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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?

  1. February 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    I think the other historical providence of God in History is the Reformation occurring the right time of the Turkish threat….which distracted the Roman Catholic resources from violently crushing Martin Luther. I’m sure there are countless providence of God but that’s what on my memory at the moment!

    • February 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Yes, thanks, that is another good one!

  2. Pam S.
    February 14, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I think that God’s will over rides human will when it involves doing what He has decreed before the foundation of the world. I don’t think that God deals in “what if’s”.
    I like Cyrus and Isaiah 45 for an example of how God works.
    As far as the statement about Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, I believe that was a hypothetical. If not, then why would God have withheld miracles from them knowing they would have believed. Mark 4:12, is an example of God’s sovreignty again. God has decided who would believe before we ever hit the planet. Nothing comes as a surprise to God. I don’t think God is ever reacting to what we do. He knows all before it happens.
    Just my opinion, but maybe I missed the point that is trying to be made.


    • February 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      Agree completely, that God is completely sovereign and in control, and He is not reacting and making things up as He goes. What was ever said here that would suggest otherwise?

  3. Pam S.
    February 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Oh, I wasn’t saying that anything said here suggested otherwise. I was just reiterating and giving the examples you asked for.
    But just wanted to be clear that my examples were my understanding related to the point you made.
    Off the subject: Thanks for listing S.Lewis Johnson in your resources. I just love him and don’t know how I missed him before.


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