Has something ever happened in your life, which you thought was a lucky circumstance or chance event that proved beneficial? The car wouldn't start, making you late in your commute to work, only to find out that by being late, you missed being part of a terrible accident.
Often, things that appear to be circumstantial are really the sovereign intervention of our wonderful Lord. This is true not only today, but throughout all time. I was thinking the other day about John the Baptist, six months older than his second cousin, Jesus.
John's parents lived in a city of Judea (near Bethlehem), in the very region where Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children two years and under, to cover the time frame of the birth of the King of the Jews, Jesus. Of course, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as prophesied, and his earthly father was warned by God to flee to Egypt before the slaughter.
But what of John the Baptist? (Of course, he wasn't yet "the Baptist," but was only six months older than Jesus at the time). We don't read the details of his deliverance, but we know that he was spared. He lived right there in the kill zone, as it were. But Jehovah had plans for this little toddler.
He could have been just over two years old, and so not subject to the decree. Or perhaps when the soldiers came to his house, his aging parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, answered the door. Can you imagine the soldiers staring into their old faces and concluding that surely no little child lived in that house? (They were old enough that Zacharias had told the angel who visited him before John was conceived, "I am an old man, and my wife is well stricken in years"—Luke 1: 18).
Joseph, Mary's husband and the earthly father of Jesus, was of the tribe of Judah. He belonged in the land of Judah (which includes Bethlehem and Jerusalem and surrounding cities). But he dwelt in Nazareth of Galilee, Zebulon's inheritance. After the Babylonian captivity, the old landmarks of inheritance were "moved" or ignored. People were shifted here and there so that the conquering Gentile nations could maintain control over the Israelites. Was this merely coincidence or the hand of providence?
It was handy. Here were Joseph and Mary, way up north in Nazareth, being ordered by Herod to go to the city of their ancestry to pay tax, which brought about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, as prophesied. God warned Joseph, in a dream, to take his family and flee to Egypt, so that Jesus would later be brought back from Egypt (also according to prophecy).
When they returned, Joseph had a home and profession (carpentry) to return to in Nazareth, fulfilling yet another prophecy. Was this all coincidence? Circumstances that just happened to align? Or the design of an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present Triune God?
I choose the latter, for I know it is true. It is true by the Word, and it is true by my own experiences of the hand of God intervening to sovereignly protect and direct me, and to provide what I need when I need it most, whether I realize it or not.
Do you have any amazing stories of God's provision for you, which otherwise would look like coincidence or circumstance, though you know it to be God's sovereignty at work? Please send them to [email protected].
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