1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed
as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of
heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay
his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Psalms 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. 10The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. 11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Psalms 115:3But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Acts 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
We have been talking about the Providence of God, so I thought we should look at some lessons for us from the working of Providence throughout Scripture. We will look at more as we go along.
Providence as defined by 1828 Webster:
In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself.
I have the next Jude message ready, but as I have considered the "providence of God", we should find great encouragement by looking at Divine Providence at work in Scripture.
God is just as active in his unseen hand in Providence as he was and is in creation.
Though we believe in the doctrine of God's providence, do we really in our minds and hearts apply what we know to daily events? If we fail to recognize God's hand in absolutely every situation, we can grow weak in the faith, and some even depart from the faith. 1 Tim 4:1
When we fail to see God's hand, we lose one of the greatest blessings of our faith. Actually, we deny Romans 8:28, 29, though we say we believe it.
All things, visible and invisible, work toward the sovereign purpose of the Lord our God..
In other words, God works to govern this world through Providence just as sure as he worked through creation. There are those, even pastors, who will readily confess the work of Divine Providence in creation, even in 6 day, yet in the next breath, they deny the particulars of Providence that are required to continue creation to its appointed end.
They have replaced Divine Providence with the Devil's providence by saying that Satan is the one controlling history.
The work of God in governing this world is unknowable to the wisdom of this world, as God governs through his physical laws..
The Word if God is clear that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32, 5:21.) I know Christians who refuse to recognize that God reigneth over the heathen, as he now sitteth on the throne of his holiness. (Psalms 47:8, Isa 52:7, Revelation 19:6.) There are some on my mailing list who even go as far as to mock the doctrine of Divine Providence controlling history, because it is not clearly stated in Scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 11:19, Paul tells us that it is the will of God that heresies should enter and even prosper, and that those heresies should pervert many. Heresies are needed to reveal the truth about those who claim to speak for Christ. Paul warned us so we would not be surprised and so we would be prepared for them by studying Scripture. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God, or we will be blown about by every wind of doctrine. We must be able to recognize and stand our ground against those who deny the many truths revealed to us in Scripture, starting with the very basic doctrines of the Gospel of Grace.
Moreover, 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that heresies must come from even the most unexpected and even surprising sources, for by them our faith is purified.
As we mentioned in a past Examiner, Federal Vision is a heresy that sounds good and is making inroads into some good churches.
Without the proper view of Providence, Christians have no hope in the face of prevailing errors in the Church, as well as the prospering evil around us. Our comfort comes from the knowledge that the Lord God omnipotent reigheth. (Rev. 19:6.)
He who sits in the heavens laughs at his opposition, whether opposition comes from within the church or from without. (Ps 2.) The Lord God will be honoured even in the wrath of his enmities.
Nothing does damage to the cause of Christ and leads into error like success. We are inclined to judge not by righteous judgment, but by outward appearances. We are influenced by the success of an endeavor without examining the foundation of that endeavor. Messages from the pulpit are judged not by their soundness, but by the results they produce.
As someone said, "Opinions spread by infection, rather than by a thorough investigation of the evidence."
However, a Biblical view of Providence is meant to deliver us from viewing worldly success as a mark of God's blessings. Scripture shows us that often times God has granted great success to his enemies. His enemies are thus hardened in their rebellion, and our faith is tried. Success is no proof of truth, nor is the lack of success a proof of error.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul disclaimed all worldly wisdom in his attempt to advance the Gospel Kingdom, and so must we. Even if Christianity were in danger of being banished from the earth, we must not attempt to assist it by fraud, deceit, craft, nor any other dishonourable or umbilical means. All the ingenuity of all the wise men of the earth with their high sounding, worldly wise degrees cannot extend the Gospel Kingdom one soul beyond God's assigned limits.
We are often afflicted as we consider the signs of the times in which we live. We see the prosperity of the wicked, and the unjust oppression of the righteous. We live in the results of the influence of the powers of darkness. However, we have our consolation in the Providence of God. Providence tells us that opposition to the Gospel Kingdom is part of the plan of Divine Wisdom.
Though God has given the world over to the dominion of the enemy, God has not excluded himself from the government of the world. 1 Kings 22:22, shows us that Satan himself is no more than a servant of the Most High God.
