who studies the Bible carefully comes face to face with the providence
of God. His hand is seen in events that unfold throughout the Bible,
from Genesis to Revelation. If one really believes the Bible one will
also believe in the providence of God. Yet, many who see God's hand in
past events will deny that God is still active in the affairs of His
universe and His people. The problem is that God's providence has been
cast into mysterious and unexplainable terms, resulting in many
unwarranted and false claims of special divine providence. Admittedly it
is not easy to understand how God does what he does but does one really
need to know HOW God does something in order for it to be accepted and
believed. God may be INVISIBLE to us, but He certainly is not INACTIVE.
He has not ceased to provide for that which He has created.
What is Meant by the Providence of God?
the difficulties encountered in understanding the providence of God is
that the word "providence" appears only one time in the scriptures
and is not used in reference to God's providence, but man's. The
Biblical use of the word in reference to God is not present, but the
doctrine of "divine providence" is very real in the scriptures.
word "providence" is defined in the dictionary as "the care or
benevolent guidance of God." The English word comes from the Latin,
"providere" which in turn is made up of two words, "pro" (before) and
"videre" (to see), thus "to foresee." The corresponding Greek word is "pronoia"
(forethought). Thus, the idea "to see before," which expresses the idea
of foresight and forethought, implies a future end or goal with a
definite purpose and plan for sustaining that end. In exercising
forethought and foresight, God created a universe that He could control
for His own purpose. God's control cannot be denied, "For by Him all
things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible
and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.
All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all
things, and in Him all things consist"
Paul declared to the Athenians, "God who made the world and everything
in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth ... gives to all life,
breath and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of
men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their
preappointed times and bounds of their habitation ... for in Him we
live, and move and have our being"
How can one believe in the God Paul proclaimed on that day and deny His
providential care today?
When Is It the Providence of God?
talk much about the providence of God, generally with a misunderstanding
of what they are talking about. One talks about being delivered from
some serious accident by "the providence of God." How does one know?
Another says "I was providentially hindered" from doing something. Can
one be sure that God caused the thing to happen? People need to be
careful in attributing to God that which cannot be proved. Mordecai
would not affirm God's providence in making Esther queen of Persia,
rather he said, "Yet, who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for
such a time as this?"
Paul did not know that the escape and ultimate conversion of Onesimus
was caused by the hand of God. He wrote, "For perhaps he departed for a
while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as
a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother"
(Philemon 15, 16).
reality, no one can speak with certainty about when God exercises His
providence, unless it is so stated. The KNOWN providence of God is
recorded as past events. When did Joseph know that God had a hand in the
things that happened in his life? It was years later, after being
reconciled to his brothers that Joseph said, "So now it was not you who
sent me here, but God; and He ... has made me Lord of Egypt"
He even understood that God's providence in his life was not for him
alone. "But as for me, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for
good, in order to bring it about as it is this day to save many people
problem encountered in a study of providence is the thinking of some
that God can only exercise His providence through miracles. Since the
age of miracles has now ceased, they assume that God's providential care
has also ceased. In so doing they limit God's exercise of care and
guidance to the past ages. They seem to liken God to a computer
programmer, who after setting the program steps back and lets everything
run without any further control. So, God after setting things in motion
does nothing else for man today.
not the God I worship. While it is true that God sometimes used miracles
to accomplish His will, on other occasions He used natural means, often
unseen by man, to bring about His purpose. We must keep in mind that
both the natural and the miraculous are under the control of the
Creator. God, by a miracle, created the universe, and then established
natural laws by which it would continue. Both are expressions of His
will. Both employ a supernatural source.
"Providence employs a supernatural source via a natural means, while a
miracle used both a supernatural source and a supernatural means" (Flavil
"Providence is the working of God through His provision in the natural
and spiritual realms, and yet it is a control that violates neither the
sovereignty of the human will nor the divine natural and spiritual laws"
need to recognize their inability to know when and how God directs the
affairs of this world. Just accept the fact that He does, even if one
never knows HOW He does it. "For I considered all this in my heart, so
that I could declare it all; that the righteous and the wise and their
works are in the hand of God"
My conclusion in this article is that while the supernatural means have
ceased, the supernatural source in ways unseen by human eyes, continues
to control His universe and His people today.
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