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God's Great Providence

God’s Great Providence

     Isn’t it amazing that the only time the word “providence” is found in the entirety of the Bible, it is applied to a civil ruler, Felix and not to God, who is the creator of all things?   In Acts 24:2, a certain orator named Tertullus, on behalf of the high priest, “buttered up” this civil ruler. He did so to besmirch a faithful soldier of the cross; an advocate of truth, the apostle Paul. And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,  Then in vs 3 this governor was offered gratitude and was given honor for doing what was his job to do in the first place.   We accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.    I think it goes without saying that if that governor’s actions were contrary to what these people wanted, they would not be so grateful.   Such is the way of man.  

     Man will invariably live in the present, and so long as things are going well for him and his, will be grateful to someone for it, although that gratitude is often left unspoken. However, when things don’t “go so well” for someone, they are most likely to forget previous provisions, or blessings and seek a place or person on which to “hang the blame” for their wretched situation or condition.   Often, just like nation of Israel in Bible times, many fail to understand that despite the great providence of God, their own actions, or sins bring about their present state. In Isaiah 59:1-4 we see it was Israel’s fault it had become the way it was. Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.  None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

     Even in situations beyond our control, we often fail to realize that God has a plan for mankind and that the actions of men cannot thwart His providence or plan. Israel demanded a king. God “provided” them one. God even chose the one to rule over them per 1Samuel 9:17. And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my peopleSaul was made king, and later made some very unwise choices.  The choices Saul made led to his own destruction, and yet did not prevent God’s providence for Israel. Samuel was not responsible for Saul’s actions, but Samuel was deeply troubled for Saul’s actions. This likely prevented him from seeing the providence of God at work for Israel and for the carrying out of God’s plan to save the souls of men. In 1Samuel 16:1 we read God’s message to Samuel about this.   And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.   God also provided for Israel in many ways down through the years, so that God’s plan to send His Son would come to fruition.

     And come to fruition it has.   In Acts 2:36 the Spirit had the apostles declare to Israel how God’s providence had benefited them spiritually, if they would only listen and obey. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and ChristThis obviously affected them, as Acts 2:37-38 tells of their reaction to this as well as instructions how to be recipients of this great providence of God. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Then vs 41 tells us which ones of that multitude benefitted from God’s providence at that time.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.  God’s great plan had been fully realized, and souls were saved from sin.   This friend, is God’s great providence for man. 

     True, God’s Providence in the general realm is extended to all. In the great Sermon on the Mount, in the latter part of Matthew 5:45, Jesus said: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.“ This has been true since the beginning of time and is something that has never changed. God’s love for man is evident in all that He has given to man in the “earthly” or physical realm. God’s Providence extends beyond the physical and into the spiritual realm. As Jesus directed those who heard Him in Matthew 6:33, He directed that all should look for the “spiritual” blessings and that God has taken care of the physical. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

     We are quite blessed in that we live in the New Testament age. This means that the church has been established, and that Salvation to all men is available to “whosoever will”.   1Timothy 2:4 tells us what God’s Will is. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  Will you not seek the kingdom, and receive Salvation according to God’s Providence? His Word directs all how to do this.   Let us help you become God’s child.

                                                          Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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