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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

     

Part IV: The Omnipotence of God in the affairs of Men

 

Chapter 2

The Omnipotence of God in Our World

     AS WE ENTER into a study of what Scripture has to say about the omnipotence of God in the affairs of our own world, we begin to find that the statements become more specific as they are more personal.
     The largest aggregates of men with which the Bible deals are world empires: the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman. We descend then to the nations which constitute them, including in a category by themselves, Israel. Over these nations are kings, and a surprising number of individual kings are singled out and statements made concerning them which sometimes seem to rob them even of moral responsibility for their actions. Whenever one reads such passages, the tendency is to explain away the text. But my experience has been that a much more profitable method of studying Scripture is to assume that the text really means what it says and then to search more deeply for a resolution of the problems which arise by referring to the rest of Scripture.
     Under these kings were governors and generals and their armies. And finally, we descend to ordinary folk. Within this largest of all classes there are the saved and the unsaved. Scripture has a surprising number of things to say about the omnipotence of God in the lives of the unsaved. Nevertheless, the extent to which the omnipotence of God rules and overrules in the lives of His children is even more surprising -- and, for many of us perhaps, unexpected. We might assume it in our triumphs, for this seems obviously to His glory. But I venture to suggest that the Word of God has some pointed things to say also about His overruling even of our failures. This aspect of the problem is a subject of the last chapter. We turn now to a consideration of what God has to say about the operation of His will among men without particular respect to whether they are His children or not. To help structure the passages which will be referred to, we may

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recapitulate what has been said above by setting it in the form of a genealogical tree, as shown in the diagram that follows.
     One point is highly important to this Paper. Scripture, I think, makes it abundantly clear that God has what may be called a Master Plan, the broad outlines of which are revealed in the Bible even to the extent of showing the future in a general way so that, for all the disagreements between us in our interpretations of prophecy, we nevertheless share the comfort of a firm belief that this Master Plan will be perfectly fulfilled and, when so fulfilled, will call forth our united praise. The Christian unity which we strive to achieve now we shall one day undoubtedly enjoy when we say with great rejoicing, "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37).
     There are surely many incidents in the lives of individuals and nations which are not directly related to this Master Plan. It would be foolish to attempt to illustrate this by referring to some inconsequential detail of a man's life (for example, that he chose to wear a gray tie one morning instead of a brown one), because such inconsequentialities sometimes turn out to be the hinges upon which the doors of destiny swing. But wherever an event or a decision is related (as God sees things) to the Master Plan, at those points He rules or overrules as required.

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Our World

     Before examining those passages which concern the chart above, reference should be made to an aspect of the subject that tends to be overlooked. An important part of our world is the realm of Nature. The reign of God in this realm is the subject of another Doorway Paper ("Nature as Part of the Kingdom of God," Part II in Man in Adam and in Christ, vol.3), in which evidence is presented to support the view that this realm is actually an essential part of the kingdom of God.
     Certainly the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ in Nature was dramatically illustrated in the New Testament when the disciples discovered that even the winds and the waves obeyed Him instantly (Matthew 8:27). There are many intimations of His lordship, as for example the fig tree which withered at His command (Matthew 21:20); the water which became wine (John 2:3ff.); and the wild beasts which shared His wilderness watch without molesting Him (Mark 1:13). We are assured that no sparrow is forgotten. In the Old Testament a raven was commanded to feed Elijah; a great fish was commanded to save Jonah; and a dumb ass was commanded to rebuke Balaam. The Psalms are full of passages which reflect what must surely be described as the "worship" which Nature affords to her Creator.
     The Christian, especially in the first days of wonder in a new experience, becomes very much aware that this is his Father's world. It seems as though God rules in Nature: with man, alien as he now is to this kingdom, He overrules. Even in His own children, who by re-creation have been reinstated within this kingdom, He must still often overrule, for our acceptance of His dominion over our lives is by no means complete.

