The Bible gives us complete confidence that God is in control of the unfolding of history. No matter what evil the times bring, or what uncertainty we feel, we have a resting place for our minds and heart. I want pick up this thought again from last week and consider another facet of this truth, which I trust can give us great encouragement: Beloved, we may not always (or even often) be able to fully grasp how history is in God’s hands but this doesn’t mean that we are totally ‘in the dark.’ We can have confidence that no matter how things seem, God is having His way.
How so? Well, the Bible not only teaches God’s sovereignty over history, but it demonstrates it with real examples. As a result, we can look backwards in history and see how things that seemed to be spinning out of control were actually the exact fulfillment of what God had planned. No other example is clearer about this than the plan of God to triumph over sin, death, and the Devil through Jesus Christ.
It was God’s plan to send Jesus to earth for our salvation before the foundations of the world were even laid (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:9). From man’s perspective, of course, that plan was not fully understood until after Christ died and rose again. The disciples on the very night of the betrayal of Jesus were panicking and denying any association with him. If you would have asked the disciples how things were looking on that night, you would have received answers entirely lacking in confidence.
However, we know that even though things seemed to be going badly at that point—even though the Devil, Herod, the religious rulers, and Pilate did all that they could to thwart God’s plans—nonetheless, God was having his way. All those involved in the condemnation of Jesus were not undermining God’s plan but unwittingly carrying it out. Even more, in the offering of His Son, the Father was actually “triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:14-15).
The circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus were not out of control of the hand or the plan of God. The very opposite is the case. As Paul said in Ephesians, the rejection, betrayal, mocking, hatred, beating, even killing of Jesus, happened “according to God’s purpose,” it was “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-11; c.f. Isaiah 53:10). In other words, God did not fail; God could not fail. He set forth Christ at the exact time He purposed and accomplished all His holy will. He was in complete control of history then and He remains so to this day—and for all of eternity.
Think about it, if you had asked the disciples before the resurrection about their confidence in God’s control over history, I’m not so sure they would have been unwavering in their faith. Listen to them now after the fact and note their triumphant trust in their sovereign God:
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his anointed’—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:24-28, spoken by Peter, emphasis mine).
In these challenging times, let us grow in faith as we look to our Sovereign Lord, the same God to whom the early Christians looked to and found strength and confidence to face whatever lay before them. While it may have taken some time to get to this point, they came to know that history was in God’s hands, and were tremendously helped and encouraged by that knowledge.
Beloved, we can be, too. If God was in control then, He still is now. If the worst event in the history of the world (the death of the Son of God) only unfolded according to plan, then can we not rest assured that the same is true for our lives? It is this background that could led Paul to tell the believers in Rome: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Christian, God has a purpose and a plan in place for our lives. We don’t know what that fully entails…but He does. We can be confident in our good and sovereign God that He will have His way, and it will be good for us. Let us glorify Him for it.