1 Kings 22:22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
The wrath of Satan, as well as the wrath of man and any device man can imagine against the Gospel Kingdom must praise God. He will not allow any works of evil to progress beyond what will praise him.
Ps 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
Notice Isaiah 45:9. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
God pronounces a strong woe against those who might question his providential workings here on earth.
Genesis 12:10-20, Abraham is driven by famine into Egypt
Lesson 1 - Divine Providence sends and uses both good and bad to fulfill his divine plan and purpose.
God sends both feast and famine to fulfill his own purpose. One of the scourges with which he afflicts his enemies is famine, which, at the same time, afflicts his own people, for it rains on the just and the unjust.
In chapter 12, we see that the famine in Canaan was intended by Providence to try Abraham's faith.
Abraham's faith is emphasized many times by Paul, as well as in Hebrews:
Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision
only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was
reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 12 And the father of circumcision
to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk
in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had
being yet uncircumcised. 13 For the promise, that he should be
the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through
the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 16 Therefore
it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise
might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the
law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is
the father of us all,
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
But in Genesis 12, we see a very unfaltering picture of Abraham's faith. Providence forces Abraham into Egypt. In Egypt and out of fear for his life because of his wife's beauty, he tells his wife to convince the Egyptians that she is his sister. The lie is very convincing.
Lesson 2 - The fear of death cannot justify cowardly conduct in his people.
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
To make matters even worse, events reveal that Abraham's fear was totally ungrounded. In his fear of losing his life, he denies his wife, and thus he greatly dishonors God, himself and his wife.
No danger can excuse any man for denying his wife for his own life. In fact, one of the problems of women in combat is that men take unnecessary risks with their own lives for the women.
Lesson 3 - Genesis 12 proves that Abraham's faith was in no way of his own making, nor from anything he had within himself. Abraham here is shown to be weaker than other men. His lack of faith in this instance is shocking, as he sacrifices the virtue of his wife on the altar of his unbelief and fear.
If all we knew of Abraham was what we have recorded in the New Testament, he would set an unattainable example of faith.
* Is this the man who is presented to us in the New Testament
as the father of the faithful?
* Is this the man who had faith strong enough to lay to leave his home country at God's command, not knowing where he was going?
* Is this the man who had enough faith to place his only son on the altar?
We see, therefore, that Abraham's faith was the gift of God. The strength of faith depends not on any strength of the human mind, will nor emotion. Rather, faith depends on the Spirit of God who must both give faith and maintain faith.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
If Abraham, throughout his history, has shown great strength of faith, then his faith would be attributed to his own strength, and a product of his own particular character. Who can, on his own, obtain to the faith of Abraham as revealed in the New Testament?
We see that when God left Abraham on his own, and his faith was tried, he utterly failed. We must beware of exalting Abraham because of his faith. Though he exhibited a great tower of faith, yet when God left him, he sunk to the lowest level of distrust. In Abraham, we not only see the height of faith, but we also see that there is nothing good in man.
Psalms 115:1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
In Abraham's weakness, the most timid believer can find encouragement. In our trials and distresses we cannot say, "Abraham was strong, but I am weak." We see that when left to himself and his faith tried, he shows himself as weak as water.
When God was with him, his faith was unwavering. When left on his own, he had no faith. We see that in our greatest trials and tests, we will surely fail if we do not have God's strength.
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
No matter how great a test of our faith God might call us to, God will supply the needed faith to see us through, as he did many times for Abraham.
On the other hand, God may let us fall as he did Abraham to remind us of our dependance upon him.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
God has a way with dealing with pride, and those ways can be very hurtful.
Providence at work in this section
First, through famine, Providence forced Abraham into this trial.
Second, Providence brought Sarah to the attention of the Egyptians, and then to Pharaoh's princes who had close and immediate access to Pharaoh. They brought her to the attention of Pharaoh.
If Abraham was fearful for his life because of her beauty, why did he not encourage her to keep out of sight? She could have remained unnoticed in Egypt for a good bit of time.
Sarah had a tent of her own, and could have remained secluded from common observation.
But in this case, it was the Lord's divine purpose that Abraham's faith would be tried and found wanting. It was God's unseen hand of providence that arranged all the circumstances to bring Sarah to Pharaoh's attention.
Lesson 4 - We can arm ourselves to the teeth, store years worth of food and take every precaution known to man to avoid trials, even locking ourselves up in our homes, but unless the Lord protects us, when we face those trials, we will fail in the faith.