Empires and Nations

     In the affairs of empires and of nations, there are times when this overruling can be discerned and is reluctantly admitted even by pagan historians. World War II was punctuated by circumstances which were so strange and unexpected and so greatly to the advantage of those who were defending human freedom that it has been difficult for even the most agnostic of writers to evade the unwanted conviction that, here at least, Providence (for they do not like to speak of God personally) was at work.
     Certainly Scripture makes it clear that in the rise and fall of the great world empires of antiquity, God had a direct hand. One of the most striking and self-contradictory characteristics of those who built these empires was the combination of complete ruthlessness

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coupled with a strange sense of ultimate dependence upon God. Possibly their own despotism made it easier for them to conceive of an even higher Despotism than their own.
     Not unnaturally this revelation attaches itself more particularly to the first world empire and to the last, as though to indicate the pattern. The first world empire was the Babylonian, and its best-known monarch was Nebuchadnezzar. He has left us abundant evidence of the fact that his power was absolute in his own eyes; and yet in Daniel 4: 17,24-26 he was warned in no uncertain terms:

    This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones [the Trinity?]: to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. . . .
     This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High, which is come upon my lord the king:
     That they shall drive thee from men . . . till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will. . . .
     Thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.

     And so again in Daniel 5:21: "And he was driven from the sons of men . . . till he knew that the Most High God ruled in the kingdom of men, and that He appointeth over it whomsoever He will." It is not certain exactly what sickness overcame the emperor, but two things are quite clear from Scripture in connection with it. The first is that as soon as Nebuchadnezzar attributed entirely to himself the great achievements associated with his name, then God reduced him to something less than a man so that he "ate straw like an ox." The second is that when in some strange way, in his demented condition, he came to realize that there was really only one Lord in the universe, then he was at once restored to his former position of authority and he had no hesitation whatsoever in acknowledging this circumstance. Scripture reveals that the Lord was overruling these men, and strange to say, they were sometimes quite aware of it. It was a kind of Divine Right of Kings.
     All of which is in perfect harmony with the fact that the final world empire will appear at a time when God shall have "put into the hearts [of the nations] to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast until the words of God shall be fulfilled" (Revelation 17:17). From beginning to end, in the major aspects of world history God is clearly omnipotent. Ultimately, of course, "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee. For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He is governor among the nations" (Psalm

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22:27,28). For God dictates the rise and fall of nations; as Job put it (12:23): "He increaseth the nations and destroyeth them; He enlargeth the nations and straighteneth them again." And so likewise in Psalm 47:6-8: "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth on the throne of His holiness." It is indeed a cause for praise!
     Now, over these nations are kings who, to some extent, determine the fortunes and the character of the nations they rule, just as the significance and the character of the Jewish nation will ultimately be determined by their appointed Lord and King. At this level God begins to be even more explicit in His revelation. For example, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water [i.e., in an irrigated garden]: He turneth it whithersoever He will" (Proverbs 21:1). This is, of course, in harmony with Psalm 75:6,7, "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is judge: He putteth down one, and setteth up another." Likewise in Daniel 2:20,21: "Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: and He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings."
     Many are the specific examples of God's overruling in the histories of individual kings. The obvious example which springs immediately to mind is that of "Pharaoh," the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The graphic picture of vacillation and cowardice, of resolution and decision, on the part of the king is so clearly drawn. We are given an insight into the thoughts of a man moved upon by forces far greater than himself, and who is apparently quite unaware of this overruling. He would have let the children of Israel go, would have been glad to see the last of them, after each exhibition of power on Moses' part. But as the miracles became increasingly amazing, he found his heart strengthened even when he was most fearful of the consequences of refusal!
     This is clearly what lies behind the comment of Paul when he observes in Romans 9:17, "For the Scripture reveals with respect to Pharaoh, Even for this very purpose have I 'made thee so,' that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth." So in Exodus 10:20: "But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go." And Exodus 8:10: "That thou [Pharaoh] mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God." Pharaoh was a pawn

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in the hand of an omnipotent God. The fairness, or otherwise, of God's action in the light of Pharaoh's unhappy end we must deal with later on, for undoubtedly the Lord punished him for doing His will! But suffice it to say that this man was entirely in the hands of God and was, as it were, "driven" to do what he did by a higher power whom he, nevertheless, constantly refused to acknowledge. It is curious how frequently the Egyptians were used to fulfill the purposes of God with respect to Israel in a punitive role. When Rehoboam forsook the law of the Lord and all Israel with him, the Lord threatened them with punishment through the Egyptians under Shishak. The people were moved with fear and humbled themselves, and accordingly, God tempered the punishment He had prepared for them. In 2 Chronicles 12:7-9 it is written:

     And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves, therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and My wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak.
     Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know My service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.
     So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made.

