God’s Providence Through History And The “What Ifs”
I’ve always enjoyed time-travel and “what if” stories, especially since the topic so relates to God’s Providence and Sovereignty over history. For obvious reasons actual time travel is something God has decreed not possible, but it is fun to speculate about such things. Turning to scripture, though, we have assurance of God’s full control, not only over what is, but even over the alternate possibilities. I think of the classic examples often cited, as in this Pyro blog discussion with Dan Phillips a few years ago: 1 Samuel 23:11-12 and Matthew 11:21-23. God knew what the people of Keilah would do in a given situation, and God also knew that the people of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have repented if they had seen the mighty miracles in Jesus’ day.
Actual history also reveals the amazing detailed planning all being done in the background by God. The book of Esther is one very obvious example here. Another one from Old Testament history: in 1 Kings 11:14-21 we learn of an adversary raised up for Solomon, as divine judgment for Solomon’s unfaithfulness. Yet the story with that particular individual began decades earlier, when David was on the throne, in actions taken by David and his army years before Solomon’s disobedience became apparent.
Considering post-biblical history, a recent Acts & Facts issue looks at Christmas, Vikings, and the Providence of God, noting some rather interesting historical “coincidences” regarding the 11th century ancestors of later great men who influenced history. While it is true that God would still have accomplished his purposes without those particular men (such as George Washington), raising up others instead, yet the article brings out some interesting details concerning events hundreds of years earlier, all part of how God directed history through certain individuals both in the 11th century and in their descendants many hundreds of years later.
We can all think of many such amazing incidents of God’s providence in history. What are some other interesting events, either in the Bible or post-biblical history, to share?