n., pl., acts of God - “A manifestation especially of a violent or destructive natural force, such as a lightning strike or earthquake, that is beyond human power to cause, prevent, or control.” http://www.answers.com/topic/act-of-god
The above is an accepted dictionary definition of the “acts of God.” There’s only one problem! It’s not Biblical! Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and the like may be “acts of nature” but they are not “acts of God!” Nature “acts up” in cruel destructive ways, but God’s acts are merciful, saving, and redemptive.
Nature is messed up! It has become twisted and distorted. But according to the Genesis account everything God created was good. When earth’s first couple rebelled against the one simple command of God to not eat of the only forbidden tree in the Garden, it came with a warning: you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:17) When they rebelled there came into existence all the forces that now lead to death.
- Weeds that, if not up-rooted, will choke out the desired vegetation that grows.
- Cancer, if not up-rooted, will likewise choke out healthy cells and cause death within us.
- Human hearts once destined to beat forever, would now one day wear out.
- Gentle winds would now, on occasion, become violent and destructive.
- Earth itself became twisted deep within. Fault lines developed. There would now, on occasion, be an uneasy shifting of the plates and when those plates shift, the surface of the earth would violently quake. On Jan 12, 2010, that violent shaking would take the lives of some 300,000 people in and around Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
- According to Romans 8:22 “the whole creation groans” as it awaits the day of redemption.
But all of that is a consequence of our sin. They are forces that were set in motion thousands of years ago. Hurricanes and tornadoes blow and the earth quakes. We call them “acts of nature.” But biblically aware people should never call them “acts of God.” Let me tell you about the “acts of God.” They are saving and redemptive.
When sin left Adam and Eve naked and ashamed God covered them up. “...For Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin.”(Gen. 3:21) Taking away their nakedness and giving them clothing was an act of God.
When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, God went with him, blessed him, and caused him to greatly prosper in Egypt. When a great famine came, Egypt had food when all around them people were facing starvation because of the spiritual insight God gave to Joseph. Joseph became the most powerful man in Egypt. The very brothers who once sold him into slavery now came begging for food. God took their wicked action and turned it around for good. He used their sins to bring them salvation from death. That was an act of God! (Gen. 37f)
When God directed the Israelites to escape the unjust bondage in Egypt, the Pharaoh pursued them with his army. With the Red Sea before them and the enemy hot on their heels, God directed Moses to stretch his staff out toward the sea. The great sea parted and the Israelites crossed it on “dry land.” When the enemy pursued them it was easy for God to deliver. He simply closed the waters and in so doing set his people free. That was an act of God.
When the Israelites were hungry in the wilderness, God sent manna from heaven to feed them.
When they wanted meat, God sent quail.
When they were thirsty in the hot barren dessert, God told Moses to strike a stone with his staff. Out gushed water creating a river in the dry dessert.
That was an act of God.
Such stories are told repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. The New Testament tells of the greatest act of God. The Gospel of John says it like this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in His will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God sent Jesus into the world. He grew up to be a sinless man. He performed miracles, did acts of kindness, and taught the world about the love of the Father. People were amazed. Many followed Jesus and hung on to His every word. The only problem was that Jesus began to upset the political “apple cart.” It all came to a head on Palm Sunday. Jesus entered Jerusalem, saw what was happening at the temple and was enraged.
At the beautiful temple the Jews had set up a system of buying and selling sacrifices that one needed for the proper worship of God. Everything was sold at extremely high prices. It was unfair and unjust. The poor could not participate. Even the rich were being “ripped off.” Jesus refused to let it continue. He took a whip and entered the temple. Like a wild man, he began swinging his whip and shouting, “My Father’s house shall be a house of prayer. You will not turn it into a den of thieves.” He overthrew the money-changers tables. He set the pigeons free. He righted the wrong.
Some may have shouted “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” but not the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Not the rich and the powerful! Not the “status quo” people! They determined to kill him. Days later they succeeded.
On Good Friday Jesus was captured in the middle of the night. A brief mock trial was held. The Romans were dragged into it. After Jewish authorities cried “crucify Him” repeatedly, the Roman soldiers finally did the deed. The whole world was represented. Jews and Gentiles crucified the very Son of God on a cross. The earth grew dark. The ground shook as onlookers scorned Him.
Jesus, with arms outstretched, cried out, “Father forgive them.” But what would you expect God to do? Isn’t this the final straw? Would not God’s patience with sinful humanity finally come to an end? Wouldn’t you expect God to cause fire to fall on those who killed His “only begotten Son?” Wouldn’t you expect God to end world history right then and there? What father would ever tolerate such an abuse toward his son? Surely God would so hate the world that He would condemn it to eternal damnation. But that’s not what happened.
Instead, God heard the cry of His Son, “Father forgive them.” God turned that very murder into an act of redemption. Now, if anyone repents of his sins and trusts in the salvation provided through the death of Jesus on the cross, he or she will have everlasting life. That’s amazing!
That is an “act of God!”
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Psalm 105:1-2
The acts of God are not destructive ones, they are redemptive!
He is worthy!
Pastor Bill Huegel