And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. —Revelation 13:5-8 ESV
Notice here in Revelation that the beast had authority given to it. (We also read in John 19 today that Pilate’s power and authority was given to him by God, and Jesus submitted meekly.) It was allowed to do certain things. This beast is on a leash, and God hold the leash.
Satan is still on a leash. We’ve seen this in the tragic events in Newtown, CT this week. Unspeakable horror. Tremendous grief. Yet, God is still on His throne and Satan is on a leash. In times like this, people question, “Where is God?” John Piper preached a sermon on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2005, “Where is God? The Supremacy of Christ in an Age of Terror” that is very helpful if you are struggling to come to grips with the sovereignty of God and suffering. In this sermon, Piper asks,
So we ask: Why, Lord? Why is the world you made like this? If you are God—if you are the Christ the Son of the living God—why is this world so full of terror and trouble?
Here is what I believe the Bible teaches in answer to this question. I will give two answers that are not the reason such a world exists, and then four answers that are the reasons such world exists. I deal with each very briefly and point you to the Scriptures where you can search God’s word for yourself.