Did one ever see the waves tossing the wind
about? Neither do events trouble God. He has always
His law is one thing, His intention is another.
It is not always His intention that what He commands shall be obeyed,
but what He intends for us to do, He manages to bring to pass.
Could He have prevented Adam from eating the fruit of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil? He kept him from eating of the tree of
life, did He not? Did the man eat the forbidden fruit in spite of
all that God could do to prevent it? So far as can be seen, He did
nothing to prevent it, except to tell him to not eat it. On the
contrary, He gave to him a wife who would certainly eat it, probably
"just to see what would happen;" He gave Adam an instinct to
cleave to his wife, Gen 2:24; He placed the tree in the middle of the
garden; and He gave the serpent access to the premises. If I
should act in this way, everyone would say that I INTENDED that he
should eat it. On the other hand, when the man would have eaten of
the tree of life, in order to live for the eons, God had no difficulty
in preventing it.
God did not intend that Abimelech, king of Gerar,
should carry out his own intention regarding the wife of Abraham, Gen.
2:1-11. He caused the king to become "dead," so far as
she was concerned. He could as easily have done the same thing
when David coveted Bathsheba. In the "Ten Words," called
the Decalogue, he had forbidden David to do what he did but the Lord did
not PREVENT it. It was His law that the king of Israel should not
do it, but it was not His intention to prevent it. The reason is
found in David's words in the 51st Psalm, "So that Thou, (God),
should be justified in thy sayings, and shalt be conquering when thou
art being judged."
Probably Moses intended to remain with his family in
a foreign country, after his premature attempt to free Israel had
failed. But God intended otherwise. Moses returned to Egypt
at the right time, and led the people across the Red Sea just when God
intended that he should so it. Through Moses, He commanded the
king to let the people go, but He intended that the king should not be
willing. He prevented his willingness by hardening his
heart. Thus He carried out His intention without a hitch. He
used Moses as a vessel for honor, and Pharaoh as a vessel for
Saul of Tarsus had no intention of becoming an
apostle. God intended that he should, and he did. The gentle
voice of Jesus, asking him, "Why are you persecuting Me?" was
all that was needed. The erstwhile persecutor was an ardent bond
servant of the Lord for the rest of his days. But, let it be
noted, God did not BEGIN to deal with Saul on the Damascus road, He
began such dealings when he was born. He was severed from His
mother's womb. He was set apart all his days. God intended that he
should be the outstanding example of the brightness of grace, and, just
as a teacher intends to have a blackboard on which to write with white
chalk, so did God intend that Saul should be foremost among sinners, so
that His grace should shine with all brilliance.
The brief joint ministry of Paul and Barnabas is
interesting. The Acts period was on in which nothing was settled,
except in the mind of God. When the time came for the two to start
their special ministry, the Lord brought it about by impressing the
ecclesia in Antioch, so that the saints fasted and prayed, until the
spirit directed them to sent Paul and Barnabas away, Acts 13:1-3.
The question was: Will Israel accept the evangel? If so, Barnabas,
the "good man," Acts 11:24, is needed. Or will Israel
refuse, and will people of the nations believe, and will this ministry
be the beginning of an era of pure grace? If so, Paul, foremost
among sinners, I Tim. 1:15, will be needed. Their first contact
set the pattern for the entire ministry. Sergius Paul, a man of
the nations, believed, while Bar-Jesus, a Jew, refused the
evangel. It is for this reason, no doubt, that Paul became the
superior one in the ministry, and Barnabas took an inferior
God knew, all the time, how it would turn out.
He had said that Israel would be calloused, Isa. 9. When He says
that a thing shall occur, He intends that it shall occur.
"Who has withstood His intentions?" Rom.
When Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, their
joint ministry had been fulfilled, Acts 14:26. However, they did
not know it. They planned, later, to make another trip
together. God intended they should not do this, and He had no difficulty
in preventing it. He did it through their anger in regard to John
Mark going with them. Barnabas wanted him to go. Paul
refused, "Now they became so incensed as to recoil from one
another," Acts 15:38. Thus God's intention was again
All who do wrong, even through they are
fulfilling God's intention concerning them at the time, are
accountable.. This being true, we should always admonish people to do
the right thing. God will take care of the results of such
admonition. But it is interesting to note that He does not deviate
from His intention, even to make the ministry of His own Son a
success. Christ admonished Israel to repent. The nation did not do
it. It was not the Father's intention that they should, at that
time. The callousness of the people was in accord with God's
intention, and Christ so recognized it, Matt. 11:25,26.
This teaching will do little good, unless the reader
can find the truth of it in his own experience. I ask you to look
into your life. Can you not remember many instances that will show
to you now, that God's intention has been carried out in your acts and
experiences, regardless of what your intention was at the
It was no accident that, when I was about ten years
old, I heard a preacher quote the text, "The dead know not
anything;" and it was strictly in accord with God's intention that
this should lie dormant in my mind until about fifteen years ago,
without me even being impressed with it I "preached" for more
than a score of years without believing the passage. For fifteen
years I have been believing and teaching it.
It was not by accident that I, when a boy, heard
Elder Hiram Hand preach about Jacob and Esau, and I became, for the
first time, interested in things of the spirit. God had planned it
that way, and there was no more "chance" that I would not be
at that place at that time, than there is that the sun will rise in the
You will find much profit in reviewing your life,
with the knowledge that God can manage. Whether you do right or
wrong, you carry out His intention. But if you do wrong, you are
accountable for it. Always bear this in mind. However, avoid
the word "responsibility." God is the One Who accepts
responsibility. You are willing to be accountable, since it is His
way of dealing with you.
The Jews mentioned in John 12:34-41 could not
believe. God could not afford to let them believe, since He had
said that He would blind their eyes and callous their heart.
People of the nations, as many as were set for life eonian, could not
keep from believing, since God had said, concerning the Christ, of Whom
Paul was a representative, "I have appointed Thee for a light of
the nations; for Thee to be for salvation as far as the limits of the
earth." Isa. 49:6; Acts 13:47,48. According to the same
passage, Isa. 49:6, the Christ will bless Israel but this cannot be done
until God's time. He not only knows how to keep us from doing that
which is contrary to His intention, but He also kept the Christ from
doing it, Matt. 11:25,26.
There is scant comfort in believing that God is
controlled by circumstances. We find much joy in believing that
His every intention will be carried out, to the minutest detail.
Since we believe that God is love, and that He has a beneficent purpose
in all that He does, we would not have it otherwise.
We love Him, but it could just as easily have been
the opposite. The one who scoffs at His truth would have been the
one to believe, and we would have been numbered with unbelievers, if it
had been His intention. This should humble us. Never should
we speak unkindly of the one who cannot believe. He is carrying
out God's intention, as much as we are.
May we bow our heads in humble gratitude to God, Who,
through His Christ, has led us to see His beauty. And may we thank
Him that, eventually, ALL mankind shall see it.