Why do the Righteous Suffer?


Reading: Isaiah 24


Introduction

Human suffering is on the increase. Many believers are giving up their faith. Great men's hearts are failing them for fear, because something is radically wrong with civilization. What is it? Where have we gone wrong? Man, who has plumbed the deepest oceans, scaled the highest mountains and walked on the moon, is incapable of removing human suffering. We notice also the rapid increase in natural disasters: volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts and famines. What's going on? Why does God (if there is a God, many would add,) allow these things to happen? Is He perhaps behind it?


Isaiah 24: 1: Behold, YaHuWaH maketh the Earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
2: And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the taker of usury, so with the giver of usury to him.
3: The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for YaHuWaH hath spoken this word.
4: The Earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the Earth do languish.


1. Broken the Everlasting Covenant


But why does the Almighty allow such destruction to take place? He could stop it - easily. Why doesn't He? The answer is given in the next two verses.


Isaiah 24: 5: The Earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the Torah, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
6: Therefore hath the curse devoured the Earth…

In other words: the world is being punished because of man's blatant sin. The earth is under a curse! The Almighty's Torah has been transgressed, twisted and broken with blasphemous impunity. Yes, that is why earth is under His curse.


2. The Blessings of YaHuWaH

'But,' you may well ask, 'Why should the righteous suffer with the wicked? They haven't transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances or broken the everlasting covenant. Did not YaHuWaH promise blessings to the obedient? What about all those blessings promised to the righteous? For example:


Blessings to the Individual

Psalm 1: 1: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful…
3: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


Blessing to Abraham & Israel

Gen. 12: 2: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.


Blessing to a Congregation:

Num.6: 24: YaHuWaH bless thee, and keep thee:
YaHuWaH make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
YaHuWaH lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
27: And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.


3. Irreversable Blessings


Moreover, what about those texts which teach that, once given, no one can reverse YaHuWaH 's blessing?


Num.23: 20: Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

The mercenary prophet Balaam learned to his bitter cost that YaHuWaH 's blessings cannot be reversed. Whoever the Almighty blesses is blessed. Any attempt to curse a blessed believer will backfire and end in more blessing to the believer; not to mention the dire punishment that will fall upon those who attempt to reverse YaHuWaH 's blessing.


4. A Spiritual Paradox

But, again we ask: 'Why do the righteous suffer?' It's a strange paradox to see many obedient believers suffering greatly; often more than outright sinners. Why is this? Take for example the Bible VIPs: Abel, Job, Joseph, Naomi, Elijah, Jeremiah, David, Daniel, the 12 Apostles and countless saints down through the ages; not forgetting YAHUSHUA the Messiah. All of these obedient souls suffered greatly. Why? Didn't YaHuWaH promise blessing to the obedient?


5. Reason for Suffering

Reason

That the Almighty's power is best demonstrated when a believer is totally helpless and weak; when he cannot rely on his own physical or spiritual strength or even the strength of others. For the fact is, when we are at our weakest we cling to our Heavenly Father all the more; and it is particularly at those times that His great love and power become more evident and His presence most appreciated.


6. The True Believer's Response

The real reason why YaHuWaH allows His people to suffer is to demonstrate that however weak we may happen to be, and no matter how grim the circumstances we may find ourselves in: sickness, poverty, loneliness, persecution or pain, we can willingly bear it for Messiah's sake! For the fact is the Almighty is proving to the universe that:


  • Believers can maintain their faith under the worst of circumstances; that even when they are at their weakest, the Almighty's power can uphold them and make them conquerors, even when threatened by death.
  • And that Satan can never reverse the blessing of the Almighty.
  • When YaHuWaH is with us, who dare be against us?

The Almighty is not doing this to boast. Remember He is a humble Being, more humble than anyone who exists. He is simply proving that Satan is a liar and, by comparison, impotent. YaHuWaH is demonstrating before a watching universe that even the weakest believer - with Him on his/her side - is more than a match for all the forces of evil. Satan wants to prove that he is wiser, stronger and could be a better ruler of the universe than the Creator. And so in his devilish zeal he attacks everything and everyone on the Almighty's side. When YaHuWaH blesses, Satan seeks to curse. When YaHuWaH gives joy, Satan tries to drown that joy in sorrow. When YaHuWaH gives light, Satan tries to snuff out the light with darkness. But Lucifer's efforts, though often temporarily successful, are in the end all doomed to failure. And the whole universe is about to witness his humiliating defeat. (Read about Satan's (Hilel's) end in Isaiah chapter 14)


7. Summary

Are you an obedient believer who finds yourself suffering in one way or another? Do you wonder why? Think about Job and the prophets of old. They were faithful and they suffered greatly; probably far more than you or I ever will. Why did they suffer? The answer is, because the Almighty was demonstrating in their lives one or more of the following facts:


  • That He can provide grace and strength to meet every believer's need in every circumstance, no matter how bad it may become. He is always with His followers.
  • That even the very best believer is in danger of becoming smug, complacent and proud. Suffering keeps a person humble.
  • That YaHuWaH 's mighty power is best demonstrated when we are at our weakest and most dependent. Because it is only then that we totally rely on Him. At other times we tend to rely on our own abilities and resources, which at best are pathetic.
  • And that even under the worst conditions YaHuWaH 's power can help us overcome Lucifer's fiercest attacks: pain, privation or persecution, it matters not. For when we are weak, then we are strong. This is a lesson all believers must learn - through suffering!





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