12 “When it was day, the Jews made a plot and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. 13 There were more than forty who made this conspiracy. 14 They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. 15 Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” (Acts 23:12–15)
The providence of God is the active outworking of God’s sovereignty in every circumstance of life. Everything that happens in all of creation is in some way the result of God’s providence. We do not live in a closed universe, but rather a universe in which the creator of the universe is actively working and involved; not only in the extraordinary things of life but also in the seemingly insignificant things.
Chapter Five of the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.”
“Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.”
“God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure. However, God is neither the author nor approver of sin.”
The providential working of God in the life of the Apostle Paul is conspicuously evident in today’s text. The Jews planned to kill Paul. They swore an oath to do so. There were over forty who made this pledge. They even revealed their plot to the chief priests and elders and said, ““We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.”
Remember, when Jesus appeared to Paul in the Roman barracks, he said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (Acts 23:11 (ESV)
God the Father would providentially use the free acts of the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem to eventually and providentially bring Paul to the City of Rome. How could God do this? He could do this because He is sovereign and the Lord of heaven and earth.
God works His providence in our own lives. Take the opportunity today to look back upon the circumstances of your life and reflect on how God worked all things together for good and for His glory (Romans 8:28). Then take the opportunity to praise Him.
Soli deo Gloria!