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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Divine Commentary

We are used to instant news and commentary. An event occurs and we get the basic facts likely followed by talking heads with deep insights who tell us what it all means.

There is an interesting thing going on in some of the passages of the New Testament where the authors are telling the events of the day. We are getting a commentary along with the basic facts. This commentary, however, is not from some mere talking heads. This commentary is by divine inspiration, quite a bit better than some opinion. Consider some examples:
Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled ... (Matt 1:22).

... that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled ... (Matt 2:15).

Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled ... (Matt 2:17).

... that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled ... (Matt 2:23).
Kind of an obvious theme, isn't it? But consider, for a moment, what we have without these. A woman gets pregnant out of wedlock. A family flees to Egypt to hide from an angry tyrant. Said tyrant kills all male children under the age of two years old. The family returns to live in Nazareth. While it is certainly a series of stories, it is not an apparent history of the hand of God. We know it is the history of the hand of God thanks to Matthew's ongoing commentary. What we have, then, in the Gospels and, indeed, throughout biblical history, is a running account of God's will being fulfilled. It was fulfilled when the promised Isaac was born to Sarah and it was fulfilled when Israel went into slavery in Egypt. It was fulfilled when Joseph was sold into slavery and it was fulfilled when he came out of prison to save Egypt and his own people. It was fulfilled when Israel took the Promised Land and it was fulfilled when they were all carted off into captivity. It was fulfilled when Christ was born of a virgin and when He was put to death for our sin. The Bible itself recognizes all that occurs in its own pages as the will of God amidst the free choices of the people involved. When Sihon, king of the Amorites, refused to let Israel pass through his land (Num 21), it was God's will (Deut 2:30). When Daniel got special permission not to defile himself with the food offered to idols, it was God's will (Dan 1:9). When Christ was put to death by Herod and Pilate and the Jews, it was God's will (Acts 4:27-28). Over and over and over again.

We, of course, don't get that option today. We don't get a divine commentary on our current events. Take, for instance, some of the huge headlines over the past hundred years or so:
"Japan Wars on U.S. and Britain; Makes Sudden Attack On Hawaii; Heavy Fighting At Sea Reported" - New York Times, Dec 8, 1941.

"1500 Dead in Hawaii; Congress Votes War" - New York World-Telegram, Dec 8, 1941.

"America Under Attack" - CNN, Sep 11, 2001.

"Day of Terror" - MSNBC, Sep 11, 2001.

"Catastrophic; Storm Surge Swamps 9th Ward, St. Bernard; Lakeview Levee Breach Threatens to Inundate City" - The Times-Picayune, Aug 25, 2005.

"Death, Destruction; Scores killed as Katrina pounds states along Gulf Coast" - Aug 30, 2005.
"Yes, yes, that biblical stuff gets God's commentary, so that's all well and good, but what about us? What about these things (and so much more)?" Good question. May I suggest, however, that we do indeed have a divine commentary?
[God] works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).
And that's just a smattering, the briefest of divine commentary on the events I listed. It's also God's commentary on the events in your life. Did you lose a job? God works all things after the counsel of His will. Did you get a job? We know that God causes all things to work together for good. Is a loved one sick? God works all things after the counsel of His will. Are you in some trouble? God works all things after the counsel of His will.

Well, as it turns out, we do have some divine commentary on our past and current events. We can have a sense of what God is doing, even if we can't fill in all the connections or all the details. What we can be sure of is this:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39).
As long as I can keep that in mind, everything should be okay, regardless of how it looks. I guess the trick, then, will be to convince myself of the truth before the painful parts occur so that I will have that trained response built in when I need it. Something to work on.


David said...

It is so difficult to remember in the moment of pain that God has a plan. I wish I was able to carry that at the front of my mind to avoid the pain and fear and doubt. Lord I believe, forgive my unbelief.

Stan said...

Yes, one of the reason I'm talking about this topic now is so that people who are not in distress can get it settled in their minds so that when the distress comes, they can recall it easier. Convincing someone in distress that it's God's will is much, much harder.

Oh, and the quote -- and I correct it only because it gets better when I do -- is "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." That God would help me in my lack of faith is awesome.