Many people ask the question, “Why did God create us and put us into this world where we are subject to natural disasters, diseases, attacks by demonic beings and the depredations of wicked men? How could a good God have done this to us?” The first part of understanding the answer to this question is understanding that created beings are inherently evil and that God alone is good. Once we understand that basic idea, we can imagine a speculative solution to this important question that should be good enough.
Let us imagine an alternative creation that preceded the creation described in Genesis. In this creation, there dwells a race of beings created as perfectly as God could create them. These creatures are awesome in terms of intelligence, beauty, ability, skill and will. They have dwealt in harmony and brotherhood for an unimaginable amount of time. Because their capacity for love is not infinite and because their ability to love is not perfect, one day this ancient harmony beings to splinter.
A Story of Disharmony
In a certain place in heaven, an angelic being named Michael has been preparing a very special surprise for his beloved brother Gabriel. With all skill, diligence and enormous effort, Michael is preparing a very special party to celebrate his love for his brother. Everything is to be just the way Gabriel likes it and Michael has gone to enormous efforts to make it so. Once everything has been prepared, Michael goes forth to find Gabriel and the others who he intends to invite to this event.
As Michael, Gabriel and the other chosen guests approach the place of the celebration, they hear the noise of a crowd. Arriving at the appointed place, they find a group of their brethren already engaged in celebration. Michael is terribly injured seeing that his brother Lucifer and his friends have helped themselves to all that he had prepared for Gabriel and his other guests. Upset, he approaches him and a conversation ensues.
“Brother what is this that you have done? I have spent an enormous amount of effort preparing this celebration for Gabriel.” Michael asks of Lucifer.
“Are you accusing me of some wrong brother?”, Lucifer asks innocently, “I assumed that out of the obedience of your heart to the Lord that you were obeying His command to love others and that all were welcome to the celebration that you had prepared. Was I wrong in thinking that you loved the Lord and were obedient to His command?”
Michael is exasperated and replies, “Of course I love the Lord and of course I love you and these others and of course I want to be obedient to His command, but I did not prepare this celebration for you and these others. I prepared it out of gratitude for all that Gabriel has done for me. You should not have partaken of it if you were not invited.”
Lucifer responds as though he were genuinely concerned. “So you are saying that you do not love me and these other brothers? I know that the Lord will be terribly disappointed to hear of your lack of love. Would He not tell you to share and to turn the other cheek? And besides this, these brothers and I have often expressed our love for you and Gabriel and everyone here. Don’t you remember the gift I gave you just a brief while ago?”
Michael is beginning to get angry. “You gave me a fruit that had fallen to the ground. This required no effort and did not demonstrate a very great love. Gabriel has many times performed acts of love far greater and I wished to express my gratitude to him.”
Lucifer responds as he is turning away, “Well if you wish to take an accusation to the Lord, then I will see you before His throne.”
An unimaginable amount of time later, a group of angelic beings approach the Lord, the creator of all things, before His throne.
“Great and glorious creator of all things, we love You and we want to be more like You are, but we find that we are unable to continue on as You have commanded us. Our capacity for love has failed and we are no longer able to hope all things and bear all things. Lucifer and those who have joined him are an intolerable burden to us. No matter what written law we make, they are clever enough to circumvent it and they destroy a good portion of our joy. We know that You have said that if You enter into judgment with us, that all of us would be found unworthy of Your gifts of life and that all would die. We know that you are Holy, Holy, Holy, but we also know that with You all things are possible. We cry out for deliverance. Surely there is something that You can do?”
A short time later in a place frequented by the enemies of God a conversation takes place. “As you suspected, Michael and some of the goody goodies who want to be loving like the Lord went to the creator and asked for deliverance. God said that He would deliver them by creating a new race He called ‘human beings’ that would be perfectly righteous before Him and participate in the divine nature, but that they would also be created beings who would be able to judge over us without imposing the divine sentence of death. He then spoke a new creation into existence and declared that the deliverance would be completed in less than 14 billion years. I checked it out and there is nothing there but a bit of expanding particles so far, but it seems that our days are short. What are we going to do?”
Lucifer responds to the question with a thoughtful look. “So God thinks He can beat me in only a few billion years? We’ll see about that. As for this new race, we will just have to find a way to turn them away from God.”
Now I want to be clear that the above is extra-Biblical speculation. I am not claiming to have had a vision or a revelation. I am just making some things up in order to try and answer some questions that have perplexed Christians for millenia. “Why did God put us in a world of pain and suffering?” Let us see how we would answer those questions in view of the above narrative.
The answer to those who ask why God wouldn’t create beings who were as good as He could make them and who lived in a place without fear or pain could be that He did and it didn’t work. The words of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” have always caused me a great deal of difficulty. How could God’s will be done in Heaven if Satan is up there? I finally thought that maybe Satan was a lawyer who was able to twist the law of God so that while God’s will of love and sharing and joy was being twisted but not violated. If this were the case, then one might imagine a long angelic history which would explain why God created us here on Earth. The first creation was flawed and a second creation was necessary in order to fix the flaws. That second creation offers some created beings the choice of participating in the divine nature by faith and thereby fixes the flaws of the first creation. (See my post “Absolute Power” for a discussion on why faith is essential.)
Now this idea is entirely speculative, but it is not completely unsupported in the Bible. We know that nobody can stand God’s judgment:
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)
We know that Satan can present himself as an angel of light:
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
We know that legalism can be used to twist a law by those who Jesus calls the “sons of the devil” (John 8:44)
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:4)
We know that the angels sang for joy at the creation of the earth:
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . .while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38: 4-7)
We know that we shall judge over angels:
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? (1 Corinthians 6:3)
We know that Michael does not care to dispute with Satan:
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Now there is an obvious self-contradiction to this story in that Satan is not judged by human beings when he is ultimately cast out of Heaven, but some additional speculation could easily rescue the narrative. It could be that the war in Heaven starts because, “knowing that their time is short”, the demons and Lucifer resort to open rebellion instead of covert legalistic rebellion.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (Revelation 12:7-8)
Even if you don’t think that the above scenario is plausible or believable, I think you would have to agree that it does demonstrate that a question that many people think of as unanswerable could, in principle, be answered by context and information to which we do not have access. I was once told that there used to be people who thought that heavier-than-air vehicles were impossible. “How could that be”, I thought, “when these people could look around and see birds and insects that were heavier-than-air flying all around them?” If we know that a question can be answered in principle, then knowing the exact solution should not be as important to us. We can trust that the Lord has a very good reason to have us down here and this should be enough.