Sunday, January 27, 2008
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHRIST IN THE BLACKEST OF DAYS
As I read Anthony Carter’s book entitled, “On Being Black and Reformed” one thought (of many) in particular stood out. Carter consistently and accurately makes the case for God ultimately being behind the trials that we go through. The actual idea lies staunchly within the reformed faith in its propensity to give God the glory by recognizing who He is in His supremacy. The fact that He is omnipotent, omniscience and all in all allows us to gain a better understanding of the things we go through in this life. Regardless of our trials, if we take into account that the LORD is squarely in control and that He knows the numbers of hair on our heads, then we can have full assurance that He knows what is best and that we ought to look to how we are to glorify Him through our mess.
Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
As the LORD is making known His power to Cyrus in the first 7 chapters of Isaiah 45, He points out something crucial for all of our understanding culminating in verse 7. He begins by pointing out that it was He that had anointed and called Cyrus (who was not a Jew) to be king. Then He tells Cyrus that He upheld him, using terminology that is just as often applied to feeble individuals being assisted. Next our LORD declares that He would be the one to destroy and straighten out so that Cyrus would know beyond a doubt that it was the doing of the LORD GOD OF ISRAEL. Furthermore, He lets Cyrus know that before he ever knew he existed, that the LORD had already purposed him to do His will. In the next few verses GOD lets Cyrus know that He is God alone, speaks in verse 7 something peculiar.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. One word that stands out amongst the rest in this verse is the word “evil.” The word ‘ra’ from which “evil” is translated also means ‘calamity.’ As most Lexicons and Bible commentaries would agree, the “evil” spoken of in this verse is not indicating morale character, but condition. Contextualizing the verse also shows the “positive and negative” structure of it. In this case calamity most suitably applies in this situation because the LORD is referring to a ‘circumstance.’ Thus calamity is a suitable opposite to peace. So if we were to use “calamity” instead of “evil” it would look like this: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create calamity: I the LORD do all these things. This is important because we see that God is telling Cyrus (and eventually us) that it is He that brings about distress or calamity just as much as He brings about peace. Without fail, the LORD makes known that all that comes to pass (whether we are Jew or non-Jew) is His doing, be it good or bad, loving or unloving (in our eyes), the Lord has created it.
I bring up Isaiah 45:7 to point out a biblical truth that Mr. Carter expounded upon in his book. The situations that we go through in life happen for a reason. The slave trade into the Americas wrought a purpose in Christ that would eventually glorify Him. As heinous and egregious as it was, it glorified God in that it re-Africanized Christianity for the sole purpose of glorifying God. No other group of people since the Hebrews in Egypt have been afflicted as much as Africans were during the days of slavery and on into the present.
Likewise, it was because of this situation that things available to Blacks in America today were made because of the faithfulness of the Black Church (which was the purpose of God to begin with). Yes indeed, it was upon the shoulders of our spiritual forefathers and in the arms of our spiritual mothers in the African American community that Church played the powerful role that it did (through Christ) to dispel the notion that man can be the sole master over man.
In His infinite wisdom, God chose out a people and caused them to suffer. It was His will when the nation of Israel suffered at the hands of the Egyptians and it was His will when Africans were made slaves to Whites in the Americas. It was also that same wisdom of the Father concerning the Son that said in Isaiah 53:10, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…” And shall be said to contest that? If suffering was good enough for Christ to endure for our salvation to the glory of the Father, isn’t the sovereignty of God just as wise to do to us as what seems fit to being Him glory? Now, do not for one second think that suffering is the only way God is glorified, but He is glorified most often when we recognize His sovereignty in our dilemmas and seek to praise Him regardless of the circumstance.
So what do we say of all this? We must resolutely decree that regardless of what life brings our way, whether good or bad, blessed or lacking, peace or calamity- we give glory to God. We glorify the LORD knowing that it is He who has made us and not us ourselves. We glorify the LORD when we pray knowing that as Christians all things work together for the good of those who love Christ and are called according to His purpose. So brothers and sisters of the true holy faith, recognize that the holy wisdom of the LORD is bound up in the majesty of His dominion over all things. And that whatever weeping may endure for a night, the joy of the LORD comes in the morning!