The Work of Divine Providence
The Work of Divine Providence
Text: Zechariah 6.1-8
Melissa and her next appointment.
An old Chinese man lived on the troubled Mongolian border. One day his favorite horse, a beautiful white mare, jumped the fence and was seized on the other side by the enemy. His friends came to comfort him. “We’re so sorry about your horse,” they said. “That’s bad news.” “How do you know it’s bad news?” he asked. “It might be good news.” A week later, the Chinaman looked out his window to see his mare returning at breakneck speed, and alongside her was a beautiful stallion. He put both horses into the enclosure, and his friends came to admire the new addition. “What a beautiful horse,” they said. “That’s good news.” “How do you know it’s good news?” replied the man. “It might be bad news.” The next day, the man’s only son decided to try riding the stallion. It threw him, and he landed painfully, breaking his leg. The friends made another visit, all of them sympathetic, saying, “We’re so sorry about this. It’s such bad news.” “How do you know it’s bad news?” replied the man. “It might be good news.” Within a month, a terrible war broke out between China and Mongolia. The Chinese recruiters came through the area, pressing all the young men into the army. All of them perished—except for the Chinaman’s son, who couldn’t go off to war because of his broken leg. “You see,” said the gentleman, “the things you considered good were actually bad, and the things that seemed to be bad news were actually for our good.”
Thomas Watson defined providence as “God’s ordering all issues and events of things, after the counsel of His will, to His own glory.”
Hudson Taylor stated it this way, “Ill that God blesses is our good, And unblest good is ill. And all is right that seems most wrong, If it be His sweet will.”
We generally, have no problem with Divine Providence if it instantly and immediately works to our favor in good news.
This is the final vision in 8 night visions. It returns to the point of departure using the similar imagery of the 1st vision. In the 1st vision the come out of an obscure, seemingly insignificant hollow from among the myrtle trees. They had a mission to scout the earth and they report back that “all the earth resting quietly” indicating the nations have no concern over their wickedness. The whole incident shown in the 1st vision is not inferring that the Lord is in need of information, but rather to demonstrate that He is intricately involved in all events. Here in the 8th and last vision, the Lord’s Divine Providence magnificently at work bringing the whole thing of evil, sin and enemies to a conclusive end. The Lord Providentially cuts them off. He already expelled sin and banished wickedness from the midst of His people and now He utterly destroys her enemies.
I. Divine Providence
A. Thomas Watson defined providence as “God’s ordering all issues and events of things, after the counsel of His will, to His own glory.” In Haggai 1.2 we see that those who returned to Jerusalem had become so despondent by the opposition and troubles that they believed that it must not yet be time for the Lord’s house to be built. What they lacked was a trust that the Lord ruled over all things. They looked at the bad news and not to the Lord.
B. The word Providence is from pro meaning future and video meaning to see. Literally, providence means foresight. However, we understand it as a careful arrangement prepared beforehand for the accomplishment of predetermined ends. We sometimes say it like this, “see to it.” What we mean is “supervise it or attend to it.” This idea is demonstrated in 1 Timothy 5. 8 – “If anyone does not provide (προνοέω – to take thought for, care for a thing) for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
C. The same idea is found in Hebrews 11.40 – “God having provided (to look out beforehand in order to furnish in advance) something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” Ephesians 1.11 – “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
D. The amazing thing is that the smallest of details God works out as well as the grandest of plans. Sometimes I think we see God as so Great and Mighty that He does not concern Himself with details. He is not like the president of a country or CEO of an international corporation who cannot possibly concern themselves with the minute details. God is big enough to handle the small and seemingly insignificant as well as the enormous and grand things.
E. He can attend several hundred million of His children all at once praying at the same moment. (I use a number for illustration. The number is really infinite.) There is no number at all. He does this all the while He directs all of history, all the while He attends every human being, all the while He attends every creature, all the while He attends every planet, all the while He attends every star, all the while He holds everything in the universe in its course, all the while He gives you your next breath and beat of your heart.
