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What is divine providence?


How does God care for us?

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(All quotations from the King James Version unless stated otherwise).

The word ‘providence’ occurs once in the English translation of the Bible.

Acts 24:2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

The Greek word is ‘pronoia’ meaning:

1) forethought, providential care
2) to make provision for a thing

It is translated as ‘provision’ in Romans 13:14

Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Divine providence is exhibited on both temporal and spiritual levels.

On a temporal level God provided at creation all that was necessary to sustain life for millennia along with the necessary physical laws to maintain it. We might consider the various natural cycles which provide a breathable atmosphere, water for irrigation and seasons for the regular production of food. He provided what we term the food-chain, whereby all species of creatures find sufficient sustenance. God provided also the forests, mineral resources, metals, coal, oil and natural gas ready for the progress and advance in knowledge of generations of mankind.

The Bible makes clear that all things were and are provided by God.

Acts 17:24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Isaiah 40:12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

Job 38:25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; 26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? 28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? 29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? 34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? 35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are? 36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? 37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? 39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions, 40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

It follows that God did all this for a purpose. He made the earth to be inhabited.

Isaiah 45:18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

He made it also to be filled with his glory.

Numbers 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

His glory will be in the form of men and women (created in the image of God) made equal unto the angels; raised to the divine nature.
Luke 20:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

On a spiritual level, Adam and Eve having disobeyed and brought sin and death upon themselves and all their offspring, God made provision for reconciliation. God promised and provided a redeemer in the form of his only begotten son Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the fulcrum as it were upon which the provision of God for salvation of men and women from all nations hinges.

God chose Abraham and began a nation through the miraculous birth of Isaac (when Rebekah was past the age of child bearing). God’s promises to Abraham included that of a seed through Isaac (the child of promise) in whom all nations would be blessed. Abraham understood that the blessing would involve sacrifice.

Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering...

John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

God has made provision for the redemption of those that would believe and obey him throughout all generations, speaking through the prophets and lastly through his son and causing it to be written down for all to read. Salvation has always been by faith or belief in the promises of God.

The day is coming when God’s provision will be brought to fruition in the earth.

Acts 17:31... he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

This will be the establishment of the kingdom of God which has been in preparation since creation.

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Robert Roberts in his book ‘The Ways of Providence’ (1881) writes:

"That there should be such a thing as providence is reasonable, in view of the fact that God has a purpose among the nations of the earth, as revealed in prophecy of political matters. This purpose would never be realised were the endless caprices of human action not subject to vigilant divine supervision, carefully guiding events at the turning points. Hence we read:

"The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will” (Dan. 4:25).

The form in which this divine rule is carried out is exemplified in the words of the angel to Daniel:

"Now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia, and when I am gone forth, lo! the prince of Grecia shall come . .. Also I, in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I (the angel) stood to confirm and strengthen him” (Dan. 10:20; 11:1).

The reasonableness of providence results also from the other truth, that God is preparing for Himself a people by the Gospel during, and by means of the present reign of evil. The development of these is largely the work of circumstances operating in connection with their enlightenment. They could not be developed without trouble; but the trouble, if not regulated, would be destructive. Hence, first, the intimation that—

"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:6);

And, secondly, that—

"He will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape that they may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

It could not be imagined that the objects of the Father’s love should be left to the operations of chance, and that He, without whom a sparrow cannot fall to the ground, and to whose eyes all things are naked and open, should leave undirected, in the morass of human life, the steps of those whose eyes and affections and trust are directed to Him in daily prayer. The testimony declares the contrary:

"Your Father knoweth things ye have need of before ye ask Him. . . . Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:8, 33).

"Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

"He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man can do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).

"In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6).

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:23-25).

Robert Roberts gives examples in scripture of the divine providence in action. His book ‘The Ways of Providence’ is available free online:
http://christadelphianbooks.org/booklist.html

I hope you have found this helpful.

May God bless you,
Glenn,
www.thisisyourbible.com

 
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