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TITLE: SOVEREIGNTY AND COMMON SENSE
Subtitle: Is God Truly Sovereign In The Affairs Of Men, Or Just Sitting Back To See What We Will Do?
In our last article ("Suffering Saints", ), we explored the dual subjects of God's Sovereignty and man's suffering by looking at the life of the Patriarch Job. And in that analysis of Scripture we clearly saw where God caused some things to happen to one of His choice servants that usually prompts cries of "Unfair!" from unbelievers (and unfortunately from some of God's people who should know better). Job had done nothing wrong and God actually stressed that fact as He deliberately called Satan's attention to His faithful servant--effectively unleashing the fury of the devil upon that poor, unsuspecting man! Was this outrageous conduct, or the actions of a loving and all-powerful Sovereign God? As we tried to show from the Scriptures, it is definitely the latter and was designed from start to finish to bring honor and glory to His holy Name.
In somewhat of a sequel to the story of Job, when we turn to the ninth chapter
of the Gospel of John we find a similar situation. Only in this case the central
figure--a blind beggar--is not one of God's outstanding servants and his tormentors
are sinful humans and not the devil himself. But as we shall see, God's Sovereignty
in the matter is unmistakable and verified by the Words of Jesus Christ Himself.
As this chapter opens, we find the Lord and His disciples moving through Jerusalem:
John Chapter Nine
"1. As He passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. (2) His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? (all Scripture quotes from the Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible commentary, emphasis mine).
You see, the Jews erroneously believed--as do many people today--that such things are the result of sin on someone's part. Common sense seems to dictate that a loving and just God would never afflict a person without cause and therefore, in this particular case, the blindness had to be punishment. But as we learn from the Lord's response, this is another perfect illustration of how wrong our depraved logic can be, :
"3. Jesus answered, It was not that this man or his parents sinned; but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested--displayed and illustrated--in him."
What we have here is a grown man who has suffered from the effects of blindness his entire life. Not able to work, he has to beg from others in order to feed and support himself. No doubt his existence was a meager one, because beggars do not enjoy a lavish lifestyle. His parents shared in the suffering too, because they raised him to manhood and were forced by circumstances to cope with his disability. He may have had other siblings who loved him and yet were unable to support him because of their own struggle to make a living. So even though the number of people who were adversely affected by this man's blindness is unknown, it is safe to say that there were probably quite a few. If we then consider the combined mental anguish caused by the man's problem, it should come as no surprise that most people would never think to attribute his blindness to God's Sovereignty! God's wrath, yes--but for His honor and glory, no way! Yet that is precisely the case here and it is beyond dispute, because we have the Lord's own Word for it. This blind beggar and every circumstance surrounding him was the direct result of God's Sovereign will. And as we will see in the passages to follow, he was in the (1) right place at the (2) right time with the (3) right need to authenticate the message of Jesus Christ through the means of a miraculous healing.
But before we move on, I must point out something of the utmost importance. Have you ever come to the full realization that everything, without exception, taking place in this life is either directly caused or allowed by God? Most of us will have no problem attributing the "good" things of life to God, but what about horrendous tragedies such as the September 11th. destruction of the World Trade Center and its huge loss of innocent life? What about the on-going famines in Africa in which thousands of babies starve to death? What about all of the wars and all of the pain and misery and incalculable suffering men have inflicted upon each other? What about babies born with severe physical/mental defects such as blindness or Down's Syndrome? What about loved ones who are slowly killing themselves with drugs and alcohol, or dying from diseases such as cancer? What about wayward children who are breaking their parent's hearts? ..............................? The list is literally endless, but the point is made. And the conclusion is inescapable: all of these things take place according to God's directive will (those things He specifically causes to happen) or His permissive will (those things He allows to happen). We must learn from the Lord's Words of John 9:3 quoted above, that some of the incidents we view as tragedies are in fact expressly designed by God to honor Himself! When Christians truly "get a handle" on this concept, the up's and down's of life will take on an entirely different shade of meaning as tragedies are viewed as being necessary from God's point of view. And even if we never understand the "why" of some things this side of heaven, we can rest in the complete assurance that God knows what He is doing and all suffering has a purpose.
The Lord continues speaking in John chapter nine:
"4. We must work the works of Him Who sent Me, and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on when no man can work. (5) As long as I am in the world, I am the world's Light. (6) When He had said this, He spat on the ground and made clay (mud) with His saliva, and He spread it [as ointment] on the man's eyes. (7) And He said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which means Sent. So he went and washed and came back seeing."
Some commentators say that the Jews considered saliva to have medicinal qualities, so making an ointment with spittle and dirt would not have been viewed with the same aversion then, as it would today. But in any case, the spiritual application is one of faith. The man could have been offended (note that he was not consulted in the matter), wiped the clay from his eyes, and remained blind. Instead, he did as instructed and was healed of blindness! We can almost see him stumbling and groping his way through Jerusalem--possibly asking for someone to help him get to the pool of Siloam. And once there, he splashes the cool water upon the now-dried mud caked on his eyes and as the eyelids are freed of their impediment, he opens them to the wonder of sight for the first time in his life! Do you suppose he rejoiced a bit? You know he did!!!! And I'll guarantee you that half of Jerusalem heard him laughing and making a fuss (which was obviously part of the Lord's intent) as he made his way back to his own neighborhood. Having been blind since birth, he may have had to close his eyes to shut out all of the wonderful visual distractions, in order to navigate! Then after some time had elapsed, he finally gets back home and we pick up the narrative in verse 8:
"When the neighbors and those who used to know him by sight as a beggar saw him, they said, Is not this the man who used to sit and beg? (9) Some said, It is he. Others said, No, but he looks very much like him. But he said, Yes, I am the man."
It has been said that "eyes are the mirror of the soul" and the difference between those that are sightless and those that focus properly is substantial--hence the reason many did not recognize him as being the same man.
"10. So they said to him, How were your eyes opened? (11) He replied, The Man called Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, Go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and I obtained by sight! (12) They asked him, Where is He? He said, I do not know. (13) Then they conducted the man who had formerly been blind to the Pharisees. (14) Now it was on the Sabbath day that Jesus mixed the mud and opened the man's eyes.
With the disclosure of verse 14, we get to the heart of the matter. The miraculous hand of God is apparently recognized by the man's neighbors and they promptly take him to the Pharisees--their religious leaders--for confirmation. But they quickly find that a miracle of God witnessed and attested to by a number of people must take a back seat to a more "important" issue--the perception of a violation of Sabbath law. It turns out that over many hundreds of years, God's original prohibition against working on the Sabbath had been "interpreted and added to" by the commentary of men--whose pronouncements had assumed the status of Scripture! God's prohibition was stringent enough, but after man's ideas were added--it had become an intolerable burden. Breathing itself was close to being a violation! So making a mixture of saliva and dirt into mud and spreading it as a healing mixture on the blind man's eyes was, according to their interpretation, work and therefore a violation of the Sabbath--originally an offense punishable by death. But since they were under Roman rule, they could not carry out a death sentence. However, they could make life miserable for the offending party and even excommunicate them ("cast them out of the synagogue"). So this is the scene we have before us as we come to verse 15:
"So now again the Pharisees asked him how he received his sight. And he said to them, He smeared mud on my eyes and I washed and now I see. (16) Then some of the Pharisees said, This Man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not observe the Sabbath. But others said, How can a man who is a sinner--a bad man--do such signs and miracles? So there was a difference of opinion among them. (17) Accordingly they said to the blind man again, What do you say about Him, seeing that He opened your eyes? And he said, He is--He must be--a prophet! (18) However the Jews did not believe that he had really been blind and that he had received his sight until the called (summoned) the parents of the man. (19) They asked them, Is this your son, whom you reported as having been born blind? How then does he see now? (20) His parents answered, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. (21) But as to how he can now see, we do not know; or who has opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age, ask him; let him speak for himself and give his own account of it. (22) His parents said this because they feared [the leaders of] the Jews. For the Jews had already agreed that if any one should acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ, he should be expelled and excluded from the synagogue. (23) On that account his parents said, He is of age, ask him."
The name of Satan does not appear anywhere in this entire account, but his presence is evidenced in the attitude and actions of the Pharisees. They hate Jesus of Nazareth and will not acknowledge Him as their Messiah. And it is my personal opinion that they knew--at least intuitively--He possessed every necessary qualification! Based on what the "chief priests and Pharisees" had to say in John 11:47-48, in which they admit to the miracles and express the fear that the Romans will view His following as rebellious, they were afraid of losing both "their place and nation." Commentators have various opinions about what they meant by "place," but I believe they were referring to their exalted status as "spiritual" leaders. If Jesus was the Messiah, their days as religious big-shots would be numbered, unless they could get rid of Him!
"24. So the second time they summoned the man who had been born blind, and said to him, Now give God the glory (praise). This Fellow we know is only a sinner--a wicked person. (25) Then he answered, I do not know whether He is a sinner and wicked or not. But one thing I know, that whereas I was blind before, now I see."
In this, the first of two or three common-sense "zingers" the formerly blind man delivers, he makes a wonderfully profound statement! "You can argue all you want," he says, "but one thing is undeniable--once I was blind, but now I can see!" He is calling their attention back to the obvious miracle performed and, to the last man, every one of them knew that only God could do such a thing. But they do not want to--and will not--admit it.
"26. So they said to him, What did He [actually] do to you? How did He open your eyes? (27) He answered, I already told you, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Can it be that you wish to be His disciples also?
Zinger #2 and delivered with pin-point accuracy!
"28. And they stormed at him--they jeered, they sneered, they reviled him--and retorted, You are His disciple yourself, but we are the disciples of Moses. (29) We know for certain that God spoke with Moses, but as for this Fellow, we know nothing about where He hails from. (30) The man replied, Well, this is astonishing! Here a Man has opened my eyes, and yet you do not know where He comes from--that is amazing! (31) We know that God does not listen to sinners; but if any one is God-fearing and a worshipper of Him and does His will, He listens to him. (32) Since the beginning of time it was never heard of that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. (33) If that Man were not from God, He would not be able to do anything like this."
Zinger #3 and "the third time is the charm," as the old saying goes!
"34. They retorted, You were wholly born in sin--from head to foot--and do you [presume to] teach us? So they cast him out--threw him clear outside the synagogue."
Talk about "the pot calling the kettle black!" They too were born in sin--from head to foot--like everyone else, but they would not admit it. Their conduct was reprehensible and anything but godly. Then to compound their guilt, they violently thrust the poor man out of the synagogue, excommunicating him in the process. His only "sin" was in talking back to them, but they made up the rules as they went along. Who would dare object and try to stop them? They were the wealthiest and most influential men in the entire nation, so they felt quite safe in doing whatever they pleased--as long as it did not offend their Roman captors.
Excommunication for a Jew meant instant ostracism by everyone else. The family would often hold a funeral service for the individual, because he was--for all intents and purposes--dead to them! He could not buy nor sell and no one would even dare speak to him, for fear of being caught by the authorities. In order to survive, he would have to leave town and take up residence elsewhere--hoping that his reputation would not follow him. Many times that meant having to leave Israel entirely, because of the fanatical zeal of those persecuting him. So we see what regaining his sight cost him. But even though God intentionally put him in this situation which brought such joy and then such sorrow--infinitely better things are just ahead!
"35. Jesus heard that they had put him out, and meeting him He said, Do you believe in and adhere to the Son of man--the Son of God? (36) He answered, Who is He, Sir? Tell me, that I may believe in and adhere to Him. (37) Jesus said to him, You have seen Him; [in fact] He is talking to you right now. (38) He called out, Lord, I believe--I rely on, I trust, I cleave to You! And he worshipped Him."
You see, up to this point the blind man had received sight--but not salvation. God had chosen to use him in a way that he could never have imagined. His blindness had been ordained as part of the eternal plan to authenticate the public ministry of Israel's Messiah, Jesus Christ. When the time was right, God saw to it that he was precisely where he was needed when the Lord walked by! His years of begging alms had made him so well known in Jerusalem that as a result, many people recognized the miraculous nature of his new-found sight. And now that he has played his small part in God's master plan for the Messiah, his unwitting participation (and suffering) is rewarded with eternal salvation. The Lord Himself sought him out to elicit a response of belief. And when He made Himself known to the man, belief was immediate and worship followed!
Yes, our God is Sovereign and when life seems unbearable and/or persecution closes in (as it inevitably will for the true Christian), cling to the knowledge that it will ultimately be worth it all when we see Jesus face-to-face and hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.
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