Is God far-off or near? Is he remote, passive, and impersonal or actively and intimately involved in creation. The scriptures answer resoundingly that the latter is true. Jesus said God personally decides when a thing insignificant as a sparrow will die and he keeps track of exactly how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:29-30). The deist idea that God is like a watch maker who made the universe with the ability to continue to run on its own so he could go off and do something else is completely foreign to scripture. Psalm 139 is a beautiful meditation on intimate, personal care God has for us. The writer to the Hebrews says that Jesus is continually, “..upholding the universe by his word of power” (Hebrews 1:3). In his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes that God “is above all and through all and in all”. Not only has God not left the universe to run on its own power, he is continually exerting the power of his will to hold every atom together. If he ceased to do so for even a moment the entire universe would utterly vanish.
God is intimately involved not just in nature but also human affairs. Daniel received a vision in which he is told, “the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will, and sets over it the lowliest of men”(Daniel 4:17). The psalmist declares that God “guides the nations upon earth” (Psalm 67:4). When Balaam tried to curse Israel, God prevented him from uttering curses and made him pronounce blessings instead (Numbers 24). When God was finished punishing Israel in exile, he moved Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation authorizing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). We also read in the Bible how king Rehoboam did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfil his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahi′jah the Shi′lonite to Jerobo′am the son of Nebat (1 Kings 12:15). The Bible gives us a picture of God allowing people to do some things but restraining them from doing others. It shows God moving people to act so as to bring about his purpose.
David and Abigail recognized this when Abigail’s husband Nabal returned David’s kindness with contempt and scorn. When Abigail heard that David and his men were coming to avenge themselves upon Nabal, she quickly gathered a peace offering and hurried to meet David. When they met they acknowledged that “the Lord has restrained (David) from bloodguilt, and from taking vengeance with (his) own hand”. They were confident that this was so even though there had been no miraculous manifestations of God’s presence, no angelic appearances or voices from heaven. They knew these events could be explained only by the influence and intervention of God in their own actions and decisions.
All these things are ancient. How about today. Is it possible that God may still be actively working in us and those around us and influencing the events of our lives? Yes, he certainly is. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In John 5:19 we read, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise”. Jesus explained that he was watching his heavenly father in every situation. After observing what his father in heaven was doing, Jesus cooperated with his father by doing the part assigned to him. He shows us that our heavenly father is not distant and detached but ever present and always at work in the world.
You may be thinking, “This is all very good and well but what does this have to do with us? After all, Jesus was the Son of God. Surely it’s impossible for us to do the same thing he did. The answer is yes and no. Jesus was fully human in every way but his human nature was pure and sinless. Our human natures are thoroughly warped and twisted by sin. Jesus was like Adam and Eve before they sinned. Paul calls Adam the first man and he refers to Jesus as the second man and the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45-47). During his life on earth Jesus lived the way Adam was intended to live. He did it perfectly in every way. Jesus ability to see what his father was doing and work with him was not a divine ability but a human ability. This means we can do what Jesus did although not as easily and as well as he did. Our sinful natures weigh us down and keep us from living the way we were intended to live. As we seek God’s grace (help), and respond to it, we can learn more and more to see what God is doing wherever we are and work with him just like Jesus did.The first step is to cultivate an awareness of God’s presence in everything we do. If we don’t believe God is at work around us or fail to look for signs of his presence we will never be able to enter into his work. Then we should be praying that our eyes will be opened to see what God is doing and our ears sensitized to hear how we are to help. The more we respond to the grace offered us the more we will fulfill these words from the apostle Paul: Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). We most certainly can work together with God as we respond to the grace he gives.