Scripture on God’s Government and Sin (Continued)
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” Plainly this prayer of the church views the persecution of the apostles in the light of God’s counsel and in the light of the fact that God maintains His own counsel, that is, executes it, and that too, not merely in spite of the wicked ragings of the peoples against Him and His Anointed, but through the actions of the wicked. This is the reason why David in Psalm 2 calls the. imagination of the peoples vain. Whenever they imagine anything in their wicked rage against the Lord and against His Anointed, it is always vain. And the vanity of it consists exactly in this, that no matter what they do, they never do anything else than cooperate,—in spite of their own wicked intentions and purposes,—unto the realization of God’s counsel. And the clearest revelation of that we have in the cross. The Lord certainly maintains and realizes His own counsel, therefore, also with respect to the wicked and their deeds. And the church by faith apprehends and confesses this truth, finds comfort in it, and acknowledges Him as God alone, the Lord of heaven and earth!
There is much more proof. Let me call attention to the frequent mention in the New Testament of the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Often we read expressions like this, “All this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled . . . .” What is the implication of statements like this? Does Scripture merely want to call attention to the fact that certain prophecies come true? Or is the reference merely an attest to the fact that Jesus is really the Christ? We will understand this differently as soon as we understand that the Scriptures of the prophets are the revelation of the promise, the revelation of the secret counsel of God concerning our salvation. Then we understand that the fulfillment of the Scriptures of the prophets is nothing less than the realization of the counsel of the God of our salvation. But then we must immediately realize, too, that included in that counsel and its sovereign realization are all the wicked deeds of wicked men. Of such fulfillment of the Scriptures we read already in connection with the visit of the wise men to Jesus. Jesus was in Egypt, according to Matthew 2:15, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” And if we remember that the occasion of Jesus’ going into Egypt, in order that He might be called out of Egypt as God’s Son, was the wicked plot of Herod to kill Him, we see again how also the wickedness of Herod is under God’s government, must serve His purpose, in order that He may call His Son out of Egypt, and thus fulfill His own counsel. And thus, if we go through the gospel narratives and discover all the passages which speak of the fulfillment of prophecy in connection with the sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is not difficult at all to see how all these references emphasize repeatedly that while God is in no wise the author of sin, yet the wicked deeds of men are but the realization of His purpose, accomplished by His own providential government of the world.