Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The one with whom we have to do

Hebrews 4:13 tells us this: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” You see, ultimately it is always with God that we must deal. The reason for this is simple; all things come to use by his hand. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” If God himself watches over the least sparrow in the land, how much more so the creatures made in his very image?
Heidelberg question 27: What do you understand by the providence of God?

The almighty, everywhere-present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.
If this is true, then I owe a great debt of thankfulness to this God. The very fist I would use to shake at God when things don’t go my way is in his hands. What right have I to be bitter and complain against the Ancient of Days? Without his great gifts, I wouldn’t even be able to raise my voice against him. This would make sin the ultimate irrationality for sin takes God’s own gifts and uses them against him. It corrupts and distorts the good use of them. When the judgment of God then comes, what shall I say about such actions? Nebuchadnezzar had such an experience; his words are instructional in this too!
Daniel 4:34-37 And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: 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? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.

And none can say to unto him “What doest thou?” None can bring the actions of God into question and propose a better course of action. This is simply beyond our power as creatures. We must be content with the simple promise that He will work all thing out for the good of those who love Him.

Job too had an encounter with the Living God. In all of God’s answer to Job, he did not explain why Job was suffering. Think about that as you read part of God’s response.
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2"Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8"Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11When I said,
"This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!'
12"Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?

The full answer of God is several chapters long. But it is basically a long line of rhetorical questions that show how little Job understands about the Most High. Job’s response should also be noted because it shows his repentance.
Job 42:1Then Job answered the LORD and said:
2"I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
3You asked, "Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?'
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, "I will question you, and you shall answer Me.'
5"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
6Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes."

This is the proper response to a meeting with God. Even the most holy men had to be peeled off the floor when the encountered the presence of God. Jonathan Edwards spoke of it in this way in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

As a side note, we should not end with Edwards’ speech because it does not tell the whole story. It all is all true no doubt, God is dreadfully provoked against sinners, but this wrath has been taken away.
1 Thessalonians 5: 8-10 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

“God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.”


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