Is God Responsible For the Good and the Bad?

Military leaders lead by examplePhoto by US Army Europe

Military leaders lead by example
Photo by US Army Europe

[Originally published 12 March 2009]

Leadership is one of the key components to a successful team, unit or army. The US Army has had over 200 years of experience creating leaders that must influence young people to go to war and possibly die.

There is a saying in the US Army that “you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.” That does not mean that the leader takes the blame for wrong decisions of their subordinates, but it does mean that a leader takes corrective action in order that wrong behavior doesn’t continue.

God is the ultimate leader. He is the First Cause of the universe. He is the One Who created it all. He has authority over all. He, therefore, has overarching responsibility for it all.

Does that mean, however, that God is to blame every time something goes wrong? An NCO that is doing their job will give out clear instructions as to when formations take place. Is the NCO to blame if a soldier is consistently late? No, but the NCO would be responsible if the soldier was consistently late and the NCO did nothing to deter the behavior.

God Himself says something interesting in the Book of Job. Remember, Satan took away everything Job had, including his sons and daughters. It was Satan who did this, but he needed God’s permission to do these things. Yet, God says:

3 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

~ Job 2:3

God did not shirk from His part in this! Satan could not have touched Job without God’s permission. Yet, God uses evil, even Satan himself, to teach and cause people to learn and to grow. Satan refuses to learn, and that attitude permeates much of the earth. Job, however, did learn something about himself and his standing with his Creator.

Because God doesn’t seem to act immediately to punish evil doers, it can seem that He is slack in upholding righteousness. However, we need to recall that Adam and Eve chose to go it their own way. They took to themselves the prerogative of determining good from evil.

They were in a perfect paradise. They were lulled into thinking that life was easy and that they could do without dependence upon God. Because of their disobedience, they were put into an environment where things can go wrong quite easily. This environment would force them to realize just how fragile their existence is and just how much their very lives depend upon God.

Yet, consequences have causes. There is a cause for every effect. Let’s face it, criminals seem to become more brazen every year. Politicians don’t even bother to hide their corruption any more. All around greed has caused financial upheavals on a surprising scale.

Global warming may be the cause for some of the increase in hurricanes and droughts in various areas. There was even a human element at work in the huge tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in December 2004 because of the clearing of trees and the pollution that is killing the reefs, thus removing natural barriers to ocean waves. The AIDS epidemic has been difficult to get under control because humanity doesn’t want to control its sexual urges in line with God’s way of life. Not only AIDS, but hepatitis is also rampant because of illegal drug use. The list goes on and on.

Yet, when disaster strikes, people want to sing “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps. Should God intervene to bless them even when they are disobedient? Should God bless someone financially when they work on the Sabbath? Should God bless someone when they withhold tithes and offerings? Should God bless a nation that decriminalizes the murder of innocent children in the name of convenience?

People need to realize they need God all of the time, not just when disaster strikes. They want a comfortable “god” that they can sing praises to, set on a shelf and go out and sin for another week. Or, perhaps their god is one that sits on the shelf until something bad happens, and then their god is supposed to pull them out of their dire straits. Otherwise, they can ignore the god that sits on the shelf and run their lives as they see fit. The question is: Should God listen to such people who despise His ways?

The Bible talks about times when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jdg 17:6; 21:25). Violence and sexual perversion prevailed. Sodom and Gomorrah was the same way. They demanded their “freedoms” and “rights”, and they did not care who got hurt in the process. They were lawless and dangerous.

Usually, God gives people over to their own lusts and passions to allow them to experience the penalties of their ways (cf Ro 1:24; 2Ch 6:23; Neh 4:4; Ps 7:16). Yet, human nature is funny. It will justify itself in spite of evidence to the contrary. Admitting you are wrong just isn’t easy for people to do. Judah was taken captive. God warned them time and time again that He would cause their captivity. Yet, what did the people say even after these events took place?

16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee.

17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.

18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.

19 And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?

~ Jer 44:16-19

They did not repent! They justified their own actions instead. They hardened their hearts and would not listen.

It is time that people woke up and realized that God, the true God, is God all of the time. A time will come when Christ will setup His Kingdom on the earth, and people everywhere will learn to rely completely on Him.

There will be a time of accounting as well. Evil doers will have to face God. God will hold people accountable for their actions and deeds. God is responsible, but He is also judge. Being a judge is a responsibility as well, and God takes it seriously.

He gave us free will, and it is to Him we must answer for our own actions. He will judge people for what they have or have not done. Yet, even now, He will intervene in your life if you will submit to Him. He will guide and protect, and even when the going gets rough, He will never leave you nor forsake you. But, you have to repent and begin to obey.


  1. Does that mean, however, that God is to blame every time something goes wrong? An NCO that is doing their job will give out clear instructions as to when formations take place.

    Analogies have their limits, but let’s say a soldier was in the safety of an aircraft deep over hostile territory and completely out of reach from the enemy. Then out of the blue, his Commander-in-chief clearly throws him out of the plane with no other instructions?

    That’s how would characterise Job’s situation.

    • @Norbert: Well, I do not see it that way. A better analogy, IMO, would be if a leading general walked up to the Commander in Chief and asked to throw Job out, to which the Commander in Chief answered, “Yes, but ….”

      You see, God did not physically attack Job, but He took responsibility for it because He, as the sovereign God, allowed it. There is a difference.

      Did Job really have no other instructions, though? He had God’s Law. When things get tough, we have God’s Law. Are we graded on our ingenuity in getting out of messes, or are we graded on how well we keep the Law in spirit and in truth even when there are trials?

      Furthermore, we often find ourselves in situations where we feel overwhelmed in what to do about them. However, do we really have no other instructions? Part of military training is throwing soldiers into stressful situations to see if their training “sticks”. They have gone through various classes and practices, gaining experience, and then are tested on how well they perform. Did Job really not have any training for what befell him?

      We can only speculate at Job’s actual experience, but he was a wealthy and powerful man. Some think he may have been a prince of Edom renamed just for this story (and there are bits and pieces that back this up, but it cannot be proven). He had the opportunity to see firsthand God’s blessings for the faithful, and that apparently was sufficient to carry him through his trial. Whatever else he may have done, he did not give up pleading with God and throwing himself on His mercy and sense of fairness.

      In actual combat, a soldier may not have clear instructions for every situation, and I would even go so far as to say he never will because every situation is different. However, he will have his training and his field manuals to guide him.

      A soldier will also have other soldiers to rely upon most of the time. Job had his three friends, as faulty as they were, but more importantly he also had Elihu. He wasn’t really alone, although I suspect he felt he was alone for quite a period of time. God sent along a man He could deliver the message through when the others had failed.

      Another nugget for thought: Only one of the four friends really understood what was going on. Fortunately for Job, he listened to the correct one. So, again, did Job really have no other instructions? He not only received further instructions from God’s messenger, but Job also had the discernment to separate the truth from fiction. Obviously, Job had to have had some sort of instructions and hands on training to properly discern.

  2. From what I have read (I could be mistaken), there is no indication that Job had been aware of the heavenly exchange of words between the Lord and Satan. So from his perspective the severity of the things happening to him would seem like being tossed out with the parachute of the word of God.

    Naturally such events are made for topics about why bad things can happen to good people. When things happen to a person and they can’t immediately discern why they are happening. Where it may even take years before they see the truth of the matter.

    • @Norbert: I don’t think Job knew about it either. In fact, there is no indication that he knew even after the fact. That could be an indicator that sometimes we won’t know why we went through some things in this lifetime.

      We need to keep in mind the bigger picture. The training is for the next lifetime and not this one.

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