"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his
Who is in control of all things? This is a question that Arthur W. Pink asks in his book, The Sovereignty of God. So again, who is in control of all things? Is it God, or Satan? Or perhaps it is man! For sure, the answer to this question is of the utmost importance to all of us; for therein lies our assurance, peace of mind, comfort, strength of heart, even in the most chaotic of times. Of course, what happened on September the 11th. to the WTC towers and the Pentagon reminds us of our total helplessness and inability to control things in, and around, our lives. It's true that security could have been better all around with respect to these tragic events, yet we have to confess who could have foreseen and prevented such horrible acts from wicked men, unless they had omniscience and omnipotence. It's not that we could have expected it; for now we know that there was all kinds of information concerning the terrorists attacking the United States; but that it did happen proves that not only we cannot control the hearts of men, but also their actions. Yet, even now, who knows what will happen when we respond to all of these, as it is now determined that we are AT WAR WITH THE TERRORISTS!
Many have asked, "Why did God permit this to happen?", or, "Where was God when all of these took place?", and many other such questions; nevertheless, there is still ONLY ONE ANSWER that can be given; and that is, GOD WAS, AND IS, STILL IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS!!! To deny this, is to say that God is way up there in heaven, unconcerned with what is happening here on earth; and if He does see what has happened, it is to say that He is totally helpless to do anything about it! I'm afraid that too many, including multitudes of professing Christians, believe this; especially those that believe that man is "the master of his destiny". But one thing I know, that the God of the Holy Scriptures, both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, reveals a GOD, who not only created ALL things, but that ALL things are under His power and disposal, to do with them as He sees fit for His purpose and glory. Just consider this one Scripture: "The LORD hath made ALL things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Proverbs 16:4). Is this the God that YOU believe in, my dear reader? If not, then your hope is resting on sinking sand.
Now, let me share with you at least two precious truths from our text that we can apply to September the 11th. First, man is always making plans to do his thing, but secondly, God is in control of his plans. May the Lord be pleased to bless these truths to your heart in Christ Jesus. Amen.
I. MAN PLANS TO DO HIS WILL-"A man's heart deviseth his way".
Here we see a picture of a man
plans in his heart. This is not just simply doing something all of
but actually a "fabricating" of a plan, in the sense as a basket-weaver
"weaving" a basket, which we know takes time. So, as a man "deviseth
his way", the planner thinks and thinks, meditates on the details,
weighs the pros and cons of his plan, makes a decision when to do it,
According to what has been
released through the media, we have heard that the terrorists had been "devising" their "plan" for some time. Once they had "devised the way" they were going to attack, we now know, and have felt, the results.
But notice, that it all begins in the "heart". This fact shows us how impossible it is for us to know what anyone plans to do. We cannot see the heart of man! Although it's true that we already know how Muslims feel about us (all of them?), and how they have expressed their hate toward America in many ways, and at various times, yet we cannot see if this hate is in every Muslim's heart to such an extent, that it would make them do what the terrorists did to the WTC and the Pentagon. Of course, we can say that this is true of every individual on this planet: We do not have the ability to see what is in their heart, other than by their actions; but then, it might be too late to do anything about it, if their intentions are evil.
Now, some of the questions that
be answered at this point is, "How could they do what they did when
flew those airplanes to crash as they did? Didn't they care anything
the people that would die, or for the families that would be left
their loved ones? Didn't they feel any compassion for anyone?" It's
that they didn't! Of course, we could blame their politics, or their
(as this has been so true throughout history), but for our purpose, we
have to go to "the root of the matter" (Job 19:28); and that is
man's heart. For
us to truly understand something about these tragic events; and not only what happened on September the 11th., but throughout history; we have to look to the Holy Scriptures, the inerrant and infallible Word of God, which reveals to us what is "man's heart".
Let's start with Jeremiah 17:9,
we are told that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and
wicked: who can know it?". The answer to the question is simply,
one!" But we are told in the following verse that God knows what is in
our heart: "I the LORD search the heart" (v.10); and in another
place we read that the LORD "knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm
44:21). We are also told that "Jesus did not commit himself unto
because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man:
for he knew what was in man" (John 2:24,25). Later on He makes this
reference to the condition of man's heart: "For from within, out of
the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications,
(Mark 8:21). Ever since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, when Adam
rebelled against his Creator, this has been the case with mankind; for
what was the first act of "terrorism", if it was not when Cain
his brother because
he hated him! Ref. to Genesis 4; 1 John 3:12). Yes, from that point of time, God has seen "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5); and because of this, man is capable of doing anything if not restrained by God. Sometimes we brag when we say , "I know my heart"; when in reality our own heart deceives us. This has been proven throughout history. Somewhere I read that if God were to reveal just a little bit of what our heart really is apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, we would probably die of a heart attack; for we wouldn't be able to bear the ugliness of it!
