Another subject taught the covenant child which lends itself very easily to Christian interpretation and requires such a Christian treatment is the subject of history.
In this subject as well the truth comes out very clearly, and must be underscored by the instructor of covenant seed, that this is his Father’s world. History is far more than a record and interpretation of man’s actions and achievements through the ages gone by. It is a systematic account of the unfolding of God’s counsel as He, in His providence and grace governs all things, uses His rational-moral creatures to do His bidding and leads all things in the preparation of the return of Christ, that He may be glorified in the full salvation and glorification of His Church in the new creation.
Every historical event must be ascribed to God and considered to be decreed by Him from all eternity. It is God’s world in this respect as surely as it is in the sense that He brought forth the whole universe and all that which it contains. Psalm 33:6-9.
This, of course, is denied.
The Evolutionist, who likes to rule God out of His own creation by maintaining that He did not bring it and its content into being, denies it. Although he cannot explain where that original cell, that first gaseous vapor came from, he foolishly goes on in his sinful philosophies and is believed by others who hate God and say, “This is man’s world.”
But many in this big church world in which we live also rule Him out of the control and government of His own rational-moral creatures and deny that He is the Almighty One. To them almighty simply means most mighty. They ascribe the initiative to creatures. They present a god who accommodates himself to circumstances which ultimately he will conquer. They maintain that he has a plan, which is realized after he has put down those who at least temporarily interrupt and work delay, but they deny that He decreed the foolishness and sins of men and that He realizes His counsel or plan through the foolishness and sins of men.
Scripture is very plain on this score. Shall we listen to it or turn from it to hold on to our own preconceived notions? “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of waters: He turneth it wtihersoever he will.” Proverbs 21:1. “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches and secret places, that you mayest know that I, the Lord which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”Isaiah 45:1-4. And God said this through Isaiah many, many years before Cyrus was born. To Abraham, who lived some four hundred years before God destroyed Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, God declares what would happen to his seed and the length of time before that seed would return to Canaan “with great substance.” Genesis 15:13-16. The cross of Christ was predicted and prophesied. SeeLuke 22:22; Acts 2:23 and Luke 2:34, 35. But why continue? How can there be any prophecy? How can Genesis 3:15 be declared by God unless He has at every moment complete control of all His creatures and has decreed all that which the rational-moral creatures shall do?
Shall we say that He permits these things? Shall we say that He is the Alpha and Omega only to a degree? Shall we say that He is not always first and that the creature who came after Him somehow in some things does get ahead of Him? Why confess Him to be GOD when we still want to believe Satan that we can be like Him and that He is not really the God that we were led to believe at first? And if He permits, has He not backed down at least momentarily and let man be god? Is one any whit less guilty when he permits a sin which he could have prevented than if he decreed that sin in an utter abhorrence of it? May not the sovereign God decree a black background that the light and purity of His holiness may shine forth by sharp contrast? Who is going to punish Him for that?
Let us be careful that we do not dethrone Him. Let us be sure that we speak the language of Scripture, for only then do we speak the language that God speaks. Do we read in the Book of Job that God permitted Satan to take away all his goods and to afflict him with dreadful disease? And was all this experience of Job the matter of Satan’s counsel and not of God’s? Satan planned his “campaign.” He decided after some thought with what sickness to afflict Job; and God did not know till Satan began to act just what he intended to do? Let us be careful lest we make Satan a demigod and deny the Almighty His wisdom, sovereignty and almighty power.
It is true that twice in Scripture we read, “if the Lord permit.” See I Corinthians 16:7 and Hebrews 6:3. However these passages are not referring to that counsel of God. or are they references to sinful acts. This same word you may find translated elsewhere “give leave” as in John 19:38 where we read that Pilate gave Joseph of Arimathea leave to take the body of Jesus and to bury it. In Mark 5:13 we read that Jesus gave the evil spirits leave to enter the swine after being commanded to leave the man in whom they dwelt. Scripture never speaks of God permitting sin. But Scripture clearly and repeatedly speaks of God decreeing sin, determining it and willing it then in a determinative sense. At the same time Scripture emphasizes that ethically He does not will it but hates it. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and we do not read of Pharaoh hardening his heart until AFTER God has told Moses to go down to Pharaoh with God’s message and after God has clearly told Moses in advance that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. And He gives the reason as well. God decreed the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart as well as the sin that Pharaoh committed with that hardened heart that He ‘might show forth’ His “power in” him and that His name might be proclaimed through all the earth. See Romans 9:17. In a determinative sense He willed that sin of Pharaoh in order that He might show His power in destroying him and his host in the Red Sea and in order that His name might be proclaimed through all the earth. And this certainly did take place. All the nations in Canaan, as Rahab reveals, had heard of His mighty works and trembled. See Joshua 2:1-11. And yet at the same time He did not will that sin ethically and punished Pharaoh in His intense hatred of all sin. For sin is rebellion and a denial of His lordship. And when we find in our hearts the evil thought that then God cannot punish Pharaoh nor us, for we do only that which He willed in that determinative sense, we better listen to Paul who declares in this same connection, “Who art thou O man that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” And a few verses later, “What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which He hath afore prepared unto glory?”
Notice that God is willing to show His wrath and does not permit. And how could He ever will to show His wrath without willing that sin for which He will punish? The text speaks likewise of “vessels fitted to destruction.” Who fitted them? Men? And they did this although God did not want them so to be fitted? Did an outside force determine these things for God? And did He simply accommodate Himself to this situation and finally by His super power conquer that which MAN determined? Does man determine and God simply fit to destruction?
And does God sin against man, if and when He wills to show His wrath in that man and fits him as a vessel of destruction? O, that we would find more love of God! O that we would find more desire to have Him be the God that He is and not a God Who is characterized by our weaknesses and sentimentality! Can a GOD sin against a man? Can the Creator ever become obliged to the creature? O that men would say, “This is my Father’s World.” O that they would not rule Him out of any part of it or any of its events!
Let us say that our Father did it, when things turn out for our good. Let us rather say that ALL things work together for our good because God has planned them all and has them under His perfect control always and in all ways. And how could all things work together for our good, if some of these things were determined by Satan and man instead of by God? Paul does not say that all things will in the end turn out all right. He does not say that nothing shall continue to work against us. All things work together! ALL things WORK together. Does that not imply a Designer, a mind that plans it all as all the parts of a jig saw puzzle fit perfectlytogether? And Paul mentions sin and sinners when he says that no creature and nothing in the future and no principalities and power—and this includes the evil principalities and powers of Satan’s kingdom—shall be able to separate us from the love of God. No, not for one moment shall they be able to do this. All things will work TOGETHER, and that means they will serve each other to serve us.
Consider father Jacob who cried out, “All these things are against me.” Genesis 42:36. His sons had deceived him concerning his son Joseph. And Joseph tells them later on that they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. God meant it for good. But then God meant it! God decreed it. God planned it as surely as these sinful brothers meant it and planned it. They could mean it and plan it only because their sin was in His counsel from eternity. The history of Israel and of Egypt required the events that happened. And though it seemed to Jacob as though all was working against him, when now Benjamin must go along to Egypt, it was all—the sins of his sons not excluded—worked together for Jacob’s good.
This same truth we may trace in all historical events. In some events this truth will be clearer than in others. But in all history the truth must be revealed that this is the covenant child’s Father’s world. And this we hope to show more fully in future articles.