     It was the hand of Shishak, according to history, that despoiled the Temple, but it was in fact the hand of the Lord, according to biblical revelation: Shishak was merely serving the Lord, though he knew not the Lord whom he served.
     Later on, we find another emperor, Cyrus, who never acknowledged God and yet found himself called upon to fulfill His will. "Is there a God beside Me?. . .  Who saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure. . . " (Isaiah 44:8,28). And the Word of the Lord continues (Isaiah 45:1,5,6):

     Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him. . . .
I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me:
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. [emphasis mine]

     Notice particularly the emphasized words: for Cyrus was not a worshipper of the true God. He was a pagan and honoured the gods as convenience required wherever he happened to be. Yet for all this, Cyrus acknowledged subsequently that he owed his dominion to the Lord God and had received a charge to build the Temple in Jerusalem

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(2 Chronicles 36:23). He did not know God in a personal way, and therefore he was merely a servant in the hands of an overruling Lord who by him "performed His pleasure."
     Years before this, one of Israel's godliest kings, Josiah -- after he had performed many great things for the Lord -- engaged upon a venture which was not at all according to the Lord's will. The circumstances surrounding this incident are illuminating. In 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 it is written:

     After all this, when Josiah had prepared the Temple, Necho King of Egypt came up to fight against Charchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
     But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that He destroy thee not.
     Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
     And the archers shot at king Josiah. . . . His servants therefore took him, . . . and brought him to Jerusalem, and he died.

     So ended Josiah, in spite of the warning of an Egyptian king who clearly in this was acting as a servant of God.
     A few years later, Nebuchadnezzar was likewise an instrument in the furtherance of God's purposes. "And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant [see Jeremiah 25:9 and 43:10]: and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all the nations shall serve him and his son, (and his son's son,) until the very time of his land come; and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him" (Jeremiah 27:6,7). This passage reveals much. It also shows who disposes events and therefore declares who alone can predict the future. God's omnipotence is behind prophecy, not merely His foresight. He, like the Lord Jesus, claims this predictive power as proof of His control of history: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46:9,10). So likewise in John 13:19: "Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am He."
     Nebuchadnezzar had become great "because of God," and not "because of Nebuchadnezzar." This fact Belshazzar learned to his shame, for "the God in whose hands" were all his ways he had not glorified (Daniel 5:23); and it spelled calamity.

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     In the case of Ahitophel, we find another example of how God overruled a man's intentions. This example is a striking one (though not an exceptional one) in that Ahitophel had good intentions. In 2 Samuel 17:14 it is written, "For the Lord had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahitophel to the intent that the Lord might bring evil upon Absalom." It is hard when we read such passages to resist the temptation to anticipate some of the conclusions which follow later and to begin making comments on the strangeness of God's actions at times! But here we must again be content with pointing out for the present how a man is overruled that God's purposes might stand, even when the intentions overruled were intrinsically good.
In the "natural" goodness of his heart, Pilate would have let Jesus go. And it would have been difficult at that instant to do anything but commend his determination. But it would have been wrong from God's point of view -- the only point of view that could count. And so Jesus replied, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above" (John 19:11). Pilate thought he had power (verse 10), and so he did! But it was borrowed from God, who could alone sustain it. That is why Peter says quite simply, "Fear God. Honour the king" (1 Peter 2:17). Do you know who was king when Peter penned these instructions? The date of his epistle is somewhere about A.D. 60, and from A.D. 37 to 68 Nero was emperor in Rome! It is doubtful if there has ever existed such an inhuman beast (Adolf Hitler not excepted) -- and yet Peter is still required to pen these words, "Fear God. Honour the king." We cannot, must not, divorce these two commands. They stand or fall together by all that has already been declared from the Word of God. God appoints kings.
     It is the plain statement of the Scriptures that "all are His servants" (Psalm 119:91). The inclusiveness of this would be hard to understand if, to be a servant, it was also necessary to be a friend. However, this is by no means the case; it is sometimes necessary for the Lord to use His enemies to fulfill His purposes. Thus in the early days of the church, when its numbers were few and its resources, humanly speaking, were very small, one might have thought that God would arrange for a Constantine to be emperor in Rome. On the contrary, He saw fit to appoint as emperor men who were almost completely corrupt and who persecuted the church unceasingly.
     Similarly, when Israel first entered the Promised Land, they were opposed at once by powerful enemies whom the Lord could easily have removed beforehand, but had not done so. These enemies are used to serve God's purposes in two quite specific ways,

