Andrée Seu Peterson         
Posted: Sept. 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Why it's confusing


If you are like me, you get confused about things that go on in a world where a good God is sovereign: unspeakable sins perpetrated on children, the persistent stumbling of people who seemed to have the deck stacked against them from childhood, prayers not answered the way you expected.

What helps is to remember that only a slice of total reality is visible to our eyes. If you don't like to slog your way through the book of Job with all its windy speeches by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, you can at least be grateful for Job 1:1-12. There we learn what Job himself didn't know - that there is a whole other buzz of activity in the heavenlies that is constantly affecting the course of events on earth.

For reasons consonant with God's goodness and His loving purposes for us, and that will only be perfectly understood later, Satan seeks and receives permission to cause us trouble. He sought leave to torment Job and God said yes. He sought to sift Peter as wheat, and God allowed his machinations. The way it worked is that as Satan was tempting, Jesus was praying (Luke 22:31). That's the way it works for us too: "He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25), "now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Hebrews 9:24).

Of course, the non-Christian looks at child trafficking, and adults who are damaged goods, and baffling responses to prayer as proof that either God is evil or nonexistent. But that is exactly where the question of faith comes in. God puts the command out there - "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). It takes my breath away that Jesus issues that imperative at the very beginning of His ministry without offering any "proofs" or cogent apologetics. Take it or leave it, that's the command, and He believes it to be sufficient.

All kinds of things are always flying back and forth in the unseen spheres …

"Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back …" (Revelation 12:7).

… constantly affecting things down here, and we are clueless. All we can do is believe God, or not. Man's dignity is the dignity of choice. One of the fortunates who got to see the curtain pulled back briefly was a prophet named Micaiah. He was privy to an actual conference at the Situation Room of heaven, where God was soliciting suggestions for how to rid Himself of a worthless king. The winning bid came from a spirit who said he could ruin that monarch by putting a lying spirit in the mouth of one of his sycophantic court prophets. God gave him the job.

And you and I cannot even begin to speculate on the number of times that heavenly beings have run interference for us - have ministered to us (Hebrews 1:14), have been the stranded motorist we helped unawares (Hebrews 13:2). For other peek-a-boo glimpses of the Other Side, see Daniel 7, Revelation 12, Isaiah 13:3. These and many more casual references to the realm of principalities and powers and rulers in high places are not for our theological titillation, but for our comfort in a perplexing world. Take heart, God has put this all under the risen Savior's feet (Ephesians 1:22), where He is dealing with them one by one:

"He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet" (Hebrews 10:12-13).