Summary: All over the Bible God talks about His Sovereignty. Here are the incidents in the books of History, from Joshua through Esther. God does what He wills!
When God sets His love, that is one thing. But when God sets His judgment, it is quite the other, but no less definite. The summarizing of Joshua's conquests is in the book by that name, chapter 11, verses 18-20.
First, there was a long war. Next, virtually no city was exempt from the judgment of God. And finally, the reason:
(v. 20) "For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroy them, as the Lord had commanded Moses."
Yes, and as the Lord had spoken through Noah, "Cursed be Canaan (Genesis 9:25) ."
When men curse, the curses may or may not stick. When God curses, the end can be told from the beginning. One man, the son of Ham, sinned. All of his progeny cursed. Well, not all. Mercy was shown to the family of Rahab.
One man, the creation of God, sinned. All of Adam's race is cursed. Well, not all. God showed mercy, perhaps, to you? And to me. And many more.
Not that He owes it to anyone, you understand. God is in no man's debt. We are the debtors, for His amazing grace, a grace that in our day has become less amazing as we take so much for granted.
Choices, always choices. Not man's, but God's, and for God's reasons. Turn to Judges 7:3-7, read the story of how Gideon's men were chosen, and tell me if this is a standard military policy that ought to be sent to our generals in the wars they must fight in our own day.
Send home anyone who has fear in their heart.
Send home anyone who drinks water a certain way.
What's the lesson we must see hear? "His ways are not our ways," for one. And secondly we will see the pattern over and over repeated that God delights to take what is weak and through His own power and nothing else, make it mighty.
Who has bragging rights in this story? Gideon was so afraid of the odds that God had to send him to the enemy camp in the middle of the night to hear a dream a frightened soldier was having.
They were afraid. Midian was afraid of Israel!
Only God will receive the glory, and that is exactly what He wanted. See verse 2: "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.' "
To me He speaks along similar lines: I didn't make you all that smart or all that strong or all that anything. I put you in a family that had no chance of raising you properly. I allowed you to walk in poverty, so that a simple bag of groceries from the local church would be enough to get you to attend a service. Once you heard about Me, you never wanted anyone else, though your utter lack of character has been a challenge..."
Guess who gets the glory in my life?
The Reformers claimed this point as a serious part of their creed. "To God alone be the glory." It was placed at the end of the list often, but the fact is, this was the beginning of the return of the church to its heritage.
God, and God alone, gets all the praise, all the glory, now and forever.
I was unable to withdraw a particular quote from this book, but certainly the unlikeliness of this story is a testimony to God's sovereignty. God here shows early on, once again, His love for the unlovely and/or helpless. The Gentiles. Women. The poor. A Gentile female is brought into the House of God by a series of awful circumstances. But the ending is happy.
Need I make the application? "We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God," says Paul to his converts and us. Most of the time we have no clue what God is doing long term for us, as I am sure Ruth could testify, but He gets it done.
All according to plan. His plan.
Chapter 2, verses 6-7. Hannah is so happy. God has given her a son, and she has given that son back to God. In her rejoicing she reminds all future generations that it is the Lord who kills and makes alive... who makes poor and makes rich.
Why are some people poor and some not? Hannah believed it was a sovereign God who was behind all of this. When He wants to send poverty to a nation, for his own reasons, He can do that. When He wants to single out this or that family for poverty, or for wealth, for His own reasons, He can do that. You can say, some are lazy, some work hard. But what do you do with lazy rich people and poor hard-working folks?