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Author:Rev. George van Popta
 send email...
 www.vanpopta.ca
 
Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
 jubileechurch.ca
 
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
 www.ancasterchurch.on.ca
 
Title:The LORD Governs All
Text:LD 10 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2003-02-02
Added:2004-03-02
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Songs: Ps. 46:3,4,5; Hy 1A; Hy. 10:6,7,8; Hy. 10:9,10; Hy. 27:1,4

Reading: 1 Kings 22:1-38

Text: LD 10
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

On the basis of the clear teaching of scripture, we confess that God governs all creatures. All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move (LD 10) (BC 13) God so rules and governs them that in this world nothing happens without His direction.

We enter a very profound subject here. For although no event happens and no creature moves without the direction of God, yet God is not the Author of the sins which are committed nor can He be charged with them. Rather, His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He ordains and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly.

I proclaim to you the good news of God's providence under this theme:

GOD GOVERNS ALL FOR THE SAKE OF HIS PEOPLE

We see this in:

1. The death of Ahab; 2. The cross of Christ; 3. The events of our lives.

1. The Lord had determined to put King Ahab to death for the sake of his people. As the Prophet Micaiah said to King Ahab in 1 K 22:23, "The LORD has decreed disaster for you." Ahab was the worst king ever to rule over Israel. We read in 1 K 21:25-26: There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel. He had married Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian King-Jezebel, a confirmed Baal-worshiper. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel made Baalism the state religion in Israel. Because of their sin, the LORD, through the prophet Elijah, said that the dogs of Samaria were going to lick up their blood.

In 1 K 22 we see the LORD sovereignly directing people, events, spirits, even arrows, to bring about his will, namely, to slay this wicked king for the sake of his people.

King Ahab of Israel invited King Jehoshaphat of Judah to join him in a war against the Arameans (a neighbouring nation). Three years earlier Aram had taken the border town of Ramoth Gilead in war against Israel. Ahab wanted to get the town back.

Jehoshaphat said he was willing to join Ahab in a war against Aram but that they should first seek the counsel of the LORD. Ahab called for his prophets-400 of them. Ahab asked the prophets whether he should go to war, and to a man they all said what they knew he wanted to hear. "Go," they said, "for the LORD will give Ramoth Gilead into your hand."

Jehoshaphat knew these were not real prophets of the LORD. Years before, already (55 years earlier)+, King Jeroboam had broken with the true religion of the temple in Jerusalem. Remember, he led a revolt against the house of David. The kingdom had been split in two-Israel and Judah. He had set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel (in Israel) and told the people they could worship the LORD there. Religion in Israel had then degenerated to Baalism and prophets controlled by the King. Jehoshaphat sensed that these 400 prophets were not giving a reliable message. So he asked: "Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?"

Ahab said that, yes, there was. Micaiah son of Imlah. But he hated him because he never prophesied anything good about Ahab, but always bad. Jehoshaphat said he would like to hear what Micaiah had to say, and so Ahab sent for him.

While the 400 prophets were all urging the king to attack Ramoth Gilead and assuring him that he would be victorious, Micaiah came on the scene. King Ahab asked him: "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" "Attack and be victorious," answered Micaiah, "for the LORD will give it into the king's hand." Ahab must have heard sarcasm in Micaiah's voice. If Micaiah were speaking the truth, it would have been the first time he had ever prophesied anything favourable for Ahab. Ahab insisted that Micaiah tell him the truth. Micaiah did. He said: "I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, 'These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.'"

The king was to be Israel's shepherd. When the Lord appointed David king, the Lord said: You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler. Micaiah said that the people of Israel were going to be scattered. They were going to end up with no master (ruler). The shepherd-king would be struck and the flock would be scattered. But that would not be bad, because the people were going to be able to go home in peace. The LORD was going to kill the wicked king, and that would give the people peace and freedom.

Micaiah went on. He had seen a vision of the LORD in heaven, sitting on his throne. Around him were the armies of heaven. The LORD stated his intention to send Ahab to his death by directing him to attack Ramoth Gilead. One of the spirits said that he would entice Ahab to attack Ramoth Gilead by being a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab's 400 prophets. And so the LORD sent him. Micaiah said (v. 23): "... the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."

This is shocking. That the LORD should direct a lying spirit to go and make the prophets lie to Ahab about the outcome of the battle-shocking! But we need to remember the basic truth that God is not the author of sin or evil. He cannot be charged with evil. And yet, His power and goodness are so great and beyond understanding that He can use a lying spirit to bring about his righteous plan.

Despite the warning, Ahab went off to battle. The king of Aram had told his 32 chariot commanders not to bother with any Israelite soldier. They were only to go after King Ahab. During the battle, an Aramean soldier drew his bow at random, shot an arrow, and at the direction of the LORD it hit Ahab between the sections of his armor, and killed him. The soldier shot at random, but the LORD directed the arrow.

