Of Divine Providence
Chapter 5, Paragraph 3.
“... and against them at his pleasure.“
In God’s ordinary providence He uses means to accomplish His decree. However, He is not limited by how means usually work. Let’s explore how God is free to work against means.
When the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem and overtook it, they captured and brought many Israelites to their country. Among them were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. You might recognize them by the names given to them: Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-nego. These Hebrews were assigned to serve in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court and eventually were promoted to oversee the province of Babylon.
Proudly the king fashioned a tall golden image that was erected on a plain in Babylon. Every government official was to be present at the dedication. As part of the ceremony, all were commanded to demonstrate worship to the image at a certain time. Disobedience was more than just a question of losing one’s powerful position; anyone who withheld homage would be thrown immediately into a blazing hot furnace. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-nego refused to bow. Furious, Nebuchadnezzar ordered the heat to be turned up, and commanded his soldiers to cast the Israelites into the furnace.
Fire has a certain function. It burns. It consumes what it touches and leaves ash in its wake. Yet God worked against the ordinary means of the raging fire in that furnace:
…the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men, nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell or fire even come upon them.
The three men were saved. That is awesome in itself, and that is where many Sunday School lessons stop. But wait! Look at verse 28:
Nebuchadnezzar responded and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve and worship any god except their own God.”
God preserves and governs all His creatures and their actions for His own glory. No matter the circumstance surrounding us, we can know that He is free to use the means available to glorify Himself, and He is free to work against the means to glorify Himself. Whatever our future brings, we Christians can rest in His providential care.
Questions to Consider
- Is it hard to believe that God can work against means?