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January 13, 2021 12:01 am
A God who isn't absolutely sovereign is no God at all. Today, R.C. Sproul explains how it is actually an atheistic claim to assert that something could occur outside of God's sovereign ordination.
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If there is one maverick molecule in the universe one molecule wanting loose outside the scope of God's sovereign ordination than ladies and gentlemen, there is not the slightest confidence that you can have that any promise that God is ever made about the future will come to pass the teaching on the providence of God, the clean we just are doctors explore me that there are no maverick molecules was one of those truths that really define nursing's ministry book and Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday and we are pleased to feature that message in its entirety is titled simply God for chance mentioned a passage that sounds rather strange, weird that's found in the first book of Samuel the Old Testament is the story that has to do with the ark of the covenant, the throne of God and Old Testament Israel. When the Jewish people built their tabernacle in the wilderness and later the temple in Jerusalem.
Recall that in those sacred sites there was a certain section that was called the Santos song tour of the holy of holies were only the high priest could go one day out of the year on Yom Kippur on the day of atonement where the blood of the lamb was sprinkled upon the throne of God and also had significance to the Jews militarily remember when Moses and Joshua later were involved in warning against the pagan nations the Amalekites and other groups of Canaanites and so on.
Whenever the Jewish people went into battle against their enemies, the priests would transport the ark of the covenant, the throne of God and when the throne of God went in front of the armies of Israel, the armies of Israel were always victorious God was on their side and ensured their victory over these nation well in the first book of Samuel. As I said we read an account of what took place when the unthinkable happened to Israel whereafter having been defeated in battle against the foolish things and suffering, something like 4000 casualties among their troops.
The returning soldiers chagrined, rushed into the camp of the Jewish people and went to the leader of the spiritual leader of the judge. Eli and said let's go back and get into battle against the Philistines. Only this time, please let's take the throne of God. The ark of the covenant because if we take the ark of the covenant.
We will surely win so the permission was given and that night the ark of the covenant was brought out of the sanctuary and in the midst of the military garrison and when the soldiers saw the arrival of the throne of God. There was this tumultuous thunderous sheer innovation right across the valley.
The Philistine army heard this thunderous roar coming out of the camp of the Jews and somebody said what's going on over there and one of their spies reported to their leader saying God has come in to their camp and the Philistines were terrified because they heard the stories of how this tiny bunch of ragtag Gypsies had overthrown and conquered the mightiest army in the world at the shores of the Red Sea, one God intervened to save them in their conflict with Egypt was Pharaoh.
They had heard of the stunning victories under the leadership of Joshua and others who had preceded them. At this time and south of listings knew that the ark came innocent. We were in deep trouble with the Philistines didn't know was that time Israel was being ruled by this venerable patriarch whose name was Eli and Eli is the record tells us was a godly man and he had served the people for decades and decades as their spiritual mentor and as their judge was anointed of God, but he had one serious defect. He recall he had two sons Coughlin and Phineas who followed in their father's footsteps in one regard and that they entered into the priest, but they did not share his godliness, and they committed spiritually atrocious acts temple prostitution all kinds of desecration of their sacred vocation and the problem is their father never disciplined and so God had spoken to Eli through his young charge Samuel in a midnights revelation in which he's told him that the judgment of God was going to fall upon the house of Eli. When Eli heard it, he said that's the Lord, he realized that he was going to be exposed to this punishment. So what happened was when the Jews took the ark of the covenant in the battle.
The second time against the Philistines realized now that God was on their side, marching in the battle with the this time the battle turned out different. Instead of the Jews having 4000 of their soldiers killed.
They had 30,000 killed.
Not only were 30,000 killed, but to add insult to injury before listings captured the supreme trophy of war. They captured the ark of the covenant and took it back in triumphal procession to their own city states and remember the story how the messenger came from the battle scene ran back to Shiloh. There is Eli and we're told that he's very old in his late 80s. He's very overweight and he's blind and he succeeded by the gate where he would issue his judgments, and the messenger came back and tells him 30,000 of the children of Israel been killed in this battle and included among them are your two sons, Hockney and Phineas. Still, there's no response from Eli Eli for about one thing about the ark of the covenant and the messenger says and the ark has been captured by the Philistines. When Eli heard that he fell over his chair, hit the ground, broke his neck and died. Now the messenger goes to the house of half million to his wife who was pregnant and he says here's what happened. We lost the battle.
30,000 driver killed your brother-in-law was killed your husband was killed.
Your father-in-law just dropped it and when she heard that she fell on the ground and went into labor delivers this baby she dies. This little baby that's left was named Ichabod remember the story of Ichabod named Ichabod means the glory has departed because the baby was born on the day when Israel's greatest glory, the throne of God was taken into captivity by pagan so this was a day of gloom and doom and darkness among the Jews, but at the same time a day of jubilation among the Philistines. Delta listings were operated according to city states.
