God and History
By Dave Breese
People today are desperate to hear that God is still in control. They need to know that there is a plan that its all going to turn out right. The dark clouds of war looming on the horizon of the Middle East and the threat of further terrorist attacks give rise to fear and uncertainty in the hearts of many.
Closer to home, we attempt to explain a personal financial reverse, the death of a loved one, a recent automobile accident, a wayward child, a philandering fatherand we wonder.
Now is the time to strike out more aggressively than ever with the message that Jesus saves and is coming back again.
Where is God? If there is a God, why do these terrible things happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? These and related questions are common in our time. Whats more, they have been asked by every generation which has lived in the world since Adam and Eve. In the face of these questions, how shall we retain faith and sanity? The answer to this pressing question depends upon the deeper question, Does God really relate Himself to history? Is He loving, attentive, and does He work with sympathy and power upon the course of events in our world?
In the face of these questions, there are certain absolute and eternal truths which we must remember. They include:
1. God presides, lovingly and attentively, above human history. God speaks to His people very clearly in this regard, saying, The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27). Speaking again about God, the Bible says, He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep (Ps. 121:3, 4). Speaking of this God, James says that He is the one with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). The Lord speaks about Himself, saying, For I am God, and there is none else (Isa. 45:22).
God presides above history. In His sovereignty, He elects a most dangerous course of action.
2. He gives man free will, the liberty to choose and to act with consequences. The first expression of this freedom which God gave man is stated in Scripture, And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. In His first relational principle with man, God established the proposition that obedience to Him brings blessing to man. Conversely, disobedience brings frustration, disappointment, disease and finally, death.
In these instructions, we see that God gave man a wonderful degree of autonomy. We are not robots, marionettes, puppets whose arms, whose legs and whose decisions are manipulated by strings from on high. No, indeed. We are made in the image of God. We are allowed, indeed commanded, by God to make decisions and then to live in the midst of the adverse or beneficient consequences of those decisions. Given freedom, man is, therefore, capable of accomplishing marvelous things, or things terrible beyond description.
3. God allows evil, He promotes good. Because man has been made free, truly free, the possibility of both good and evil must necessarily be allowed by God in the world. With his wonderful ability, man can do things that are good, that are great, that are magnificent. He can build alabaster cities that are undimmed by human tears.
Being free, man can also think and do things that are far more evil than could be done by a ravenous beast of the field. If he turns against God, he can revert to the law of the jungle and turn the world into a disorderly and fatal ruin.
4. All men have sinned, we are members of a fallen race. A deadly pall of death has come across all of humanity because all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The worlds system has thereby been ruined beyond repair. Therefore, God has given this world up to uncleanness (Rom. 1:24), to vile affections (Rom. 1:26), to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28). There is none righteous, no, not one (Rom. 3:10). Every adversity in the world can thereby be explained when one remembers that the human race is morally adrift, having cut itself off from fellowship with God. The story of war, terrorism, famine, murder and every form of degeneracy is the story of fallen man, artfully and deliberately sinning against God and against his own enlightened conscience. At times, things get so bad that one wonders why God allows it to continue.
5. God continues history, using the problems of time to prepare us for eternity. He interrupted history on the great occasion when He sent Christ to die for our sins. Calvary is the proof of Gods tender, sacrificial love for each of us. (John 3:16). In this world, though it is darkened by sin, God invites us to faith in Christ, to become sons, not of Adam, but of the eternal God. He then allows those who believe, to act in timewith eternal rewards. He invites us to be the salt of the earth, to shine like lights in the world. Every difficulty of earth, therefore, when seen through spiritual eyes, is a package of Christian opportunity. The sufferings of men are supposed to produce disillusionment with the false promises of time and vulnerability to the message of salvation for eternity. We Christians are the carriers of that message, the joyous announcers of divine mercy.
6. God will, one day, right every wrong and restore the moral balance of the universe. Sinful men will, one day, be stricken on the day of divine judgment, The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds (Rom. 2:5,6). In that day, every wrong will be made right. In that day, we shall understand perfectly. We will say amen to everything God has done in history. We will realize, as we cannot now, (for the just live by faith) that every act of God was wise and loving, they were for our good and for His glory.
7. Wisdom, therefore, consists in seeking, knowing and doing the will of God. Indeed, the person who does the will of God abides forever (I Jn. 2:17). Even in this dark world, it is possible, with a heart of faith, to trust the Lord and follow His exciting plan for our lives. In the last analysis, we are not supposed to ask, Why did this happen? or Why did this happen to me? To question God with the word why is almost always inappropriate. Rather, in the midst of every circumstance of life, we are to ask, Lord, what will You have me to do? To sincerely ask the Lord this question is to move from discouragement to significance, it is to be used of God to be the salt of the earth.
God presides above historynever doubt it. One day, we will understand all of His acts. In the meantime, we must walk by faith and live for His glory. When we rightly understand life, we will realize that, despite the suggestions of this foolish world, we have no alternative except to walk by faith. Trust in the Lord with all your heartHe will direct your paths.
Destiny Newsletter continued