Q: What Is God’s Providence?

Providence is God’s active care, control, and governance over everything in His created universe by His sovereign will (Eph. 1:11) in wisdom and love.

Providence was planned by God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and is executed by the Holy Spirit. Thus, providence means God preserves, sustains, and directs the universe through natural law and sometimes by overriding natural law and individuals to fulfill His eternal purposes (cf. Ps. 104).

God’s providence governs celestial heavens (Job 9:7–9); weather (37:9–13); natural disasters (Rev. 6—18); fruitful plant and animal life (Ps. 104:10–30); nations, especially Israel (Isa. 63:9); rulers (Rom. 13:1); world affairs (Dan. 4:17); birth (Ps. 139:1–17); and death (Heb. 9:27). Therefore, the idea that the universe functions by fate, chance, or luck is utterly erroneous.

God hates sin. He did not create sin, nor does He tempt man to sin; and, eventually, He will judge the sin of all people (Jas. 1:13–15). God allows sin to exist to perform a purpose in His providence. Scripture provides examples of how the sins of evil men brought about God’s providence for good.

For example, Joseph’s brothers sold him to Ishmaelites, who sold him to Potiphar in Egypt. Potiphar imprisoned Joseph on the false charge of adultery. In prison, Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream about a coming seven-year famine; and Pharaoh rewarded Joseph by making him the second highest authority in the land under himself.

Many years later, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain during a famine and discovered Joseph oversaw the grain distribution, causing them to fear for their lives. Joseph said, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order . . . to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).

Judas Iscariot deceived, stole, and betrayed Christ. He sold Jesus to His enemies, who crucified the Lord. In His providence, God allowed Judas’s wicked betrayal so that the greater good through Christ’s death would make salvation available to all mankind. Those who receive Christ will enjoy eternal life with Him.

Neither God’s name nor His Law are mentioned in Esther. Also absent is any mention of worship, prayer, sacrifice for sin, or Israel’s Temple. Yet God’s sovereign, silent, unseen hand worked behind the scenes through evil men like Haman to orchestrate the events that brought about Israel’s rescue from certain annihilation. God used Esther, Mordecai, and King Ahasuerus to deliver Israel through their own free wills, guided by God’s providence.

God’s providence clearly shines in believers’ lives: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

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