King Hezekiah became ill to the point of death when Isaiah went and said to him, “Put your house in order, you’re going to die.” But it then says that Hezekiah prayed and wept before the Lord and the Lord relented. The human mind would look at this as God yielding, changing His mind, or just being fickle. But to God, relenting is grounded in compassion not whimsy. Psalm 106:45 says, “…and out of His great love He relented.” Though it may appear to us that God was changing His plan… according to His divine perspective…nothing changed.
As it tells us in Proverbs, the Lord’s purpose always prevails…for no pivotal event in the course of history happens unless the Lord first ordains it. And for the human mind this is far too difficult to take in and understand. But to add to this confusion, the next verse goes on to say, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lam. 3:38) That’s when we need to be reminded that God’s ways are not our ways, but that God is always in control. For it tells us in Psalm 33:9-11, “For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the people. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
The Jewish leaders thought they had the upper hand…that they were in control of the situation. But little did they realize just who they were up against. And there were many times that angry crowds threatened to stone Jesus…but He slipped away from their grasp. (John 11:8, John 10:31, John 8:59) In the human mind, the Crucifixion was the Lord at His lowest point of defenselessness and helplessness…but it was quite the opposite. Jesus Christ came to earth with one mission…to atone for our sins on the Cross. And during those three years of His ministry…He was in complete control of every situation…every moment…for He was in control of time. Several times He told His disciples, “My time has not yet come.” But later, He told them, “My time has come.” Whatever you may be going through today, remember, Jesus is in complete control of the situation…including time.
It’s happened to all of us…someone who we think is a trustworthy friend betrays us. While it hurts and humiliates us, we can also learn from it. We can either decide to put up an emotional wall…letting no one on the other side, and self-isolating ourselves from the world. Or we can take the lessons we’ve learned and look to our heavenly Father to reestablish that lost trust. It says in Deuteronomy 7:9, “…your God is God; He is the faithful God keeping His covenant of love…” Our God is reliable. He will never abandon or turn His back on us. Within Him is no deception…for He is steadfast and worthy of all our trust.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
Job couldn’t understand what had happened to him…he had just lost all his children and his livelihood. Yet here, he acknowledges God’s total sovereignty. We also will go through tragic times…times when we shake our head in utter bewilderment at the senseless acts we see and hear about. So we need to be reminded here that our Lord’s power has not diminished…His authority and supremacy has not waned in light of the increasing evilness in the world. God’s rule is still absolute…His dominion still remains established and true. We may not be able to understand…but we can echo Job’s words, “May the name of the Lord be praised.”
Earlier in this chapter Paul asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) His answer here is – no one or thing can possibly come between us and Jesus. No rule or force of man…no point in time…no act of good or evil can ever cut the tie we have with our Lord. The bottom line is, there is nothing in creation that can keep us apart from God…for the entirety of creation is under His authority.