The May 2013 issue of the "Covenant Reformed News" contains this article by Rev.A.Stewart, pastor of the Covenant PRC of Ballymena, N.Ireland:
- "God's Way is in the Sea - Ps.77 (2) Part 1 is here.
- You may also read it online at their website here.
God’s Way Is in the Sea (2)
God’s way with the church and the believer is “in the sea” (Ps. 77:19) because we are not privy to the contents of His eternal decree. The incomprehensibility of God’s decree is itself a reflection of the incomprehensibility of God. His ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9) for we can not know the Almighty unto perfection (Job 11:7). Full, exhaustive knowledge of Jehovah’s decree is as impossible as full, exhaustive knowledge of God Himself. Thus the apostle extols God’s deep riches (Rom. 11:33): “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (36).
As if puny, puffed up man, with false views of his own wisdom and importance, could know God’s inscrutable ways! The Almighty is not to be put in the dock by the grasshoppers and worms of the earth to answer for His doings!
This vital distinction between the omnipotent Creator and the impotent creature also means that God’s way is in the sea for Satan, too. Formally, he knows more of the Lord’s way than we do, being much older and more clever than we are, but he is still only a creature. Even for the holy angels, God’s footsteps are not known. Michael, Gabriel and the heavenly host learn from Jehovah’s dealings with His church (Eph. 3:10; I Pet. 1:12), for, though they dwell in heaven, they are decreed not decreers.
It is no wonder, therefore, that frequently we do not know the details of God’s plan or why He does what He does. Sometimes, with hindsight, we understand later; in heaven, we will understand a lot more. For now, the Bible gives us the broad framework of God’s work on earth with His church in Jesus Christ. We have biblical principles to understand Jehovah’s dealings with us and this is one principle: God’s way is in the sea! Scripture is clear but specific events in Jehovah’s providence are not always so.
All this means that we must never give way to despair. Elijah lamented that “the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (I Kings 19:10). Elijah wanted to resign his prophetic office, but the Lord informed him of the remnant of 7,000 in Israel (18). God’s way is in the sea!
Jacob protested to nine of his sons, “Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). The patriarch’s faith was weak here, since “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) and God was working all things for good (Gen. 50:20).
Remember Asaph’s anguish: “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies” (Ps. 77:9). Do not despair, beloved. God’s way is in the sea. You do not know what good He is working. Do not try to second guess the Almighty!
Instead of despairing, in all circumstances (especially the most difficult) our calling is to trust Him (Ps. 37:3-5; 46:1-3). We can rely on His goodness, wisdom, faithfulness and covenant mercies to work all things for His glory and our good.
If you seek guidance and support in a difficult situation, do not act according to mystical intuitions or any sinful feelings. Remember your calling, the role in which God has placed you. Apply the ten commandments, the summary of His moral will for your life. Seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
The truth that God’s way is in the sea means that it is not only an unknown way (Ps. 77:19) but that it is also a redemptive way, as the context teaches (14-16, 20). By a redemptive way, we do not mean that our struggles redeem us, as if we paid the price for our delivery from sin. Rather, God applies the benefit of our redemption in Jesus Christ by faith through our various struggles.
God’s way with us is designed and results in our sanctification, His bringing us more and more out of the bondage of our sin. Through his afflictions, Asaph was brought to holy meditation (10b-12) and restored to God’s worship (13). This is Jehovah’s goal in His dealings with us, too. Bearing this in mind is half the battle.
When we encounter difficulties, we must not think, “But I am a good person and I don’t deserve this!” Remember that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3:12). All that we deserve or merit of ourselves is hell, but by God’s grace our earthly afflictions are not punishments but trials, to test and purify us.
Just as Israel had to go through the Red Sea to reach the promised land, so too we must tread this unknown, sanctifying way as the only way to glory—Thy way is in the sea! God leads His “people” (Ps. 77:20) through the sea and to the blessedness of heaven in the church. Israel journeyed through the wilderness together. This is the way—God’s way—for His people to keep us on the right path.
Moreover, God leads His “people” through the sea and to the blessedness of heaven in the church guided by faithful church leaders: “Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron” (20). These two Old Testament office-bearers are examples to church office-bearers today. We must follow the teaching and example of faithful church leaders as they guide us on God’s way in the sea (Heb. 13:7, 17, 24). Through the preaching of His Word and biblical guidance from church overseers, our heavenly Father applies His redemption to us and guides us to glory.
The truth that God’s way is in the sea also involves the ungodly. Pharaoh misunderstood this, thinking that he too could pass through the Red Sea, but Pharaoh’s way was in the sea in a different sense! Just as the Egyptians were crushed at the Red Sea, so reprobate wicked men and angels are destroyed by Christ’s cross. Rev. Stewart
- Volume: 14
- Issue: 13
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851