Do you see it? In the rock formation above are two praying figures. They are horizontal so it helps to tilt your head to the left. When people see the figures they go “oh, look!” They are amazed; why? Because if the photo is genuine then we are seeing a supernatural message embedded in natural rock; God has arranged natural rock to say “pray”. Now, I have to admit I am sceptical; I have graphic skills and know photos can be manipulated. But if it is genuine we cannot say this is coincidence, we have to say its ‘God-incidence’ because it’s so obvious. What I am addressing today is God-incidence; the fact that God arranges things; not just in nature but in our individual lives.
In the Scripture above Abraham’s servant has to find a wife for his master’s son, but he is told she has to be from among Abraham’s relatives. So the servant travels to Abraham’s native country and the town of Nahor in search for a wife, but where does he begin, Nahor has many people? He rests at a well outside the town and asks God to bring the right woman to the well. He asks in addition that she will show she is the one by offering to water his camels. All of this happens; Rebekah arrives, and offers to water his camels. He then asks who she is and discovers she is the grand-daughter of his master’s brother. Was this coincidence or God-incidence? Both the servant and the girl’s parents believed it was a God-incidence (27, 50).
I can personally testify to a number of God-incidences; some more obvious than others. Recently I preached a sermon titled ‘Flying Blind.’ The main illustration was about how pilots have to trust their instruments when flying in the dark or heavy cloud, and how Christians need to trust their spiritual instruments when they cannot see ahead. After the service I shook hands with a visiting couple. He introduced himself with the title Captain, so I said “Captain of what?” He said, “I am a pilot for Jet-Link,” and he went on to confirm all I had spoken about. He just happened to be in the city for that weekend, and just happened to visit our church for the first time that Sunday; and I thought “what are the chances of that happening” and took it as God way of confirming my message. Now you can say it’s just coincidence, and I would not be able to prove you wrong, but it’s not the first time something like that has happened to me, and it usually happens when I need the confirmation.
My claim and the claim of Scripture is that God arranges natural things to fit his divine purposes. I believe God wants us to hear from him for what to preach, whom to marry, and where to work. I am not claiming that every incident in life is arranged by God. That would be an unscriptural and dangerous way to think because we all do things that are against God’s will and many things that happen have an evil source. Yet people often talk as if everything that happens is caused by God. For example; people at a funeral might say “It was his time to go” when the man killed himself through drunk driving. God doesn’t arrange drunk driving, we do. God does not arrange evil, He arranges good. In fact Romans 8.28 says “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Now, I would like to know how God arranges some of these things? I mean, think of what it would take to get Rebekah and Abraham’s servant to meet. The girl had to be of the right family, the right age, and the right personality (to water a stranger’s camels). And the timing at the well had to be perfect. How did God arrange all these things? It takes years to ingrain certain attitudes in our personalities. Perhaps God had prepared Rebekah over years? But thinking of another example: what did it take to get 153 fish into Peter’s net when Jesus told him to throw it on the other side of his boat (Jn 21.6, 11)? Did God suddenly create 153 new fish in the net, or did he find a way to gather the fish from different parts the sea of Galilee? One thing is for sure; Rebekah was not created the day the servant met her. God knew about her before she was born and worked through many seemingly natural and random events to get her to meet the servant and finally her husband Isaac. This is why I have no problem with the scientific idea that the universe came about through natural, random processes. The God of the Bible is recognized as a God who controls both the natural and the random. The Jews and early Christians believed God controlled the random; that is why they cast lots to know God’s will. The end result is that Isaac and Rebekah were joined, and the universe has a planet that supports life. In fact we don’t need the photo above to know God arranges the natural; we have a universe that speaks louder.
Abraham’s servant sets a wonderful example for us to follow. His example is especially helpful for those who are looking for partners, jobs, or something similar. First, he is obedient to father Abraham’s wishes and looks for a woman amongst his relatives (3, 4). And we should be obedient to our Heavenly Father and look for our partners among His people (2 Co 6.14). God has given us clear parameters. Second, Abraham’s servant goes, prays and waits (10, 12, 21). We cannot expect a partner or job to fall out the sky, we must go and look for them, but as we go we do so prayerfully and watch for God’s hand in the matter. And we will know when it’s God because there will be a peace about the arrangement (Ph 4.6-7). We will not have to manipulate the circumstances; they will flow by His grace (50-51). This was certainly the servant’s experience; and in the end all he could do was thank and praise the God of divine incidents (26, 52). We worship a supernatural God who arranges natural things.