We left part 1 noting that God’s wisdom means he always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals. That ultimate wisdom requires complete knowledge, and our knowledge is imperfect—making our counsel of God foolish. No one is fit to instruct God concerning his two-earth plan. No one is in a position to challenge him about the sufferings that characterize this age before the glory of the age to come.
God’s Self-Appointed Advisors
Yet, in our arrogance, we think we know better. We sit God down, make him a cup of tea and begin to give him some sage advice: “’Love your work in creation, God. But what is it with children having to suffer?”
Let’s think about two men who challenged the wisdom of God’s plan. They happen to share similar names but they arrived at very different conclusions.
The first is Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple. When he was 13 years old Jobs saw the July 1968 Life magazine, with its cover depicting a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took the magazine to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor.
“If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?” he asked.
The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.”
Jobs then pulled out the Life magazine and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?”
“Steve,” said the pastor, ”I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.”
Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.
It was an ironic and tragic decision.
- Jobs would go on to spend years studying Zen Buddhism”—which denies that evil and suffering even exist.
- Although Jobs never appears to have considered it, a lot of aid provided to Biafra came from Christian groups who were motivated by the wise and merciful character of the God he rejected.
- But, most importantly, the God that Jobs rejected personally was the same one who came to this earth and entered our suffering—taking full responsibility for our horrendous failures. Jobs rejected the God who ushers in a new universe where children will never need to starve again.
It’s not that these truths answer all our questions—they don’t. They don’t answer why for example suffering is unevenly distributed in this world. But, in turning from them, Steve Jobs rejected the best answers that have ever been provided by any worldview past or present.
The other response comes from Job (no “s”) in the Old Testament—a man who discovers that you can’t counsel God. He repeatedly and understandably challenges God to give him an answer for his own vast, and very personal, catalogue of suffering.
But Job eventually humbles himself, for he is a truly righteous man.
Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:1-3)
Like Job, we often challenge God’s plans on the basis of limited knowledge. But when we do so, we are like children throwing tantrums for not being taken to Moon.
Job says, “I spoke of things I did not understand.” The reason why he didn’t understand is simply because God had not revealed it. He did not know that God was using his suffering to demonstrate to Satan that Job truly loved God for God’s sake.
There are things we dont know either. As Moses says, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
God has revealed some things and kept other things to himself.
Fear and Patience
The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, means accepting the terms of that revelation with glad hearts, grateful that God has shared so much with his people.
Knowledge is a gift, and we do not have a right to know everything. When we claim knowledge that we do not have and insights we have no right to, we delude ourselves about our vantage point and deny God his wisdom.
Wisdom for us means giving up trying to counsel God and setting our minds on what is revealed in Scripture. Only then will we see further why God’s plan is better by far. Only then will we begin to see the hints that God has given us about his two-earth strategy…
Stay tuned for Part 3 next week.
 Keith Yandell and Harold Netland, in their book Buddhism A Christian Exploration and Appraisal (2009, IVP), p102, reflect on the Holocaust via Zen Buddhism. They note, “From the perspective of ultimate reality, emptiness, we cannot condemn the Holocaust as evil since moral categories do not apply on that level.”