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God bends things. He makes things crooked.

I don’t want to mess your day up too much, but since I must deal with certain truths, I thought I may as well include you on this, um, unique journey with God that you and I are on. This is the first passage we shall consider:

“Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:13–14). 1

The word “crooked,” עָוַת, has a negative meaning in the Old Testament except in a very few places like this one from Ecclesiastes 12:1–3: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed…”

I don’t know why the translators of the ESV and NIV rendered עָוַת as “crooked,” instead of “bent,” as the NET Bible and the NASB do, but I’m not sure it affects how we are to view this turning-our-world-upside-down text.

God bends things, and we cannot make them straight.

As mom used to say, “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Many of us Christians think that God does only good things according to what we consider good, in our natural understanding. Therefore, He would never cause nor allow a hurricane, a catastrophe, or a disaster to bend things, to make things negative and difficult for us. He is, after all, a God of love. And love would not behave in this way.

So, let me say this straight up: Such a view of God in not biblical. Strum through these passages and let’s see if we can hear what may be a sour tune from our perspective:

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

“Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” (Amos 3:6).

In spite of these plain truths, however, I will tell you with sadness that many Christians reject such passages, saying “That’s the Old Testament. Things are different in the New Testament.”

Well, then what should we Christians do with Ananias and Sapphira? We can read about it in Acts 5:1-10, which is, um, in the New Testament. The Lord took their lives because of their deceit. And here’s what happened soon after that incident:

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:11–15).

Good, wondrous, miraculous things happened after God took the lives of two believers?

Let’s consider this horrific event in the New Testament:

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Rama, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more’” (Matthew 2:16–18).

The Lord God knew of this event and even spoke through Jeremiah about it. Why didn’t He prevent it?

Look at this Psalm, which refers to Jesus:

“He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth” (Psalm 110:6). This verse surely refers to the end of all things, when Jesus—yes, Jesus—kills people:

“And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Revelation 19:20–21).

Is God good?

Yes.

Is He love?

Yes.

Is He just?

Yes.

Is He sovereign?

Yes.

Is He a God who only does good things according to our natural understanding?

No, He is not. He bends things and makes them crooked. He brings calamity and disaster. He brings the earthly existence of people to an end. All these things are done in love, done in goodness, done in holiness, done in supremacy. We Christians must deal with our God in light of these truths.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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