At My Age I Shouldn't Have to Prove Anything to Anyone
An Habakkuk Presentation

Isn't That His Job?

Here in the West, people expect God to be Santa Claus, and take him severely to task if he fails to perform. No matter what course they pursue, even when ill thought out, even when self-centered, God ought to pour out the blessings. Isn't that his job?
 
Habakkuk, listing calamities of his day, confounds these type of folks, because his response is not one they can figure out:
 
Although [the] fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of [the] olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food; [the] flock may actually be severed from [the] pen, and there may be no herd in the enclosures....
 
Yet as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.  (Hab 3:17-18)
 
....which is not a response one might expect. Instead, you'd not be surprised if his faith was shaken by such circumstances, even to the point of lodging complaint. Why doesn't God fix things?
 
Indeed, the 22nd Century Grouser-Waffler Bible Translation in Today's English renders these verses quite differently:
 
No figs on the fig trees, No grapes on the vine. No olives on the olive trees. The harvest sucks. Even the sheep are  gone, for crying out loud, killed or run off. And where is God for all of this? A  fat lot of good faith does. I'm outta here!
 
This modern version, which hasn't been released yet, has captured the spirit of the times. One must bring it up to date, of course, plugging in contemporary concerns for those ancient ones - crashing economies, environmental disasters, spread of terror, and so forth – but the conclusion that God has vanished, or that he never was in the first place, is increasingly popular. At any rate, it's a far cry from Habakkuk's response to the trouble of his time: as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. 

Any discussion as to why God allows suffering, why he doesn't fix it NOW, must necessarily link to Adam and Eve, and link to them rather substantially. They simply are that key of a foundation block. And so you have to overcome the "we are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What's next, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?" syndrome.
 
But you can acknowledge that most folks consider this allegory, and move on. Few people in the West consider these verses literal; you don't have to rub their noses in it. Better to simply focus upon the insight one can glean from them. Let people draw their own conclusions afterward. For the Adam and Eve and Garden of Eden account, brief as it is, highlights how earthwide conditions might have turned out differently. It  highlights God's original intent:
 
God blessed them [the first humans] and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it. (Gen 1:28)
 
The very name Eden means pleasure; garden of Eden becomes (when translated into Greek, as in the Septuagint) paradise of pleasure, and “subduing the earth” is code for spreading those conditions earth wide. Had humans, starting with the first pair, remained content to live under God’s direction, life today would be a far cry from what it is today. But almost from the beginning, they balked.
 
Consider Genesis chapter 3:
 
[1] Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it began to say to the woman: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden? [2] At this the woman said to the serpent: “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. [3] But as for [eating] of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘you must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.’” [4] At this the serpent said to the woman: “you positively will not die. [5] For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” [6] Consequently the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon.
 
Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the "knowing good and bad" of verse five to be a matter of declaring independence. "You don’t need God telling you what is good and what is bad. You can decide such things yourself and thus be “like God.” The serpent even portrays God as having selfish motive, as if trying to stifle the first couple….a sure way to engender discontent. The ploy was successful. Those first humans chose a course of independence, with far-ranging consequences that have cascaded to our day.
 
After a lengthy time interval, allowed by God, so that all can see the end course of a world run independent of him, he purposes to bring it again under his oversight. This is what Daniel refers to at Dan 2:44
 
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite...
 
One can only benefit from knowing the reason God permits suffering, as outlined above. In a letter to American colleague Asa Gray, Charles Darwin stated: ….I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I should wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world.
 
Had he known the Bible’s answer regarding misery and suffering, it may be that he, and other active minds of his day, might have put a different spin on discoveries of rocks, fossils, and finches. 

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Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Robert Hagedorn

The original sin was anal intercourse. For the exegesis, google the first scandal Adam and Eve. Then click, read, and comment.

tom sheepandgoats

Sigh....no, I think it means what I've stated above. Where is there any reference to sex of any sort in the Genesis account?

Googling doesn't lead to your blog. So here it is:

http://thefirstscandal.blogspot.com/2010/03/eighth-stanza.html

I must confess I didn't quite know what to make of your blog, into which you've put much effort. I still don't.

I did not know it was St Augustine who concluded that the original sin was sexual relations. HA! I agree he should have known better, being aware of Gen 1:28 (be fruitful and multiply) and having already fathered a son.

Karen G.

Dear Brother Sheepandgoats,

What a wonderful site you have...thankyou for sharing. I will share some of these things w/others, but especially my young, grown children. I will come back often and read the different subjects you have listed here. On the subject of "Why Does God Allow Suffering?" I've discussed this past week w/them in my "mom" emails to them. I share Family Worship w/them every Thurs. at 11am by email. It has helped to open up conversation w/them that otherwise would be far and few between, as when you have family get togethers, there isn't the time for deep conversations that you hope will help them to "see" Jehovah and appreciate him. My "mom" emails every Thurs. have helped to do that. I will share some things I find here. Thankyou soooo much for your giving spirit, dear brother. :)

tom sheepandgoats

Thank you Karen.

A Witness blogger doesn't want to just duplicate what the Christian publications do.....explain the Bible.....because they do it better, and moreover, they're the channel through which it should be done. Nor does one "cut and paste" their articles; it's for them to determine their own distribution channels. Nor does one try to be the "go to" place for JWs; that's what the congregations are for.

But what a blogger can do is comment on specific events, relate his own experiences, and address target audiences. To the extent I have a target audience....for I just like to write, target or no, and post the results, like an artist might hang his paintings....it might be for people like your grown kids, who spend a time on the internet.

Karen G.

I agree whole-heartedly. This is a good venue for appealing to those in the world, to relate an experience or things in the news in hopes of helping someone "see" the times we are living in. (2Tim. 3:1-5) Keep up the good work. I've enjoyed what I have read. You also have a good sense of humor. :)

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