Having seen, therefore, the Scriptural picture of man's heart, then it should be no surprise that the terrorists did what they did! Now, don't misunderstand me. It's not only terrorists that are capable of doing this, but any one of us can do it, as I said, if we are not kept from doing it, either by the grace of God, or His restraining power. Throughout history, we have either read, or personally seen, the acts of man's wickedness. We know of Hitler, for an example; and then, recently, of a mother that killed all of her children, as well of the "serial" murderers that have been in the news, etc., etc., etc. There has not been an age in man's history that has not proven what the Bible tells us, not only of his "passive" wickedness, but also of his "active" wickedness; for we read "that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them " (Romans 1:32). This truth was proven when we saw on the TV news, how many Muslims (and for sure, not only Muslims), were "rejoicing" and "celebrating" when they heard what the terrorists did!
So yes, we can say that the terrorists did not care for anyone, but to only do what they had planned. It made no difference if they had to die in doing what they had "devised"; therefore, it also didn't make any difference who else had to die, or that there would be loved ones left without a father or mother, etc., just as long as they got their "way". It makes no difference what their "politics" or religion was, (although we can say that it was instrumental in their plans), but it was that their heart was so hardened that they were incapable of having compassion. This also has been proven in history by "Christianity", which is supposed to be a religion of "love"; and yet history has shown that religion does not change the heart of man, for all we have to do is study history and read of the Inquisition, and what is happening in Ireland today! I personally have read of "Christian terrorism" in Foxe's Book Of Martyrs. They even use the name of "God" to justify their "terrorism"; as the Lord Jesus Himself told us this would happen in John 16:2 - "Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service".
The question we ask now is, Is there anyone at this moment "devising a way" on what, how, or when, to do again, one way or another, what these terrorists did? We have to answer with a resounding YES! Even now we are hearing from everywhere that we have not seen the last of it. For sure, as long as there are people that believe and think as these particular terrorists did, there is always the danger of it happening again. What can we do about it? Of course, we can declare war on them, as it has already been done by our President; and do everything possible to get rid of terrorists. Well, I have to say: IT WILL FAIL!!! Why? Because as long as there are politics or religions, that advocate and promote such acts of violence against any person that a "desperately wicked...heart" can be influenced or controlled by them, there will always be "terrorism", although it may also be called by something else. But the issue is, what hope can we have, then, if this is a possibility we have to live with; and for sure, many people will not be able to live every day without worry, fear, or concern, because of it. WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
II. GOD CONTROLS MAN'S PLANS TO DO HIS WILL-"But the LORD directeth his steps".
Now, as I said, that no matter
we can do to stop terrorism, or even try to eradicate it, the reason I
said it will fail, is because we cannot control, or for that matter,
is preferable, change man's heart. Oh, it's possible to perhaps subdue
terrorism to a certain extent, where they won't be as bold to do what
have doing for the last few years. But I'm afraid that we are beyond
point; for we have to say with the Psalmist, "Help, LORD; for the
man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They
speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and
a double heart do they speak" (12:1,2). Even here in our own United
States of America, this is so very true! Although we can say that there
have always been wicked and perverse men in a society, yet since this
country of ours was founded on Biblical principles and the truth of the
Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, it could truly be said "In God We
and so we were "under God", blessed and protected by the Almighty. But
as everybody knows, this is no longer true! It used to be that America
was referred to as a "Christian nation" (although theologically that is
not true), but it was so called because true Gospel Christianity was
and influential in the lives of its citizens. I'm afraid that the "God"
of the "In God We Trust", and the "under God" of the Pledge of
is no longer the "true living God", the Father of the Lord and Savior
Christ, who alone is the Hope for Mankind. Although we are a
nation and have "freedom of religion", that doesn't mean that we can
do away with the solid foundation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus
(for then all we have is sinking sand of the false religions), without
suffering the consequences of doing so. "The wicked shall be turned
into hell, and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17); and
beloved, "God" is not just any "god", but the Almighty
Jehovah, who is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be His Name! Amen!
