The Coronavirus is causing world-wide panic. People are afraid to travel, shake hands, and even mix in large crowds. The Stock Market is even suffering from the panic of the Coronavirus as it has tumbled faster than a falling star streaking across the night sky. This world-wide scare is taking place during a most important election year that many believe is for the very soul of the nation, as both sides point fingers of blame at each other. It seems the world is in chaos and no one is in control and everything is out of control.
When all appears chaotic, the Christian needs to turn to Revelation 4 where John upon being transported from this earth to inside the Pearly Gates writes, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” (Rev. 4:1-2). John’s words give us assurance in chaotic times that there is not only a throne in heaven, there is Some One who sits upon that throne. In actuality, John is echoing what the prophet Isaiah saw some 700 years before (Is. 6:1), as the poetic prophet also testified the throne is not empty. Both Isaiah and John affirm that even in the midst of pandemonium the One on the throne is still in control.
Knowing that no event or circumstance takes place that surprises the Lord, we can rest in the assurance that in spite of what our physical eyes may see, His Unseen Hand is sovereignly moving events and circumstances into place to accomplish His purpose in ways that are often beyond our finite wisdom to grasp or understand. By Providence the Lord works out His purposes even in the midst of chaotic times. Providence means foreseeing, seeing beforehand; and embraces both the good acts of men and even embraces the tragic acts and occurrences. Providence is God’s concentrated attention everywhere. As the esteemed theologian A.H. Strong has written, “God’s care is both microscopic as well as telescopic” (Strong, Systematic Theology, 1903, 89).
The problem of God’s providential dealings in the face of evil are intelligible only when we consider that Christ is the revealer of God, and that His suffering for sin opens to us the very heart of God. And all of history is the progressive manifestation of Christ’s holiness and love, and in the cross, we have the key that unlocks the secret of the universe. In the cross our Lord opens up His very heart to a hurting world, as he entered into and experienced our hurts in Jesus Christ. When the cross captures our gaze, we can believe that Love rules over all, and that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord” (Rom. 8:28).
To not believe in the Providence of God, to not believe that all events, good and bad, are moving toward a fulfillment and destiny for which He created all things, is to leave no alternative but for one to embrace Fatalism or Casualism; that all that happens in life is by chance or coincidence and that we must be resigned to the fatalistic view that “things” just randomly happen with no real rhyme or reason.
John seeing Some One on the throne is affirmation that the good and even the evil acts of men and the bad occurrence that visit our lives, God is directing by His permissive, directive and determinative will toward a purpose often unseen by our limited eyesight. God is not the Author of moral or natural evil, yet he can by his directive, determinative and permissive will, direct such acts of men or events of nature to ends unforeseen and unintended by the agents. God directs the flow of such acts and events in one direction rather than in another, to bring about an outcome that was unforeseen by those involved. God’s overruling Providence in the face of moral or natural evil does not involve God’s complicity with the perverseness of men or events, but by His grace directs them all toward unanticipated and surprising outcomes. God power and wisdom can take what seems like a curse and turn it into a blessing!
Many examples could be given as to this truth, but one of the best examples is the life of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, then lied on by Potiphar’s wife and ending up in prison, all people and events appeared against him. However, every time something bad happened in his life the Bible says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” In the end, Joseph is made Prime Minister of Egypt and was given authority to distribute grain during a seven-year famine. Unbeknownst to Joseph’s brothers, they find themselves standing before him for physical sustenance and for their very life. They expected their brother to take revenge, but Joseph in grace said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20). While there was no complicity on God’s part with the evil choices of Joseph’s brothers, His overruling Providence in the face of their evil acts and the approaching famine directed their acts and the events of nature to ends unforeseen and unintended by those involved. Behind what appears to be the frown of Providence, behind those dark clouds is the smile of an all-wise and loving God.
My Christian friend, do events on the world scene seem out of control? Do events in your personal life seem out of control? Let us remember, there is a throne in heaven and it is not empty, there is One who sits upon it. And He who brought order out of chaos in the beginning of creation, will likewise bring order out of what appears to be chaos. While we may not always be able to trace the Hand of God in the events of life and on the world scene, we can always trust the Heart of God. And His heart was laid bare at the cross! Yes, there is a throne in heaven and it is not empty!