One of the most interesting and important questions a human being can ask is: What was God doing during historical events? For example, what was God thinking when Blacks were transported across the ocean from Africa to the Americas into slavery? Or, where was God during the Holocaust? Or, in the case of our observance of this day (1/17/22), set aside as a federal holiday to remember MLK’s birthday, what was God thinking and doing during the difficult events of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s? These types of questions are important because they convey the complexity of suffering.
To begin, it is imperative that humans view life through the eyes of God, which means through His Word, because His Word is light (understanding). The Bible declares, the entrance of His Word brings light (Ps119:130). Therefore, to understand anything at all…we must first understand God’s revelation of Himself. For example,
-God is omniscient (Is44:8), i.e.has all knowledge
-God has all understanding(Ps147:5)
-God is omnipresent (Pro15:3), present everywhere at all times.
-God is Sovereign (Ps95:3). This means He is the only God(Is43:10);
and the only ruler(1Tim6:15)
-God is love (1Jn4:8)
Therefore, to understand that God has all knowledge(Is44:8) and all understanding (Ps147:5), should mean…and I repeat, “should” mean… that because God loves us, if we don’t know something, and want to know, it ought to be simple common sense to ask Him for help! On the contrary however, to have problems and not ask Him Who has all understanding and all knowledge, means by default we will defer to either our own opinions, or the opinions of others---who do not know it all, nor have all understanding! Sadly, humanity so often does this very thing!
Having established God’s desire to help us understand, we can move forward. Regarding history, God’s says,
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for
As we have just learned, to understand anything in life, we should begin with God’s revelation of Himself, i.e.His nature. This passage refers to history. Therefore, to understand history, we begin with the fact that God’s nature is sovereign, meaning He rules over all. Of course, we must also remember, that God is omniscient (all knowledge), omnipotent(all power), has all understanding, and is love(etc)!!! Regarding history, this means nothing can happen in the past—good or evil-- without His Sovereignty and His participation!
Therefore, Romans 15:4 teaches at least two things:
1.history means ‘His’ ‘Story’, or what God has done in the past
2.history was written for our learning, or history is designed to teach us about God, and therefore, about life.
Another name for these two truths is ‘all history is providential’, aka Providential History. Or, history is a record of God moving in the past to accomplish His great purposes. In other words, history is not only a record of what happened in the past--but a record of what God thinks and what He did, i.e.how He acted in the past…
…which is providentially designed to teach us about both
our present and future!!!
Sadly very few ever seek God regarding His thoughts on a particular event in history!! But if history is God’s story, and designed to teach us, how can we ever understand it, if we neither know nor care what God thinks??!! How can it be anything but absurd to ignore the opinion of the God Who is omniscient, while substituting the opinions of man, who not only is not omniscient, but has a sin nature that perverts any knowledge we now possess, and then conclude that our opinions on history are correct?!?!?!! Selah!!!!(ponder)
I can hear the naysayers now…but how, Pastor Jackson, can we ever know what God thinks about history? The answer is simple. Because God is immutable, i.e.unchanging(Mal3:6), the best way to understand history is:
2.Look to the Scripture to know God’s nature(Names), which
reveal how He acts
3.Seek to understand how God dealt with Israel, Whom God
gives as our model and example (1Cor10:11)
4.Pray, i.e.ask God what He was attempting to accomplish in any
particular historical situation.
For example, let’s take a quick look at just one event during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. The attachment to this tidbit contains a list of 10 commandments for those who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr Martin Luther King. As you read through the list, it is easy to determine that the Bible is the source of both the name (10 Commandments), and each of the individual commands. In other words, these commands inform us that MLK had determined to glorify God(Col3:23), by lifting up His word (Ex17:15; Jn12:32) to the front and center of the Civil Rights Movement!!
Why did MLK do this? Because he understood that the success of this Movement was wholly contingent upon God’s inspiration to glorify His great Name! In other words, God inspires men(2Pet1:21; Judg13:25) to do His good will(Ps119:68). Mankind cannot do good apart from God because man is by nature evil (Ps14:3, Rom3:23). Therefore, man needs God to reveal both good and evil(Mic6:8;Lu11:34-36), in order for man to do God’s good will.
So where was God during the difficulties of the Civil Rights Movement? The simple answer is because God created man in His image(Gen1:26), it is God’s good will that all men treat each other as equals(Mat7:12; Gal5:22-23), by loving one another (Jn13:34;1Pet1:22). Civil laws cannot make humans love each other, only God’s word can do that (1Jn3:23). Therefore, the Civil Rights Movement was good law, because its origin was founded in God’s word, designed to create an atmosphere for Americans to treat each other regardless of race, ethnicity, or skin color as equals---which is God’s good will!
Psalms 67:1-2 pretty much sums it up:
1.God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
2.That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
It was God Who used Dr King to cause God’s “way to be known upon the earth”; and “His saving health…” not only to Blacks, but to all nations…especially America!
"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool."
-Dr. Martin Luther King
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