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Providential Dominoes

There is a satisfying elegance in the carefully crafted cascade of dominoes that have been set up in just the right pattern to have one falling domino follow another from beginning to end. This artistic display of cause and effect gives us something of a picture of God’s providence. With the dominoes, a holistic vision is needed in order to arrange the individual pieces to accomplish the purpose of the (deputy) creator. On the other hand, “God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 18). Of course, this ordering requires a holistic vision, which we call the decrees of God, and it does no violence to man’s will (cf. Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1).

One striking example of this set up of providential dominoes is the way in which Jesus procured the donkey upon which he rode into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. It is worth setting forth the text from Luke 19:29-35 (ESV) to put it in our minds:

When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' you shall say this: 'The Lord has need of it.'" 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying the colt?" 34 And they said, "The Lord has need of it." 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it.

In this text, we see a picture of the Lord Jesus’ sovereignty over creation that emphasizes the finesse of his control instead of the raw power of his lordship.

Last week, we saw how Jesus walking on the frothing waters of the Sea of Galilee demonstrated his clear and confident control of creation as he walked through the chaos of the waters to meet with his disciples. In the text above, the emphasis is on his careful craftsmanship of causes and effects, events and circumstances that bring about exactly what he needs—a donkey—in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. As impressive as it would be to witness a sharpshooter hit a bullseye 300 yards away from a moving train, this is a far more impressive finesse of free wills. Truly, Christ is king of the cosmos.

Finally, note here that our Lord’s control is not a Jedi mind trick—these are not the droids you’re looking for—but something far greater: his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and ordering of his creatures to the praise of his own glory. Indeed, this extends to the notoriety of his own ministry, both words and works, so that “The Lord has need of it” carries with it enough persuasive force that no mind tricks or coercion is needed to have the colt’s owners sweetly comply with this example of providential dominoes.

Now, reflecting on the procurement of this donkey so that the Lord Jesus might faithfully fulfill the Scriptures should prompt us to reflect on the fact that our own lives fit within the larger scheme of God’s purposes worked out through his providential preserving and governing of creation. In fact, I am bold enough to say that your reading of this reflection is a part of God’s providence. It is no accident that you find yourself connected in some way to Covenant Presbyterian Church, whether it’s the first or 101st time you’ve clicked on the blog or walked through the doors. And such a realization is worth dwelling on. Indeed, it’s worth asking yourself the question, “What am I going to do now?” Feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to chat about it with you.

There is another implication of this example of providential dominoes. Matthew Henry puts it this way: “Those that go on Christ's errands are sure to speed (cf. Luke 19:32): ‘They that were sent found’ what he told them they should find, and the owners willing to part with them. It is a comfort to Christ's messengers that they shall bring what they are sent for, if indeed the Lord has occasion for it.” God’s providence grounds the task of being an ambassador of the gospel of reconciliation on an unshakeable foundation. This simple procurement reminds us that what Christ has promised, he will perform. May we, then, boldly proclaim the gospel in this Easter season with confidence that God will use it to work out his purposes to the praise of his glory.

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