God’s Ways are Behind the Scenes
by Inglis Fleming
“The Lord reigneth” (Ps. 93).
Here is the heart’s resting place. Amid the storm and stress He rules, and “None can stay His hand or say What doest Thou?”
Psalm 93 brings this glorious truth before us. In it “the whole history of God and man in government” is brought before us. From eternity in the past to the millennial reign in the future He rules and over-rules.
“The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty: The Lord is clothed with strength wherewith He hath girded Himself” (v. 1).
Apparelled in majesty, He sits on high and in His essential glory no man hath seen or can see Him. But “He hath girded Himself with strength” and manifested “His eternal power and Godhead” in the works of His hands. Thus we see in creation, “parts of His ways, but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).
“The world also is established that it cannot be moved” (v. 1).
As everything exists through Him so everything subsists in Him. He upholds all things which He has created. Of old “He spake, and it was done: He commanded and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:9). By the same word He maintains order in the universe, sustaining all by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).
He has swung the earth on its orbit round the sun and none can move it from its place. With exactitude and promptitude it makes its journeyings. Man’s best timepieces vary and have to be corrected from period to period by the apparent movement of the sun. So evident is this variation that on the great ocean liners three chronometers are carried instead of one only. And then the average of the times shown on their dials is taken because they all differ slightly and it is of all importance to know as nearly as possible the exact hour so that observations may be made to determine the ship’s position day by day. And then finally all the instruments have to be adjusted when the voyage ends.
Meanwhile the earth moves on in its appointed course, unaffected by all that passes upon it, being under the control “of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own Will” (Eph. 1:11).
“Thy throne is established of old: Thou art from everlasting” (v. 2).
In our finite weakness we turn with joy to Him in His infinite strength. “The eternal God is” our “refuge.” In this thought Moses, the man of God, delighted. “Lord,” he cries, “Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou had3t formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God” (Ps. 90:1-2). Age after age passes, dispensation after dispensation comes to its close, generation after generation perishes, but God abides. “Great is our Lord, and of great power, His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). Alas, to His power there is opposition. Against the ruling of His throne there is rebellion. Sin has come in. Thus we read,
“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, The floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves” (v. 3).
Duped by him who deceiveth the whole world, man has resisted the authority of his Maker. All down the centuries, from the fall of our first parents, the floods of man’s pride and self-sufficiency and alienation have raised themselves against God and His interests and His people.
An instance of this was seen in Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God was about to redeem His people from their bondage. “Let My people go!” He demanded of the king. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and stiffened his neck. Of him it might be said, “He stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. He runneth upon Him even on His neck, upon the thick bosses of His buckler.” His proud antagonism was all in vain. Israel came out and, not in poverty, but, “with great substance,” as God had said four hundred years before (see Gen. 15:15), and Pharaoh and his hosts were overthrown. This redemption of Israel led Jethro to cry, “Blessed be the Lord who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh who hath delivered the people from under the hands of the Egyptians. “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly He was above them” (Ex. 18:10-11). “They dealt proudly.” He was above them. “The floods lifted themselves,” but in vain.
But the most notable instance is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There, urged on by Satan, men are seen at their worst. It is their “hour and the power of darkness.” “The floods have lifted up their voice” aloud. Tempestuous waves and raging billows rear their heads against the Son of God. Apparently they are overwhelming Him for the waves and the billows pass over His holy head, and “Deep called to deep” as the waterspouts of judgment were outpoured. But having suffered all and yielded up His life, the Saviour rose triumphant, and sits at the right hand of God. Again, “the Lord hath triumphed gloriously.” Entering upon this truth the company of believers lift up their voice to God with one accord, and say, “Lord, Thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Thy holy child (servant) Jesus, whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, “For to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:24-28).
With “wicked hands” they had taken Christ and had crucified and slain Him. But behind all and above all was “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” He who sits in the heavens laughs—the Lord has them in derision (Ps. 2:4).
Truly “there are many devices in a man’s heart, nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). And again “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought, He maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:10-11).
The raging waves of the sea foam out their own shame, but they reach not the throne of the everlasting God. He is above all their haughtiness and pride and makes the wrath of man to praise Him, restraining the remainder which does not serve His purpose.
Christ is the victor. By death He has annulled him who had the power of death and has delivered them who “through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15). “We see Jesus crowned with glory and honour.” He is the captain of our salvation. He is the leader of many sons on their way to the glory of God. He stands in the assembly leading the praise of God.
Truly “the Lord reigneth” now as He will reign—and then manifestly in His coming kingdom.
It is the same today as at Calvary. The floods lifted up their voice then, they lift up their waves now. Opposition to God and His saints is ever in evidence. His Son, the eternal Word, was rejected then, His written Word is rejected now. His warnings of coming wrath are disregarded. His welcoming messages in the gospel are slighted. God is not in all the thoughts of men. But God IS, and He is carrying out His own purposes unhurriedly. He is over all in the government of the nations and in His own times will manifest Himself.
Solomon in his wisdom could say “If thou seest the oppression of the poor and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for He that is higher than the highest regardeth and there be higher than they.” Violent perverting of judgment and justice were seen at Calvary. They are to be seen today in the treatment of the saints of God and among men generally. But “the higher than the highest” regards, and He can turn the curse into a blessing. He can make the base metal of temporal affliction into the finest gold of spiritual prosperity.
“Ill that He blesses is our good,
And unblest good is ill;
And all is right that seems most wrong
If it be His sweet will.”
Futile indeed are the puny efforts of devils, demons and men against the will of God.
As another has said,
“The persecuting emperor little thought what he was giving us when he banished the apostle; no more than Augustus in his political plans as to the census of the empire knew he was sending a poor carpenter to Bethlehem, with his espoused wife, that Christ might be born there; or the Jews and Pilate’s soldiers, that they were sending the thief to heaven, when they broke his legs in heartless respect for their own superstitions or ordinances.
“God’s ways are behind the scenes; but He moves all the scenes which He is behind. We have to learn this, and let Him work, and not think much of man’s busy movements: they will accomplish God’s. The rest of them all perish and disappear. We have only peacefully to do His will” (J.N.Darby).