…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Hebrews 1:3, NKJV
Life is always full of surprises. No one would have planned this year to go the direction it did. Indicators may have suggested certain predictions. Scientists may have theorized. But no one knew what really would transpire, except God. In the midst of life’s difficulties, the anchor of our soul is the hope we have in God (Hebrews 6:19). Not only does He know, He’s in control. Not only is He in control, but He’s working all things for His glory. God’s eternal plan of the ages is being carried out, in triumph, and even in adversity.
Truly, God is in heaven and He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3, NKJV). Our human response to verses like this are often fear, anxiety, and confusion over a possible vengeful, tyrannical God. We must remember, though, our God is constrained by His own nature. He is not like man. “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through” (Numbers 23:19, NLT). He is holy and operates like no other ruler. He is love and is motivated in compassion. Yet God is just and requires justice for sin. God who is both love and justice acted the plan of the ages through Christ’s redemption. It was the only plan that would work—because Jesus was sinless, but also because God came to humanity, became a human and became both the just and the justifier (Romans 3:26). What an incredible display of how God rules all things!
In the end of all things, God’s plan of redemption will remain. Justice will be brought to the devil and his actors. Heaven will rejoice and hell will know His judgment. Jesus will reign forever as King to the glory of God the Father.
Let’s consider some of the horrible atrocities in Scripture and how God demonstrated His control and worked all things for His glory.
We can go all the way back to the fall of man. God was still reigning supreme and yet had given dominion to man in the earth. Man sinned and consequences for sin became evident. In the midst of depravity, we find God’s promise for redemption through a human savior in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (NKJV).
The Israelites were enslaved for 400 years under the Egyptians–abuse, neglect, murder, hardship. Generation after generation were caught in this cycle under earthly rulers manipulated by demonic schemes and selfish ambition. Yet God remained in control and used the story of hatred and slavery for His glory and the blessing of a nation.
Esther was faced with an ancient holocaust. God had moved her into a position of influence in the king’s court. Mordecai recognized the sovereignty of God in the midst of the horrible situation. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NKJV). God’s plan was for deliverance, and He would use a willing person to bring about His plan.
Even in Jesus’ death and resurrection we find that God allowed the very things He abhorred in order for the eternal plan of the ages to be carried out. He gave His only son to be betrayed, brutally beaten, mocked, and murdered in one of the most horrific deaths imaginable. “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18, NLT). Some would say that Jesus’ death was only the work of the devil’s scheme acted out through human players. True the devil was at work. We see this demonstrated in Luke 22:3 when Judas was manipulated by the devil to betray Jesus. Yet in all of it, God was still in control. The plan of redemption was being carried out. No one could take Jesus’ life unless the Father commanded. The devil and human actors in their pride could only see as far as the end of their noses so to speak. They only saw what was happening in front of them and how their plans to murder the savior were being carried out. Even the disciples hid in fear because their conquering king was being killed. But to those with spiritual eyes, there was more happening than just a crucifixion. The blood that was being poured out was the blood to cleanse sinners clean.
Right now, there’s more than meets the eye happening in the world around us. Creation is crying out with birth pangs (Romans 8:22). The revelation of our adoption is at hand. The signs of the coming destruction in Matthew 24 are being acted out in our day. Jesus, thousands of years ago, prophesied about what would be taking place in our time. He knows, and He is in control. That’s why He tells us in Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (NKJV).”
What lesson can we learn from the accounts throughout the ages? What work of God is being completed in us as we yield to His control?
- Practice humility
“Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue. And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil” (Andrew Murray).
“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble” (Andrew Murray).
Humility recognizes that Jesus is the Lord, and I am His redeemed. Humility keeps the proper perspective of Christ glorified, and self crucified. A humble life is a pliable life in the Master Potter’s hands. A prideful life becomes a lump of clay unmoldable only fit for the trash.
James 4:10, NKJV: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Proverbs 22:4, ESV: The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.
- Be About the Father’s Business
The work of faith in your life are works that glorify the Lord (James 2:17). Salvation’s work is a worshipful display of God’s beauty through good works in your life (Ephesians 2:8-10). While the Master tarries in His return, let us keep watch and preparing for His return (Mark 13:35-37).
“A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of growth in grace and a thankful heart” (Charles Finney).
“Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die-or if need be, to win and die! ‘The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force’” (Charles Finney).
- Stay in Communion
Fellowship with God ensures you are walking with Him. Like an obedient sheep, we are led by His voice (John 10:27). When walking with our Great Shepherd we are not led astray by cunning and crafty deception. He is the overseer of our lives (1 Peter 2:25). His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).
“Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ, and expect great things” (Andrew Murray).
“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine” (Andrew Murray).
- Stay in Community
The expression of Christ’s body in the earth is the local church. We were made for community. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, NKJV). And in this body we are to support one another (Galatians 6:2) and spur each other on to good works (Hebrews 10:24). In this body we are given gifts of ministers to edify and equip us into maturity, into a unified body (Ephesians 4:11-16).
“If my sinfulness appears to me to be in any way smaller or less detestable in comparison with the sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all. …How can I possibly serve another person in unfeigned humility if I seriously regard his sinfulness as worse than my own?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)