The  Mysteries of God                                                                                                                    Lesson #5


The Mystery of Providence                                  Romans 11:25-33


The providence of God is a mystery, hidden from blind, unregenerate, unbelieving people, but revealed to God’s elect by the Lord Jesus Christ, through his Word and by his Spirit, whose grace abounds toward us in all wisdom and prudence. “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph. 1:9-10).


Providence is the government of the universe by God for the accomplishment of his will, which he purposed in himself, which will is the salvation of chosen sinners for his glory. Be sure you understand these two things:


1.       The will of God, the purpose and pleasure of the triune God, is the salvation of his elect. When the Bible talks about the will of God, it is talking about the salvation of chosen sinners. This is what the will of God is (John 6:39-40; Heb. 10:7, 10).


2.       Providence is God’s sovereign and absolute government of the universe to accomplish his will, to accomplish the salvation of his elect. The mystery of providence is the fact that God absolutely directs all the affairs of the universe to save his people (Rom. 11:25-33; Eph. 3:3-11).


            Look at what Paul says in Romans 11 about the mystery of providence. If you can see it, you will be astounded by it. He tells us, by Divine inspiration, that God sent blindness to the Jews that he might send light and salvation to the Gentiles, and thus save all his elect (vv. 25-26), and that he shut the Jews up in unbelief that he might have mercy upon his elect among the Gentiles (v. 32). The apostle was completely overwhelmed with awe and praise for God when he thought of his providence (vv. 33-36). We would be too, if we understood the wonder, magnitude, and grace of it.


THE MANAGEMENT OF PROVIDENCE - Who is running this world? There are four distinct views, four things taught by men about the government of the world.


1st, Some think that everything comes to pass according to some fixed law called, “The Laws of Nature.” Those who teach this are rationalists. They refuse to believe anything that cannot be explained upon natural grounds. The basis of what they believe is found under a microscope, or in a test tube, or in a hypothesis. A “hypothesis” is any guess that denies God.


2nd, Others imagine that everything comes to pass by chance, or mere coincidence. Most people are great believers in “luck.” They think there is nothing that is certain, fixed, and absolute, but that one thing is just as likely to happen as another. These people court and seem to adore, and ascribe everything to three women whom they think are rivals to God: “Lady Luck,” “Misfortune,” and “Mother Nature.”


3rd, Cold, pseudo-intellectuals would have us believe that everything in the world is ruled by a cold, impersonal force, called “fate.” Do you remember the name used for man’s idea of God in the movie, “Star Wars?” They called it the Force. “May the Force be with you,” was Star Wars’ idea of a benediction!


4th, However, the Bible teaches us that the Manager, Master, and Ruler of the universe is God almighty (Psa. 135:6-13; Isa. 40:12-17). We affirm and insist that this universe is totally and constantly ruled by God. Our God always has his way and does his will everywhere. There are only two alternatives to this fact: If God is not running the world it is either because he does not want to run it, or he is not able to run it. To say that God does not want to run the world is to say that he has abandoned the work of his hands and abandoned his purpose in creating all things (Eph. 1:11; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17). To say that God is not able to control the world absolutely is to speak against his very Godhood! “He is able,” is the constant song of the redeemed throughout the Scriptures. He is able to deliver (Dan. 3:17; 6:20-22). “Those that walk in pride he is able to abase” (Dan. 4:37). He is “able to subdue all things” (Phil. 1:21). He is able save and to keep all his people by his grace (Heb. 7:25; 2 Tim. 1:12). Our God is a God who is able to help (Heb. 2:18). He is “able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12).


Those who deny God’s absolute, sovereign management of the universe destroy the very basis of worship. If God does not want to govern the world, or if he is not able to govern the world, prayer is a useless thing! Why pray to a God who is not interested or who is not able to intervene in earthly affairs? But that is not the case. The management of the universe is God’s work.


THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE - (Isa. 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33). C. D. Cole wrote, “Providence is mysterious and perplexing because the God of providence is incomprehensible to finite minds, and therefore his ways are too deep for us to understand. We must take Him at His Word.”


There seems to be no order at all in the flight of bees to and from their hive, but if you examine the honey and the honeycomb, you will see that those bees did everything by plan, arrangement, and precise order. So it is with God’s providence.


“God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea And rides upon the storm.


Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill

He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will.”


THE MINUTENESS OF PROVIDENCE - God’s providential rule of the universe encompasses all the minute, intricate details of matter, time, and history. It covers all the little things. Someone once said, “Providence is God’s attention concentrated everywhere.” So detailed, so minute is our heavenly Father’s rule of providence that he has numbered (purposed, ordained, and determined) all the hairs on all the heads of men and numbered the hairs on the heads of his elect with the tender care of a doting mother (Matt. 10:30). No sparrow falls to the ground to get a tiny grain of food or in death without God’s decree and direction (Matt. 10:28-29). The treasures of the snow are scattered upon the earth in their foreordained path by our heavenly Father’s great and gentle hand (Job. 38:22). Even in the casting of lots and the roll of dice, God almighty has his way absolutely (Pro. 16:33).