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as will be seen by reference to Deuteronomy 7:22 and Judges 2:22. We should not be surprised therefore, in our personal experience, to find when we have been clearly led to a new undertaking that there is opposition where we might least have expected it in the circumstances. Since the opposition may very well be indirectly of the Lord, we should try to discern what the Lord (not the enemy) is after!
     In 2 Samuel 7:14 men of the world are referred to as "the rod" of God: in Isaiah 7:20 the king of Assyria is God's "hired razor"; in Jeremiah 47:6,7 Pharaoh is termed the "sword of the Lord"; in Isaiah 10:26 the Assyrian is spoken of as the "scourge of God." By such agencies are the saints perfected, for "whom the Lord loveth, He scourgeth" (Hebrews 12:6).
    David says, "Arise, O Lord, . . . deliver my soul from the wicked which is Thy sword: from men which are Thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world which have their portion in this life. . . ." (Psalm 17:13,14). When David speaks of the comfort of God's "rod" and "staff," he may have had in mind, as we have customarily supposed, the protective devices which a shepherd carries: but he may also have been discerning enough to see that the chastening of the Lord is proof of His care for us. Indeed the Hebrew word paqadh, has the dual meaning of "visiting, caring for" and "punishing." Asaph says in Psalm 76:10, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." That is to say, God does not permit the hostility of men to go beyond the point where the outcome of it will cease to be any longer to His praise. Such "vessels of wrath" are also termed "vessels of dishonour," possibly because their work is one which they, being sinful, take delight in. As such, their just dessert is destruction (Romans 9:21,22).
     Subsequently we have to consider how God can punish men in authority for their wickedness and, at the same time, use them as they are and make them serve His own ends. God is no man's debtor. The same Lord who borrowed Peter's boat for a while, as He addressed the throng that pressed upon Him, afterward repaid him with a draught far beyond the carrying capacity of his little craft! And it will be found that God is also careful to repay the unsaved who serve His purposes even when their motives are entirely selfish. Nebuchadnezzar was used by the Lord to punish the wickedness of Tyre; but so impoverished was the city that the king gained little or nothing from the spoils of war. Ezekiel put it this way (29:18-20):

     Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus. . .  Yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus,

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for the service that he had served against it:
     Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon: and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.
     I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for Me, saith the Lord God.

     Nations are constituted of people over whom kings usually appoint lesser authorities. Paul deals at some length in one passage with the matter of the attitude we should hold toward them. He writes "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth what God hath ordained" (Romans 13:1,2).
     Paul then adds the rather strange comment (verse 3) that rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. This observation comes unexpectedly, since one tends to assume that it is only good people who have cause to fear the kind of ruler Paul had in mind. But actually Paul is saying that a good man has no need to fear evil rulers no matter how wicked they are, provided that he fears God more. When he says, "Do that which is good and verily thou shalt have praise of the same" (verse 3), I do not think he means that we should expect praise of the ruler, but that we may be assured of the praise of God.
     The fact is that we ought to be subject because wickedness exists everywhere and must, therefore, be restrained, and such authorities are appointed specifically to do this as God sees fit. Since they are His agents in this capacity, to refuse them is to refuse God Himself.
     It means, in effect, that always we must look past the immediate agent to the Presence whose hand is being revealed. When we begin to learn to do this, we may carry with us unconsciously that other-worldliness which so challenges the world about us. This is one aspect of walking in the Spirit. But we must distinguish between attitudes which are prompted by the fear of man instead of the fear of God. Who fears the Lord need have no other fear.
     And so Paul writes to Titus (3:1), "Put them in mind to be subject to the principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work." We cannot really excuse ourselves with the plea, "Well, the whole government is rotten anyhow!" It could perhaps never be as rotten again over so long a period as it was under Nero and his predecessors in the days of the early church. Probably that is one reason why God called Nero to "serve" at such a time -- for He was revealing His will at that time with respect to

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evil circumstances; we today can never claim that our age exempts us because of its wickedness and corruption.
     I think there is a distinction which must be made between "respect" and "honour." Paul closes this little section of Romans 13 by saying (verse 7), "Render to all therefore their dues; . . . fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." As I understand it, respect is based upon proper acknowledgment of the dignity of an office: honour is something based upon the worthiness of a man who holds the office. A wicked judge or an unfaithful bishop, provided they are both duly constituted, must be respected as judge or bishop, but one need not necessarily honour either of them as men. Both Paul and the Lord Himself respected a reprobate high priest because he was high priest. In fact, God was still pleased to speak by revelation through one of these unworthy officials (John 11:49-51).
     So much, then, for those in authority over us, for those who for one reason or another have the power to coerce us. In spite of persecutions, of restrictions upon liberty, of the multitude of ways in which evil men have brought tribulation to the saints, such men are still servants of God, however much they may suppose themselves to be free and however much we may suppose them to be the servants of Satan. All things still work together for good to them who love God. I believe we shall find in eternity that God's omnipotence is of such a kind that the most wicked deeds of man will prove to be the source of the greatest glory for God -- the supreme example being the crucifixion of the Son of God. Where there is no suffering, there is no glory.

