2007-07-16 - Second Causes
"Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, and see not; who have ears, and hear not. Do you not fear Me? Declares the Lord. Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it."
This passage serves as a warning to all of us who have eyes and see not, who have ears and hear not. The Lord speaks of His presence; from we cannot flee (Psalm 139:7), and says, "Do you not tremble at My presence?" And we should tremble, for He is with us when we sin, and when we sing His praises. When we live in the quiet, and are seemingly convinced that no one is looking, the Lord is there. This passage gives a reason to tremble at the power and majesty of so great a God whom we live before; He is the one who has placed boundaries upon the sea. We would be wise to be afraid of transgressing one who set the seas boundaries. He keeps the sea within its domains and says to the waves, "Thus far, and no further." It is the Lord's doing and it is no common thing, as it is also no common God we serve and stand before.
Why then are we so often rebellious? Why do we not greatly trust the one who sets the tides of the oceans to come in and out twice a day? Surely it would be our wisdom to trust such a sovereign God. I have in mind the providence of God in all this. If He has set the bounds of the sea, and says to the waves that they are to be within certain boundaries, shall we not trust His providence in our lives also? This is the Lord who tells us that the very hairs upon our heads are numbered, Matthew 10:30. Shall we not trust Him in everything?
Traditionally Christians have talked about both the secret and the revealed will of God. His revealed will is made known to us in the Bible, but His secret will is unfamiliar and unknown to us. The secret will of the Lord was unknown to Joseph when his brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery. But, all along - and it took 22 years before the secret will of God was made known - God was at work. We often don't see the providence of God behind events in our lives, but let us trustingly rely, and make His providence in all the events of our lives our foundation and trust.
We now get to the phrase I used as the topic: Second Causes. As we just said, we need to learn to see the Lord's providence behind all the events in our lives, and that includes the good and bad for us, as it did for Joseph. We are prone to look at second causes. We are prone to stop asking why, or for what reason this happened, when we learn that the doctor was negligent. We need to go further and ask the deeper question, seeking to understand why God allowed the doctor to be negligent. Why did that driver pull the wheel, that made the car swerve, in the manner that it did, at the time that it did? What is the primary cause behind the secondary cause of the doctor's negligence or the wayward car? We need to ask what the Lord is showing us, or teaching us, in His providential dealings with us. To stop seeking answers at secondary causes is to not learn those precious things that the Lord can teach us from our trials and His providence. Let us think of Job, who learned through trial the majesty of God.
The same loving God who sets the boundaries upon the ocean also teaches us through His providences. In the middle of the book of Job, there is a verse that can get lost in all the discussion that takes place between the first two chapters and the last few chapters, where God reveals His glory to Job. It is found in 23:14, and there we read, "For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such decrees are with Him." Job recognized that there were many things that were appointed for him by the Lord, and that the Lord was working them out in His life. He trusted the Lord, in spite of all his trials, and it was a deep, subterranean trust that Job had. He was afflicted in every possible manner, and yet says trust that the Lord is performing those things that are appointed for him. He looked through the secondary causes to the primary cause, and it is our wisdom to do the same.
Soli Deo Gloria,