With that, let us now consider the second part of our text: "But the LORD directeth his steps". This is the answer to "A man's heart deviseth his way". Here we see a two-fold answer; and so first we'll consider it from this point: A person will make plans to do something; and there in the depths of the heart, the details are worked out. Then the decision is made to act upon the plan. But guess what happens? We are told that God intervenes in such a way that the plan does not work out as planned simply because He is in control of the outcome of that plan. You know that this true! How many times have we made plans to do something, and perhaps for a long time, and yet something has prevented it? Even as Christians we might think that probably we forgot some detail; and usually we have forgotten whether it was God's will or not! But our text doesn't necessarily mean that it's either a believer or an unbeliever, it can be anybody; so as far as we are concerned, we ought to confess with Jeremiah: "O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps" (10:23).
Now, to the believer this wonderful truth that God is in control of man's plans, and moreso to know that the evil plans of wicked men will not be completed only as "the LORD directeth", i.e. "sets up", or establishes, "his steps"; or some would prefer to say, if God permits it. There are many instances of this in the Holy Scriptures. One example of the Old Testament is when King Saul wanted to get rid of David; and he tried in various ways. Ref. to 1 Samuel 18:9ff., esp. 20:33 - "Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father (Saul) to slay David". Of course, we know that he failed because the Lord was in control of the situation. The apostle Paul is another example of how God directed the steps of his enemies; in fact, there were some Jews that made a vow of not to eat and drink until they had killed Paul. They must have been "skin and bones" when they died! Acts 23:12-22. Then, what about the Lord Jesus Christ: Didn't Herod make plans to kill Him as a baby; and the other times that we read in the Gospels? They all failed because God was in control until as Peter says: "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23); and "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (4:28).
This means, then, that no matter
the plans are of anyone, whether Christian or not, God will be in
so that all will be "according to (his) purpose, who worketh all
after the counsel of his own will" (Ephesians1:11). Therefore, "we
know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans8:28). What
illustration of this truth is than our experience of God's "so great
salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). We had made our plans for this life; in
we can truthfully say that none of us had made plans to go to heaven in
God's way; for "all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned
one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). But by His grace and providence,
He directed our steps in such a way, that not only He brought to a
so we could hear "the word of truth, the gospel of...salvation"
(Ephesians 1:13); but also directed everything by His Holy Spirit so
we could have
"repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Hallelujah!!! Praise His Holy Name!!! Amen!
So now, we can rest assured, having comfort in our souls (Psalm 23), "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For (we are) persuaded" (because our God is in control of all things, including every plan that is made by man), "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:37-39). It follows, then, we can do what Paul says in Philippians 4:6,7 - "Be careful" (worrisome, anxious) "for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus". Besides, the apostle Peter reminds us to "cast all our care upon him; for he careth for (us)" (5:7).
Secondly, but now, let us look at the second part of our answer, and that is: A person can plan to do something, and instead of intervening in such a way as to change the plan, God will make sure that it will be carried out to its end; and here, I believe, many will be bothered, and perhaps even angered, because of what I am about to say. Why didn't God change the plans of the terrorists, and kept them from doing what they did? If what I have said so far is true, that is, that God is in control of man's plans, and He can change the outcome of man's plans, why didn't He intervene before all the people were killed and hurt, whether physically or emotionally, if He is a good and loving God, one who is merciful and compassionate? Yes, it's true; God could have stepped in and stopped the terrorists that hijacked the four airliners, BUT He didn't! Why? Because it pleased Him to work out His glorious will in directing the steps of the terrorists to fulfill what they had devised in their heart. Oh, I can almost hear someone objecting vehemently, "If this is your God, then you keep Him; for I don't want Him. My "god" is not like the one you are describing!" The only thing I can tell such a person is that they don't know the God of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
Again, let me emphasize the
of God in all of this: Either God is in control of ALL, i.e. EVERYTHING
that takes place in His creation, whether thought, word, or deed; or He
is a "God" that is in heaven wringing His hands, unable to do
about what is taking place here on earth. Now, if this is the "god" you
believe in, then, as I said before, you don't KNOW the God of the
But I confess with
the Psalmist: "But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (115:3); and this covers the whole universe: "Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psalm 135:6); and this includes the hearts of men! Consider these Scriptures: "It was of the LORD to harden their hearts" (Joshua 11:20); "whose hearts God had touched" (1 Samuel 10:26); "God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will..." (Revelation 17:17). Does this prove that what the terrorists had devised in their hearts to do was going to be done? Yes, it does; since "the king's (or anybody's) heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1).
