Old Testament History

The Old Testament

It in apparent that, if prophecy demonstrates the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, fulfilled prophecy which becomes history, demonstrates the same. 

The history of the Pharaoh of the Exodus is a case in point, though one of a greater number of instances (Exod. 11. 10). God hardened his heart after he had hardened it himself.  But God deigned to redeem His promise to Abraham which had been given several centuries earlier (Gen. 15. 14) and to release His seed from Egyptian bondage and to bring them into the promised land.  Israel was God’s first-born (Exod. 4.22) in regard to whom He had a righteous claim: Pharoah’s detention of them made him guilty before God.

Bible history contains many similar illustration.s of the interaction of the two principles. The 'Lord of the whole earth' brought Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, into the land of Canaan (Josh. 5. 14). Its inhabitants were destroyed by Israel at God's command because of the prolonged failure of the Canaanites in their responsibility to Him: by that time 'the iniquity of the Amorites' had become 'full' (Gen. 15. 16).

Israel's recurring troubles in the days of the Judges were the result of their delinquencies (Jud. 3. 7 ; 4. 1, etc.). The raising up by God of deliverers, from time to time, were acts of sovereign compassion.

It is not possible at present to trace these two principles throughout the entirety of sacred history or ancient and modern history. In general, however, it is true to say that history makes evident that God ruleth in the kingdom of men and giveth the thrones of earth to whomsoever He will (Dan. 4. 32). He created all things because of His own will (Rev. 4. 11). He is unlimited by anything outside of Himself. 'He doeth according to His own will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, "what doest Thou?" (Dan.4.35).

In all human history the Providence of God exercises an overruling control: it is operative through animate and inanimate things: through things voluntary and things involuntary: through good and evil. It causes all things so to interact one upon another that they issue ultimately for the accomplishment of the divine purpose and for the good of the creature. 'Every day of our lives we act upon a principle which appears to be absolutely incompatible with sovereignty and yet we recognize this truth of sovereignty in reviewing our actions and their consequences. They have been over-ruled by God's providential control.

It is not only man who is involved: even such an insignificant event as the fall of a sparrow is within the compass of God's sovereignty (Matt. 10. 29). Seed-time and harvest, summer and winter and all the multitudinous details of the organic disposition by God of His universe give proof of it. Nations and governments are 'distressed' (Luke 21. 25) because of their inability to carry into effect unhinderedly their avowed policies by reason of superior forces which direct them into a channel already prepared beforehand by God.

Moreover, both sovereignty and responsibility are found operative in single episodes or in one series of events. 'God sent me before you to preserve life' (Gen. 45. 7), said Joseph to his brethren although they were verily guilty in having sent him down into Egypt.

The operation of the world-wide registration by Cæsar Augüstus was delayed in order that it might occur when the Lord Jesus was born at Bethlehem whither his parents had gone in connection with such registration, thus fulfilling the long-standing prophecy (Luke 2. 1 ; Matt. 2. 6). The birth, training and position of Saul of Tarsus made him the most suitable vessel (Gal. 1. 13, 14) to carry the Gospel of God to the Gentiles. God pre-arranged His servant's earthly circumstances in order to effect His eternal purposes. Paul, however, acknowledges himself to be the 'chief of sinners' (1 Tim. 1. 15). In responsibility as man he had failed: in sovereignty he was chosen.


© Douglas Carr 2021