Is God Detail-Oriented?
Lots of young people have big life-altering decisions to make regarding college, career, and relationships, and if they’re like me, deep down they’re scared. (What if I make the wrong choice? What if I’m wasting my time/money in college? What if this isn’t God’s will for me?)
Is God really in the details of my life, or is ‘the devil in the details’ of my life?
I tried to organize the many verses that came to mind by topic, and I came up with History/Our Personal Story, Creation, Israel, Jesus, and God’s Word.
History/Our Personal Story
I could mention the survival of the word of God, and the Israelites. In addition, the nation of Israel has been reestablished. We could also look at the Reformation, the Pilgrims, the American Revolution, etc. to see God at work.
Christians all have stories of how God reached and saved them, and they have stories of how he has orchestrated details in their lives since then.
I could remind you that God spoke the world into existence, yet humans were handmade, or I could refer you to the natural sciences and the complexity of the known world, or I could list lots of verses about this, but in the interest of being brief, I’m limiting myself to Psalm 8:
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!”
In Deuteronomy 7:7-9 we read:
“The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;”
God kept the Israelites alive many times over! The Egyptians and Persians (under Haman) and even Nazis have tried to wipe them out. God used Joseph, Moses, Esther and others to keep them alive.
In the wilderness He provided manna and water, and their shoes did not wear out (Deut 8:4; 29:5) , and regarding the pagan nations in the Promised Land, he promised
“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.” (Exodus 23:29)
God thinks of everything!
Psalm 139:17 “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!”
Psalm 40:5 “Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”
So, I can’t list everything, but there are a few more things about Israel that I’d like to point out:
The Principle of Remnant:
God keeps a remnant of true worshipers for himself, even when most of Israel turns to idolatry. (In 1 Kings 19: 10, 14, 18, Elijah complains that he’s the only one left, but God has 7,000) He cares about quality more than quantity.
The Principle of Training:
God gives people small assignments before big ones. (See Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, etc.) He also uses small things to teach us lessons. Consider the ant, the lily, the tongue, leaven, and seeds (especially mustard seeds!) Not to mention small children who teach us all sorts of things. God can multiply our scarce resources, as in the miracle of the flour and the oil, and five loaves and two fish.
God gave the Israelites detailed laws regarding the tabernacle and temple. These point forward to the next detailed topic:
The sending of God’s Son required many details. The giving of prophecies and fulfilling of prophecies could be a separate paper!
God used “small” people for the lineage of Jesus, (another study unto itself) from David, the youngest son of Jesse, to the virgin Mary. He sent his Son to “small” places like Bethlehem and Nazareth. Micah 5:2 explains
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Then there’s the precise timing: Romans 5:6
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
People have pointed out how the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) and Roman roads were ideal for the spread of the Gospel.
Jesus cared about “small” people—he handpicked lowly fishermen and a tax collector to be his 12 disciples. He took time for the worst of sinners, and often talked with people one-on-one (the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, short Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, etc.)
Likewise, Philip was called away from a great work in Samaria to go and speak to one man in the desert (Acts 8:26-39). Jesus also stated ‘Let the little children come to me’ (Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16) (See also “let no man despise thy youth” 1 Timothy 4:12)
Jesus also gave his disciples precise instructions. He told Peter to go fishing and catch a fish with a coin in its mouth to cover the cost of taxes (Matt 17:27). He also told his disciples to go untie a colt that had never been ridden, and later to follow a man with a pitcher of water to find a furnished room to observe the Passover.
Additionally, Jesus told his disciples
“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it [feeding, watering, clothing, visiting the sick and imprisoned] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40.
On the flip side, if we neglect to do those things, we neglect to do it to God.
There are more verses that indicate that God does care about small things. But first, here are some problems that come from believing God doesn’t care about small things:
Thinking God doesn’t care damages our relationship with Him. We keep to ourselves rather than casting our cares on him 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Worry is the opposite of faith!
Christians may become discouraged, looking at physical numbers, (the size of the assembly, or the gospel outreach not seeing immediate results). We might compromise and let the details slip, rather than giving our all.
There is the sobering reminder that small problems can become big problems in the analogy of leaven, and also the tongue…
In James 3, James points out how large things like horses and ships are steered with little things like bits and rudders, then in verse 5 he observes “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!”
BUT if we realize that God does care about small things, we remember that He can use anything.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
A Challenging Question:
Recently, I have been challenged by a question that God asks the prophet in Jeremiah 32:27:
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?”
It’s odd, because ten verses earlier, Jeremiah exclaimed
“Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”
It is as if God is asking Jeremiah, ‘Do you really believe what you just said? Do you believe I can do anything?’
Even though I have the verse memorized, sometimes I forget that “with God all things are possible.” I need to back up and recall the context “with man this is impossible” Matthew 19:26.
So, if you are feeling ‘impossibly small’, take heart…God knows, God Cares, God hears.
But why? Let’s look at that next time…