When we read the Old Testament, the phrasing is often such that we could say God caused most suffering. In fact, there are many who truly believe that despite the balance of scriptures.
Let’s take the story of Rehoboam and Shishak. Rehoboam was the son of Solomon, son of David. David was the man that God promised would have a descendant on the throne of Israel, as long as they were faithful. For 3 years, Rehoboam was faithful. Rehoboam used the Law to establish his power and authority. Once that was done, he was done with the Law. Rehoboam’s reign didn’t exactly start well, but he could have done alright had he (and Israel alongside him) stayed faithful to God.
This is the same with each and every one of us. We may ask about the innocents (like children) who, through no fault of their own, are pulled into the brokenness of the rest of humanity, and end up suffering because of it. We may not even be aware of it.
God does call Rehoboam to account. Rehoboam—and Judah with him—will be abandoned to the ravages of the latest military dominator, Shishak. Abandoned. There is a lot that can be pulled from this. The primary one is that Judah has been under God’s protection, guarding them against Shishak. God wasn’t going to make Shishak attack Judah. Shishak would have naturally gone against Judah. It would have been God’s protection that kept Shishak from attacking.
Rehoboam’s and Judah’s humbled themselves (kind of surprising for Rehoboam), God relented…somewhat. The gist of it was that God would still let Shishak attack, but that the result would not be desolation, but becoming a subordinated people. Was it great? No. It was intended to be a learning lesson, but the hearts of Rehoboam and Judah were to set in their own ways (already!) to fully return to God.
The sad reality is that in situations like this, we ourselves can often become this type of hardhearted person. In certain instances, God may have kept the worst consequences of our behavior from affecting us, while still allowing some so that we would be disciplined. Instead, we can often see the lesser consequence of God not doing something and complain.
James was obviously dealing with something similar but in the realm of temptation. The lack of personal responsibility drew strong rebuke from James. He did not want people to blame God for their choices (and the consequences of those choices). Rehoboam succumbed to temptation (of not following God). He had a choice. God did not make him choose to succumb, nor did God try to tempt Rehoboam.
1) Have you ever blamed God for temptation (or more specifically falling for it), or making you too weak?
2) Have you ever heard someone else blame God for their succumbing to temptation? How did you respond?