Saturday, March 28, 2009

Causing Well-Being & Creating Calamity - Isaiah 45 part 2

"I am the LORD, and there is no other,
Besides Me there is no God,
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
That men may know from the rising
to the setting of the sun
that there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
The One forming light
and creating darkness,
causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these."
(vs 5-6)

As long as I live I don't think I'll ever forget an incident that happened while listening to a nationally syndicated Christian radio show back in 1997. Phillip and I lived in Selma, Alabama at the time and an incredibly powerful series of tornadoes had touched down throughout the south. One had made contact with the ground less than half a mile from our home and had remained on the ground for almost 12 miles. At the time, Phillip was working for State Farm Insurance and had to tour some of the damage. I rode with him and was amazed at what I saw.

Only a few days after these tornadoes hit, American Family Radio was discussing them on a call in show. There was much "interesting" discussion. At one point a woman called in, from my area, to talk about the calamity that had occurred. She began her conversation with, "This is a trying time for all of us, lives have been lost, things have been destroyed, but God is sovereign." She then began to quote verse 7 of Isaiah 45, "The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these." She didn't get any further in her conversation. The host was furious and actually disconnected her call. His next words, spoken with MUCH emotion were - "You don't mean to tell me that you think God had any sort of hand in this do you? God had NOTHING to do with this!"

I didn't know what to make of his reaction. Do things just happen randomly and by happen-stance? If things like this occur apart from God having any hand in them, then woe to all of us. If calamities occur simply by chance or accident and God is totally uninvolved then what hope is there when the so called bottom falls out around us. The God of the Bible is sovereign, omnipotent, omnisicient, all-wise, and good. As a Christian, I find much comfort knowing that there is not a maverick molecule in the universe, that not a hair can fall from my head, that not a sparrow can fall from the sky, that not a tornado can touch the earth apart from my God's divine purposes. Look at Job 1. God's hand is all over it - and in that Job found hope. Lori does too. The Apostle Paul declares that "He works ALL things according to the counsel of His will." (Eph 1:11).

Here in Isaiah 45:5-7 God is loudly asserting His supreme sovereignty. He is King of the universe and He "works all things after the counsel of His will." (Ep 1:11). Cyrus the great is still in the midst of this context. He is still the one being addressed. Proud Cyrus could easily begin to view himself as the great potentate. Yet the Living and True God boldly proclaims: "I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God." Cyrus is but a man. God is God!

God asserts His sole deity and He asserts His sole sovereignty. There is nothing that happens in this life apart from the touch of His fingers. No, He is not the author of sin - we are - but He in the miraculous workings of providence has His holy hand in every detail. That is why He can make "all things beautiful in their time" and cause "all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose."

I don't have time to go into all the intricate details of first and second causes, and of the differences between the decretive and declaritive will - but I can say along with Isaiah that "the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these."

For me there is divine solace in those words. When my loved one dies, when my own health fails, when my parents forsake me, when the stock-market crashes, when my job is no more, whtn the tornado hits, when every thing in this world has crashed in around me - my God who loves me more than I could ever love myself; my God who omnisciently and infinitely knows best what I need most; my God who will always do right by me even if everything within me is screaming "this is wrong"; that God has His hand in the events of my life.

What is my reaction to Isaiah 45:7? Do I find comfort as the lady who called the radio station did or do I find fury as the DJ did? My reaction will tell me alot about my view of my God. Do I trust Him to be God? Will not the judge of the earth do right?

Thankful for the LORD who does all these,


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