They had five kings at Ace King was the king over the city.
They had a coalition of these gangs are looking at gap of Escalon and the various cities there among the Philistine, so they run back and they're having a religious celebration because they defeated the Jews and they captured the throne of God. So they take the ark into their most holy Temple, which is the temple devoted to dye gone, the God of the Philistines and they take the ark of the covenant and place it at the feet of dye gone in the place of humiliation and of subordination before this pagan idol and then they go out to spend the night carousing and celebrating their victory over the Jews. Well the next morning they come back in and what happened they find the statue of their God dye gone falling over on its space and now the statue of dye gone is situated in such a way that it's prostrate before the throne of Yahweh, the priest that we gotta fix this before anybody sees it and so they prop their deity back up and went back out for more partying.
The next day they come in. Now the statue has not only fallen over on his face, but this time it smashed into a thousand. To make matters worse, plague breaks out in a plague of tumors and with the plague of tumors comes an infestation of rats, so the city is besieged with rats. Everybody's getting tumors and their deity has been disgraced, so the king of the city says that this is in such a good idea minutes all these calamities are falling on top of our town ever since we brought the throne of Yahweh here in the town I want to send this on that of the king down the road so he sends it down to the king of death and no sooner does the ark of the covenant. Get the gas that what happens they have an outbreak of tumors and they have an outbreak of rats all over the place suffered seven months what happens here is that the kings of the Philistines play musical ark.
They keep shipping it from one town to the next and as their shipping it back and forth every time the ark comes in the town of tumors commended down and every time the tumors come in the top the rats are all over the place in the town so this is where the story starts up after going through all this mystery finally the kings of the Philistines the side of the summit. They gather together as we read in first Samuel six it says this.
They have discussion they bring in their priests and their diviners elicit what should we do a nice about person gotta do is get that darkly come and sent back to the juice.
Send it back with a trespass offering make five gold tumors and five gold rats make this beautiful, bountiful prize put on an oxcart sent a fax to the Jews and let's get rid of the tumors in rats. So here comes the passage of liturgy here we read this now. Then get a new card ready with two calls that have CAD never been yoked and hits the cost of the card protect their calves away and pen them up, take the ark of the Lord and put on the cartoon in the chest beside it. Put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering and set it on its way. But keep watching it goes up to its own territory toward special Amish than the Lord has brought this great disaster upon us does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and that happened to us by chance you get the picture.
What is going on here is a kind of primitive form of a scientific experiment, the priests and the leaders of the Philistine nation are undergoing this unspeakable calamity and they don't know what's causing it. Remember I said earlier in this course that the question of Providence boils down ultimately to questions of costs. Questions of cause, these people said were having rats and were having tumors were not exactly sure what's causing it. We want to know if this is the hand of God in judgment upon us where all this stuff has taken place by chance or were going to have a scientific experiment were going to take two cows milk cows that are just cash out and have never been yoked and were going to attach this card to these cows that has this trespass, but I just let it go see what happened to see Alex or to stack the deck here.
They're taking Kyle's religious cat was a natural inclination. The mother cow was just given birth. If you take that mother cow away from that calf and then you let her go free, where she going to go. Going a beeline to that calf while you take the college never been yoked to the put a yoke around them struggling against that encumbrance to heaven before the organist were to stack the deck here. This is really God's word to find out of its God ago was really God than those Kyle's will know what their destination should be in the hand of Providence will guide them to bash Amish to deliver the ark of the covenant back to the Jewish people. They don't do that then will know the whole thing has happened by chance know this story sounds primitive, doesn't this taken place in a time that is we would say the prescientific era. These people were not that sophisticated. They're not PhD's in physics so we can sort of be amused at their naïveté as they're trying to discern the causes of what's going on around but there's something about this story that I find exceedingly contemporary and that is that it is a discussion that is taking place among people who are clearly atheists may surprise you.
Because the Scriptures just told us that these people had a temple.
They had a priesthood.
They had a religion. They were engaged in all kinds of religious activities, many of which indeed were superstitious. Why then when I come to the conclusion that this tax would indicate they were atheists just backtrack a minute and see if I can make it clear why I assume this is a story about atheists to illustrated we go back a few years to situation I had when I was teaching seminary and I was responsible to teach a course on the theology of the Westminster confession of faith.
The West was a confession of faith. The 17th century theological document that was the confessional foundation for historic Presbyterianism and we'd come to the place in the confession where I was going to have to teach chapter 3 the following week and chapter 3 is entitled on the eternal decrees of God number Presbyterians.
They know exactly what that means is that all of our talk about predestination and you get a bunch seminary students together and there's nothing they enjoyed better than to chew over questions about predestination and that endless discussions in the night. They love it and I love the debate that topic so I said as of next Tuesday night right to take up chapter 3 of the compassionate understanding this particular class was open to the public so everyone of my students about who had a friend who didn't believe in predestination.
