The Roll of the Dice
A recent conversation got me thinking about the sovereignty of God. In church you'll hear people say things like, "Well, God is sovereign." or "God is in control.", but just how in control is He? How much do the people saying that believe it? Does He care about things like the shirt I wear today or what I order for lunch or even what number turns up when I roll the dice? How much control does God have?
I believe when we look to God's word, which is where anything we believe about God should come from, we see that God is in total control. He is totally sovereign. From my food choice, to my shirt choice, down to the roll of the dice when I was playing Settlers of Catan this weekend, God is in control.
I was reading this morning about Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph says to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." I don't think we can read this as Joseph's brothers decided to sell him so God reacted to bring about the best outcome possible. I think we must read this as God used Joseph's brothers to get Joseph to Egypt to raise him up as second in command and save many many people from starvation.
In fact, I think if we trace Joseph's life, we see God's hand the whole way. From the dreams where his family will bow down to him, to being sold into slavery, to being falsely accused and thrown into prison, to interpreting the dreams of the king's servants, to interpreting the king's dreams, to finally being raised up as in charge of Egypt.
As I think on the recent election of our President, the Bible shows us God's sovereignty in that. Psalm 75:7 says, "but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another." Daniel declares of God when interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2:21, "He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings." Romans 13:1 says, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God."
We find much of God's control spoken of in Proverbs as well. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Similarly, Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."
When we speak of things like chance such as dice we see this in Proverbs 16:33, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." We see this also as the disciples seek to replace Judas and are deciding between two other men. Acts 1:26 says, "And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."
We ultimately see God's sovereignty in the death of His Son. Acts 4:27-28 says, "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." God had already planned to use these people to ensure the death of His Son to save sinners. If God were not in control of it, how could He ever assure that it would even happen?
There are so many verses speaking to God's sovereignty in the Bible. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of God being totally in control. They value their ability to choose A or B. I suppose they value the dice roll being random, but Scripture points to the fact that God is in all the details of life. We are still called to make the best decisions possible and take confidence in God's control. I think we see a prime example of this in the life of Paul. We seek wisdom, pray, make the best decision possible and trust our Creator.
There is great comfort in a God who is in the details. I think we should find great comfort in the fact that even with all the evil in the world, it is not purposeless and it is not random. For the Christian there should be great joy when we hear, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). Our God is a God of precision. He hasn't just left us to ourselves, but instead has His hand in every small detail of our lives. What a loving and caring God.