Why is this World so Messed Up?
Everyone born into this world eventually discovers that we live in a really messed up reality, a world plagued by lies, pain, disease, aging, death, grief, immorality, perversion, confusion, corruption, injustice, abuse, hostility and war. I remember a song from the late 80s that honestly addressed the topic with the singer asking at the close: “Why is this world so (bleeped) up?!”
What is God’s answer in the Bible? How did humanity and the earth get to where we are?
First, the good news…
There’s a New World Coming!
Our Creator is well aware of how messed up life is in this current world. I say “current” because the LORD promises something very comforting – a perfect future world:
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This is a reference to the coming eternal age of the new heavens and new earth. God fully knows how hard it can be in this world and encourages us to look forward to this magnificent eternal age-to-come:
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2 Peter 3:13
In this coming glorious universe everything that’s currently wrong with our world will be made right. Instead of aging, pain & death we’ll have powerful, immortal bodies; instead of sinful natures we’ll have thoroughly spiritual natures; instead of shame, glory; instead of falsities, injustice, corruption, hate and war, there will be universal truth, justice, righteousness, love and peace. You can read more about it here.
I’m bringing this up to stress that God knows how bad it is on earth and promises a new heavens and new earth where all the problems of this one will be a distant memory. You must get ahold of this if you want to get through this current temporary life without pulling your hair out in fretfulness. I also want to point out that if this world was not severely messed up there wouldn’t be a need for a new one. In other words, this current world isn’t supposed to be perfect and blissful. If it were, there would be no need for a new one. Are you with me? The very fact that this world is so messed up verifies the truth of Scripture. The Bible point blank refers to the current state of our world as “the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
But how did this world get so messed up in the first place? What can explain the cosmic conflict between good and evil? A conflict so universal that every human being experiences this war in their very members practically every day! It’s in our governments, our families, our work places, our schools, our universities, our assemblies, our stories, our art, our music and our movies – it’s palpable everywhere!
The Great War of the Three Realms and How it Began
The three realms are Heaven, Earth and the Underworld (Philippians 2:9-11 & Revelation 5:2-3). Heaven is God’s spiritual abode where his throne is located. The physical universe, which includes the earth, was created from the LORD’s invisible realm (Hebrews 11:3). After Satan & his corrupt angels rebelled and were kicked out of Heaven, the Underworld was created. The Underworld is simply the dark heavenlies that parallel the Earth & Universe from which the devil & his demons operate (Ephesians 6:12).
Once Satan fell he focused on taking humanity down with him and he was successful in misleading the first man, Adam, by duping his wife, Eve (Genesis 3). Ever since, there has been a cosmic war between Heaven and the Underworld with humanity & this Earth caught in between these two forces of good and evil.
Before Satan’s fall & casting from Heaven along with a third of the angels, he was originally Lucifer — aka “Morning Star” or “Shining One” — the most attractive, talented and honored angel the LORD had created (Isaiah 14:12). Lucifer was a guardian cherub handpicked by God for the privilege of guarding — i.e. covering — God’s throne in Heaven, similar to the cherubim who were assigned to guard the Garden of Eden after Adam & Eve were banished (Genesis 3:24).
Ezekiel 28:12-19 shows that Lucifer had an intrinsic musical anointing and dwelt in the presence of the Almighty. When God created the Earth & Universe the angels “sang together” and “shouted for joy”. Satan’s rebellion occurred sometime after this because there had to be an Earth and the corresponding Underworld for him to fall to and inhabit (Luke 10:18). Again, the “underworld” is simply the spiritual dimension that undergirds the Earth & Universe. Not being physical beings, the devil and his fallen angels operate from this spiritual realm to negatively influence the physical world. See this article for insights.
Job 38:4-7 shows that “all the angels shouted for joy” when the Earth was created. The word ‘all’ is kol (kohl) in the Hebrew, meaning “the whole.” The Hebrew for ‘angels’ in this verse literally means “the sons of God,” a phrase used to describe angels elsewhere in Scripture, including the devil & his filthy angels (e.g. Genesis 6:2-4 & Job 1:6, 2:1). The fact that angels are described as “the sons of God” in Scripture implies that they were created in the image of God, like human beings. You can read more about this here. My point is that all the angels rejoiced when God created the Heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1), which would include Lucifer and his subordinates before their rebellion and ouster from Heaven.
