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Why does God tolerate evil people?

Does it seem like God is oblivious to evil people? Do you wonder why God allows evil people to continue their evil deeds? Genesis 15 contains a short statement about the Amorites that partially explains why God “appears” to tolerate wickedness. This statement is found in a passage that continues telling us about the life of Abram.

One of the recurring promises that Yahweh gave to Abram was that Abram’s descendants would possess the land of Canaan. This promise is stated in Genesis 15:7.

Gen. 15:7 And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”

The reason Yahweh brought Abram out of Ur was so that Abram could possess Canaan. Abram asked for proof that he would possess it.

Gen. 15:8 He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?

Gen. 15:9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Gen. 15:10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.

Gen. 15:11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Next, Abram fell asleep and Yahweh described some events that would happen before Abram’s descendants possessed the land. Notice how many years were going to elapse before possession.

Gen. 15:12 ¶ Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.

Gen. 15:13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.

Verse 13 was fulfilled when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt (see Exodus). This verse tells us that 400 years were going to elapse before Abram’s descendants possessed Canaan. Why was Yahweh going to wait 400 years? Notice the last statement in verse 16. Notice the reference to the Amorites.

Gen. 15:14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.

Gen. 15:15 “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.

Gen. 15:16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

If God waits 400 years to end the wickedness in our culture,  then the wickedness will continue until 2400 AD.Verse 14 was fulfilled when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery (see Exodus). Verse 16 tells us that Yahweh was going to wait 400 years because the sin of the Amorites was not yet complete. In other words, even though the Amorites were sinning, God was going to allow them to sin some more before He dispossessed them. Why did God allow them to keep sinning? Why does God allow evil to continue in our culture? Consider the following verses. What do they tell us about God and His view of time? Notice also the word “patient”.

2Pet. 3:8 ¶ But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.

2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

2Pet. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

First of all, 400 years is like a day in God’s eyes, so from His perspective, He did not tolerate the sin of the Amorites for a long time and he doesn’t tolerate wickedness for a long time in our culture. Second, God is patient and allows people time to repent.

As we observe wickedness in our culture and wonder where God is, just remember that His sense of time and His patience are different than ours. Even though it seems like God is tolerating evil and wickedness, God sees the sin and will deal with it His way on His timetable.

 

Further reading

What should we do when we are surrounded by wickedness?

What should we do when someone harms us?

 

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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”