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“Plots, Plans, Villains and Fools!” Ezra 6:13-18 Key verse(s): 14:“So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artexerxes, kings of Persia.”

Sometimes it isn’t hard to imagine why some are tempted to imagine that God is a laid-back kind of guy. He’s kind of cool, you know. He’s up there watching over us but pretty much letting things happen as they may. Sure, He loves us; but He isn’t concerned with micro-managing anything.

The evidence seems pretty convincing sometimes doesn’t it? Look around you. The world is full of stuff that we do or are doing. Much of what we undertake doesn’t work out very well. Some things get started but not completed. They lay around, in some state of benign neglect until they are finally forgotten altogether. Other things we do get out of control spreading disaster willy-nilly wherever they go. Then there are the evil plots and plans that succeed, reach their targets and then do their dastardly worst. Sometimes it seems that we are surrounded by plots and plans and villains and fools. All these things working together to do good? If so, if God has lifted a finger to direct even some small and insignificant part of any of these doings, He is good at covering the evidence.

This sort of logic gave birth to a belief called deism several centuries ago. Those who contrived this thought decided that God was God all-right. But, He created things and then pretty much backed off and took a wait-see attitude on what He had cooked up. It is natural for our sinful nature to embrace just this sort of philosophy since by nature we long to take credit for all that is good in the world and blame the rest on Satan or, for that matter, any convenient Bin Laden-type villain who happens to be around at the time. God? If I can’t see Him it is quite likely He isn’t there. Maybe He is watching over the big things like hurricanes and floods; but we do okay when it comes to getting to work in the morning and taking care of our little corner of business in the world.

Isn’t it true that sometimes we gravitate toward a sort of Far Side® understanding of God. You know, the Gary Larson guy in the white robe with the long flowing beard and a pretty good sense of humor? We see Him watching, somewhat bemused and sanguine, as His little creation goes about its business. Like little ants in a sand pile we scurry around and God sits backs and takes it all in. Really–does God sweat the details? Newscaster Paul Harvey tells a remarkable story of God’s providential care over thousands of allied prisoners during World War II, many of whom were Christians. One of America’s mighty bombers took off from the island of Guam headed for Kokura, Japan, with a deadly cargo. Because clouds covered the target area, the sleek B-29 circled for nearly an hour until its fuel supply reached the danger point. The captain and his crew, frustrated because they were right over the primary target yet not able to fulfill their mission, finally decided they had better go for the secondary target. Changing course, they found that the sky was clear. The command was given, “Bombs away!” and the B-29 headed for its home base. Some time later an officer received some startling information from military intelligence. Just one week before that bombing mission, the Japanese had transferred one of their largest concentrations of captured Americans to the city of Kokura. Upon reading this, the officer exclaimed, “Thank God for that protecting cloud!...

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