Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.—Isaiah 29:13, 14
With devastating tornadoes ripping through Joplin, Missouri lately, having been asked again, “Was this an act of God? Or was this an assault from the devil?” As with my answer when tornadoes ripped through Alabama and the surrounding states previously, the answer has not changed:
When we cry out, “Is this from the devil?” in our corruptions we often imply that our God is aloof or weak, and unable to save and overcome the wicked one. When we sigh, “Is this the judgment of God upon us?” in our corruptions as fallen beings we imply that our God is capricious and malicious, and even showing mercy upon the evil and fierce judgment upon His own children.
These are the wrong questions to ask ourselves. We must ask, “Is the God of the Bible, who is love; and only good, only wise, only just, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present; do I trust Him to do the right thing, the wise thing, the good thing, and the loving thing, although I do not always understand because there are so many things I do not know or cannot know?” That’s the question we ought to ask ourselves.
The Christ of the Bible is God in human flesh, and if I have confessed Him with my mouth and believed on Him in my heart, do I dare question this God whose ways are higher than our ways; neither are His thoughts our thoughts? Is He not the God who has revealed Himself in the perfect person of His Son Jesus Christ, and manifested His perfect assurance by Christ’s incarnation, His perfect atonement through Christ’s crucifixion, His perfect approval through Christ’s resurrection, His perfect achievement through Christ’s ascension, His perfect authority through Christ’s heavenly reign, and His perfect anticipation by Christ’s promised return? Dare we stand in defiance as many Adams in a garden to question His authority to not eat from the tree by asking Him questions that should shame us should we see them in the light of Christ’s bloody cross?
In His rebellion, Satan shook a wicked fist at the God of heaven and defiantly declared, “Who are Thou O God that has ascended to heaven? Who art Thou that Thy throne is above the stars? Who are Thou that sit upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north? Who art Thou that ascends above the heights of the clouds? Who are Thou that callest Thyself Most High?”
Though Satan lied, and though Eve was deceived, in his own willful rebellion, Adam shook a wicked fist at the God of heaven and defiantly declared, “Who are Thou O God that withholdest the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from me?”
And though we could list name after name in the Bible, and even list name after name of all those in history, there is only One who was all-pleasing, all good, ever submissive and obedient unto death, even the death of a cross: Jesus Christ the Righteous.
Apart from the grace and truth that is in Christ alone, and according to scripture alone, we often darken counsel by uttering words without knowledge and desire to be teachers of God’s Word, while understanding neither what we say, nor having reasons for our affirmation.
If we do not repent of these shameful accusations against the nature and character of Almighty God who is only good, only wise, and all love, many will be brought down to the grave in their pomp, and even the very praise of their lips while “worshiping” upon the earth, will be brought to death’s corruption, lying upon a quilt of maggots and having as a bed covering the wretched worm.
O! how low have we fallen who call ourselves children of light? Apart from the grace and truth in Christ Jesus we are cut down to the ground because our behavior was open hypocrisy, which didst weaken the nations! Apart from the grace and truth that is Jesus Christ, Not every one that saith unto Him, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of His Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Him in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” And then will He profess unto them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Forgive us, O Lord, for our iniquity; save us from our impertinence; strengthen us with faith and reveal unto us grace upon grace through Thy Person and redemptive work established in eternity, written in Your Word, and illuminated by Your Spirit. Sanctify us by Thy truth; Thy Word is Truth. Amen.