By Elizabeth Prata
Have you ever wondered how it works with God being totally sovereign over all things, plans, actions, and events…yet man is not a robot and freely chooses his own actions, and moreover, is responsible to God for them? You’re not the only one to wonder how that tension works between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
Simply because we in our finite minds cannot understand how it works together is no cause to doubt. Both are taught in the Bible, so that is the reason not to doubt. It’s settled in God’s mind, so we are content with that. But the most understandable treatment of this tension between God as sovereign and man as free agent, in my opinion is John G. Reisinger’s The Sovereignty of God in Providence.
What I’m talking about when I say tension between the two, is that Judas was destined to fulfill the scriptures, but yet he was held personally accountable for betraying Jesus. He was not a robot, yet it all played out exactly as God wanted it, indeed how it was pre-ordained by Him. (John 13:18). And it’s not because God ordered Judas to do so, Judas made his own decisions, even throwing the silver pieces back to the Pharisees. Even that seemingly small act fulfilled the scripture-
Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the One whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, just as the Lord directed me.”” (Matthew 27:9–10).
And we see this prophesied in Zechariah 11:12–13, And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”
Even the Jewish leaders used the thirty pieces of silver to buy a field from a potter, again as Zechariah had prophesied (Matthew 27:6–10). Judas hanged himself in that very field. God is extremely precise.
Let’s look at another example: Caiaphas’ unknown prophecy. It’s unknown, meaning, he did not know he was uttering a true prophecy when he spoke the words!
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor are you taking into account that it is in your best interest that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish instead.” Now he did not say this on his own, but as he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. (John 11:49-53).
In verse 11:50, John MacArthur explains, “‘one man die for the people.’ He only meant that Jesus should be executed in order to spare their own positions and nation from Roman reprisals, but Caiaphas unwittingly used sacrificial, substitutionary language and prophesied the death of Jesus for sinners.”
In verse 11:51, MacArthur explains more, “‘he prophesied.’ Caiaphas did not realize the implications of what he spoke. While he uttered blasphemy against Christ, God parodied his statement into truth (Psalm 76:10). The responsibility for the wicked meaning of his words belonged to Caiaphas, but God’s providence directed the choice of words so as to express the heart of God’s glorious plan of salvation (Acts 4:27-28). He actually was used by God as a prophet because he was the High Priest and originally the High Priest was the means of God’s will being revealed (2 Samuel 15:27).”
Lets finish with Reisinger. “Calvary Was A Day of Victory: Jesus Christ was never more our Lord and His Father was never more in total control of all things than the day that sinners “with wicked hands” unknowingly fulfilled the decrees of God and nailed our Saviour to the cross. Our blessed Lord was never more in control, never more sovereign and powerful, than He was the moment men cried out in derision, “Where now is your God?” and challenged Him to prove He was the Son of God by coming down from the cross.”
Reisinger: “If you and I had stood under the cross that day we probably would have wondered whether God was really the Father of our Lord Jesus. If He was, why didn’t He come and help? Why did the Father allow all of these things to happen to His dear Son? We would have never understood, apart from revelation, that this hour of this day was the specific point in time toward which God had been moving ever since the day that Adam sinned. There has never been a day when God was more triumphant in His power, in His love, and in His holiness than He was that day at Cavalry’s cross.”
Reisinger: “The more sin and self rage and appear to triumph, the more it looks like God is losing the war because He is weak and helpless. The despair, frustration, and depression of this present existential generation is in direct proportion to their misunderstanding of the sovereign control of God over all things… the child of God with a clear understanding of the Scripture looks to the sovereign God clearly revealed in that Scripture. A knowledgeable believer knows that he is on the winning team regardless of what the world’s scoreboard says. He knows that Jesus Christ is Lord regardless of what is taking place either in the world or in his personal life; he is confident that everything will, in the end, be for his own good as well as for the glory of God.”-end Reisinger
God is in control. If you are in Christ, there is nothing to worry about. I am speaking to myself, because I see the direction the US is headed, and it appears to me quite starkly that the Lord has lifted His hand of grace and restraint from us, and that we are under judgment. This is a grief to me. When a nation is under judgment, God will not hear. It gives me chills to think of what may come when we’re being judged, and God turns his face away. (Isaiah 59:2).
But then you continue reading in Isaiah 60, and the Redeemer is promised. The Savior, the only saving agency in the universe, will come. Salvation comes to a people even under judgment. Cast your eyes upon Jesus, not the world, not the leaders, not the man-made solutions. Trust in Him and his perfect ordination of His perfect plan. We have to change our outlook. Rather than living in ‘A Christian Nation’ if we ever even did, we will soon be living in ‘a Christian household’ only. Perhaps a Christian person alone. We are seeing the buffers of comfort and Christian influences removed. We have to make decisions about our personal faith, if we’re prepared to lose a job, or even our life. When we look around and all we see is spiritual deserts and blasphemy, we look UP.
For the LORD God is a sun and a shield; the LORD gives grace and glory; He withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity. (Psalm 84:11).