"ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD."
There is no statement in the Bible, that was made by an apostle, that is more remarkable and even startling than this statement. When you think of it seriously, it seems as though Paul was very unguarded and careless in his language. We are apt to think that he ought to have modified and limited it in some way, such as for instance, all good things are of God.
But no, Paul makes the sweeping, unqualified statement, "All things are of (literally, out of) God." Furthermore, so important did Paul consider this truth that he repeats it over and over again. The direct statement is made no less than six times in the writings of the apostle. See Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6, and 11:12; 2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:11, and Heb. 2:10. Now was the apostle careless and a little too bold in these utterances, or did he mean just what he said, and are they true, taken full strength? I say, without any hesitation, yes, to the two latter questions. The more we learn of God's works and ways the more we shall understand that in a sense absolutely "all things are of God;" or in other words, as it has been often expressed God is in everything. We will notice a few passages that will set forth the Bible teaching on this point.
Says Christ, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matt. 10:29,30). In Luke 12:6, we read, "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God." Do you realize friend reader, the stupendous character of this statement? How many millions of sparrows think you are there in the world? And of course it is not sparrows alone that God cares for, but all creatures, not one of them is forgotten, and even the very hairs of your head are numbered. The great men of the earth manifest their greatness by their close attention to so called great things; the affairs of state, national interests, business ventures involving the risk of millions, vast philanthropic schemes, and such like matters of world-wide importance. These men generally have very little care, and pay very little attention to the common every-day affairs of life: But God, between whom and the greatest of all earth's great ones there is an infinite disparity, displays His greatness by caring for what would seem to be the most trivial interests of his creatures, like the numbering of the hairs of their heads, and taking notice of apparently the most unimportant events, like the falling of a single sparrow. Well may we exclaim with Faber, in view of such greatness,
O, God? thy loving greatness ever lies
Outside us like a boundless sea;
We cannot lose ourselves where all is home,
Nor drift away from thee.
Thus doth thy grandeur make us grand ourselves,
Thy goodness quells our fear;
Thy greatness makes us brave as children are
When those they love are near.
If you would see this thought of God's universal providence carried out in every detail, read Psalms 104, 107 and 147.
See the case of Joseph for an illustration of how God is in affairs of greater moment as it would seem. His unnatural brethren determined to kill him; (Gen. 37:12, etc). Being dissuaded from this they sell him to the Ishmaelites, thus bringing upon him a cruel servitude, and upon their aged father a heart- breaking agony. A blacker or more wicked deed could scarcely be imagined; and yet in the sequel of the story, when Joseph is made ruler of Egypt, and his brethren coming down to buy corn at last discover that he is their long-lost brother, whom they had so cruelly wronged, he reassures and comforts them by saying, "Now therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God." (Gen. 45:5,8). Could we have a more striking and positive illustration of how "all things are of God?" He is in everything. even in the crimes and cruelties of man. Take another illustration not so prominent in the Bible but just as positive. See Judges 14:1-4. Samson becomes enamored of a Philistine woman and must have her for his wife. In vain his parents try to dissuade him from so improper an alliance as it would seem, Samson is completely bewitched and insists upon having her. Who would suppose that God had anything particular to do with this apparently foolish love affair? and yet it was of him. For the 4th verse reads, "But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines." For another illustration see 2 Chron. 10:15, 11:4.
Another very striking example of how all things are of God is brought out in the case of the priestly house of Eli. Read l. Sam. 2:30-33. Now see how the fulfillment of this prediction was brought about in 1 Sam. 22:18-20. A more cold-blooded, barbarous butchery was never perpetrated, and yet it was the carrying out of the purpose of God. In 1 Sam. 2:31, God says, "I will cut off thy father's house." According to the account in chapter 22, it was Doeg that did the awful deed, and yet it is plain to see how God was in it. Abiathar escaped the massacre; the denunciation was against the entire house of Eli. Abiathar must be banished from the priesthood. See how it was done in 1 King 2:26, 27. "So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; to fulfill the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh." Is not this a very plain illustration of the great truth we are considering. The awful deeds of wicked men are "of God" in such a sense that he makes them conducive to the carrying out of his own plans and brings good out of them in the end. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise him; the remainder of wrath [that which he cannot turn to his praise] will he restrain." "All are his servants." (Psa. 119:91 ). "Fire and hail, snow and vapour, and stormy wind fulfill his word." (Psa. 147:8).
The heathen king Cyrus is another illustration of this truth. See Isa. 45:1-7. Cyrus was God's "anointed" to do His work. God used him as an instrument to accomplish a certain purpose, though Cyrus knew not that he was thus being used of God; (See verses 4.5.). The case of the Assyrians is still more marked. God was using them just as the carpenter uses his tools. See Isa. 10:1-19; especially verse 15; and in the same connection see Jer. 51:19-20.
Again, see Josh. 11:15-20. Israel destroyed the Canaanites and made peace with none of them, except the Gibeonites, "For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle that He might destroy them utterly." See also a very remarkable illustration in Psa. 105: 25. God sent his people down into Egypt, having sent Joseph before them (verse 17; this verse confirms Joseph's own statement that God, and not his wicked brethren, sent him), to prepare the way for them. God increased his people and made them stronger than their enemies (verse 24) and now mark, "He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal deceitfully with his servants." What! did God incline the hearts of the Egyptians to hate his own people, to deal deceitfully with his own servants? So the record reads. Truly, "All things are of God."
Take still another illustration from the New Testament. The crucifixion of Christ is always looked upon as the most awful crime that ever was committed, and the perpetrators of it are considered as deserving the most severe retribution; and yet they simply did what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done, (Acts 4:28). And Peter tells us that Christ was "delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." (Acts 2:23). Thus we see how even this stupendous crime was of God, and since we know that he worketh all things after the counsel of his will," (Eph. 1:11), we can readily understand from the illustrations cited how true it is that "all things are of God." Thus in God's universal sovereignty fully established by the plain teachings of the word.) "He doeth according to his will, in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him what doest thou?" (Dan.4:35). See also Isa. 40 whole chapter, and Rev. 17:17.
To the child of God this truth is most precious and reassuring. It teaches us how absolutely safe we are while we "abide under the shadow of the Almighty." His power extends not simply to the smallest affairs, like the hairs of our head and the birds of the air, but also to greater things, individuals, communities, states. nations, and worlds, and no creature moves but by his appointment or permission. "All things are of God," therefore I can understand how all things work together for good to them that love God;" and how, also, all things shall yet turn for good to man, since God loves him. God uses the forces of the world whether human or otherwise -just as one would move the pieces on a chess-board. They are so many instruments, -tools, in his hands. Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if a rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood." (Isa. 10:15).
But now these considerations lead us to another great subject, which we will examine in the next article.