9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:9-11, KJV).
Yesterday evening Leonora and I attended the weekly meeting of the Life group hosted by Roland and Sherry Loder. Nine of the group’s ten members attended, and we studied the section “Why Doesn’t God Immediately Bring Evil and Suffering to an End?” of Randy Alcorn’s If God Is Good Why Do We Hurt? booklet (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah Books, 2010). As usual the study was preceded and followed by singing and prayer. We also had a snack during the after-study singing.
We began our study by reading the opening paragraph of the section and (quoted above) Revelation 6:9-11. Then we read the second paragraph, which suggests these reasons for God’s delaying His final judgment on evil:
– He is giving the unsaved more time to get saved.
– He is giving Christians more time to mature as Christians.
– He is bringing more glory to Himself.
We considered these Bible passages in connection with the above reasons:
– “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient to you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV; all Biblical quotations except Revelation 6:9-11 are from the ESV).
– “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4) and “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Between the two passages we read two paragraphs from the booklet which explain how experiencing suffering can help Christians grow.
– “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14).
We closed our study by reading the last few paragraphs of the section in the booklet, which bring out the ideas that God has a purpose for whatever He permits to happen, that He will eventually punish all evil, and that His reason for delaying His punishment of it is to give us more time to share the Gospel with others.
At the end of the study I drew the group’s attention to the address given in the booklet for Randy Alcorn’s website, Eternal Perspectives Ministries.