            THE MAGNITUDE OF PROVIDENCE - Here is the magnitude of God’s providence - “The Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3). Are you getting the picture? The God we worship, the God of the Bible is in control of everything, absolutely, and always.


Our God controls all inanimate matter. The waters of the Red Sea parted at his command. The opening of the earth to swallow up Korah was by his decree. The fiery furnace in Babylon had no ability to burn his servants, though it consumed their enemies because God willed it. The sunshine and the rain are bountifully scattered or withheld, according to the purpose of God.


God controls all irrational creatures. The animals of the earth were brought to Adam to name and to Noah to save by God’s decree. Balaam’s ass spoke in human language when the Almighty said to the ass, “Speak to Balaam.” The flies swarmed over Egypt and frogs invaded the land like an army, when the Lord God ordained it. The lions in Babylon slept like lambs with Daniel, when the Lord purposed it. A great fish was prepared specifically to swallow up God’s servant Jonah and carry him directly to Nineveh. The rooster crowed twice after Peter denied the Lord thrice because the Lord Jesus said it would. We rejoice to sing with the Psalmist, “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all!” (Psa. 103:20).


God controls all things; and God controls all men, both good and bad. Both Pharoah and Israel did exactly what God had purposed (Rom. 9:16-18). The Jews, Pilate, and the Romans did exactly what God ordained must be done in the crucifixion and death of his dear Son, no more and no less (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). Our earthly rulers, all of them, do exactly what God almighty has purposed must be done for his elect (Prov. 21:1). Shemei could not curse David without God having said to him, “Curse David”(2 Sam. 16)


 Even the devil himself operates only by divine permission and to the exact extent of divine permission. He could not afflict Job or sift Peter without getting God’s permission first.


What about sin? God allows sin because he is able to overrule it for his own glory. God is not the Author of sin, but he is the Controller of it! Read Psalm 76:10, and rejoice. When it is his pleasure to do so, God sovereignly permits wicked men to do wickedness. When it is not his pleasure to overrule the evil deeds of men for the good of his elect, he will not allow even the wicked to do the evil that is in them (Gen. 20:6).


THE MARVEL OF GOD’S PROVIDENCE - The purpose and plan by which providence operates is God’s eternal purpose of grace toward his own elect (Rom. 8:28-30). There is nothing God will not do to save his elect, except that which is contrary to his nature. There is nothing God will not sacrifice to save his elect, except his own honor. He who sacrificed his own dear Son for us will sacrifice anything for us (Rom . 8:32; 1 John 4:9-10).


Silly, sentimental men talk about an indiscriminate, universal love in God, making the love of God meaningless; but the Bible teaches us that God’s love for his elect is such a special, discriminating love that he has sacrificed and will yet sacrifice men and nations to accomplish his purpose of grace toward the chosen (Isa. 43:1-7).


            There is nothing that can hinder God’s purpose of grace. There is nothing under God’s dominion that can harm one of the Lord’s chosen (Prov. 12:21).


THE MANIFESTATION OF PROVIDENCE (Rev. 5:11-14). When everything that must be has been done, when all the elect are saved, and all the reprobate are forever cast into hell, when our God has made all things new, then he will display forever to wondering worlds how he has done all things well for the glory of his name and the salvation of his elect.


“Sovereign Ruler of the skies! Ever gracious, ever wise!

All my times are in Thy hand, all events at Thy command.


His decree who formed the earth, Fixed my first and second birth;

Parents, native place, and time, all appointed were by Him.


He that formed me in the womb, He shall guide me to the tomb;

All my times shall ever be Ordered by His wise decree.


Times of sickness, times of health, Times of poverty and wealth,

Times of trial, times of grief, Times of triumph and relief!


Times the tempter’s power to prove, Times to taste my Savior’s love,

All must come, and last, and end, As shall please my heavenly Friend.


Plagues and deaths around me fly; Till He bids, I cannot die!

Not a single shaft can hit Till the God of love thinks fit.


O Thou Gracious, Wise, and Just, In Thy hands my life I trust;

Have I somewhat dearer still? I resign it to thy will.


May I always own Thy hand, And to this surrender stand,

Knowing Thou art God alone, I and mine are all Thine own.


Thee at all times will I bless; having Thee, I all possess;

                               How can I bereaved be, Since I cannot part with thee?”       - - - John Ryland