Statue of Genghis Khan in Mongolia
If you have read much history you might ponder questions like, “Did God have any control over Genghis Khan and his conquering armies?” If so, keep reading!
Psalm 33 began with the exhortation to, Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous, and then continued with the words, because it is fitting for the upright to praise him (verse 1).
Last time we looked at one of the reasons the writer then gives for praising God and that was because, the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does (verse 4), and then adds, concerning God’s act of creation, For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm (verse 9).
As we continue on reading this wonderful psalm the writer gives more reasons to worship the Lord. Listen to his words:
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Many people acknowledge God as Creator but then act as if that was all he did and now he is basically absent. To believe that is to be far from the reality of things.
In these verses we see that it is fitting for the upright to praise God because not only does he speak but he acts. Here we see two truths:
Verse 10: God, in his wisdom, in his own time and in his own way prevents the plans of certain nations/peoples from actually coming to fruition.
Verse 11: On the other hand, God’s plans/purposes have been and continue to be fulfilled in the earth.
The TPT puts these verses like this:
10 With his breath he scatters the schemes of nations who oppose him;
they will never succeed.
11 His destiny-plan for the earth stands sure.
His forever-plan remains in place and will never fail.
Now, considering the history of the world, you may be thinking that this does not appear to be the reality of things. It would appear that there have been times when, what we would consider to be evil plans/purposes of nations and their evil leaders, have not been thwarted. In fact, they seem to have been allowed to happen to the detriment of many. In this last century alone events around such names such as Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Idi Amin come to mind, just to name a few.
So, how do we reconcile the psalmist’s claim concerning God’s power and authority and sovereignty over his creation and our understanding of history and even our own experience?
Although not all may agree with all the authors’ conclusions, one interesting look at history is in a book I read some time back. It is called “The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World” by Chris and Ted Stewart (published by Shadow Mountain in 2011). A summary of the book says:
“How unusual is it, really, in the history of all known human experience, to enjoy the blessings of living free?”
…So where did freedom come from, and how are we fortunate enough to experience it in our day?
“A deeper look at the human record,” write the authors, “reveals a series of critical events, obvious forks in the road leading to very different outcomes, that resulted in this extraordinary period in which we live.” They identify and discuss seven decisive tipping points:
1. The defeat of the Assyrians in their quest to destroy the kingdom of Judah
2. The victory of the Greeks over the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis
3. Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity
4. The defeat of the armies of Islam at Poitiers
5. The failure of the Mongols in their effort to conquer Europe
6. The discovery of the New World
7. The Battle of Britain in World War II
The journey to freedom has been thousands of years long.”
This book is an attempt to look at the big picture of history and how it works together into one story. There is no doubting that despite the plans of certain nations and their leaders in history, their plans have often not eventually succeeded and this has happened too often, I think, to just be a coincidence.
So, just maybe, God was even in control of Genghis Khan and his armies!
Blaiklock comments, “Unless ultimate justice prevails, unless God has a plan which finally will be demonstrated in its perfection, unless the rebellion which is called sin in the end falls by its futility, all faith is vain. The lesson of any life which commits itself to God shows the truth of these words, for the plan of God’s will works out in the mighty stage of history, too wide flung for any single eye to see, and also, in comprehensible microcosm in any individual life.” (# 37)
It is also important to remember what Michael Wilcock wrote (as quoted in my last post)
“Everything God does is right and true, and faithful to his own character. Righteousness and justice underpin it all. In a world where so much is evidently not right, we may not always see how this can be. But the truth is that none of the areas of human study touched on in Psalm 33 – science, history, geography, politics – can ever be properly understood apart from this moral framework. Good and evil are woven into the fabric of the universe, and those who explore and exploit it ignore that fact at their peril.” (# 5)
The writer of this psalm is speaking to, you righteous…the upright, encouraging them (and us) to praise God, reassuring them (and us) that our God is in control, even if their (our) circumstances are difficult. Paul does the same thing in the letter to the Romans 8:28 when he writes:
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…
Then in Ephesians 1:11 Paul is writing about God’s great plan of salvation through Christ and how we, as his people are predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his own will.
So, if our God is indeed in control, and the scriptures confirm this, then why not
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
Father, what a blessing it is to know that you are sovereign in all your creation. We confess that when we look at the seeming chaos of world events it is too easy to despair. But thank you for this psalm which encourages us to trust you, no matter the circumstances because your plans stand firm forever. Amen.