Not by chance – July 28, 2019
But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died.
1 Kings 22:34,35
The old song laments, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” While the words may cause us to smile, we can relate to them. At times, it seems that luck rules our lives. Survivors from battlefields have observed that there seldom was reasoning behind why one person was wounded, another killed, and still another untouched.
The phrase was, “If the bullet has your name on it ….” Living or dying happens by chance.
It might seem that much of life goes that way. The car accident that didn’t happen because we came five seconds late; the tornado that demolished one house and left the nearby one untouched; the lotteries, won or lost.
If we do not have absolute control over what is going to happen, must we not agree that much of life is left up to chance?
If Ahab, once king of Israel, was still alive, he would be violently shaking his head, “No!”
One of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history, he planned with the king of Judah to attack the king of Aram—a land now called Syria. Judah’s king said they should first check to see if this would have the Lord’s blessing. A group of prophets quickly told the kings what they wanted to hear: “Go, for the Lord will give it into your hand!”
Uncertain, the king of Judah asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”
There was one. His name was Micaiah. Ahab’s reaction was, “But I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”
So Ahab was dismayed, but not surprised, when the faithful prophet of the Lord announced the attack would end in disaster. Then the order was given: “This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.”
Micaiah replied, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.”
This gave Ahab pause, but not enough to stop him. He improvised in an attempt to overcome. He told the king of Judah to ride into the battle wearing his royal robes. He, instead, would enter the battle disguised, figuring he could not be targeted if he was not recognized.
Those on the ground might have been fooled, but not those in heaven. An arrow targeted him as well as any modern guided missile ever could. We are told, “But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor.”
It was a random shot, but not a lucky one. The king was killed not by chance, but by the direct, all-knowing will of his Creator and Judge.
So the will of God rules also over our lives. He will not force us to obey him or to be blessed by him. He gives us the freedom to ignore and despise him. We can turn our back on his offer of love and guidance. We can scoff at his invitation to accept the payment that his Son made for our sin.
But in the end, his will will be done.
He taught us to pray for that. In faith, we entrust our lives into his good and gracious hands.
We do not live by chance.
Prayer: How many times, good and gracious Lord, have you heard us think that life happens by chance? How many times will you need to correct us? How often will we need to be reassured that your rule is over all, and your will for us is that we receive the good that we need? Give us the certainty that the Holy Spirit alone can work. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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