Psalms 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Providence determined that Sarah should be seen by those who had immediate access to the king. They commend her beauty to Pharaoh, and she is brought to his house to be one of his wives.
Lesson 5 - God may see fit to deliver his people from the justly deserved and hurtful consequences of their own foolishness, faithlessness and sinfulness. He may deliver them from the harm they do unto themselves, the harm they do to others and the harm others may seek to do to them.
However, it is the sin of presumption to enter into foolishness, faithlessness and sin hoping for God's deliverance from the results of our presumtions.
2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. (Ps 19:13, Deut 1:43.)
Abraham's sin brought his wife into danger; he dishonored his God, himself, and his wife.
God permitted Abraham's sinful plan to work up to the very brink of fulfillment before he stepped in. Divine Providence prevented Pharaoh from fulfilling his purpose.
V. 17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
Of what did the plague consist? Whatever it was, Pharaoh recognized it as a result of having taken Abraham's wife.
Lesson 6 - Did God use disease, afflictions or accidents to keep the king from fulfilling his desire with Sara? God can use these things to stop evil intent against his people. They are also used to keep his people from fulfilling sinful or hurtful purposes.
People repeat the "Lord's Prayer" as a ritual without even considering the implications of what they are praying. In the context of Abraham here, "deliver us from evil" could mean that we are praying for God to send disease, afflictions and even accidents our way if necessary, in order to deliver us from the evil intents of our own hearts, or from future evils that would befall if God did not intervene.
Christians must accept all things that come into their lives as being from God, according to his divine purpose, glory and for their own good.
Certainly, it is difficult to see how disease, afflictions and accidents can be for our good when those things are happening to us. But years down the road, and maybe not until we get to heaven, we will see how those afflictions were for our good and God's praise.
Lesson 7 - Though God's providence is clearly seen throughout Scripture, there is no human understanding of how God works all things for his own praise and glory, and for our good.
Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
Abraham willingly sacrificed his wife to Pharaoh to save his own life. Providence stepped in, and did what fear prevented Abraham from doing. It was Providence that delivered her out of Pharaoh's hands, and not any wisdom on any man's part.
Not only did Providence protect Sarah, but moved Pharaoh to "commanded his men concerning him:" Pharaoh issued a proclamation of protection over Abraham and his wife.
V. 16, Pharaoh had bestowed great wealth upon Abraham for his wife's sake. Now Pharaoh sends Abraham and his wife away, but he does not spoil Abraham. Though Abraham had gained the great wealth by his deceit, Providence moves Pharaoh to allow Abraham to keep that wealth.
Human nature would not have been that generous with a deceiver, but it was in God's predetermined plan to prosper Abraham with worldly goods.
Abraham's goal in his deceit was not to gain worldly wealth; rather, it was to save his own life. It would certaily be presumptuous sin on our part to seek to gain worldly wealth through deceit.
God fulfilled his divine purpose in Abraham, and Abraham went back to Cannan with great riches., 13:2.
In closing, let me mention lesson 8
Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
The godliness and the faith of Sarah is clearly show. Sarah submitted unquestioning to her husband, even calling him lord, evidently trusting the Lord to protect her. Her husband was clearly in the wrong in what he commanded her to do, but God protected her in her obedience to her husband.
Lesson 1 - Divine Providence sends and uses both good
and bad to fulfill his divine plan and purpose.
Lesson 2 - The sure prospect of death cannot justify cowardly conduct in his people.
Lesson 3 - Genesis 12 proves that Abraham's faith was in no way of himself, nor from anything he had within himself.
Lesson 4 - unless the Lord protects us, we will fail in the faith in difficult times.
Lesson 5 - God may see fit to deliver his people from the justly deserved and hurtful consequences of following their heart, but it is serious presumption to depend on his deliverance as we might do our own thing.
Lesson 6 - Disease, afflictions and even accidents are often used by God to keep the wicked from fulfilling their evil desires against his people, as well as to protect his people form their own willful desires. Deliver us from evil.
Lesson 7 - Though God's providence is clearly seen throughout Scripture, there is no human understanding of how God works all things for his own praise and glory, and for our good.
Lesson 8 - God can protect even as we may have toobey unlawful orders at the point of a gun.
Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!