When the Israelite armies saw that Ahab was dead, they shouted: "Everyone man to his town; everyone to his land!" The shepherd was struck, the sheep were scattered, but it was for the good of the sheep. They all went home in peace, rid of the worst king Israel ever had. And the dogs licked up the king's blood, as the Word of the LORD had declared.

We see how God governs all things for the good of his people. It was a blessing for Israel to be rid of King Ahab.

However, the peace, goodness and blessing did not last long. For Ahaziah, Ahab's son, became king. He was an evil king who walked in the ways of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. Although the LORD, by his sovereign direction, removed King Ahab for the good of Israel, the peace and blessing did not last. God had to direct another King to die for the good of his people. For his people to enjoy long-lasting peace and blessing. That other King was King Jesus Christ.

The LORD governs all for the sake of his people. We see that in the death of Ahab.

2. We see this much better in the cross of Christ. Last week we read part of Acts 2. We need to refer again to verse 22ff. Peter was speaking on the Day of Pentecost. He said "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth ... was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."

Wicked men put Christ to death, but it was at the direction of God. Last week we also read the prayer of the church recorded in Acts 4. They prayed (v. 27f): Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, to die on the cross for the sake of God's people. God's power and will had decided beforehand that Christ should die on the cross. It was according to God's direction. Everything that happened on that day we call "Good Friday" happened according to the plan of God. God had determined every event in eternity; he inspired the prophets to speak about it in the OT; he directed all the events when the time had fully come.

And yet, God used wicked men. Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles and the Jews-they wickedly schemed and plotted against Jesus of Nazareth. Their hatred and jealousy of him drove him to the cross. God, in the most excellent and just manner, carried out the work that He had ordained, even when wicked men acted unjustly. God can take the evil actions of devils and wicked men to bring about his wonderful work. Although God is not the author of sin and cannot be charged with evil, he governs and directs the events of history.

It ought not escape us that with the arrest and death of Christ, the Shepherd was struck and the sheep were scattered. At the last Supper the Lord Jesus had with his disciples, he said: (Mat 26:31 NIV) "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"

That's a quotation from the prophet Zechariah, and yet it is very similar to what we read in 1 K 22:17, where Micaiah said that he saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd. By directing Ahab's death, the LORD God brought momentary relief to the people. The King of Aram was not after the people, not even the soldiers. Just Ahab. When Ahab was dead, all the people returned to their towns and homes in peace. And yet, the peace did not last.

It is the Prince of peace, King Jesus, whose death brought lasting peace. The Good Shepherd, King Jesus, was struck. God directed wicked men to nail him to the cross. The sheep (the disciples) were scattered. But on the third day the Shepherd-King rose again and began to regather his sheep. He ascended into heaven and today continues his work of gathering for himself a flock of sheep, even us.

Two kings, Ahab and the Lord Jesus. Ahab, the worst king who ever ruled God's people; Jesus Christ, the best King. A perfect King. Ahab, a cruel shepherd. His death was a blessing to the people because they were rid of him. Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. His death is a blessing to us, because he died for our sins. He rose again, and gathers us into his flock.

The LORD God governs all things-spirits, people and events-for the good of us his people. We see that truth in the death of Ahab; in the cross of Christ...

3. In the events of our lives.

We can refer to the well known Romans 8 (Hymn 27). In v. 28 Paul said: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. God is for us. No one and nothing can be against us. God did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all. Surely he will, together with Christ, give us everything we need. Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. ... neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The biblical teaching and confession that God directs all things gives us indescribable comfort. Nothing can happen to us by chance, but only by the direction of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures so under His power that nothing happens outside the will of our Father. He holds in check the devil and all our enemies so that they cannot hurt us without His permission and will.

The knowledge of the providence of God will strongly effect how we respond to the events of our lives-knowing that God is directing them for our good.

When we undergo adversity (sickness, trouble, disappointment), we will not rebel against God. We will not become angry nor complain. We will not whine. Rather, we will know that God is directing things for our good. He is working out his heavenly purposes for us who live Him.

Some of God's providences are difficult for us to accept. When we are the midst of a hard providence, we usually cannot see past it. We cannot see how this can be good. We may even question whether God is directing things for our good. Don't rebel, beloved. Don't despair. Trust your heavenly Father who loves you for the sake of Jesus Christ. Who uses also the difficult things in life to bring you on to perfect maturity.

When we enjoy prosperity, we will not be proud. We will not begin to brag about how well we have done. Rather, we will be thankful knowing that the good we have we have from the LORD God.

During uncertain times, we will not be anxious. We will trustingly give ourselves into the hands of our heavenly Father with complete trust that he will work out everything for our good. We will look towards the future with a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father trusting that he will take good care of us and our lives.

He who directed the death of Ahab for the good of his people; who directed the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ for the good of his people-He will direct all things in our lives for the good of us his people.

The good news of God's providence! You can rest in it. AMEN



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: http://www.ancasterchurch.on.ca/sermons/feb0203pm.html

(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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