Tuesday, May 22, 2012

God's purposes

Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom. 2 Samuel 17:14
Last week, Seth and I read this about this story in our Children's Bible Story book and I was so glad that the author, Catherine Vos made it a point to show how God worked to bring about that which He had determined He would do.
Here are her words retelling this passage:
"When Absalom and his friends heard this advice, they thought the counsel of Hushai better than the counsel of Ahithophel.  It really was worse but God made Absalom prefer Hushai's bad advice, to save David's kingdom from his rebellious son."
In my Bible is a note indicating that David has previously asked God to frustrate Ahithopel's advice to Absalom back in 2 Samuel 15:31.  So this appears to be a perfect example of David's prayer being answered because God had determined to end Absalom's kingdom-stealing ways.  When people oppose the biblical idea of God's absolute sovereignty over all, man's will included, they often protest that this makes man nothing more than a puppet or robot.
However, the Bible gives us many clear examples where God's will is accomplished by man without him ever being aware that he is conforming to God's predetermined purposes.  We have no indication in this passage nor anywhere else that Absalom felt he was acting merely as a puppet to God's plan.  No, what we see here is Absalom acting exactly the way he desired, but also according to God's determined plan for him.  Absalom did not frustrate God's plans.  God easily brought to pass that which He desired from the  beginning and that which David had prayed for.
Thinking about this brought to mind a similar instance back in Genesis 20 with Abraham and Abimelech.  Abimelech had desired Sarah for himself and had taken her to his rooms, presumably to be intimate with her.  But God comes to him in a dream and tells him that she is a married woman and he is as good as dead if he continues in his pursuit.  Abimelech protests his ignorance of her married state and then God speaks the following insight to him(and us):
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you  touch her. Genesis 20:6
God kept him from sinning, by preventing him from touching her, not by force obviously but by making the circumstances conform to God's will.  No violence was done to Abimelech's will;  he was clearly  unaware of God's action in this event until God specifically and graciously told him of his prevention.  I do not believe that this type of intervention is an anomaly to God's "normal" interaction with men, for the Bible is full of many other instances. ( See 1 Samuel 25:26, 34 for another example where David was kept by God from murdering wicked Nabal.)  As well Proverbs 16 speaks in many places about God's plans working out just as He desires. In Ephesians, Paul speaks about this as well when he proclaims:
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11
This past weekend as I prepared my Sunday school lesson on the tenth plague and the Israelite exodus out of Egypt, I saw again how God worked in the hearts of the Egyptian people.

 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.  Exodus 12:35,36
This passage is the fulfillment of what God has told Moses would happen back in Exodus 11:1-3 when he was giving Moses his instructions.  Not only did God cause the Egyptians to think favorably of the Israelites and give them gold and silver items, but also caused Moses to be highly regarded by Pharaoh's officials and the people.
As I stated above, there are many other references in the Bible to God accomplishing His plans whether the people worshipped Him or not.  Please consider one final passage from Acts 4:27,28 where Peter and John after being released from the Sanhedrin prayed this with the other believers:
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.  Acts 4:27, 28

I have previously suggested further reading about this topic and related issues here.  I close with a verse that stuck with me years ago as I began to desire to study God's Word and really know for myself what it taught.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:27 AM

    The soul is immeasureably nourished when the Holy Spirit reveals this truth of God's Words to the believing heart. (The heart that He chose before the foundation of the world.) Reading the Word becomes ever new. =)


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