Thursday, September 22, 2016

Coincidence or providence?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Jeremiah 32:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord." Jeremiah 32:8b

How do we know when an idea, plan, or course of action is not merely our own, but comes from God? In Jeremiah's case it started out as an apparent coincidence. He relates his experience in Jeremiah 32.

His prophecy of the impending Chaldean takeover of Judah had offended king Zedekiah. To punish Jeremiah for saying such negative things and to keep him from spreading them, Zedekiah kept Jeremiah locked up.

One day Jeremiah reported, "The word of the Lord came to me." It's possible that he wasn't sure it was the word of the Lord at first. For this 'word' was the crazy idea that his cousin Hanamel would come to him and ask him to buy a field.

If he believed his own prophecy, buying a field at this time would make no sense, because the Chaldeans would be taking over the land. So perhaps at first he discounted the thought.

However, soon after, Hanamel was there, in the court of the prison, asking Jeremiah to buy that field. It is then he makes the statement: "Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord." These two things — the revelation, followed by its coming to pass — convinced him that God was in this.

Has something similar happened to you? It has to me. For instance while on vacation a while ago, I visited an old friend, with whom I had been out of contact for several years.

She told me that during the cleanup of a basement flood a few weeks earlier, she had come across some writing I had sent her years earlier. She sat down, read it, and was reminded of our friendship. "So when I got your call," she said, "I wasn't even that surprised."

I didn't get any prophetic meaning from my friend's advance notice of my visit, like Jeremiah did over the buying of his cousin's field (Jeremiah 32:13-15). But I did interpret it as God's little message to me, saying — See, I know about this visit. I even set it up by giving your friend this little hint you were coming. I am in such things.

Let's not be hesitant to interpret seeming coincidences as God's providence. Then let's proceed with confidence, knowing that He is in even the mundane details of our days.

PRAYER: Dear God, please open my eyes to see and recognize Your activity in my life. Amen.

MORE: Bible Coincidences

Here are some of my favourite Bible incidents that (I'm sure you would agree) are more than coincidental:

1. Abraham's servant, given the job of finding Isaac a wife, journeyed to the country of Abraham's relatives. The first girl he met was Rebekah. She offered to water his camels just after he prayed that the right girl for Isaac will do just that. (Genesis 24:1-26).

2. The Shunamite woman, whose son Elisha had raised from the dead, moved to Philistia for seven years during a famine. When she and her family returned, she went to the king to ask to have her land restored to her. It just so happened that the king was quizzing Gehazi, Elisha's servant, about the miracles Elisha had performed and Gehazi had told the king about Elisha raising the Shunaminte's son from the dead just before she was ushered in to see the king (1 Kings 8:1-6). Of course she got her land back.

3. King Ahaseurus of Persia discovered the account of Mordecai saving his life on the very night that Haman was in the palace intending to ask permission to have Mordecai killed on the gallows he had built (Esther 6).

Can you think of more?

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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