Institute For Creation Research

February 12, 2019
A Bag with Holes
“Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:6)

This biting description of a frustrating lifestyle, penned by one of the Jewish post-exilic prophets, is both preceded and followed by this appropriate admonition: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5-7). When a professing believer somehow never seems to have enough and his money bag seems filled with holes, it is time for him to consider carefully his ways before the Lord.

After all, our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and is well able to supply all our needs. In context, Haggai is rebuking the people of Judah for tending to their own welfare and neglecting the work of God. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [paneled] houses, and this house [that is, the unfinished temple in Jerusalem] lie waste?” (Haggai 1:4).

Herein is an eternal principle. Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things [that is, food and drink and clothing]. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:32-33). If these necessities of life are not being provided, we urgently need to consider our ways. Are God’s kingdom and His righteousness really our first concerns?

We often quote the wonderful promise “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). But we must remember that this promise was given to a group of Christians whose “deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality,” because they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:2, 5). HMM

John Piper Devotional

Lincoln’s Providence

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day in 1809, remained skeptical, and at times even cynical, about religion into his forties. So it is a most striking thing how personal and national suffering drew Lincoln into the reality of God, rather than pushing him away.

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held 2,000 cots for wounded soldiers.

Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. He has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.

Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away . . . .

Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.

I pray for all of you who suffer loss and injury and great sorrow that it will awaken for you, as it did for Lincoln, not an empty nihilism, but a deeper reliance on the infinite wisdom and love of God’s inscrutable providence.