God Does as He Pleases

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Providence

“But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.” (Hosea 1:7)

Over the past few days we’ve been considering the way in which God acts through his creation, humans included. We’ve seen that God acts in what we might term the ordinary, as well as the extraordinary. I need to be careful, though, not to imply that God only works through ordinary means. To be Creator implies not only a mastery over creation so that it can be used to bring about whatever God wishes, but also the right to act in a way which takes priority over the created order.

We see this happening at times the Scriptures. Not everyday to be sure, but enough that we should take notice. So it is that in the passage above, God assured the people of Judah that he will save them. On hearing this they would have assumed some battle or other against their enemies which resulted in a great victory. Not so. The passage goes on to say that God himself will save them. He will not in this instance be using horses or horsemen, but rather he will act directly.

In all of this it is important to remain balanced in your view of how God acts. On the one hand if you simply limit God’s activities to what might be termed the “supernatural” you miss so much of how he acts day to day. There is an old joke to do with a shipwrecked sailor on a desert island. He prays to God for help, and is confident that God will do just that. A passing ship offers help, but the the sailor refuses: “It’s OK - I’m praying. God will save me”. A rope is dropped down from a helicopter, and is similarly refused. Inevitably the sailor starves and, now in heaven, turns on God: “why didn’t you save me”. To which God replies: “I sent you a rescue ship and a helicopter. What more did you want?”.

On the other hand to deny that God can bring about extraordinary events is to deny that God is all powerful. Christ is born of a virgin, and is raised from the dead. The message of this once-executed messiah spreads around the world like wildfire. The hearts of many who reject God are turned to him.

Balance is needed here. Don’t limit God to one particular way of working.

The Means to an End

“And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretence of laying out anchors from the bow, Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”” (Acts 27:30–31) - “He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.” (Acts 27:43–44) - To have a belief in a God who is sovereign over all should not imply we simply have to sit back and do nothing. Yes God decrees the end of things, but he also decrees the means by which this end will come about. Yes, we are secure in God’s hands but we also have to follow the commands he gives.

Above Nature

“He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,” (Romans 4:19–20) - The history of the Church is scattered with unpromising people who were mightily used by God. God is able to act above nature, and that is something which gives great hope. You may feel a small Christian, but you have a great God. And that is plenty.

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