Our world is in pain.
There’s no denying it. The proof is everywhere—and now we know why. We started this Journey by asking why a loving, all-powerful God would choose to allow evil to exist, and along the way we discovered that suffering exists because people do evil things.
When we sin—when we step outside the boundaries God established for our good—the result is evil. Suffering. Pain. It doesn’t always happen immediately, and it isn’t always obvious, but it will happen. Sin produces suffering, and the law of God stands as the sole dividing line between “life and good, death and evil” (Deuteronomy 30:15). Multiply that by the number of people who are either ignorant of or uninterested in the law of God, then multiply that by the entire span of human history, and we’ll start to paint a picture of why the world is the way it is.
But the world isn’t going to stay the way that it is. Far from it—God might be presently allowing evil, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t actively working out a plan to end it. Ending evil right now, in this moment, would require God to either a) remove our free will or b) eradicate the human race altogether.
Thankfully for us, God has a far more elegant plan in motion.
The Bible is filled with glimpses of God’s plan for the future of the world—and what we’re shown in that plan isn’t a world in pain. Micah 4:2-4 says:
Many nations shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion the law shall go forth,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
And rebuke strong nations afar off;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
That’s not the world we live in today. Isaiah 11:6-9 expands on that theme, adding:
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.
What we’re seeing in these verses is a world where even the nature of animals is different—where formerly ravenous wolves live peacefully with sheep, lions rest with cows and a little child can play fearlessly near a den of snakes. Today, these scenes are unthinkable—but God promises that one day, they’ll be commonplace.
What really stands out in both of these prophecies, though, is what’s happening behind the scenes. Micah talks about people eager to come to God and walk in His way of life. Isaiah mentions a worldwide knowledge of God and His law. The world we’re seeing is different because the people living in it are different. They’re seeking God. They’re obeying His laws.
The book of Revelation goes one step further into the future and paints us this picture: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
That’s different. That’s something new. That’s a world without pain, without sorrow, without death. What we’re seeing in this prophecy is a world without evil—a world without sin.
So how do we get from this world to that one?
That’s the real question, isn’t it? All this time, we’ve been asking why God allows evil to exist, but what we really want to know is how He plans to end it—because He does plan to end it. In fact, that plan is already in motion. It’s been in motion for over 6,000 years—a plan designed to offer hope to every man, woman and child who has ever lived.
We know now that God has a reason for allowing evil, and we know that He has a plan to ultimately end it. We also know that His plan is going to have to address a number of significant hurdles. Here are a few:
And yet, despite all that, we’re told that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), and that He intends to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10).
How? How is that possible? The entire human population has disqualified itself from joining the family of God, and literal billions have perished without coming to repentance. The whole thing seems pretty hopeless.
But it’s not hopeless. In the next Journey, we’re going to spend seven days exploring the plan of God, and as we do, we’re going to see that God doesn’t just acknowledge the hurdles to His plan—He systematically knocks them down, clearing a path heading directly toward the incredible future that Micah and Isaiah wrote about.
The plan of God is a plan of hope. Are you ready to discover where you belong in it?
Continue your studies with “Journey 3: The Plan of God,” available from the Life, Hope & Truth Learning Center.