Scenes from Revelation 029

The word theodicy was coined by the 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. It describes the process of seeking to logically vindicate the goodness, power, and justice of God in spite of the fact that he created a world in which evil exists.

The Bible nowhere offers humanity a true theodicy. However, Revelation offers insight into the problem. According to the text, God has made an escape for human beings in the midst of this evil world. Escape from the power of evil is provided through the loving grace and forgiveness of God which, in turn, is provided for by his eternal plan of salvation that culminated in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The theodicy of Revelation approaches its climax in 12:1 – 14:20 as it sets its focus upon the Lamb of God and the crushing defeat of evil. Following his defeat, Satan turns to wage war on the messianic community on earth. Disciples conquer the same way Jesus conquered: by faithfully testifying to God’s plan even if it requires death.

The final judgment scene of Revelation 20:11-15 serves as a fitting closing statement about God’s authority over evil, a final dropping of the curtain. In this section John also brings his theodicy to a conclusion. Evil is finally and permanently destroyed, God is vindicated, and those who choose to serve him are declared victorious.

Revelation offers a hope like no other New Testament writing. God is in control of history guiding it to a predetermined conclusion. Human beings of all ages are commanded to reject the values of their culture, to trust God, and to obey God as he works his redemptive plan out in history. Such loyalty to God may cost disciples their lives; however, the resurrection assures us that even though we may be martyred in this world we are still more than conquerors.

This theodicy may not satisfy everyone but it is the biblical answer to the problem of evil. Jesus has conquered and now reigns. To conquer with him we must give up being earth dwellers and, instead, become loyal citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven—no matter the consequences.