I. WE CANNOT KNOW THE WHY'S OF GOD.
A. To the prophet Isaiah God said, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
1. Basically God is saying we don't think alike.
2. God thinks with the advantage of omniscience.
3. If you know everything, I do not know if it is even necessary to think.
4. I am so often very tentative in my decisions.
a. I try to weigh all of the facts as I understand them.
b. I try to look at the possible high and the low side of the action that I propose to take.
c. I have made decisions many times on partial or false information.
d. I frankly confess, I do not always know what I am doing, I hope and trust that I am doing the right thing.
5. It would be wonderful to know that every decision and action you ever took was right.
6. God has never had to say oops.
B. Paul in Romans 11
said, "O the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out."
1. It is interesting that even though His ways are past finding out, we seem to always be trying to find them out.
2. We so often wonder, "Why did God allow that to happen?"
C. If ever there was a man who could wonder about the ways of God it would be Job.
1. He experienced just about every calamity possible.
2. Yet he was a man according to God's estimation, who was complete and upright, one who loved good and hated evil.
3. Job in chapter 9 declared concerning God that His ways were past finding out.
4. Job had a lot of why's.
a. Why did I not die in the womb?
b. Why was I not still born?
c. Why do the wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power?
5. Though Job confessed his confusion and lack of understanding, yet by faith he declared, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
D. In our text we are told that Herod stretched forth his hand to vex the church and had James the brother of John killed with the sword.
1. When the mother of James and John requested of Jesus that when Jesus set up the Kingdom, she wanted Him to put one of her sons on His right hand and the other on His left.
2. Jesus responded that she did not understand what she was asking, He asked, "Can they drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" They were standing close by listening and they responded "Yes we can."
3. Jesus said you shall surely drink of that cup. Now James has according to the words of Jesus drank of that cup.
4. According to an early church historian, when James was brought to the place of execution, his accuser repented when he saw the extraordinary courage of James and fell at his feet asking his forgiveness and confessed Christ as his Lord. He said that James should not be martyred alone, so they were both beheaded.
E. Why would God allow this wicked Herod Agrippa to kill the apostle James?
II. THE STORY OF PETER.
A. When Herod saw that the killing of James pleased the Jews, he determined to go further in stamping out Christianity and he had Peter put in prison, intending to bring him forth the next day and kill him.
1. We know the story of how the angel came to Peter in prison, and freed him, miraculously leading him out of the prison.
2. If God could miraculously deliver Peter from the hand of Herod could He not have delivered James? We know that He could, the question is, "Why didn't He?"
B. Why does God allow the things He does?
1. Why does He allow the wicked to prosper?
2. Why does He allow the righteous to suffer?
C. These are questions that have been asked by every righteous man who has gone through suffering and trial.
1. Hebrews 11
speaks of the exploits of the men of faith in the Old Testament.
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
D. Let it be noted that God never promised that to live a righteous life would be a bed of roses.
1. Jesus spoke of our being persecuted for righteousness sake.
2. Jesus said,
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
3. Paul said to those in Lystra that we through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
4. Writing to Timothy Paul said,
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
5. Peter wrote,
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye]; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.
III. WHY DOES GOD THEN ALLOW IT?
A. We don't know.
B. We do know that God allowed Abraham to go through three days of torture thinking that he was to sacrifice his beloved son to God, in order to test Abraham's faith.
C. We do know that God is good.
D. We do know that God loves us supremely.
1. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
2. Greater love has no man than this, that a man will lay down his life for his friends.
E. We know that God is sovereign, He is in control.
F. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
G. Thus when we come upon difficult situations which we don't know, we fall back upon that which we do know.
1. The answer lies in trust and commitment.
a. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding.
b. Before Enoch was translated into heaven without dying he had this testimony that he pleased God, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
c. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.
d. David said, "Commit thy way unto the Lord and He shall bring it to pass."
e. Paul said, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed.
2. So with Job know that when you are tried, you will come forth as gold.
3. As Peter said the trial of your faith is more precious than gold that perisheth though it be tried by fire might be found to praise honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
4. As Paul said, "The present suffering is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed."