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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wheels of Providence

I've been working my way through Jonathan Edwards's The End for Which God Created the World. It isn't an easy read, but brings to mind the moral of Patricia Polacco's children's book, The Bee Tree. Near the end Grampa tells Mary Ellen the lesson of their beehive hunt:
"There is such sweetness inside of that book too!" he said thoughtfully. "Such things . . . adventure, knowledge and wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them. Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things through the pages of a book!"

This afternoon I tasted this bit of honey from Edwards's exploration of why God created the world:
All the wheels of providence turn for the sake of saving the people of God
That God uses the whole creation, in his government of it, for the good of his people, is most elegantly represented in Deuteronomy 33:26. "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun [Israel], who rideth upon the heaven." The whole universe is a machine or chariot which God hath made for his own use, as is represented in Ezekiel's vision. God's seat is heaven, where he sits and governs, Ezekiel 1:22, 26-28. The inferior part of the creation, this visible universe, subject to such continual changes and revolutions, alterations, and successive events, is represented by the motion of the wheels of the chariot, by the Spirit of him who sits on his throne on the heavens or above the firmament. Moses tells us for whose sake it is that God moves the wheels of this chariot or rides in it, sitting in his heavenly seat, and to what end he is making his progress or goes his appointed journey in it, viz. the salvation of his people.

Here are the relevant passages in ESV:
Deuteronomy 33:26
"There is none like God, O Jeshurun,
who rides through the heavens to your help,
through the skies in his majesty.

Ezekiel 1:15-21
15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. 16 As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. 17 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. 18And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. 19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels rose. 20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those rose from the earth, the wheels rose along with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 22Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads.

26And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

*Quoted from God's Passion for His Glory, John Piper, (Crossway, 1998), which includes the complete text of Jonathan Edwards's The End for Which God Created the World. P. 225-226. This book can be read for free by downloading the pdf file from the Desiring God website.

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