2 Chronicles 9; Jude; Zephaniah 1; Luke 23
I WANT TO COME AT ZEPHANIAH 1:12-13 rather obliquely.
There is more than one way to relegate God to the sidelines of history. Some do so by arguing that God acts intermittently. When good things happen, that’s God; when bad things happen, that’s the devil—and there is no sense in which God remains sovereign over the devil. Others argue that God’s providence arches over everything, but invariably in line with what takes place in the natural order. For instance, in the past most theistic evolutionists argued that God intervened at dramatic moments in the process of evolution. Nowadays, there is a rising number of theistic evolutionists who say that, at the level of the actual physical processes, their position is undifferentiable from that of the atheist who understands what took place exclusively in term of natural processes. The theistic evolutionists, of course, insist that God’s providence was operating throughout the process. But they say that if God had actually intervened we would be returning to some discredited “God-of-the-gaps” scenario. They can be quite vehemently opposed to those who cite the rising evidence for design in the created order, for that simple notion would radically transform naturalistic assumptions and change the mechanisms that naturalistic scientists are forced to espouse. But are they sure they want to go down this route? Would they apply the same reasoning to the resurrection of Jesus? Would they want to propose that all the forces that brought Jesus back from the dead with a resurrection body can be explained on purely “natural” terms? Or would they say that in this case God dramatically intervened, setting aside the structures of normal physical forces to introduce a stunning miracle? And if God did so in this case, why should it be so difficult to imagine that he did so in connection with the creation—especially when the evidence for design, evidence from the physical order, is multiplying? Transparently, there are many ways of relegating God to the periphery.
But perhaps the worst is simpler and far more damaging than either of the two ways I have mentioned so far. The two that I have mentioned involve a well-thought-out scheme, a worldview. But the worst is rarely systematic or intentional. It simply ignores God. It may formally espouse providence, but in practice it thinks through none of the implications of serving and obeying a God who is irrevocably in charge. It may happily confess the resurrection of Jesus, but expects no other interventions by God. It reads history, but learns nothing that is in line with holy Scripture.
Now meditate on Zephaniah 1:12-13.