The Great Hope (Condensed)
Chapter 1—Why Is There Suffering?
Many see the work of evil, with its woe and desolation, and question how this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love. Those who are disposed to doubt seize upon this as an excuse for rejecting the words of Holy Writ. Tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin. GrH_c 1.1
It is impossible to explain the origin of sin so as to give a reason for its existence. Yet enough may be understood concerning the origin and final disposition of sin to make fully manifest the justice and benevolence of God. God was in no wise responsible for sin; there was no arbitrary withdrawal of divine grace, no deficiency in the divine government, that gave occasion for rebellion. Sin is an intruder for whose presence no reason can be given. To excuse it is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, it would cease to be sin. Sin is the outworking of a principle at war with the law of love, which is the foundation of the divine government. GrH_c 1.2
Before the entrance of evil there was peace and joy throughout the universe. Love for God was supreme, love for one another impartial. Christ the Only Begotten of God was one with the eternal Father in nature, in character, and in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. “By him were all things created, that are in heaven,... whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.” Colossians 1:16.The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended on their accord with its principles of righteousness. God takes no pleasure in forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. GrH_c 1.3
But there was one that chose to pervert this freedom. Sin originated with him, who, next to Christ, had been most honored by God. Before his fall, Lucifer was first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. “Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering.... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.... Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” “Thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God.” “Thou hast said,... I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also upon 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_c 1.4
Coveting the honor which the Father had bestowed upon His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield. A note of discord now marred the celestial harmonies. The exaltation of self awakened forebodings of evil in minds to whom God's glory was supreme. The heavenly councils pleaded with Lucifer. The Son of God presented before him the goodness and justice of the Creator and the sacred nature of His law. In departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker and bring ruin on himself. But the warning only aroused resistance. Lucifer allowed jealousy of Christ to prevail. GrH_c 1.5
Pride nourished the desire for supremacy. The high honors conferred on Lucifer called forth no gratitude to the Creator. He aspired to be equal with God. Yet the Son of God was the acknowledged Sovereign of heaven, one in power and authority with the Father. In all the counsels of God, Christ was a participant, but Lucifer was not permitted to enter into the divine purposes. “Why,” questioned this mighty angel, “should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He thus honored above Lucifer?” GrH_c 2.1