Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Such a conundrum.  I’m going on vacation this week and I don’t want to feel required to write the RR.  (I may write if I have something to say and feel like saying it.)  I am now in my 4th year of writing the daily RR, so I’m going to see if anything I’ve written before will stand the test of time.

What follows here is a reprint of the RR for Monday, October 9, 2017.  I’ve tried to keep any edits to a minimum.  The bottom part is taken from the question of the day on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

Reprinted with permission from October 9, 2017… On page A14 of the Sunday (October 8, 2017) Knoxville News Sentinel there is an article titled “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People.”  The subtitle is “Tough Questions After Deadly Shootings.”  I read the article, so you don’t have to.  It contains what you might expect from secular journalism.  The article attempts to provide an analysis of “deep philosophical questions about God and evil”

Journalist Holly Meyer quotes President Trump who quoted Psalm 34 in his address to the nation last Monday.  Then she asks, “Why does God allow evil to exist?  Why didn’t God intervene?”  She then quotes Phillis Sheppard, a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School (frankly, the last place I would look for spiritual answers – pardon my not-so-well-hidden distain, remind me later and I’ll tell you why).  Professor Sheppard says there are two conflicting IDEAS, a “loving grace-filled God and a person capable of horrific violence.”  Really, professor Sheppard, this is your conundrum? 

Rabbi Trail: Two quick thoughts down a rabbit trail, then we’ll get back on track.  According to proposed gun legislation it is not the evil people, it’s the evil guns.  Those same people proposing gun legislation have spent the last 50 years preventing prayer and the teaching of moral absolutes in public settings including public schools.  Then when the morally bankrupt act like it, they wring their hands and ask, “Where was God?” End RT.

Okay, we’re back.  Here, with the “bully pulpit” let me offer my response.  If I had been interviewed by Holly Meyer and asked the “tough questions,” how I might have responded?  Naturally, I will have to be pithy.  Many tombs are on library and bookstore shelves concerning this subject, and it is still not exhausted.

The answers I provide are actually related to this week’s Torah portion, Beresheet, (In the beginning, Gen 1:1-6:8).  God created a world He called at the end of chapter 1 “behold very good.”  When God said “behold,” it indicates something new.  What was new was the perfection of His completed work.  (For more on this see Jonathan Allen’s weekly teaching on the Torah portion at www.messianictrust.org.uk  where you can subscribe.)

God made the perfect world, the sin of rebellion propelled mankind out of his assignment to tend God’s perfect garden and forced him to enter into a world of thorns and thistles where man will eat by the sweat of his brow. 

Satan’s world (not the Garden of Eden) is filled with the knowledge of good AND evil.  God does not intervene to stop evil (although He could) because He loves us enough to allow us to learn the bitter lessons.  All these bitter lessons point us to one truth, “Satan is a lousy administrator.”  

The enemy of God (although not equal to God) will lie, cheat and steal in an effort to entice us to follow him and forsake God.  Pain, suffering, sickness and even death are all upon us so that we will know beyond a reasonable doubt and without excuse that Satan is the father of lies and following him causes us pain and suffering.

Joshua got it right when he presented the options to the children of Israel as they were entering the promised land (Joshua 24:15).  Joshua answered for himself, Joshua 24:15b “But as for me and my household, we will worship (serve) Adonai!”  We should adopt that answer as our own.

There is so much more to this subject.  For instance, the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is a wrong premise.  Bad things happen to both good people and bad people.  Who decides who is good and who is bad?  The rain falls on the just and on the unjust, but rain is a good thing in Scripture.  Maybe I’ll “reflect” on all this again.   

God is still on the throne.  Have a great day.  R. Michael.

Week 42
Memory Verse: 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has taken hold of you except what is common to mankind. But God is faithful—He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle. But with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so you will be able to endure it.

206   10/12      Monday:       1 Corinthians 5-6

* 207 10/13      Tuesday:      1 Corinthians 7-8 

208   10/14      Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 9-10

209   10/15      Thursday:     1 Corinthians 10-12

210   10/16      Friday:         1 Corinthians 13-14

Question of the Day:  Are you going to believe me or Paul?

Answer:  As we read 1 Corinthians 7 and 8 today the themes are obvious, but the way Paul deals with them is quite confusing.  In several places in chapter 7 Paul clearly says he is speaking for Himself and not sharing a word from the Lord.  But then he adds something like, “Although the Holy Spirit agrees with what I’m saying.”

He’s dealing in chapter 7 with divorce and remarriage and seems to be saying, “Since I (Paul) am single, I would like it (and the kingdom of God would benefit) if everyone were single (unless you’re already married or can’t control yourself and need to get married).  

It’s not confusing per se, it’s just different from how we see the world today.   I think the world is better with families.  I think couples can accomplish more for God’s kingdom than individuals.  Paul is right, the challenges of building a life together far exceed the challenges of living individually.  But I say without great challenges, there is no great victory.

So, who are you going to believe, me or Paul?  Clue, well, it’s not me.  It’s not even a real question.  Believe the Bible, but pray and inquire of the Lord how His word is to be applied in your life.  Above all, walk in victory according to His will.