Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Useful

(Yes, this is Election Day. I'm posting this today for that reason in particular.)

I have long argued from Scripture that God is Sovereign. I've also said that it's a good thing. It becomes very good, for instance, at a time like this, with the current "race to the bottom" for presidency. From a Christian materialist view, we're out of luck. There are no good choices. Can't even tell what the least bad one is. Yes, folks, it looks bad for us. But wait! God is on His throne. He is good. And He does what He pleases.

In this vein, then, I thought about what God uses. Take a walk through the pages of the Bible and you'll find some interesting stories. One of the really fun ones, of course, is the whole Balaam's donkey thing. You remember the story (Num 22). Israel's enemies came to Balaam to get him to curse Israel. God says, "No." They offer him more. Balaam says something like, "Are you sure, God?" So he goes, but God puts an angel with a sword in the way. Then Balaam's donkey runs off with him. There is this whole sequence of a talking donkey. As it turns out, God used a donkey to save Balaam's life.

Think of Joseph's brothers (Gen 37-50). These sweet fellows toss their younger brother into a pit to kill him (Gen 37:20), but end up selling him as a slave instead (Gen 37:28). To make a long story short, it turns out that Joseph's adventures in Egypt end up saving the entire family (along with most of Egypt). When Jacob died and the brothers figured it was all up for them, Joseph said, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen 50:20) God used actually evil brothers to get Joseph to where God wanted him to be in order to save all of Israel.

The prophet, Habakkuk, is an interesting study here. In the first chapter, Habakkuk complains to God about the sin in Israel that is going unpunished (Hab 1:2-4) God answers, "Good news, Hab! I'm sending the Chaldeans to bring my justice." (Hab 1:5-11) Habakkuk is not pleased. "Hang on a minute, Lord, are you aware that the Chaldeans are wicked? You're going to use an evil empire to wipe us out?" (Hab 1:12-17) And God responds, "Don't worry, man. I know they're evil, and I will punish them for their evil." And so it was. God used an evil king and an evil empire to punish Israel's sin.

This one is priceless.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'" (2 Chron 36:22-23)
Now, hang on a minute! Who is Cyrus? Cyrus the Great was the king of Babylon. He was not an Israelite king. He was not a believer. What it says in this text is "the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation." Isaiah prophesied it in advance (Isa 45:1-4). (God says there of Cyrus that He would cause him to do it even though "You do not know Me." (Isa 45:4)) So Cyrus, the pagan king, stepped up to do God's bidding in restoring Israel to its place, rebuilding Jerusalem, and building God's Temple.

But I've saved the best for last. Look at this one.
And he said to me, "The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled. The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth." (Rev 17:15-18)
Sure, this is a symbolic representation of some event in the future. No problem there. So we aren't going to name names or something like that. Still, here's what we do know. This "harlot" whoever "she" is is "riding" this "beast" which has already been identified as the forces of Satan. And it says that "the horns" -- the leaders of the people connected with the forces of Satan -- the "anti"-Christ -- will devour and burn the "harlot". Why? "God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose." Do you see that?! God uses the forces of anti-Christ to accomplish God's purposes by putting His purpose in their hearts.

Yes, I know, our current political situation looks unpleasant. And it may be unpleasant. It just may go from bad to worse. I wouldn't venture a guess. I'm no prophet. Here's what I do know. "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Rom 13:1) And if God can use Balaam's donkey, sinful brothers, pagan kings, or satanic forces to accomplish His good will, I have no problem resting in His Sovereignty to accomplish what He intends in our times, even with our "pagan donkeys" running for office. They can be useful to God's ends even without being God's followers. And if God can use donkeys and pagans, He can use you. He can even use me.

5 comments:

David said...

One of the several reasons I won't attend a Calvary Chapel is because I heard one of their main pastors say that God only uses those willing to be used, and I thought, how could anyone who has read the Bible say that? There is story after story of God using non-believers to accomplish His goals. How can one feel safe in a world where God can only use those willing to be used to accomplish His goals? Half the time, I'm not even willing, and I want to be.

Stan said...

Wait ... are you saying that the donkey was not willing ...?

David said...

No, just that this pastor believes in Free Will over God's Sovereignty. I believe in God's Sovereignty above all else, and if He wanted a herd of donkeys to talk to Balaam He could have.

Stan said...

No, David, I was agreeing with you. The donkey wasn't used by God because he was willing. He was used by God because the Sovereign Lord wished to make him useful.

Craig said...

After last night it looks like a lot of donkeys weren't willing. ��