THE NATURE OF PROVIDENCE: PART 1 OF 2

What is divine providence? Perhaps we best define it as that eternal work of “God the great Creator of all things who upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will[i].”  Paul states that “God works all things after the counsel of His own will[ii].”  Purpose and providence answer exactly to each other; the one is the fulfillment of the other. “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand[iii].’”

God’s providence concerns the provision which He makes for and the care which He takes of all in the earth, from the greatest to the least. “The eyes of all wait upon You, and You give them their food in due time[iv]” and “the young lions roar after their prey, and they seek their food from God[v].”

All creatures partake daily of God’s goodness. He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil men of this world. He makes the His sun to rise on the evil as well as on the good people of this earth. He sends rain on the just and the unjust[vi]. He has not left Himself without a witness of His providential goodness in any age or any people, Jew or Gentile[vii].  The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His people to “…love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men[viii].”  But God’s care is especially manifested toward His own people. All of His children, redeemed through Christ’s blood, are encouraged to be casting all their care upon Him, for He cares for them[ix].  Christians should therefore be encouraged even in their sufferings.

Even the judgments of God are examples of providence. Who can believe that the universal flood, with the sweeping away of a world of ungodly men and the saving of only eight people in an ark, was by chance and not of providence? Or that the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone from heaven was by accident?  And what of the plagues of Egypt, the drowning of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, the captivities of the Israelites? Earthquakes, famine, pestilence, fire and sword, all show a divine providence: “He has executed judgment in the work of His own hands the wicked is snared[x]


[i]  Westminster Confession 5.1

[ii]  Ephesians 1:11

[iii]  Isaiah 14:24

[iv]  Psalm 145:15

[v]  Psalm 104: 21

[vi]  Matthew 5:45

[vii]  Acts 14:17

[viii]  Luke 6:35

[ix]  2 Peter 5:7

[x]  Psalm 9:16

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