Category: Providence

Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?

The account of the ten plagues of Egypt frequently refers to the ‘hardening’ of Pharaoh’s heart.  Because ‘hardness of heart’ suggests to us something to do with the emotions, Goldingay prefers to think of this as ‘the closing of Pharaoh’s mind’.  There are four aspects to this:-

  • Yahweh will close Pharaoh’s mind: Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 14:4
  • Pharaoh’s mind was closed: Exodus 7:13, 14, 22; 8:19; 9:7, 35
  • Pharaoh closed his mind: Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34
  • Yahweh closed Pharaoh’s mind: Exodus 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8

Alexander refers to the ‘strengthening’ of Pharaoh’s heart. …

God the provider of temporal gifts

  1. Life Isa 42:5
  2. Food and raiment Mt 6:25-33
  3. Rain and fruitful seasons Gen 27:28; Lev 26:4,5; Isa 30:23; 2 Chron 1:12
  4. Peace Lev 26:6; 1 Chron 22:9
  5. All good things Ps 34:10; 1 Tim 6:17
  6. To be used and enjoyed Ec 3:13; 5:19,20; 1 Tim 4:4,5
  7. Should cause us to remember God Deut 8:18
  8. All creatures partake of Ps 136:25; 145:15,16
  9. Pray for Zec 10:1; Mt 6:11

(Source unknown)…

The problem of evil – three pillars of truth

With regard to the problem of evil, three things can be asserted with confidence:-

1. The evil reality of evil, Isa 5:20.

2. The all-embracing sovereignty of the Lord, Eph 1:11.

3. The perfect goodness of God and of his work, Gen 1:31.

There is, no doubt, great difficulty in reconciling these three, yet we hold them all to be true. Indeed, we find them intertwined on the cross, ‘an evil than which no greater can be conceived’ (Hick), which, nevertheless, was predestined by God, (Acts 4:28) and which was the ultimate expression of the goodness of God.…

Evil and God’s providence

Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said:

1. God permits evil; (Acts 14:16)

2. he punishes evil with evil; (Ps 81:11-12 Rom 1:26-32)

3. he brings good out of evil; (Ge 50:20 Acts 2:23 4:27-28 13:27 1 Cor 2:7-8)

4. he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves; (Mt 4:1-11 Heb 12:4-14)



Providence may be defined as

that continued exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator preserves all his creatures, is operative in all that comes to pass in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end. (Berkhof)

The doctrines of creation and providence are inseparably connected: the same God who made all things continues to sustain them moment by moment.

God’s providence is all-encompassing, Psa 115:3; Mt 10:30; Eph 1:11.  Natural events, such as the wind and the rain, are part of his ordering, even though these can sometimes lead to disaster, Lk 13:1-5.…

Be thankful for great mercies – sermon notes

As part of my current drive to be less dependent on written notes, this was a largely unscripted sermon which used the following Powerpoint presentation as a basis:-

Psalm 107 v2

There were just a few sections that I did script out more fully, though even these I adapted at the time of delivery:-


There are other ways of being

Lost – there is the lostness that comes from simply not knowing the God who made us and to we must give an account

Enslaved – there is the moral slavery that comes when we find ourselves trapped in repeated patterns of unhealthy thoughts, feelings, attitudes, behaviours and we can find no means of escape

Damaged – there is the damage that comes from a guilty conscience that eats away at us and stunts our spiritual and emotional growth

Storm-tossed – There is the anxiety of feeling that everything has got on top of us and we can see no rhyme nor reason in it

The human condition.…

Calvin on divine providence

John Calvin deals with this doctrine fairly early on in the Institutes – in Book 1, Chapters 16-18.

In Chapter 16, he begins by asserting that ‘we see the presence of divine power as much in the continuing state of the universe as in its inception.’  In other words, God’s power is as apparent in his works of providence as it is in his work of creation.  The One who made the world sustains and governs it.…

The mystery of providence

Recent study of Psalm 107 has led me to think about the doctrine of providence.

By ‘divine providence’ we mean God’s superintendence over all things; his ordering of everything that comes to pass.  Providence is an extension of creation: it is God sustaining that which he has made.

There is an instinct whereby even irreligious people ask, ‘Why?’  People seem to have a deeply-held belief that everything that happens not only has a cause, but also a reason.…