[Papercut Press] 2002-03-20 - What Hast Thou Done?

Joshua 10:12,13 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, 'O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves on their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

I live a block away from a fairly large cemetery. I see memorial services there all the time. In fact, a few days ago, I witnessed three separate services going on in the cemetery at the same time. I wondered if I should move to another town, since everyone here seems to be dying. Recently a devotional reader asked me if, when a criminal is put to death, it is their time to go. I thought I would try to answer this question by giving some emphasis to the sovereignty of God.

The sovereignty of God means that He is not conditioned or bound by anything but Himself. So in response to the question, we would have to say that when a criminal is put to death, it is his or her time to go. God could have moved in the heart of the governor of the state to stay the execution. God could have prolonged the appeals process through the actions of a judge. He can do as He pleases. "Whatever the Lord pleases, He does...." (Psalm 135:6, 7) He has created all things and He is the one who sustains all things. But please don't think I am saying here that we are therefore simply puppets. While God can, and I think often does intervene, He has also set creation to flow by natural rules and order. It is rare that God suspends gravity when someone's parachute fails to open. We might ask if God can heal cancer? Sure He can. Does He? I think so. Does He always? Apparently not.

Creation is God's creation He may dispose of His creation as He pleases. This is not a comforting thought in some respects. In other ways, it is very comforting. We must remember that God is a loving God and a God of infinite grace and mercy. I would rather be under a sovereign, loving God than probably any other option I could consider. If you have time, think about some of these verses: Daniel 4:25, 35, Revelation 4:11, 1 Timothy 6:15, Romans 9:14-23. Romans 9:20 tells us, "on the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, 'why did you make me like this,' will it?"

This may rub some of you the wrong way. There are aspects of this that I find frightening. It is then that we must remember what was said above, that God is loving and merciful to His creation. We can add that He is also wise. He will make no mistakes. We can say that God is absolutely sovereign in all things, but maybe it is, at times, helpful to change that a bit and say, "God is absolutely sovereign in all things, including in His wisdom." "Behold God is mighty and does not despise any; He is mighty in strength of understanding," Job 36:5. See also Psalm 147:5, Daniel 2:20, and Isaiah 40:28.

So again, when someone's time is up, it is up. It is the same with murder. The victim rarely thinks, "my time is about to expire." But clearly, it is about to expire. But I bet there have been many times when God has worked through circumstances to make sure that just the right doctor was on duty, at the right time, who would know exactly what to do to save the life. Then the victim's time will be up later on in life.

I have tried to make sure today that I backed everything up with Scripture. I hope you will see that this is what Scripture tells us. We may not like it, but if Scripture tells us a truth, we must believe it.

"God is the cause of causes." Christopher Nesse

Soli Deo Gloria,

T-

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