regard as we see in Isaiah 12:1-2:
You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”