Photo Credit: Smithsonian American
Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. (Ezekiel 1: 15-19; ESV)
What one word describes the wheel in Ezekiel’s vision? Answer: Intricate. My dictionary defines the word ‘Intricate’ as “1. with many twists and turns; entangled or complicated: an intricate knot, an intricate maze, an intricate plot. 2. very hard to understand; obscure or puzzling: an intricate problem.” What a great word to describe the Providence of God.
In attempting to describe the intricate nature of God’s Providence, Spurgeon takes us back again for another visit with an event in the life of Joseph. He writes,
When Joseph brought his two sons up to Jacob’s deathbed side, Jacob ordered the two boys to be brought; and when he was about to bless them, he guided his hands wittingly; and he put his right hand on the head of the youngest, and his left hand on the head of the eldest. “O!” said Joseph, “not so, my father.” But he said, “it is even so;” and he gave the blessing. He would not give the blessing in any other way; but he crossed his hands. And so God usually blesses his children by crossing his hands. We say, “Do not deal so with me.” “It is even so, child; there is a blessing on thy head.” Do not say, Uncross thy hands; that is the way to bless the most of all. I wish to put the greatest blessing upon thee; and therefore I have crossed my hands. Providence is wonderfully intricate. Ah! you want always to see through Providence, do you not? You never will, I assure you. You have not eyes good enough You want to see what good that affliction was to you; you must believe it. You want to see how it can bring good to the soul; you may be enabled in a little time; but you cannot see it now; you must believe it. Honor God by trusting him. God has many gordian knots which wicked men may cut, and which righteous men may try to unravel, but which God alone can untie. We see the wicked prosper; they flourish, and great is their power, while the righteous are cast down. We say why? There are wheels within wheels. Do not fret yourselves because evil-doers are more prosperous. There may be a nation that seems to have right on its side; that nation may be crushed, and another people who are tyrannical may get the victory. Do not say why? Do not ask? You shall know the reason when you get up yonder: “God plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.” Do not attempt to do what Gabriel never dare do – to ask the reason why, for God will never give it.
I sure appreciate the writings of Charles Spurgeon, as evidenced by the larger quote this time. I am looking forward to reading the other 8 volumes of “Spurgeon’s Sermons.” As I said in Part 1 of this series, “I would have loved to sit amongst the masses just once to hear Spurgeon preach.” But I’ve digressed; let’s get back to “God’s Providence is Intricate.”
I have said it many times before; perhaps one of the greatest mistakes that many of us make is to think that we have the mind of God all figured out. God works this way; not that way, we preach to any who will listen. However, doesn’t Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s children suggest that God’s Providence doesn’t necessarily work in accordance with our beliefs and presuppositions? I wonder how many of our dearly held doctrines and theological beliefs are going to be lovingly shown in error on that first morning in glory? When we stand face to face in God’s presence and He says to you or to me, as He wraps His arms around us in one great big giant hug, “My dear child, that was not really what I meant at all by that. You’ve misunderstood me. This is what I had in mind.” Can you imagine the possibility of such a meeting at the throne of God?
God’s Providence is intricate; it is complicated with many twists and turns. Despite all my Bible School and Seminary training, the only thing I know for sure, is that He dearly loves you and me. Ultimately, for me, that is enough.
My regular prayer is, “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today.” I have been honored to be able to sit with many people who were sick and dying, or who were at the bedsides of loved ones who were sick and dying. Often times the question, “why” would come up, but so far, God has always chosen to remain silent. I’ve had no answers to share, other than perhaps “pat answers,” but who wants those? How do you bless someone when there is no answer? Perhaps, in keeping with the intricate nature of the Providence of God, all that is required is that we too, like Jacob, cross our hands and silently offer our prayer of blessing.
It is hard to keep from asking “why.” Spurgeon says that we shouldn’t be asking that “why” question at all. Perhaps that’s where faith comes in. Perhaps that is precisely why God does not answer all our “whys,” so that we can develop our faith in Him.
I am reminded of the conversation between Jesus and the father of the boy who was plagued by the evil spirit. Jesus said to the man, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9: 23-24). Sometimes that father’s words could very well be mine too; Lord, “help me overcome my unbelief.”
Do we have faith that, in the “Intricate Providence of God,” and that though we may not know all the “whys,” that God does know them, and that He has already laid His crossed hands of blessing upon our heads? Lord, let it be so.