Journal 6/28/20

Published June 26, 2020

Dominion Baptist Church
June 28, 2020 AD

1 Samuel 17:10

10  And the Philistine said, “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.”

ROMANS 11:33-35

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out. 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? 35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”

Vs. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!  This far in the doxology we have looked at the wisdom and knowledge of God. In this third journal of Paul’s doxology we are going to look first at God’s judgments. The Greek word for judgments as used here is krimata and is usually used in the sense of God’s judicial decisions or God’s judgments on the wicked. But the word is sometimes also used of decisions or determinations, especially in its verbal form (Titus 3:12 I have decided to spend the winter there). Leon Morris in his works on Romans writes, “Judgments or decisions is normally a legal term and often used of adverse judgments passed on offenders (which would be appropriate in a context in dealing with the disobedient). However, it is not confined to the adverse, and in this context where it is parallel with paths or ways, we should not insist on the meaning negative judgments. Paul is simply pronouncing on the impossibility of our ever understanding fully what God is doing.” In addition, this is the direction of the apostle’s thought in these verses. Paul is marveling at the nature of God’s ways. He began with praise of God’s knowledge, which is intuitive and infinite. Wisdom is a step beyond knowledge, it is the ability to perceive the proper, best, and most perfect means to achieve God’s perfect ends. However, at this point wisdom and knowledge are only potentialities. It is only when we get to the next step that the potentialities become actualities, as God’s wisdom expresses itself in His decrees, and His decrees determine the path His decisions actually take in human history. It is therefore necessary to look at the nature of God’s decrees. How do they differ from decisions we might make? Why is it that Paul is so amazed at them? God’s decrees are absolute, unconditional and immutable. It follows from the fact of God’s freedom that His decrees are also absolute and immutable. This means that what God determines to do is not dependent upon anything that may or may not come to pass, or upon any act that you or I may or may not do. God is infinite in knowledge and perfect in power. Therefore, nothing can arise to cause Him to change His designs. In Hebrews 6:18 we read: that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Now we shall conclude this journal with the amazing ways of God—and His ways past finding out. Judgments refer to God’s decrees, that come from His infinite knowledge and perfect wisdom. Ways refers to the course these judgments actually take in human history. Paul is telling us that God’s judgments (ways–cannot be followed to the end—the Greek is anexereunetos). Paul does not mean that we can never know anything about God’s ways, particularly since he has been explaining some of them. What he means is that God’s ways cannot be figured out by us apart from revelation. Some things God has revealed. This is why we know He has a plan and that events do not happen simply by accident. Paul says, but as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us, through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (I Corinthians 2:9-10). But God does not reveal all things, particularly the detailed circumstances or events of our lives, and in these areas, we must live by faith in His sovereign and loving purposes. The Bible tells us: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29). There is a very interesting image involved in the single Greek word rendered: beyond tracing out. This word is anexichniastos, is based on the noun ichnas, which means “footprint.” It suggests that although we do not know where God is coming from or where He is going, we never     the less see His footprints, and it is these that puzzle us. Now let us go back to history to see some of the untraceable footprints of God:

  1. Abraham is where the story of God’s preparation of a special people through whom the Messiah should come begins. God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan, promising him that he would become the father of a great nation: I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2). But Abraham did not become the father of a great nation in his lifetime. In fact, for years he and wife had no children, and it was a source of continual embarrassment to them, particularly in view of God’s promise. Abraham’s original name was Abram which means “exalted father,” Abraham means “father of a multitude,” but he went through most of life with no children. It was only when he was a hundred years old and Sarah was ninety years old, that is when both were past the age at which they might expect to have children, that God intervened and Isaac, the son of promise was born. Why did God do it this way? All we can say is the ways of God are beyond our tracing out.  
  2. Moses, the great emancipator and lawgiver of Israel must have understood that God’s hand was upon him and that it was time for the deliverance of the people from Egypt, which God had promised many years before (cf. Genesis 15:12-16). Moses started what he thought would be a great rebellion by killing an Egyptian, but he had to flee Egypt. Moses was forty years old when he left Egypt, and for the next forty years this highly educated and talented man lived on the back side of the desert, working as a shepherd. I can see Moses figuring his life was a failure. But when he was eighty years old, God sent him to Egypt with the command to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” When the Israelites left Egypt, Moses led the people in the wilderness for forty more years. Now with the previous eighty years I imagine Moses could sometimes think how waisted they seemed to be. But God’s decrees are unsearchable, and His ways beyond tracing out.
  3. Israel, what about God’s dealings with them, especially during the wilderness years? J. I. Packer in his book “Knowing God” wrote: “God guided Israel by means of a fiery cloudy pillar that went before them (Exodus 13:21f.); yet the way which He led them involved the nerve-shredding cliff-hanger of the Red Sea crossing, long days without water and meat in that great and terrible wilderness’ (Deuteronomy 1:19, cf. 31-33), and the bloody battles with Amalek, Sihon and Og  (Exodus 17:8-13, Numbers 21:21ff), and we can understand, if not excuse, Israel’s constant grumbling (cf. Exodus 14:10ff., 16:3, Numbers 11:4ff., 20:3ff., 21:4ff.,).” Wasn’t there an easier way to do it? What was the point of the many battles, delays, and deprivations? If there was a purpose to this history, it is unsearchable to our limited understanding.
  4. David, Israel’s great king. God had rejected Saul, David’s forerunner, and had sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David the next king. But years went by in which David first served Saul and then was chased all over the country by him, since Saul saw David as his rival he wanted to put him to death. David did not become king until after Saul’s death, when he was thirty-three years old. And even then he did not become king over the entire country. He was king only in Hebron, that is over the southern territories, where he reigned seven years. He did not become king over all Israel until he was forty. We don’t know why God allowed Saul to reign so long, particularly when a man of David’s exceptional character and leadership ability was waiting patiently to take over. Surely God’s ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like our thoughts. We cannot trace God’s ways out.
  5. Paul is our next example. I have no trouble with Paul’s remarkable conversion. It is a clear example of God’s direct and effective intervention in history. It is what we expect God to be doing always. But think of Paul’s career after that. First, three years in the wilderness with no apparent accomplishments during that time, as far as we know (Galatians 1:17-18).  Then there were years in Tarsus, his hometown. It is not until mid-life that he is called to active missionary work, and even then it is mostly in the hinterlands of Asia Minor. Paul wanted to go to Rome, which he eventually did. But he arrived in Rome as a prisoner, spent most of his time in chains and eventually Nero ordered his execution. Paul described his missionary years in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, where he was beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, and in constant danger. He suffered hunger and thirst, cold and naked, coupled with his concern for all the churches. Why should God be planting His steps in history this way? Surely His judgments are unsearchable to us and His ways beyond tracing out.
  6. Jesus is our last example. No individual in all history more evidently had the hand of God upon Him. God said of Him, This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17). But what a life! J.I. Packer wrote: “No human life has ever been so completely guided by God, and no human life has ever qualified so comprehensively for the description “a man of sorrows.” Divine guidance set Jesus at a distance from His family and fellow townsmen, brought Him into conflict with all the nations leaders, religious and civil, and finally to betrayal and the cross. By every human standard of reckoning, the cross was a waste—the waste of a young life, a prophet’s influence, a leader’s potential. We know the secret of its meaning and achievement only from God’s own statements.”

Ah, but we do know its meaning and achievement from God’s statements. We know that the most miserable of lives was actually the greatest of God’s achievements. It was the means by which God accomplished the salvation of our lost race. Hallelujah!!!

Catechism Question 28

Q: How does Christ execute the office of a priest?

A: Christ executes the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.

Hebrews 9:28

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.