Question 14b – What Are God’s Works of Providence?
“O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” – Psa 104:24 ESV
O Lord, how manifold are thy works. They are not only many for number but manifold for variety. Mineral, vegetable, animal—what: a range of works is suggested by these three names! No two even of the same class are exactly alike, and the classes are more numerous than science can number. Works in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, works which abide the ages, works which come to perfection and pass away in a year, works which with all their beauty do not outlive a day, works within works, and works within these—who can number one of a thousand? God is the great worker, and ordainer of variety. It is ours to study his works, for they are great, and sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. The kingdom of grace contains as manifold and as great works as that of nature, but the chosen of the Lord alone discern them.
In wisdom hast thou made them all, or wrought them all. They are all his works, wrought by his own power, and they all display his wisdom. It was wise to make their—none could be spared; every link is essential to the chain of nature—wild beasts as much as men, poisons as truly as odoriferous herbs. They are wisely made—each one fits its place, fills it, and is happy in so doing. As a whole, the “all” of creation is a wise achievement, and however it may be chequered with mysteries, and clouded with terrors, it all works together for good, and as one complete harmonious piece of workmanship it answers the great Worker’s end.
The earth is full of thy riches. It is not a poor house, but a palace; not a hungry ruin, but a well filled store house. The Creator has not set his creatures down in a dwelling place where the table is bare, and the buttery empty, he has filled the earth with food; and not with bare necessaries only, but with riches—dainties, luxuries, beauties, treasures. In the bowels of the earth are hidden mines of wealth, and on her surface are teeming harvests of plenty. All these riches are the Lord’s; we ought to call them not “the wealth of nations, “but “thy riches” O Lord! Not in one clime alone are these riches of God to be found, but in all lands—even the Arctic ocean has its precious things which men endure much hardness to win, and the burning sun of the equator ripens a produce which flavours the food of all mankind. If his house below is so full of riches what must his house above be, where “The very streets are paved with gold Exceeding clear and fine”? [Spurgeon]
“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” – Heb 1:3 ESV
Who being the brightness of his glory, Or “of glory”; of God the Father, the God of glory, and who is glory itself; so called on account of his glorious nature and perfections and because of the glorious manifestations of them in his works of creation and providence, and in the various dispensations of his grace, and especially in his Son; and because he is the author of all glory, in the creatures, in the whole world, in Christ as man and Mediator, and in his own people. Now Christ is the “brightness” of this, as he is God; he has the same glorious nature and perfections, and the same glorious names, as Jehovah, the Lord of glory, &c. and the same glory, homage, and worship given him: the allusion is to the sun, and its beam or ray: so some render it “the ray of his glory”; and may lead us to observe, that the Father and the Son are of the same nature, as the sun and its ray; and that the one is not before the other, and yet distinct from each other, and cannot be divided or separated one from another: so the phrase יקריה זין, “the brightness of his glory”, is used of the divine Being, in the Chaldee paraphrases; see the Apocrypha. “For she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness.” (Wisdom 7:26)
And the express image of his person; this intends much the same as the other phrase; namely, equality and sameness of nature, and distinction of persons; for if the Father is God, Christ must be so too; and if he is a person, his Son must be so likewise, or he cannot be the express image and character of him; See Gill on Col 1:15.
And upholding all things by the word of his power; the Syriac version renders it, “by the power of his word”, to the same sense, only inverting the words. The Targumist on 2Chr 2:6 uses a phrase very much like this, of God, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain; because, adds he, גבורתיה בדרע כלא סביל, “he bears”, or “sustains all things by the arm of his power”; and the words are to be understood not of the Father, upholding all things by his essential and powerful Word, his Son; but of the Son himself, who upholds all creatures he has made; bears up the pillars of the universe; preserves every creature in its being, and supports it, and supplies it with the necessaries of life; rules and governs all, and providentially orders and disposes of all things in the world, and that by his all powerful will; which makes it manifest, that he is truly and properly God, and a very fit person to be a priest, as follows:
when he had by himself purged our sins; the Arabic and Ethiopic versions seem to refer this to God the Father, as if he, by Christ, made the expiation of sin, and then caused him to sit down at his right hand; but it belongs to the Son himself, who of himself, and by himself alone, and by the sacrifice of himself, made atonement for the sins of his people; which is meant by the purgation of them: he took their sins upon himself, and bore them, and removed them far away, and utterly abolished them, which the priests under the law could not do: and when he had so done,
he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; by “Majesty” is meant God the Father, to whom majesty belongs; who is clothed with it, and which is before him: and his “right hand” designs his power, greatness, and glory, and is expressive of the high honour Christ, as man, is possessed of; for his sitting here denotes the glorious exaltation of him in human nature, after his sufferings, and death, and resurrection from the dead; and shows that he had done his work, and was accepted, and was now enjoying rest and ease, honour and glory, in which he will continue; and the place of his session, as well as of the habitation of God, at whose right hand he sits, is on high, in the highest heavens. [Gill]
Answer – God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.
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