But now I hear another objection: That means, then, that God is the author of men's sins if He is in control of men's hearts and lets them do such things as the terrorists! Oh, I write these words with a fearful and trembling heart, but if someone believes this, it is just a proof of man's depravity and rebellious heart to even think of such blasphemous thoughts! But let us be reminded that "let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James1:13-15). Also, remember, as we have already shown before, that man's heart is "desperately wicked"; and that includes every human being ever born. That being the case, since "there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20), that means that we will just add "sin to sin" (Isaiah 30:1) unless God sees fit to prevent our sinning. An example of this is Abimelech in Genesis 20:7 when God told him, "I also withheld thee from sinning against me". Therefore, the objection is invalid, because it is not God making man to sin, but sinful man sinning and God controlling that sin; and yes, there will be times when He will stop it, and there are times that He won't; and this is determined by His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.
In the second part of the answer,
inerrant Word of God reveals two reasons why the WTC and
attacks took place; and both come under the righteous Judgment of God,
whether you believe it or not! First, Romans 1:18 tells us that
"the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness
unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness"; for
"God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11). Now, don't
me: I'm not saying that every person that died in these tragedies were
cast into Hell; ONLY THE WICKED (Psalm 9:17)! I'm pretty sure that
will be those that will be offended, and even angered, for what I just
said; and yet at the same time, those same people might wish that those
terrorists will be cast into hell for what they did! For sure, only God
knows who were the wicked in this particular instance. But read on, so
that you can see that it's not that I'm being harsh or unloving, and
compassion, to all of those that lost a loved one in that sad day. I
that there are times when we tell the truth and it hurts people,
in a time such as this; but as Proverbs 27:5,6 says, "Open rebuke
better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend (one who
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful". So all I'm saying is
we cannot separate what happened on September the 11th. from what is the
sovereign purpose of God in all of this. So, consider this from the negative side of God's righteous Judgment upon the wicked.
Now, the Bible makes it very clear what God does to the wicked. In Noah's time we see what He did when He "saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth" (Genesis 6:5-7,11-13). Of course, you know what happened. THE FLOOD THAT DESTROYED EVERY LIVING THING EXCEPT FOR NOAH AND HIS FAMILY! In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ said that before He came for His Church and to judge the world, it was going to be like in the times of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-30); and what were the times of Lot like?: Consider Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:13,24 - "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORDexceedingly..And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous...For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it..Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven". Can anyone honestly deny that if we are not like in those times, we are close to it? Don't you think that God has every right to deal with us as He dealt with the old world, and with Sodom and Gomorrah?
Then there is Israel of old, the people of God in the Old Testament. There as you read their history, God was constantly bringing judgment upon them because of their sins and rebellion; especially when they turn away from Him to worship and serve the false religions of the pagans with their idols. There you find that He dealt with them severely, to the point that even the "innocent" suffered when God brought judgment upon the wicked! Ref. to Jeremiah 19. Just think about this: How many "babies" were there in the Flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah; and in the judgments that God brought upon Israel? Weren't they the "innocents" of that time that suffered because of the wicked? Even so, because of the wicked acts of the terrorists, multitudes of "innocents" (speaking from man's point of view), suffered because of them. We cannot escape this somber truth: When the judgment of God falls upon the wicked to destroy them (Psalm 9:5), there are times that the "innocent" will also suffer. Humbly read Ezekiel 21:1ff. - "And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel, And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north: That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more....". Then also read what Solomon says to what he sees happens to people: "All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath" (Ecclesiastes 9:2)). So, "in a sense", this is what happened at the WTC towers and at the Pentagon, including the other airliner that crashed in close to Pittsburgh.
