Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shadows Have Uses and Limits

"Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring. It would be self-defeating if the environmental movement degenerated into a religion of gloomy faith." [from Christopher Pierson in The Australian]

I. God Directs All Things

A. History unfolds in a pattern featuring the Redeemer. "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written," (Acts 15:14-15)

B. What does not promote the gospel message is nothing but dark background. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20)

C. Reality starts and stops with Christ. "And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Revelation 21:6-8)

D. There are no missing propositions in God’s logic. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15:18)

II. Nothing Escapes Providence

A. Nothing can be outside Providence. "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:" (Isaiah 46:9-10)

B. God reliably spoke in the past of things which subsequently came to pass and He uses that argument to remind believers that He habitually speaks with certainty of the future before it occurs. "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them." (Isaiah 42:9)

C. Psalm 78 explores all redemptive history from the perspective of Providence. "I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:" (Psalm 78:2-7)

III. The Background Sharpens the Picture

A. Even the dark shadows of life serve the bright purposes of Grace; the murder of Jesus became the ultimate instrument of Grace. "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts 4:27-28)

B. The story of Joseph is the perfect illustration of Providence. "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Genesis 50:20)

C. God’s purpose is the one which matters. "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 45:5-8)

D. The story is readable because the letters and the paper contrast with each other. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

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