Question:I am wondering why God made everything: creation, mankind, and allowed everything to happen as it did in the Bible, especially since He knew what would eventually happen -- sin, unfaithfulness, redemption, etc. I guess this also relates to why God even created us?
When I was walking to the building today I went by the local high school and saw a bunch of young men drilling for football. I could tell it was rough, several were bent over and breathing hard. It can't be pleasant on a hot humid morning in the middle of summer vacation. While the coaches weren't nearly as exhausted, I could wonder why they are giving up their summers to make a bunch of boys "die" of sweat and exhaustion. It can't be all that much fun for them. But they do it because they have a goal in mind. They want to win football games in the fall. So they spend hundreds of hours months in advance to shape and sculpt these young men into a well organized football team.
So why did God bother creating a world when He knew in advance sin would take root in it? The answer is in the crop God will harvest.
"He set another parable before them, saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while people slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds also among the wheat, and went away. But when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the darnel weeds appeared also.
The servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where did this darnel come from?'
He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.'
The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and gather them up?'
But he said, 'No, lest perhaps while you gather up the darnel weeds, you root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the harvest time I will tell the reapers, "First, gather up the darnel weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn."'" (Matthew 13:24-30).
[Darnel is a weed grass (probably bearded darnel or lolium temulentum) that looks very much like wheat until it is mature, when the difference becomes very apparent.]
The point of this parable is that if God destroyed the wicked as soon as they appeared, He would also damage the good He could gain from mankind. Just think about it for a moment. What if God zapped people as soon as they sinned? How many people would survive? The reason for leaving the wicked, in part is because there is a chance that the wicked will turn and become righteous (II Peter 3:9).
But there is another reason as well. It goes back to our football illustration. In order to improve, people must have challenges and obstacles to overcome. You don't become a great football player relaxing in an armchair.
"Don't you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win. Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected" (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
Discipline isn't only self-induced, it is also imposed on us. Parents make their children do chores. They don't do it because they want to get out of work. Typically a parent can do it faster, better, and without all the grief if they do it themselves. Yet they make their children do chores, they make them do homework, even when they don't want to, because it benefits the children in the long run. Parents do it because they love their children, even though the children won't realize it until years later.
God disciplines us by the rough times in life. He uses the bad in the world to build up our spiritual muscles. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4). Such hardship doesn't last forever (I Peter 5:8-10), but when we see the outcome, we won't be disappointed. "Not only this, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering works perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope: and hope doesn't disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
How do you know you have faith? Until it is measured against trials the claim of faith is just a theory. Peter thought he would never deny Jesus (Luke 22:31-33), but that very night Peter did what he thought he would never do -- three times! (Luke 22:60-62). "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls" (I Peter 1:6-9).
Peter compares all our trials to the process of refining gold. Pure gold is not found lying around waiting to be pocketed. Rocks containing metals are gathered and crushed. They are then layered in charcoal with air blown over them to get the stones fiery hot. The heat breaks down the undesirable elements and the air oxides them so that they easily crumble away or can be leached away with acidic solutions.
In those days, it was hard to get fires hot enough to melt metals such as gold or silver, so other metals were mixed in and the combination had a lower melting point. The mixture would be melted and the trash from the stones would float to the top of the liquid metal. This trash, or dross, is then removed leaving mostly metal behind. Then through a series of steps, the purified metals are separated because each metal has a different melting point. Even then the metal is not pure. It has only been smelted, but it has not yet been refined.
To get really fine gold a flux is placed on small wafers of gold. The gold is passed though a hot fire and the non-gold elements will react with the flux to oxidize. The wafers are then passed through an acid bath to remove the oxidized elements. The wafer is then pounded out to bring more to the surface and the process is repeated. Each pass leaves you with purer and purer gold.
What is interesting is that for this to work, the gold has to be heated to a temperature where it almost, but not quite, melts. If it gets too hot, the gold melts and drips onto the charcoal and the smith has start all over. But if the gold is left too cool, the non-gold elements will not oxidize and can't be removed.
As the wafers become more pure, the needed temperature rises to get the gold close to the melting point. Ultimately, pure gold doesn't melt until the temperature reaches nearly 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
God wants high quality, righteous people. But they don't appear out of thin air.
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:9-10).
"I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (Zechariah 13:9).
"The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you'" (Ezekiel 22:17-22).
This world is God's furnace to purify and refine a people for Himself. At first, we might not be able to handle great tests, but God watches carefully that the trials we face are not too much for us. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). As we improve and become purer, the trials must increase if they are going to be effective in refining us.
"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (I Peter 4:12-13).