Now, even though I believe that I gave a Scriptural explanation of God's judgment on that awful day, there will still be those that will ostracize me, or at least, criticize me, as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were for what they said. Yet at the same time, I don't want to imply that it's just simply a case of "bad", or "good" people; in other words, that the "bad" people are the terrorists, and the "good" people are everyone else. If I did that, then I won't be faithful to God in proclaiming His Word and "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). As sad and tragic that the 11th.of September was, we cannot, and must not, lose sight of one fundamental truth: That what happened is simply the manifestation of the awfulness of SIN in this world! We are reminded of another terrible day that took place a along time ago; and that's when Adam and Eve decided to disobey God after He commanded them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2,3). Of course, the results was death; "for the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23); and because of Adam's sin, not only do we die physically, whenever God has determined it (Job 14:5), but we are also born spiritually dead in sin because of Adam's sin; in fact, this is God's judgment upon mankind (Oh, there's that awful word again!) in that we were ALL made sinners since Adam was our Representative, or Federal Head, before God (Romans 5:12-21; esp.v.18).
Therefore, whenever God looks down upon mankind, i.e. ALL OF US, from the moment we are born into this world into eternity, (unless something radical takes places in our lives, which will set us apart from the wicked), all He sees are SINNERS that hate God (Romans 1:30)! "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Psalm 14:2,3); and this is confirmed in the New Testament: "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:9-18); and this even begins from the conception: Psalm 51:5 - "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me"; Psalm 58:3 - "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies"; and Isaiah 48:8 - "I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb".
So we can see, then, that
find ourselves in a very precarious position, for if what the Bible
about us is true (and I for one believe that it is so; "yea, let
be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4)), we have to say that
have no right to obligate God to bless us and protect us from anything,
including from "terrorists"! Each day that we live in this planet, is
an example of God's mercy and longsuffering as He puts up with us and
sins. Really, when it comes down to it, the MOST HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS
Who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on
(Habakkuk 1:13), could cast each one of us into everlasting hell and He
would be just in doing so; and we would have to say that we deserve it!
Yet, we can humbly ask with the prophet: "wherefore lookest thou
them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked
the man that is more righteous than he" (same verse)? Yes, we could
in a certain sense, "why did You, O GOD, permit the wicked terrorists to kill my loved ones"? Listen to a hurting heart, but at the same time humble before the Lord: Eli knew that the Lord was going to kill his sons, yet listen to his humble resignation to God's will: "It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good" (1 Samuel 3:18); and in case someone says that Eli's sons deserved to die because of they did (chapter 2), consider what happened to David's baby by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:1-23; esp. vv.14,15,16,18 - "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast
given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child,...And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child die". Wasn't the baby "innocent"? What did it have to suffer because of David's sin? "It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good".
Now, let me give the second reason of the second part of the answer; and we'll look at this from the positive side. Remember, we're looking at this from the aspect of God's sovereignty over man's plans, that instead of stopping, or at least, of changing the outcome of man's plans, He makes sure that they are fulfilled according to His will. Again, look at our text: "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps"; and for this reason we'll start with Proverbs 16:4 - "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil". What is this Scripture saying? Simply this: That God has created all things in His universe to magnify Him: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11). But note specifically that He has also made the wicked for a particular day of evil in His purpose, or for "bad" things to take place, whether naturally or morally; and this can be in the life of a particular person, or a people. Let me give you some examples of what I'm referring to.
First, consider Joseph in Genesis
As some of you might know, Joseph was envied and hated by his
(37:4,5 - "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him
than all his brethren, theyhated him, and could not speak peaceably
him. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they
hated him yet the more". Because they hated him so much, they were
willing to kill him - "And when they saw him afar off, even before
came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him...Come now
therefore, and let us slay him" (vv.18,20). Of course, God was in
and Joseph wind up in Egypt as a slave; for He had a purpose for him.
Joseph became lord in Egypt (45:9), his father and all of his brothers
had to comeEgypt; and after Jacob passed away, Joseph brothers were
of him, because now in his position he could get even with them; and of
course, he had the power to do so. But note what Joseph
himself says who is in control: "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life...God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God" (45:5,7,8). "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (50:20).
Here we see an example of God directing the outcome of man's plans: First, He prevented that Joseph be killed, but at the same time He directed for him to be sold as a slave. While there, he was put into prison because of the lie of a wicked woman (39:7-20). But secondly, we see that God had a purpose according to His will that He was going to worked out by Joseph; and ultimately, it was for good. Let me share this with you: We know this young man personally, who was to have a business meeting at the WTC the morning of September the 11th., but it was cancelled. So he didn't have to go to the WTC. Anyway, there was a business associate that was still there at the WTC, so he called him to meet him somewhere else. His friend objected, because he wanted to sleep late. But our young man insisted to his business associate; so he left the WTC. As Divine providence would have it, both of them, as well as their families, were spared tragedy. There will be those that will attribute this to "chance", or "good luck". Such persons do not know the God of the Bible, "whose name alone is JEHOVAH, the most high over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18). Hallelujah! Amen.