We can make these observations concerning the Divine Work of Providence from our text:
1. All events spring from Divine Providence. Nothing happens without AND until the Lord gives permission. Verse 5 – Before the Prophet sees the four chariots coming, the interpreting Angel tells him what they are and where they come from – “Their station was before the Lord of all the earth.” Obviously, they had a station, their place, in which they remained until given the order from the “Lord of all the earth,” indicating God sovereignly rules over ALL the Earth.
2. Divine Providence has impeccable and precise timing when it is put into motion. There is a specific time in which the work of Divine Providence operates. Most often we feel as though it is too late or all is lost. We operate in past, present and future, but God transcends time. He operates in the ever present of time. God is not hurried by time. He can never be late. He has no history. God is actively moving history along. He prepares the peco second as He does the millennium Revelation 9.13-15
3. When Divine Providence is put into motion, they come swiftly and great power. Verse 1 – “And Behold…” indicates the swiftness of the coming of these Divine Agents. Coming between two mountains of bronze are these “strong steeds.” Who could stop them? The picture is of power and speed, horses and chariots were the fiercest of weaponry in warfare at the time. They moved in so quickly and with such fierceness the infantry would faint before them. Yet, these four chariots are directed and governed by infinite wisdom and sovereign will. His purpose is done. Isaiah 48.3-5
4. Their swiftness infers they were initially Hidden from view and knowledge of men. I awoke this morning not know in the slightest what was ahead and you did, too. We make all these plans and yet, we do so not having the slightest idea of what tomorrow holds. Therefore, James exhorts us to say, “If the Lord wills…” James 4.13-15
5. Their origin, their timing, swiftness, power and stealth should immediately sober and humble us. Every day is hidden from view until they come upon us. Our souls, our lives, our futures rest on a vast sea of unknown. The entirety of mankind (men, women and children; rich and poor; educated and illiterate; intelligent and stupid; gifted and unskilled), the whole lot from the beginning are in the same quandary: although they believed the Big Lie – “you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” There are other ideas of providence:
Fatalism – One view is a fatalistic view that there is nothing you can do, all is determined by an impersonal, supreme power who may or may not be a god. What is to be, will be.
Humanism – Another is the humanist view. Everything is in control of man and nothing gets done unless man does it. Man defines his own destiny.
6. The events of Divine Providence have many different aspects intricately determined to fit the occasion. The 1st horse is red indicating war and bloodshed; the 2nd horse is black signifying the consequences of the war: mourning, all lays in waste, famines and pestilence, desolations causes whole nations to languish; the 3rd horse is white specifies a return of peace, comfort and prosperity; and the 4th horse is mixed denotes mixed events. But, all fit the purpose for which they were sent. You will not always have the white horse; but you won’t always have the red horse either. And it is quite glorious how they complement each other. The Chinese man lost his horse, but gained a stallion. The son fell off the stallion and broke his leg, but the father did not ultimately lose him like all the other boys were lost. Truly, “all things (do) work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
7. All Providential Events have their commission and permission from God. They are stationed before the Lord of all the earth in order to receive their orders from Him and when He gives the order, they go forth. They take their orders from no other and are influenced by no other. God is Lord of all the earth!
8. God is quite pleased with the Events and the Results. Verse 8, Look at the black and white horses. One brings unprecedented destruction and judgment and the other brings extraordinary victory and peace. The Lord’s spirit is then quieted. He is at rest and pleased with the results of His Divine Providence. Ultimately, we see His pleasure in Jesus Christ. “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Conclusion: Indeed, “all is right that seems most wrong, If it be His sweet will.” And I might add, all is His will. Isaiah 46.8-11 The main thrust of these Eight Visions is that the Lord Remembers and has not forgotten this small remnant. He comforts them with Good and Comforting Words and puts into motion all events to bring about their restoration and prosperity. He is a wall of fire about them. He is in their midst. By His Spirit the great mountain is removed. Grace is defines the day. Sin is expelled. Wickedness is banished. The enemy is destroyed. God is at rest.