Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Providence of God

Q. 11: What are God’s works of providence?
Answer: God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions. (WSC)
In his work of creation, God brought everything into being and gave it design and order. He rested from this work on the seventh day. Yet even then he continued the work of preserving and governing it. He “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) and “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). This providence encompasses all things that happen: “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

While the natural order works according to God’s design, it does not work automatically or mechanically. God makes the sun to shine, the rain to fall, and the plants to grow (Matt. 5:45, Ps. 104:14). The food and drink received by all living things is given by God, though he may use many instruments, including people, to do so (Ps. 104:14-15, 145:15-16, Matt. 6:26, Acts 14:17). People and nations are under his providential governance (Dan. 2:21, 4:17), although they are responsible for their actions, which remain voluntary. For example, Babylon (Hab. 1-2) and Assyria (Is. 10:5-19) are both described as instruments of God, being raised up by him for his purposes, yet without their knowledge - they were simply fulfilling their desire in rebellion against God. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, their intention and act was evil, but God’s intention behind the same event was good (Gen. 50:20). God uses true secondary causes in working out his plan.

Therefore: 1. Be sure to have this God on your side. There is no escape from him, as Jonah found out. 2. For those who are God’s children, this doctrine is of great comfort, leading to hopeful prayer, patience, and endurance. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28). 3. Give praise to God, from whom all blessings flow (James 1:17). All the good things we enjoy come from his gracious hand, even though we do not deserve them. 4. Meditate upon God and get to know him better through his works of providence. Behold in his providence, his generosity, wisdom, justice, and power.

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