Ordinary Folk

     But what does the Word of God reveal regarding ordinary mortals, like you and me, whose individual importance would seem to be so small? Well, if we begin with one of the earliest books of the Bible, we find Job saying, "Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. . . .  Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass. Turn from him, that he may rest till he shall accomplish as an hireling his day" (14:1,5,6). As a hireling: his very existence is spent upon borrowed time. He makes great plans and dreams great dreams, and his energies are bent apparently at will as he struggles for the goal. Indeed, "there are many plans in a man's heart; yet the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Proverbs 19:21). As the same wise man elsewhere observed and was instructed to write for us, "A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps" (Proverbs 16:9). Yea, the very preparations of the heart in man and the very "response" are from the Lord (Proverbs 16:1). And we ask in

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amazement, Who then is free? What can these things mean? Nor is it the first time it has been asked, How can God find fault when a man's actions are predetermined and he cannot do otherwise? (Romans 9:19).
     We turn elsewhere, supposing that perhaps in these proverbs Solomon was exaggerating, only to find Jeremiah saying, "O Lord, I know that the way of a man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). And so Solomon is found saying again, "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (Proverb 20:24).
     There are times when we are conscious of this strange compulsion, and involuntarily we exclaim, "I really don't know why I did it -- or what got into me." It is the universal testimony of men in times of great crisis that their actions often seem to spring, as it were, from sources deeper than themselves. Sometimes they say, with Luther, "I can do no other, so help me God!" This "restraint" upon the course of our lives makes it impossible to say truthfully, "If I had my life to live over again I would do differently." This is almost certainly false, because it is not ultimately left with man to direct his own steps when the decision to be made is vital.
     Now, in the ordinary plans and business of the day Jeremiah reminds us (Lamentations 3:37), "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord did not command it?" It is just this habit of thought, based entirely upon the assumption that our actions are determined by our own wills and that we can therefore plan with considerable certainty, that is condemned in the New Testament: "Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain; whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. . . . For that ye ought rather to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15).
     So He who in many ways has so ordered His purposes as to take into consideration our usefulness in furthering them, nevertheless can declare forthrightly, "Yea, before the day was, I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand; I will work, and who shall hinder?" (Isaiah 43:13).
     Even a glance at the passages which are tabulated in chapter 4 will reveal clearly that both believers and the unbelieving are completely in the hands of God the moment God finds it necessary to overrule their actions. Of course, we find ourselves faced with the question of election -- and there are not a few to whom this aspect of theology seems cold and harsh and entirely contrary to the Christian spirit in its emphasis. But we must let the Word of God decide the issue for us, if possible.

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     In these last few paragraphs we have begun to tread on delicate ground. It is not difficult to believe that God has overruled kings and princes in a general kind of way; this seems remote and impersonal. But as we pass down the scale, it almost seems as though Scripture becomes increasingly "fatalistic" in its philosophy. Two problems arise out of this which put us on the defensive. The first is the sense of injustice which we feel very deeply when we are told that God has overruled us to such an extent that we seem to be mere automatons. If God so overrules our actions, in what sense can we ever be held morally responsible? Paul stated this very explicitly -- perhaps quoting someone who had disputed with him: "How in the world can God find fault with us when He never allows us to do anything except what He wants us to do?" Or, to put it in the words of the Authorized Version, "Why doth He yet find fault, for who hath resisted His will?" (Romans 9:19).
     Now, the problem raised here is not merely punishing men for evil deeds, but also rewarding them for good. If men are not to be punished for evil deeds, can they be rewarded for good ones? Undoubtedly God does punish and does reward and, therefore, men are presumably morally accountable. What exactly is the nature of this moral accountability? How is it to be squared with the clear statements of Scripture about the omnipotence of God in the affairs of men? The Bible has a full and satisfying answer to this problem, and we shall explore it in chapter 5. In the next chapter, however, we shall see how God overruled in the history of Israel.
     In the meantime, we have advanced the tabulation of passages so that it may be set down as follows:

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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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