They went out and cornered him and grabbed him by the throat. So you gotta come here are Prof. Nick is going to play Paladin have done will try to teach us all about predestination. So we had about 250 students assembled. I guess that might class I started the class by reading the opening lines of chapter 3.
The Westminster confession I will have them down verbatim but I can give you basically what it says there is starts off by saying something like this that God has or does from all eternity.
Immutably and sovereignly ordain whatsoever comes to pass, God does sovereignly immutably ordain what so ever comes to pass, I stop right there at the, my Sigma, here's the statement says the promote return to God does freely, sovereignly, immutably ordain every single thing that comes to pass. How many of you believe that I'm in. This is a Presbyterian seminary and 200 hands were up near proudly wearing the badge of their conviction of the sovereign oil.
We believe that 50 is the soca hell you don't live in us. It's okay, nobody second on names in your unit in trouble right have a heresy trial here get out the matches burned at the stake as I listened to some of you don't believe that about 50 guys raised her hand.
We don't believe that. Okay, we ask another question how many of you would candidly describe yourselves as atheists again hope persecution going to be taking place here. How do require some basis. Nobody prepare me immediately when my Lieut. Colombo routine just one thing I don't understand I don't understand why those of you who did say you did not believe in the statement didn't raise your hand when I ask you if you really warming there was a human cry ready. I was ready to be… We talk about this because we don't believe that God freely and immutably ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Your call is a thesis title on calling you that if you don't believe that God ordains everything that comes the past.
Bottom line, you don't believe in God you understand that this passage here in the confession with God ordains everything that comes to pass.
There's not anything in that statement that is uniquely Presbyterian is not even anything in there that's uniquely Christian. A statement doesn't divide Presbyterians or Methodists or Lutherans or Anglicans and it doesn't distinguish between Presbyterians and Islamic religion or duty is religious and some distinction between theism and atheism is a statement simply a declaration of the absolute sovereignty of God will try to get these young people to see. Was this very simply that if God is not sovereign God is not, if there is one maverick molecule in the universe one molecule running loose outside the scope of God's sovereign ordination than ladies and gentlemen, there is not the slightest confidence that you can have that any promise that God is ever made about the future will come to pass, or than anything Jesus ever said would happen will in fact happen because that could be the grain of sand in the kidney of Oliver Cromwell. The changes the course of history that one maverick molecule now. Why do I say that about the Philistines because the Philistines allowed for the possibility that an event in this world could be caused by chance they were allowing a maverick molecule and if they allowed for the possibility of a maverick molecule they were allowing for the possibility of a God who is not sovereign God is not sovereign God who is not God. I might add that after that, it says that God does freely and immutably ordain whatsoever comes the past, but not in such a way as to do violence to human decisions and human freedom or delay works always apart from secondary causes were going to take that question up about how God's sovereignty and his providence works through the choices and the decisions of human brains were not finished with this topic, but that say that God doesn't ordain everything is to say that there would be certain things over which God is sovereign on that site. The God immediately jumps down and throws your child in front of that car that runs over and kills it, ladies and gentlemen, even in a tragedy like that the Lord God omnipotent could have reached down and pulled your child and chose not be ordained if you will to allow it to happen. There's nothing that happens outside of the scope of God's ordination. If there were anything that happened outside of the scope of his ordination. Again, God would not be sovereign. If you spectator reading his hands, hoping that things turn out the way he wants them to turn out but having no authority or sovereignty over them. The great message of atheism here is allowing for chance doing anything. I let those calls go, they went straight to Bestrom H. They didn't turn the left and they didn't turn when the people of Israel saw those calls coming in, saw the cargo they were. They screamed couple the glory back because God demonstrated his song over the affairs God's providence. The concept is simple to understand God is in charge of everything ordains everything, but sometimes it's difficult to wrap her mind around it in day-to-day life.
For example, God is loving but does he allow even ordain evil. That's an important question and Dr. RC Sproul addresses it in this series the providence of God.
This week on Renewing Your Mind were making the entire series available to you for a donation of any amount.
There are six lessons that RC covers the hard questions that we encounter what we study God's sovereignty, you'll discover the answers when you contact us today and request the series again is titled the providence of God.
We hope to hear from you. Our number is 800-435-4343. You can also reach us firstname.lastname@example.org and in advance let me thank you for your gift of any amount table talk magazine this a monthly publication of leader ministries in next month's issue has an emphasis on God's providence. If you never contacted us before we like to offer you a free copy just mentioned that you'd like to receive it when you call us at the number I mentioned 800-435-4343. We do talk about the providence of God, there is one question that arises more than any other is God responsible for human wickedness. RC will address that question tomorrow. We hope you'll join us Thursday for Renewing Your Mind