Providence, Prayer, and Current Events

Johnny Stringer
Loudon, Tennessee

Christians should recognize that God providentially works in earthly events. If he did not, prayer for his help would be but an empty, meaningless exercise. We may not always discern precisely which occurrences are the result of God's providential action, but we know he does act.

The Bible makes it clear that he acts in the affairs of nations. Time and again he did so in the days of the Old Testament. God promised, for example, that he would bring Edom down (Obad. 1-4), and we often read of his using certain nations to punish other nations.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian Empire, was a mighty ruler among men. To whom did he owe his preeminent position? Hear the prophet Daniel: "The God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory" (Dan. 2:37). Later on, when Nebuchadnezzar was lifted up with a feeling of self-importance, he had to be taught the lesson that "the most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men" (Dan. 4:17,32).

Some believe that God's active involvement in the affairs of nations was limited to the Old Testament period. There is no reason for believing that, and the New Testament proves otherwise. Jesus taught that God would use the Roman armies to destroy the city of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:1-2; Lk. 21:20-21). Moreover, his divine power would bring down the great persecuting power pictured in the Revelation, a book in which Christ is depicted as the King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:15-16).

If God were not active in the affairs of nations, he surely could not bring about a peaceable life for his people. Yet, we are taught to pray for national rulers so that we can live a peaceable life (1 Tim. 2:1-2). It would be futile to pray for national leaders if God had nothing to do with their actions.

Indeed, the very fact that we are taught to pray about earthly matters proves that God is active in earthly affairs. Of course, we may pray for things which conflict with some plan or purpose God is working out. In such a case, he will not grant what we ask (1 Jn. 5:14). Furthermore, he may act in response to our prayers in some way other than the way we expect. Or he may see fit to delay his response. Our job is to express our desires and then leave it to God to respond however and whenever he sees best.

Application to Current Events

Through the years many saints have fervently prayed for peace. We have thanked God for our freedoms, especially the freedom to worship God and teach his word. We have considered the countries which have been bound by the chains of Communism, and we have prayed that someday they too could enjoy these freedoms. Yes, we have prayed for God to act in international affairs.

Now look! The winds of change are sweeping across Eastern Europe with historic force, dramatically shaking established institutions and producing monumental changes which few of us imagined we would see in our lifetime. These winds are seemingly - seemingly - blowing away the iron curtain and causing the Soviet empire to disintegrate before the gaping gaze of an astonished world.

Can we doubt that God's hand is behind these events? And although we are not now certain of the final outcome, must we not believe that it is at least possible that God is presently responding to the many prayers from his saints that have for so many years ascended to his throne?

Brethren, keep praying!

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 6, p. 169
March 15, 1990