For those of you who keep up with my blog on a daily basis, thank you for your patience in waiting for today's blog - my internet has been down all morning. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for it to be repaired. May all praise and glory to be the Lord who provides us in time with all that we need and even more to accomplish His plans! - Peggy
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise You, with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself.” Psalm 76:10
Last night was another night out with my family going door-to-door for my campaign. As we came back together at the of the evening, each of us had a few stories to share of the good and the evil we had seen in our “going out” that evening. In thinking about the stories that transpired last night – of how my son had been cursed at, how God had led my husband to put a flier on a door he had all intentions of walking past, how a man had shamed me for thinking that not eeking every ounce of money from the taxpayers and pouring their hard earned dollars into our government instead seeking ways to spend less more wisely was a crime because he “believe[d] in taxes”, and how the sister-in-law of one of my opponents took me into her home and after a wonderful conversation said that she would tell everyone she knew about me – I came upon these following two verses and I was compelled to seek more wisdom on what these two different kinds of “going out” were about.
“The Lord shall preserve you from all evil, He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8
“I know your dwelling place, your going out and coming in, and your rage against Me. Because you rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came.” Isaiah 37:28-29
In essence, as we compare and contrast these two verses we find that Psalm 121 is directed to people who are seeking the Lord and His will in their lives, while Isaiah 37 is directed at people who were threatening the sovereignty of God by their raging words and actions. For the first group the Lord promises He will preserve their souls and their going out and their coming in. But, for the second group God likens them to oxen who He will control with a nose hook or a horse He will control with a bridle. The actions taken by the Lord were direct results of the actions taken by the people who are being spoken of, not the other way around. Remember how God used Pharaoh when Pharaoh did not listen to the word of the Lord through Moses? He allowed Pharaoh's heart to be hardened, but not until after Pharaoh raged against the Lord by trying to out do the work of the Lord with the work of the hands of his wise men and sorcerers.
“But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in the like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.” Exodus 7:11-13
Later on, the Lord explains to Moses how He took the previous actions of Pharaoh and purposed them for His good.
“But the Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh will not heed you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.'” Exodus 11:9
Some people would say, that is not fair – the Pharaoh was only given one chance and God didn't show any mercy towards him. Others would say this event was God's way of setting the Pharaoh up for the purpose he had been designed for since the beginning of time – that Pharaoh was created for evil and never had a chance to have a heart towards God. But, I have to offer a third response to this argument and I base it on the following verses:
“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.' So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may how My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.' Therefore He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He wills He hardens.
You will say to me then, 'Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will? But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory...” Romans 9:14-23
The beginning of the end for Pharaoh did not start at his birth, rather it started in how he chose to respond to God. Pharaoh had free will just like the rest of us do, but he chose to use his will for things that raged in the face of the living God and brought contempt to His name. From those choices made by the Pharaoh, the Lord in His wisdom with a picture of the great story He was unfolding through the Israelite people and eventually through His Son Jesus, He determined to use what the Pharaoh had offered up to Him – his rebellion – as a means to bring Himself glory by hardening the Pharaoh's heart even further and showing His divine mercy instead towards Moses and all who were seeking the salvation of the Lord.
Does that mean every time a person rages against God that they are set up for eternal failure? Does that mean for every person who curses the name of the Lord their fate is sealed for eternity? No. God does not lean to the black-and-white thinking we are often drawn to in these types of circumstances. Instead, God uses all things for good to those who love Him but also for the greater good of bringing glory to His name.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29
In God's great sovereignty He takes each of our cases one by one and makes a decision on how we have responded to Him and how He can use what we have offered up for the greatest good in His kingdom. As I think about the lessons learned last night by our family about the true nature of the hearts of man, I am all the more compelled to leave the results of people's actions and attitudes within the hands of God. When we can see others through the God's scope of “all things work[ing] together for good”, it is then we are freed-up to live in the freedom of the mercy and grace we have been given and in the unconfined ability to pray for those who are standing upon the precipice of eternal judgment that God's will be done in their lives and that our lives be a continual light hopefully drawing them closer to the living God.