(Continued from yesterday)
Regarding providence, let me quote from Easton’s Bible Dictionary: “God preserves and governs all things by means of second causes. His providence extends to the natural world:
• Ps 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
• Acts 14:17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.
the brute creation:
• Mt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
• Mt 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
the affairs of men:
• Prov 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.
• Job 12:23 He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.
• Dan 2:21 It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.
and of individuals:
• 1 Sam 2:6 The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
• Jas 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
It extends also to the free actions of men:
• Ex 12:36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
• Ps 33:14-15 From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.
• Prov 19:21 Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.
and things sinful:
• 2 Sam 24:1 Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
• Rom 11:32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
as well as to their good actions:
• Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
• Php 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God’s permission:
• Gen 45:5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.
• Acts 3:18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
and as controlled and overruled for good:
• Job 1:12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” …
• Job 2:6 So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”
• Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, overrules it for good.
So Christians recognize divine providence, not fate. Furthermore, we have responsibility before God for our actions. We can do something about it, and not just accept what seems to be inevitable.