/ MULYALE MUTISYA
When it comes to God, nothing happens by chance. Our very own existence was divinely orchestrated. God lets in Jeremiah on this fact telling him, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5). This goes to show everyone was is divinely placed on earth by God. God ‘fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited’ (Isaiah 45:18).
The earth was formed to house the exact people He had in mind before they even came to existence. In fact, David says that ‘All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be’ (Psalm 139:16). In a mind-blowing fashion, it is as if the earth is the stage, and mankind the characters, playing out God’s script that He wrote beforehand. Only difference is, there are no rehearsals and the characters unfold as the plot unfolds. It is only God who knows how our seconds, let alone days and years play out. That is why He asserts, ‘I am God, and there is not other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come’ (Isaiah 46:9-10).
When one is in tune with God’s will, they begin to realize that everything plays out in a manner beyond their control. It is only in hindsight does one make that realization, and while connecting the dots, they begin to see how every detail in their life is interconnected. At the moment, no one realizes but it is only by looking back, because we are limited. Jesus, however, was able to look all ways.
Many instances in the Bible show Jesus knew of what is to come, pointing us to divine set-ups. ‘As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethpage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples saying, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away’ (Matthew 21:2-3). The first question that most would ask is, How do you know? But the disciples who had been long with Jesus knew that such instances were not new. This divine set-up related to Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem, the place of His death and resurrection. The impact of what was to come was ushered in by a pre-planned set-up, not done by human hand.
Another divine-set up that sticks out is before the last supper. The disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ (Luke 22:9). Again, Jesus reveals a scene that only the script writer would know. He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there’ (v10-12). And sure enough, ‘They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover’ (v13). Again, this divine set-up hinted to an important occurrence. Sure enough, this Passover was the place the Twelve were officially commissioned by Jesus as Apostles, and the layers of the foundation of the Gospel that would soon be spread to all the corners of the earth.
Jesus tells them, ‘And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ (v29-30). It is also at this Passover meal that Jesus distinguished between His true and false disciple. He revealed the Betrayer saying, ‘But the hand of him who is going to betray him is with mine on the table’ (v21).
As we go about life, we begin to notice that divine set-ups that really stand out indicate transition, and what we would call a turning point. Common times where divine set-ups stand out and become apparent to us is our salvation. In Paul’s conversion, Jesus had already set-up the way. He told a disciple named Ananias to ‘Go to the house of Judas on the Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight’ (Acts 9:11-12). It is interesting to note that God prepared both Ananias and Paul (then Saul), for this divine life-changing moment.
Another case concerns Cornelius who was instructed to ‘send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea’ (10:v5). When the messengers Cornelius sent as instructed had reached to where Peter was staying, ‘the Spirit said to him, ‘Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them’ (v19-20). Again, this divinely set-up meeting lead to Cornelius’ salvation and that of his household and friends.
The Ethiopian Eunuch would also tell you that he was on his way home and decided to take a rest. He ‘was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet’ (8:v28). He then met a man who started a conversation with him, ended up explaining the Scriptures to him, and then baptizing him. That man was Phillip. The Ethiopian may have not known that an angel of the Lord had actually told Phillip to ‘Go South to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza’ (v26). There, he saw a man sitting on a chariot and then the ‘Spirit told Phillip, ‘Go to that Chariot and stay near it’ (v29). What seemed like a chance meeting was divinely orchestrated as the Ethiopian Eunuch would soon find out. After he was baptized and ‘they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Phillip away, and the eunuch did not see Phillip again, but went on his way rejoicing’ (v39).
Another area that divine set-ups are clearly seen is that of a person meeting their spouse. For instance, when Abraham sent his servant to look for a spouse for his son Isaac, he tells him that this would be a divine activity. Abraham tells him that God had ‘promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land – he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son there’ (Genesis 24:7). Most would say that certain happenings in their lives stand out, because they completely turned their lives.
Since divine set-ups are spiritual, one has to be ever in tune with God to be able to identify and obey as instructed. Even in the seemingly unpleasant occurrences, those in Jesus have assurance that ‘in all things God works for the good to those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28). Believers in Jesus get an upper-hand to life, because the Spirit reveals to them hidden things that would not otherwise have been apparent prior to their occurrence. That is why Jesus says to His disciples, ‘I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe’ (John 14:29).
‘Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.’ (His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling Israel.) ¬ Judges 14:3-4
‘The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between HIS feet‘ ¬ Genesis 49:10
‘. . . the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abraham. I AM your shield, and your exceedingly great reward‘ ¬ Genesis 15:1