Now, consider Pharaoh of Exodus, who made plans to kill all the Hebrews babies because as "he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we" (Exodus 1:9). Yet, there was one particular baby that they didn't get their hands on because God had plans for him. In fact, not only Moses was not killed, but he was taken into Pharaoh's house by his daughter. Then after killing an Egyptian, Moses had to flee for his life, but after some years, God brought him back to Egypt in order to fulfill God's purpose; and in His "plan" God had already "ordained" Pharaoh for what He was going to do to deliver His people from bandage by Moses. In fact, Pharaoh is even told by the LORD through Moses that "in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth" (Exodus9:16). This is confirmed in the New Testament by Romans 9:17.
As one reads the events in Exodus, one will note something about Pharaoh's heart: First, the Lord will harden his heart, as we read in 4:21 - "But I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go". Although there are times that it is said that Pharaoh hardens his heart (8:15), yet it is important to recognize that in case Pharaoh would change his mind (as in 9:28), the LORD did harden Pharaoh's heart (10:1,20,27) in order to direct his steps; as Proverbs 21:1 makes it clear: "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will". Then not only Pharaoh's heart, but also of the Egyptians: "I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them" (14:17). Pharaoh had made his plans; and so babies were killed, and the children of Israel did suffered because of what Pharaoh did to them; and yes, God was still in control! Even believers have to cry out with the prophet Isaiah: "O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?" (63:17). Why? Because God will take the plans of man, even through the death and suffering of some, not only for His glory, but also for the eternal good of His people.
But what greater example of this truth can we find then in the beloved Son of God, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If there is anyone who didn't deserved to suffer, much less to be killed, is the "holy, harmless, undefiled" (Hebrews 7:26) Son of God. Yet, this Innocent One, through no fault of His, but of His great love and grace, was willing to submit to the Great Plan of God made in the eternal counsels, to come down to this planet, and to be "terrorized", not only by man, but above all by His God and Father. Consider Psalm 55 where in the words of David our Lord cries out, "I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me" (vv.2-5). Yet, this is NOTHING compared to the "terror" He felt when He cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)! It is inconceivable for one to even imagine the terrors that the Lord experienced at this time; for 1), the true believer will not have to go through this simply because the Lord did it for His people; and 2), the lost cannot know what the Lord went through simply because they will be suffering eternal torment for their sins, whereas the Lord Jesus was forsaken because of the sins of others.
But why did God “permit” this? Even the Lord Himself acknowledged that His Father could have delivered Him from the “plans” of man to crucify Him. Listen to Him as He tells Peter, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presenstly give me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53); and in another place as He prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless now what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). So here we can see that God could have changed the “plans” of man, but instead of doing so, not only did He permit it, but He also made sure that it was accomplished according to His will; for as the apostle Peter prays in Acts 2:23 that He was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” was “taken, and by wicked hands…crucified and slain” because they were “to do whatsoever (God’s) hand and (God’s) counsel determined before to be done” (4:28). The LORD Himself tells us in Isaiah 46, "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:...yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (vv.10,11). You see, God's plans always overrides man's plans; from the negative side, or the positive side!
What I am saying? Well, when it
to it, it's not me who is saying it, but God in His infallible Word who
says it; and what does He say? That He will at times use man's plans to
bring judgment and punishment, not only upon the wicked, but also upon
His own people. But also we know that God will use man's plans for the
good of the wicked in converting them to Him, and the restoration of
people; and this can be true, not only of the tragic events of
the 11th, but throughout history. Although there will be those that
not accept my perspective of those events; nevertheless, I know that
IS STILL IN CONTROL! I believe that I am telling the truth, that,
all we can see is the terrorists guiding those airplanes into those
yet the unseen Divine Hand was "directing the steps" of the "devises"
the terrorists' "hearts". Also, I can say this with all assurance: That
God's purpose was accomplished in this fateful day. Even the results, or
the outcome, of all of this is in the Hands of our Mighty God; “for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).
