“And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
“Now the Lord appointed a plant and made it come over Jonah that it might be a shade over his head to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. And it came about when the sun came up that God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.”
We have been talking a little bit over the last few weeks about the providence of God. Something of an old fashioned word. It was often a word that was very much part of the everyday vernacular, even newspapers would make reference to providence, divine providence was certainly in their mind. The early founders of this nation, the words providence and divine providence are frequently used in their writings. That tells us they believed in a big God, a god who controls everything. Remember the key word that we have emphasized for several weeks is that word pervasive, which means universal; everything comes under God’s purposeful and powerful sovereignty. When you think about that, it really is astonishing. Everything is disposed and governed and ruled by God. Dr. Piper said, “Every tiny bubble in the foam of the top of a newly poured can of Coke; every tip of every stalk of grain that stretches across the endless Nebraska plains.” Dr. Sproul said, “There is not one maverick molecule in God’s universe in every raindrop, every snowflake.” If we really believe that, it should have us looking at the world we live in with spiritual eyes and hearing with spiritual ears. We should see God’s entranced world.
Jesus saw it that way. Jesus just didn’t see it smothered with God’s fingerprints, but controlled by his hands on providence. Jesus could look at the birds of the air and could see that God was feeding them, taking care of them; and he could look at the plants and the flowers, the lilies of the field, and see that God was taking care of them as well by clothing them. So every time you see a bird eating a worm; every time you see one of those beautiful flowers in the garden, you see God’s hand. Not only has God made them but is taking care of them. The Bible over and over again tells us that story and even the story of Jonah who appointed that fish, that big whale that swallowed Jonah. God did that. It was not a chance happening, it didn’t happen by accident, it was God’s providential hand.
Who appointed that worm to attack that plant so that it withered? (Jonah then goes into a kind of melt down emotionally.) God did.
Again, Jesus said of his father in heaven, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and he sends his rain on the just and the unjust.
There are at least 25 verses in our Bibles about God sending rain, Job 5:10, “He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the field;” Psalm 147:8, “Who covers the heaven with the clouds and provides rain for the earth.” If we believe that, it should impact us on every level; intellectually, emotionally, physically in terms of what we see and what we hear, and spiritually. Dr. Piper talks of a professor he had in his college days who talked about the amazement of the strange glory of the ordinary things. We lose sight of the ordinary things, the daily rain, the sun that God causes to rise and fall. This man had ten resolutions for mental health. The first one is, “I shall open my eyes and my ears every day; I shall simply stare at a tree, flower, cloud or a person and remind myself that this world is not run by an absentee landlord, but by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.”
That should encourage us when we think of divine providence. We should pray that God would help us. It should impact how we look, how we think, how we hear and our everyday communication. Instead of saying, “It rained,” say, “God caused it to rain.” Every time you have the opportunity to cut the grass, instead of complaining how long it is, thank God that He causes it to grow. Not only does God’s providence apply to the created order the things he has made, but we witness it in the great drama of salvation. Everything pertaining to Christ, everything Jesus did, every place he went, every step he took, every miracle he performed was all under divine providence.
That should cause us to stand in amazement and astonishment that we worship such a great God. Thank him for everything that we see, every gift that comes from him. Thank him for his everyday providence.