The Providence of God

by Bethany

Relevant Text: 1 Chron. 26:13
Full Text: 1 Chron 26-27

Lots | Israel’s center of worship was the Temple. Not only was it the place where the high priest made atonement for the nation, it was also the place that symbolized God’s presence with His people [1]. Thus, everything about the Temple was precious and sacred and, therefore, everything about it was handled with care and holiness. Yet, when it came to picking gatekeepers, the Israelites merely cast lots like drawing straws: “These divisions of the gatekeepers … had duties for ministering in the temple of the LORD … Lots were cast for each gate, according to their families” [2]. Was this appropriate decision-making or were they being flippant?

Providence | Although the law had many regulations concerning the Temple, it said nothing about how to pick the gatekeepers. Thus, it was perfectly appropriate for them to cast lots. As Solomon wrote, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” [3]. Although we have absolute freedom in our decision-making, even the smallest things are determined by God. His providence governs the world and everything in it [4], which is good news for those who trust in Him. As the Heidelberg Catechism confesses: 

  • What do you mean by “the providence of God”? The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
  • What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold, all things? That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot as so much as move [5].

Prayer | Lord, We praise You for Your providence – especially in small decisions where we don’t have clear direction from the Bible. If everything in our lives depended on us alone, we would be hopeless. So, we thank You for Your great love that somehow has given us freedom in the midst of Your providence. Amen.

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[1] Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, which was the portable shrine that symbolized the dwelling place of the LORD. Laden with gold and holy to the touch (e.g., Uzzah), the Ark contained the two tablets of Moses, the rod of Aaron, and a pot of manna – thus, reminding the people of God’s faithfulness in carrying them through the wilderness, across the Red Sea and into the Promised Land.  |  [2] 1 Chron. 26:12-13 NIV  |  [3] Prov. 16:33 NIV  |  [4] For a wonderful sermon about how we are absolutely free and absolutely determined at the same time and about how confusing that is to us, see Tim Keller, “Your Plans; God’s Plans.” 12 December 2004. Also, evidence of God’s providence in governing the world is found throughout the Bible – the ravens (1 Kgs 17:4); a plant and a worm (Jonah 4:6-7); flies (Ex. 8:21); famine and hail and locusts (Ps. 105:16, 32, 34); a bee (Is. 7:18); the wind and the sea (Mk. 4:41); spirits (Mk. 1:27); kings (Dan. 2:21); the universe (Heb. 1:3).  |  [5] Questions 27 & 28 of The Heidelberg Confession. For full text and supporting Scripture, see here.

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