Could God be waiting for Adam’s iniquity to be full before He intervenes by taking the saints to be with Him in heaven and judging those left behind?

Hello, Christian. Thank you for being our guest to question this week.

I have an observation that I’m not sure what category to place it under, so thought I’d share it with you for your consideration.
I am currently taking the “Why Suffering” class in the RZIM Academy. I’ve heard several theories or explanations to date as to why God allows suffering… the latest one being Vince Vitale’s “Non-Identity Theodicy”.

As I was studying a different topic a few days ago, I stumbled upon a verse in Genesis 15:16 that said, " …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (KJV) God was promising that Abram’s descendants would return to Canaan, where Abram currently was dwelling. I have no Hebrew language training, so looked up a Hebrew lexicon to see what I could learn about the usage in this case of the word “iniquity”, or “avon”. To my understanding, it basically referred to a time of guilt to be punished which the Amorites were living out in their sin of enticing the other tribes of Canaan to worship idols. God was going to judge them when they would be driven out and destroyed by the Israelites who would inherit Canaan. I also looked up “full”, which is “shalem”, or “complete” in this usage. So, the Amorites’ guilt was not yet complete.
Next, I remembered how God punished all the Israelites who did not believe Joshua’s and Caleb’s report when they came back from spying on the land. God did not allow the next generation to cross the Jordan until the previous generation had all died. So, that generation’s guilt was not complete until they all had died, except for Joshua and Caleb.

When Jesus gave His prophecies regarding the last days in Matthew 24, He indicated that times were going to get worse before the world was judged.

So, what I’m hypothesizing, in terms of a possible explanation for why God allows suffering, is that the guilt of Adam’s sin has not been completed, and that times will get worse before God intervenes. Although the OT stories of the Amorites and the Israelites is on a much shorter timeline, Adam’s guilt is continuing to this day.
The Israelites were promised Canaan when the current inhabitants were judged. But the irony was that the generation of the exodus was judged, themselves. Both had a time of punishment that needed to be completed.

God is not willing that any should perish, (2 Tim. 3:9) and is the reason He is delaying the redemption of the saints and the judgment of the unbelievers. We are seeing increased evil and apostasy occurring in our generation, such as what Jesus foretold. Could God be waiting for Adam’s iniquity to be full before He intervenes by taking the saints to be with Him in heaven (as the Israelites were promised Canaan-the land flowing with milk and honey) and judging those left behind? Is the increased suffering and indifference indication that Adam’s iniquity will soon be judged?

I’m wondering if this could be a valid explanation for suffering and evil in the world? Of course, any explanation could be valid, but since I haven’t heard something similar to date, would the apologetics community accept it as plausible?

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Dear Sharon,
What a fascinating way of thinking about the problem of evil!
I can see both strengths and weaknesses in the approach you suggest. A strength is that you begin with a verse of Scripture (Gen 15:16) and reflect to see whether there is a general principle that is expressed in the verse, and how this principle might be applied to other situations.
What I see as a weakness is that there aren’t many texts in the bible that state this as a general principle and explain how it applies, or that apply the pattern to the question of suffering. I myself would therefore be reluctant to deduce a general principle from the verse in Genesis.
In terms of the problem of pain more generally, I love what Ravi and Vince say and write about it. My own approach, in a nutshell, is as follows:
(1) It is certainly possible that an omniscient Being might have perfectly good reasons for allowing evil and suffering at the present moment, even though I, or other humans, cannot at present think of what these reasons might be. So, even if I cannot give a reason that convinces you or me or a professor of philosophy, it is not at all irrational for me to believe that a God, who is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good, has good reasons for setting the world up in the way he did. (“reformed epistemology”)
(2) It seems to me that without the freedom to say no and turn away, love is impossible. If God is indeed love (as the Bible says), and if he wanted to make us capable of loving him and one another (as the Bible teaches), he needed to give us free will. We, and other free beings, have abused this free will to say no to him. This has consequences: saying no to him means saying no to light, no to love, no to life – which, naturally, results in darkness, hatred or apathy, and death. It leads to all kinds of evil. (“free will defence”)
(3) Many times God brings forth good even out of injustice and suffering, shaping our souls through them. (“soul making”)
(4) You and I could not exist in a radically different world. So God certainly did not harm us by creating this world, rather than another, perhaps better one. In fact, if he wanted you and me to exist (which he did, according to the Bible – what a glorious thought!), this world is just the (kind of) world required for us to exist.
(5) Finally, I believe that God is not only just but also good not, primarily, because of these philosophical arguments but because the God I believe in as a Christian became one of us: in Jesus Christ God took on human nature. And he suffered not only for us, but also with us, he was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”. He knows what it is to feel that God is not there when we need him most. On the cross he cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” So the God I believe in knows suffering from the inside out.
But… Good Friday is not the last word. It is followed by Easter Sunday: death is defeated, suffering vanquished, Jesus is raised from the dead, vindicated. And then, Pentecost follows: the Holy Spirit is given to us as a down payment, a foretaste of heaven. We have hope. Our God heals the broken-hearted!
In other words, for me there is no deeper, fuller, more important, more Christian answer than to look at God made man, dying for us on the cross. And being raised to life again, offering to all humankind reconciliation with God, healing the wounds of our hearts and bodies, and giving us life eternal.
Every blessing,
Christian

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