Seeing the Beauty of the Totality of the Lord’s Providence in Creation
Today as the divines open our eyes to see the depth of how God works in history and why He does what He does there is an opportunity here to put a plug in for something we are going to begin to do at Bethany ARP Church on Sunday evenings beginning Sunday November 13th. As we close out Ruth the week before we are then going to start a new series in our second service on the Lord’s Day where we’re going to mainly work through this portion of the Larger Catechism. Gaining a better sense of how God operates in His works of predestination and election, and how that plays out in His providence is vital to dealing with the day-to-day troubles we face as believers living in a sin-soaked world. For those of you unable to attend at that time of night for whatever prudential reason they will be recorded and placed on our YouTube channel.
So as not to spend too much more on this let us go ahead and look at the Q/A’s below:
Q. 18. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.
Q. 19. What is God’s providence towards the angels?
A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, wilfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice.
Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
One of the truths of the Bible as it relates to these questions is the reality that no created thing ever is independent of God. All things depend on Him for all of their existence. The fact you are breathing now is because the Lord has so ordered the earth to produce the proper amount and type of air you need in order that your lungs will inflate and deflate to a sufficient degree that your body stays on this side of the grass. A particular actuality that we do not spend enough time mediating on is how much the physical world which we need to survive is held together by its Creator, and how we can do nothing to make the parameters different than how God designed it. Physicists, Chemists, and other material scientists have tried lots of unique experiments to bend reality, but all of them fail due to one simple cause, because all things are dependent on the temporal plain as it really exists. It’s a reason why time-travel is impossible. Chronological movement is a result of the Fall, if Adam had not sinned there would be no passage of year unto year. Day and Night? Of course, we see that in the account Moses gives us in Genesis 1. The morning and evening are a part of God’s good creation. Yet, until the First Man ate of the forbidden fruit there was no change to his skin cells and Eve did not develop any crow’s feet around her eyes, no leaves fell off the trees and the grass remained steady.
The purpose behind mentioning all this is because when we talk about providence and the way we as believers rest in the Lord’s guidance of it we need to truly be humbled when considering the magnificence and magnitude of God’s work. Think about how many atoms are beneath and around you right now. Then think about how many exist in the room you are sitting in as you read this. Every single one is in the mind of the Lord. Each of them are acting and reacting exactly as He designed them, and each of them are operating in accordance with His glory and for His purpose alone. It’s staggering and almost causes one to collapse in the moment.
In light of that there are a few aspects of the pre-fall world that continue into the post-fall reality, though stained with sin as with all things, that help us to comprehend these matters. Notice in the last Q/A that there two prominent concepts that we enjoy, which each in their own way are specially marked out: Marriage and the Sabbath. Now why speak explicitly about those two? Our Lord loves us and has not only a foreknowledge of the future but has again ordained all things that come to pass. He was not only aware that the Fall would come, but allowed it so that His own glory would be shown forth in it. We all know that, but why a day of rest and matrimony specifically? Two words: Spiritual Warfare. Our God loves us and knows we would need not only companionship, a helpmeet and a husband, but regular ordinary weekly worship to fight against the temptations which come from a fallen nature. Christ as He commissioned Peter told him to feed His flock. That food of faith and life consistently dispensed on the seventh day in the Old Testament and the first day in the New Testament is a life-giving strength we need to handle the insanity of this present evil world, and we cannot fight that battle without family, expressed here in the forerunner of the Fifth Commandment.
Our God cares for us in His providence, and has given us the tools to not just survive, but thrive in the eminence of His grace. Both of these truths are brought together swimmingly by the Apostle Paul when he says in Hebrews 10:23-25:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
All for His glory and for our blessing.
Here’s another way to think about it:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church