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GOD’S WORD FOR MAY 24

GOD’S WORD FOR MAY 24 ~ ~ Psalm 33:4 ~ ~ “For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.”

Continuing with excerpts from Chapter two of John Piper’s, “The Pleasures of God”

“The Pleasure of God in all He does” ~ ~ ( Anything in perenthesis are my comments.)

DOES GOD HAVE PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF THE WICKED?

This is a glorious picture of God in His sovereign freedom—to do whatever He pleases and to accomplish all His pleasure. But it would be a fuzzy picture, a bit out of focus, if we stopped here.

To bring it into focus and sharpen it, we have to ask this question: “How can God say in Ezekiel 18:23 and 32 that He does not have pleasure in the death of any impenitent person, (a person who isn’t sorry for his sins) if in fact He accomplishes all his pleasure and does whatever He PLEASES?

In Ezekiel 18:30, God is warning the house of Israel of impending judgment: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord.” And He is urging them to repent: “Repent and turn from all your transgressions.” At the end of verse 31 He says, “Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I do not have pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God; so, turn and live.”

This seems to be a very different picture than the one we saw in Psalm 135, where God does all that He pleases. This is the kind of text that causes people to jump to the wrong conclusions too quickly.

Here God seems to be cornered. It seems that He is forced into judging them when He really doesn’t want to. Is he going to accomplish all His pleasure or not? Is God really free to do everything according to His good pleasure?

If God controls the wind and makes it blow whenever and wherever He pleases—which is certainly true — “He makes the wind to blow and the waters flow” ~ ~ “Psalm 147:18; and remember Jesus’ “Peace! Be Still”—then God is somehow responsible for the destruction of thousands of lives by drowning because of the storms and hurricanes which God has “brought forth from His storehouses” over the centuries.

Do we charge God with wrong when we say this? Might it not be satan who makes destructive wind blow? This is a good question, and the answer is a complex one. Satan does have great power in this world to do harm. We know that he can cause sickness—Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; and, since he is called a “murderer from the beginning.” –John 8:44; we may infer that he can indeed kill.

But I believe with all my heart that the biblical teaching of God’s sovereignty over satan is the greatest answer in the world when the very meaning of life is threatened by the horrors and tragedies of death and disease. It is the answer of Scripture and it is true and full of hope.

The Bible does NOT teach that satan has the highest control in the world. God is shown indisputedly to be the controller of the wind in Genesis 8:1; Exodus 14:21; 15:10; Psalm 78:26; 107:25; 148:8; Isaiah 11:15 and Jonah 1:4 and 4:8.

In Job 1:11-12, God gives satan the freedom to attack all that Job has, including his family. Then in Job 1:19 “a great wind” levels the house where Job’s adult children are and kills them all. Job, in vs 1:21 says “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Apparently Job was correct in saying this because the very next verse –1:22—says , “In all this job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Neither did Isaiah, when he quoted God as saying, “I form light and create darkness, I make comfort and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things.” –Isaiah 45:7

Nor did Jeremiah err when he said, “is it not from the mouth of the most high that good and calamity come? (Lamentations 3:38) Nor Amos when he said, in vs 3:6, “Does calamity befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?”

So, when Psalm 135 says that the Lord does whatever He pleases, it has to include the taking of personal life through wind and sea which he alone controls. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. He is the source of all life –Acts 17:25—and He appoints the time for its return –1Samuel 2:6 and Deuteronomy 32:39.

James takes this for granted when he tells us that we should reckon with the sovereign control of God even in our ordinary business plans in James 4:13-16:

“come now you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain,’ whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that’ As it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

James assumes that it is the will of the Lord that determines whether anyone gets from one town or another. For Him it is a matter of humility to give God this right and a matter of arrogance to act, not to mention teach, that it is not to.

More on this complex answer tomorrow.

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