Ohio’s Issue 1 won yesterday. I am stunned. I can’t say I’m surprised — I saw the advance poll numbers — but I’m stunned nevertheless. My state voted for evil yesterday — grave, horrific evil. This vote opens up abortion as a constitutional “right” for Ohio women. Girls, too. And their parents can’t do a thing legally to stop them.
This hits close to home. I could jump in my car right now and in less than ten minutes be parked in front of one of the worst abortion clinics in the country, the office of Dr. Martin Haskell, who wrote the original journal article describing how to perform partial birth abortions. The company my son once worked for shares its parking lot with this place of butchery. Thank God, he’d already left and had a different job by the time the firm relocated there.
Yesterday’s vote grants this baby-killer, as “physician,” the role of deciding if the “fetus is viable,” or if abortion is in the mother’s health interests. Think he’ll ever opt against abortion, if he can squirm up some way to justify it? Not likely.
Does This Mean We’re Losing?
It’s too wrong for words. It’s evil unleashed. So, too, is Ohio’s issue 2, giving approval to recreational marijuana here in Ohio. I fear for Ohio now, as I fear for the whole country. So I have to ask, Where is God in all this? Aren’t you wondering, too?
Sometimes seems like Christians — and Christianity — are losing right and left. Another case in point: A member of Congress sets up a system to guard himself and his son from the temptations of pornography, and media pundits call him a pervert for it.
The questions demand to be answered: What do we do with this rising evil?
The questions demand to be answered. What do we do with this rising evil? How could God allow it? How do we account for it, knowing God is in charge? Is He really in charge? Or is He losing, too?
Ask the question that way and it answers itself, doesn’t it? But we have more answers in God’s word, too — answers specifically for when God’s people seem to lose, just as we seem to be losing now. We’re part of a story — a very long story, whose ending is sure. It’s just that God doesn’t guarantee we’ll be alive on earth to see it come out that way. In heaven, yes. On earth? That’s another question.
When God’s People Lose
The story matters, and the long view matters, too. Because God’s people actually can lose — for a season. Not for the long term.
So let’s take that long view now. Front to back, beginning to end, the Bible is a long story of God creating a universe for His glory, and peopling it with us on this planet for His glory as well. We’re made in His image, and through us He gives Himself yet one more way to display His love and His righteousness.
We haven’t always cooperated, though. (Is that an understatement or what?) Genesis 3 tells how the first couple welcomed rebellion against God into our world, and humans since then have kept on stamping their decision with approval.
The story continues, though, and soon we see it pointing toward history’s central person, Jesus Christ. Many have said the Bible is really His story, front to back, beginning to end, and they’re exactly right. The story has subplots, though, and one of them is the battle of good and evil on earth.
Good and Evil Doing Battle
I think if you or I were inventing a story of human history with a good, powerful, sovereign God in charge, we’d write it so that good always defeats evil. The good news is, that’s how God writes it, too. But He writes it with a very, very long view in mind.
Take the nation of Judah, for example. The books of Kings and Chronicles, along with many of the prophets, tell how Judah surrenders to Babylon after a brutal siege — literally, starvation tactics — has brought them to desperation. The survivors are carried away into exile. Where was God when that happened? He allowed it, even ordained it, due to their centuries of persistent idolatry.
Idolatry is a completely heinous offense against God, and by its demon-based falsehood it does horrific harm to those who practice it. And they suffer horribly for it. God would not allow the “people called by His name” to continue in it. So He let Babylon attack, and He let them win.
But the story continues. Seventy years they come back, and … tell me this: When’s the last time you heard of a Jewish congregation bowing down to an idol? The exile worked! Good won in the end.
Keep that in perspective, though. It’s easy enough for us to say good won in the end from where we are, looking back on it. What about those who died in the siege, though? You can bet many of thought God had abandoned them, and evil had taken over everything. It wasn’t the least bit true, but it sure must have looked that way — until decades later, when the end of the story could finally be told.
“Power Given to Conquer the Saints”
We know that God will have the victory, every time. Evil loses, every time. God always wins the war. Along the way, though, evil does win some battles. Satan must have gloated when evil men hung Jesus on the Cross. Whatever pleasure he got from that, it didn’t last beyond Friday and Saturday. He’d won! Or so it appeared — but then Sunday morning arrived!
The story goes on, right up until the end. Revelation 13:6-8 tells how the devilish Beast
opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—
Did you see that? Doesn’t it surprise you? The Beast will have power to conquer God’s people! He will win — or so it will appear, until the time comes when Christ swoops in and puts a just and righteous end to him.
So, has evil won in Ohio? So it appears, yes — until when? I don’t know. I hope it’s soon. I’ll keep on fighting against evil’s ways here, I assure you. Whether it’s sooner or later, hold your head up. Evil may appear to win, but only for the moment. It can’t win for keeps. The questions demand to be answered. What do we do with all this rising evil?
The Story’s Other Subplot: God’s Faithful Remnant
There’s one more subplot to be told from this story. One of the many places you’ll find it in Scripture is at the end of the sentence I cut short in my Revelation quote just now. That whole sentence reads, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast — all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”
Evil may appear to win, but only for the moment. It can’t win for keeps.
This part of the story is about the faithful remnant, for God always a preserves a people faithful to Himself, their names “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” their eternal victory assured by Christ’s death on the cross for them.
See, too, how God’s prophet Elijah was so desperately discouraged, feeling so alone, after doing battle with a supremely evil king and queen. He felt beat up and discouraged even after he’d won! It’s because he saw how much of battle remained. But God encourages him, first with His presence, then with his assurance there remained 7,000 who had “not bowed a knee to Baal.”
Grieve? Yes. Fight? Yes. And Hold Your Head High.
Evil won a battle here in Ohio yesterday. It’s truly devastating, butt God is still present. And I as an Ohioan will not yield one inch of room to it in my heart. I will not bow a knee to anything or anyone but God Himself, and God alone.
So the message is, yes, evil does win some battles. It can even seem to have taken over totally, and to be in charge. Grieve for those who will be harmed, yes. Pray for them. Fight for them, with truth and love, and all the weapons of righteousness.
And be of the remnant. Keep holding your head high: God knows what He’s doing. He’s not losing. His victory this time is every bit as certain as it was when Jesus died on the Cross. No matter what the world does around us, no matter how bad it seems, no matter how bad it actually may be, we dare not walk away from the God who is good, who created us, who loves us, who died for us, and who will raise us to eternal life in him.
We dare not turn our backs on the battle, either. He leaves us here for a reason. This isn’t over yet. And if it seems like we’ve lost now, take the long view. In the end we still win. God wins.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.