Yet in Genesis 3:1-15 we observe Satan, after his fall, possessing a serpent-with-legs in order to tempt the first woman. This shows that Lucifer and his cohorts rebelled and were cast from Heaven sometime after the creation of the Earth & Universe, but before the devil’s duping of Eve, which means sometime between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1.* We don’t know the exact expanse of time between these two events, but it could’ve been years. In any case, this shows that Satan’s rebellion occurred shortly after the creation of human beings.
* This is the young Earth perspective, which I believe is the most biblically faithful position on the age of the Earth/Universe. Gap theorists, who embrace the old Earth model, place the fall of Lucifer & his fallen spirits sometime between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. For details, see this article.
We know that Lucifer’s insurgency was due to pride:
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
These five “I will” statements reveal Satan’s arrogance — he wanted to be God rather than be God’s servant. This was the first sin ever committed, the first sin to enter God’s creation. And notice that sin is traced to what’s going on in one’s heart, which is corroborated by Christ in the New Testament (Mark 7:20-23). No wonder Jesus emphasized this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28).
Lucifer was not satisfied with his extraordinary blessings and privileges. Instead, he wanted to be God and so, after his defeat, he naturally tempted Adam & Eve with the same basic sin that led to his downfall (Genesis 3:1-5). But there’s more to this story, way more…
Lucifer was possibly having problems with the concept of serving before God created Adam & Eve, but once humans were created and he caught wind of the fact that angels were commissioned to serve people (Hebrews 1:14) his pride couldn’t handle it, particularly when he found out that human beings were created in the likeness of God, like the angels. And, worse, that they were expressly created to be co-heirs with Christ, seated with Him at the right hand of the Father, a privilege and position not granted to angels (Romans 8:17, Hebrews 1:13 & Ephesians 2:6). Lucifer’s envy went into overdrive and thus he orchestrated his doomed revolt.
Lucifer thus became Satan, which means “Adversary” or “Enemy.” Knowing God’s character, the LORD gave Satan & his foul cronies time to repent, but they were incorrigible. Since angelic spirits possess intrinsic immortality (Luke 20:34-36), God couldn’t annihilate Satan & his fallen angels and so sentenced them to eternal separation from God’s kingdom and therefore created the lake of fire as their eternal habitation (Matthew 25:41).
This is when the devil – which means “slanderer” – accused the LORD of being unloving and unjust. God consequently allowed a universal demonstration to all the angels – faithful and fallen – to prove both his great love and perfect justice by allowing the Enemy to tempt human beings, which would result in humanity’s fall. This would pave the way for God to implement his wonderful plan of redemption through the suffering & sacrifice of Christ, which offered forgiveness, reconciliation & eternal life for any human being who humbly repented and received God’s graciousness (Acts 20:21), which was something the devil & his cronies were foolishly unwilling to do.
Hence, God’s sentence on the fallen angels was temporarily suspended until this universal demonstration was completed. In the meantime the devil & his underlings are doing everything they can to thwart God’s demonstration. For anyone who might object to the idea of a dispute between God and the devil and the corresponding exhibition on Earth, the Bible details just such a scenario on a smaller scale in the book of Job (Job 1:8-12 & 2:3-7).
Satan’s top priority, of course, is to keep as many people from eternal salvation as possible (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Apparently he thinks that if he can prevent enough people from acquiring redemption, the Creator will be forced to bend his justice, which would set a precedent and thus grant Satan & his demons a possible acquittal.
I know this is heavy, but it reveals the big picture of what’s going on behind the scenes and explains our messed up Universe and the ongoing war between good and evil. All the pieces the puzzle fit. Mull over the data and decide for yourself. Thankfully, this is a temporary war and God’s kingdom wins in the end. Thus all the humbly repentant are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).
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