29 May, 2006

The Supposed Unfairness of a Silent God

The words of Pope Benedict XVI on well-publicized visit to Auschwitz:
"To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible - and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a pope from Germany. In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can only be a dread silence - a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

What the pope, and so many other Christians fail to realize is that God's apparent 'inaction' is, in fact, God's plan being carried out. Could God have prevented the slaughter of so many Jews? Absolutely. Could God have prevented WWII from even occuring? Of course. However, God's plan and purpose has been in effect since the beginning of time and this plan is unquestionably good and perfect, and as difficult as it can be to grasp, it's perfect even when it involves the death and destruction of families, tribes, countries and even entire cultures. Whether or not we think this is "fair" really isn't our call to make. "Fair" is an emotional response, not a response based on faith (as a sidenote, I wonder how people consider it 'fair' that a person must suffer unspeakable agony in hell for eternity after leading a sinful life that lasts, at most, 80 years and yet it's unfair when a few unbelievers perish in a natural disaster...)

Nonetheless, I find the pope's comments incredibly ironic considering the history of the Catholic Church, specifically the Inquisition during which thousands of 'heretics' were tortured and killed. We never read of similar questioning regarding God's silence during this particularly dark period in Christian history...

Regardless, we should all take comfort in the words spken by Jesus: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"

Perhaps the lesson in all of this is that God's chosen people, the Jews, have experienced, and survived countless, and current, attempts of genocide. A basic understanding of prophecy shows that this has been done, and is being done for a reason, whether it's to isolate the nation of Israel against the armies of the world (Zec 12:3 "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.") or to regather the Jews to their homeland (Isa 43:6 "I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;") or to maintain a global mistrust and dislike for the Jews (Psa 44:14 "Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people." From the Jews being led captive to Babylon in the Old Testament to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 to the Spanish Inquisition to World War 1 & 2 to today, God is shaping the minds and powers of the world in a way that He sees fit in preparation for the coming of Christ.

Zec 14:2 "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity..." No doubt there will be people in the last days who will wonder why God "remains silent" in the face of such horrific destruction of His people as described in Zechariah, but our instructions are to remain faithful, ever watchful. We would do well to remember the words written by Isaiah: "And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him." (Isa. 8:17)


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