Now, believing that I have presented the issue at hand, “not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13), let me conclude with answering the following question: What shall we do? As we have see what is happening today, October 17, 2001, as the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the bombing of Afghanistan and now, the anthrax attack, what can we do? Where can we find hope? Do we look to man, and his wisdom? Or do we put our hope on man’s technology to eradicate terrorism or any biochemical attack on our country? We have to answer with a resounding NO! Our ONLY HOPE rests on Him, who “searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9) of man; for then we can know that in spite of man’s plans, we can be rest assured “that all things work together for good” if we “love God” and “are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
As tragic and sad that the events of September the 11th. were, and much pain and suffering was caused because of it, and that many families were separated or broken up due to a loved one's death, we cannot just simply look at this as a "political", or even a "religious" problem. To do this is to deny the reason for our country's existence, and its foundation. But ever since we as a nation decided to tell God that we no longer needed Him in our lives, when laws were made to take prayer out of our schools, when laws were made to permit the murder of unborned babies, when laws are made to permit Adam and "Steve" to marry, which is an abomination to the most Holy and Righteous God; when we have all kinds of organizations in our country doing everything possible to destroy the truths of the Bible and the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ; when so many so-called "christian'" (?) churches are just merely social clubs, and are not preaching "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24), or are themselves simply "political correct" organizations, when churches and their preachers accept sin as a "norm" even in the lives of professing Christians and do not preach repentance; yes, when we as a nation raised up our fists to heaven and yell at God, "Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" (Job 21:14,15), as I said before, it is simply of His mercy and longsuffering that we are still around as a nation! What happened on September the 11th. is nothing compared to what we deserve! Do you think we can mock God and blaspheme His most holy Name every day in every aspect of this nation's life, and still expect for Him to bless us and protect us?
I truly believe that God has given us a warning! What can we do? Well, consider this: It's not that the terrorists will attack America again; or that that the world can turn against us; for many of those so-called nations that are supposedly on our side, can turn very quickly, as we know this can happen. But yet, that is not our major problem! What we need to be concerned about is that God will turn against us, if He hasn't already done so, and that He will attack us by any means (terrorists, or anthrax ?) that He uses, as shown by the Scriptures that He has done when He brings judgment, not only upon His people, but also on the wicked. What happened on September the 11th., and what is happening now, should tell us that we cannot continue mocking God, and get away with it! Yet God is merciful and longsuffering to at least give us an opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. Oh, how we need to be conscious of this one fact: "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). LET ME SAY THIS: The people of God are responsible for what has happened to this country! The ACLU, or all of those anti-Christians organizations; or the increase of wickedness and ungodliness in our country; or the wicked being in position to influence our society are simply the symptoms of whenever, and wherever, the people of God has decided, to follow the world and its ways. THIS HAS BEEN TRUE THROUGHOUT HISTORY!!!
So finally, what can we do, and what good can come out of September the 11th.? The answer comes from JEHOVAH'S (bless His Name!) own lips: "If I shut up heaven that there be no rain (His blessings and protection), or if I command the locusts (terrorists, etc.) to devour the land, or if I send pestilence (anthrax, etc.) among my people; If my people, which are called by my name (and what Name is that, if not only the Name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, who is JEHOVAH Incarnate), shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place" (2 Chronicles 7:13-15). People of God, our only hope is for us to turn back to God in Christ Jesus: otherwise, it's going to be late! And you know what? Honestly, I haven't seen any such movement towards God in a general sense; in other words, those that profess to be "Christians" truly turning back to God. In my small area where I live, I don't see churches being filled with "church members", much less with the lost seeking to hear the Gospel!
CAN ANY GOOD COME OUT OF
THE 11th.? Yes, that "the God of all grace" (1 Peter
be pleased to use this tragic event for a REVIVAL, a RENEWAL, and a
of His people, to have a prepared people for the Return of the Lord
Christ, which is even at the door! At the same time, that multitudes,
those that have lost a loved one in this very dark day in our nation's
history, be enabled to see through all the pain and suffering, that
is hope; but that this hope can only be found in Him "in whose hand
(our) breath is, and whose are all (our) ways" (Daniel 5:23). This
God, Whom I have presented in this article, is that the same One of
it is said He "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting
life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but
that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is
not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because
he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John
3:16-18). In knowing Him, my friend, you can be sure of this: He can
you in your storm of grief; He can comfort you in your pain of loss; He
can wipe your tears in your sorrow; for it is said of our beloved
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted (i.e. tried),
he is able to succour them that are tempted (tried); For we
not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us
come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15,16). May it be
of you TODAY!!! Amen.