The Great Hope (Adapted)


Chapter 1—Why Is There Suffering?

Many see the work of evil, with its pain and loss, and question how this can exist under the rulership of One who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love. Those who are inclined to doubt quickly take this as an excuse for rejecting the words of the Bible. Tradition and wrong interpretations have clouded the Bible’s teaching about God’s character, the nature of His government, and the principles of how He deals with sin. GrH_a 1.1

It is impossible to explain the origin of sin in a way that gives a reason for its existence. Yet we can understand enough about sin’s beginning and final end to show clearly God’s justice and goodness. In no way was God responsible for sin. He did not just remove His divine grace, nor was there anything lacking in the divine government, that provided a cause for the rebellion. Sin is an intruder for whose presence no one can give a reason. To excuse it is to defend it. If we could find an excuse for it, it would no longer be sin. Sin is the expression of a principle that is at war with the law of love, which is the foundation of God’s government. GrH_a 1.2

Before sin began, there was peace and joy everywhere in the universe. Love for God was supreme, love for one another unselfish. Christ the Only Begotten of God was one with the eternal Father in nature, in character, and in purpose—the only being who could enter into all the counsels and plans of God. “By him all things were created that are in heaven..., whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:16). GrH_a 1.3

Since the law of love is the foundation of God’s government, the happiness of all created beings depended on their willing harmony with its principles of righteousness. God takes no pleasure in forced allegiance, and He grants everyone freedom of will, so that they can choose to serve Him voluntarily. GrH_a 1.4

But one of God’s created beings chose to misuse this freedom. Sin originated with an angel who, next to Christ, had been the being God honored the most. Before his fall, Lucifer was chief of the covering cherubs, holy and pure. “Thus says the Lord God: ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering.... You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.... Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.’” “You have set your heart as the heart of a god.” “You have said..., ‘I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation...; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Ezekiel 28:12-17; 28:6; Isaiah 14:13, 14.) GrH_a 1.5

Coveting the honor that the Father had given His Son, this prince of angels wanted the power that was Christ’s alone to use. A note of discord now marred heaven’s harmonies. Seeing someone exalt himself gave the other angels, who hold God’s glory as supreme, a strange dread of something evil. The heavenly councils pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God showed him the goodness and justice of the Creator and the sacred nature of His law. In rejecting it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin on himself. But the warning only stirred his resistance. Lucifer allowed his jealousy of Christ to control him. GrH_a 1.6

Pride fed his desire for supremacy. The high honors God had given Lucifer did not make him grateful to the Creator. He wanted to be equal with God. Yet everyone recognized that the Son of God was the Ruler of heaven, one with the Father in power and authority. Christ participated in all the counsels of God, but Lucifer was not allowed to enter into the divine plans. This mighty angel questioned, “Why should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He honored like this above Lucifer?” GrH_a 2.1