Why Does God Allow the Strong and the Powerful to Oppress the Weak and the Vulnerable?

REASONABLE FAITH Why Me_ PROMISES OF GODS GUIDANCE

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored ninety-two books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Why is life so unfair? From the beginning of human history and even in the Bible itself, there are many instances where we see the strong and the powerful oppressing the weak and the vulnerable. It is those within the Scriptures that are a little more troubling for the Christian mind because in some cases we are dealing with the righteous, just, loving all-powerful God and his people. For example, we have the case of Naboth, who was an Israelite servant of God, as well as the owner of a vineyard. Ahab, a king of Israel in the tenth century B.C.E. desired this property. “Naboth refused to sell on the grounds that the property was a family inheritance (1 Kings 21:3–4). Hebrew law only allowed farmland to be leased for the number of crops until the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:15–16). Farmland was not to be sold in perpetuity (Leviticus 25:23). Jezebel, who had no regard for Israel’s laws, plotted Naboth’s judicial murder on the charge that he had blasphemed God and the king (1 Kings 21:8–14).”[1] Yes, Ahab, allowed his wife, Jezebel, to have Naboth and his sons killed so that the king could take the vineyard from this man. Why did God permit such an out-and-out abuse of power?

There is one primary reason why God has allowed wickedness and suffering. However, let us take a moment and reason from the Scriptures on one of God’s most outstanding attributes as an additional reason: God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) Like, the reader is thinking, what does this have to do with God allowing wicked oppression on the weak from the strong? Well, think back to the beginning of Genesis where God had clearly warned the first couple, Adam and Eve, if they rebel against the Creator, there will be severe results, death. God did not lie because from that moment that they rebelled, they lost their human perfection, and they started to age, which meant that human imperfection, human weaknesses, sicknesses, and death have been a part of the human struggle ever since the rebellion in the garden of Eden. In fact, you may recall that the first act of oppression came when Cain murdered his brother Abel. – Genesis 2:16, 17; 4:8.

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Concerning human history since the rebellion and the death of Abel, God’s Word sums it up this way: “All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had dominated man to his harm.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) The Hebrew word (shalat) rendered dominate or “power over” has the sense of ruling or exercising power over in a cruel manner. The Hebrew word rendered harm or “hurt” has the sense of bringing affliction or misfortune on another. Do this verse and these words reflect the history of humanity? Again, never lying, God warned his people, the Israelites that they were not exempt from the results of the rebellion, that they would find their kings to be oppressive, and that the people would cry out to God. (1 Samuel 8:11-18) We even have wise king Solomon, who placed excessive taxes on his people. (1 Kings 11:43; 12:3-4) Wicked kings, such as Ahab, were far more brutal and oppressive. Think about it this way: If God protected humanity from the consequences of the rebellion, would he not, have been a liar?

We must keep in mind that Satan has made the claim that humans only serve God for selfish reasons. (Job 1:9-10; 2:4) Moreover, in short, God allowed Satan, Adam, and Eve to survive their rebellion to serve as an object lesson that man was not created (designed) to live without their Creator but was given relative free will, which was dependent upon the sovereignty of God. If God overly involved himself in humanity during the time of the object lesson, it would undermine the lesson and give voice to (substantiate) Satan’s claims. The claim from Satan in the Garden of Eden by way of the serpent as his mouthpiece was that humans did not need God’s sovereignty, that God was a liar and withholding good from humans, inferring that humans could rule themselves successfully without God. If God prevented all forms of oppression would this not perpetuate these claims because the prevention of oppression would take place from the unseen world and so humans might believe the lie that they can govern themselves, an even greater falsehood. The Bible makes it very clear that man is incapable of completely governing himself. (Jeremiah 10:23) The wickedness, the suffering, the oppression, old age, sickness, and death will come only by the Kingdom of God, at the second coming of Jesus Christ; only then will injustice end.

Does this mean that God never involves himself in humanity, never doing anything about oppression? No. His Word shows that he is not for the oppression of anyone, and at times he does expose it for what it is, as he did with Jezebel’s plot against Naboth. When God involves himself, it is according to his will and purposes. Remember he possesses something that we do not, foreknowledge. Imagine the man in a helicopter watching a parade, as he can see everything from the beginning to the end. However, those at street level can only see what is in front of them in that moment of time. God is outside of time and can see the future outcome of everything. Seeing it does not predestine it because what he is seeing is humans making free-willed decisions and the results of those decisions. Having the power to see ahead of the parade of life does not mean he makes things happen. However, God does step in if Satan or the demons manipulate humanity to the point where God needs to do something preventative or counter something that has been done. Remember, it is Satan the Devil and his demon horde that has control of this world and promotes powerful rulers who oppress. (John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 11:14) God does not always come to our rescue simply because we are faithful. The Word of God has exposed the fundamentals of why there is suffering, why there is oppression, who is responsible, what God is doing about it, and what the outcome will be. Moreover, the Word of God gives us guidance so as to keep free from many of the difficult times that unbelievers suffer because they are unaware. However, there is no blanket protection except in one case. God does offer his followers blanket protection from an all-out slaughter from the rebel angels. This is the only sense in which we have guardian angels, who are protecting our eternal future under the leadership of Michael the archangel, who is under Jesus Christ’s direction.

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God offers his followers the one thing unbelievers do not have, hope for an end to the oppression. Just as we saw in Scripture how God exposed, Judged, and punished wicked Ahab and Jezebel, so too he will do the same on judgment day. (Psalm 52:1-5) Moreover, the reversal of all this suffering that the faithful ones have endured, this will be taken care of by the Son of God.

[1] Chad Brand et al., eds., “Naboth,” Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1167.

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