Four Reasons Why God Intervenes in History
If history bores you, it’s likely you haven’t yet learned what it means. History is not just an accidental unfolding of senseless events.
Winston Churchill said, “He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below.” This man who saved Western civilization from Nazi tyranny wasn’t religious, but he knew that “a man’s own contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an external superior power.” This is true of the whole world.
How much does God intervene in world events? How much has He shaped human history? The answers to these questions are inspiring.
God’s fingerprints are everywhere. Yet if God is mentioned, it is generally to blame Him for tragedies like natural disasters or human acts of evil. How could God allow such suffering? people ask. There is a sensible explanation.
But what far too few recognize is the myriad ways, small and great, that God shapes events for tremendously positive purposes.
In the sixth century b.c., Nebuchadnezzar ii was the most prestigious king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. God put within the mind of this proud, pompous pagan a picture that foretold nearly 2,500 years of human history. The prophetic dream of this ruthless ruler, recorded in Daniel 2, is the greatest overview of human history in all literature.
God then sent a young prophet to reveal the meaning of this vision. “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” the prophet said; “he removeth kings, and setteth up kings …” (verses 19-21). He then unveiled the prophecy of four world-ruling empires that would dominate right down to the time of the Second Coming.
You can pick up any book surveying world history and see how God then brought that dream to life. Over the course of 25 centuries, He shaped world events—removed and set up kings, guided decisions and actions, directed wealth and resources, determined outcomes of battles and wars—to ensure history unfolded in this precise sequence: the Babylonian-Chaldean head of gold, overtaken by the Persian breast and arms of silver, conquered by Alexander the Great and the Greco-Macedonian belly and thighs of brass, overcome by the beastly Roman Empire, which split into two legs of iron—two capitals, Rome and Constantinople—leading right down to 10 toes, representing 10 kings in our day.
God intervenes in history to ensure His prophecies are fulfilled. Fulfilled prophecy proves God. Nobody has power to shape history apart from the one true God.
Isaiah 44 records God naming the great King Cyrus of Persia 150 years before Cyrus was born and prophesying in detail exactly how he would conquer Babylon. Read Brad Macdonald’s account of “The Startling Truth About One of History’s Greatest Kings.” Critics say Isaiah’s prophecy must have been written after Cyrus—but a copy of Isaiah’s book was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and dated to well before the critics say it was compiled.
A second reason God intervenes in history is to ensure His people have freedom to operate. Many examples show Him shaping events so His people can do His work, even prosper and thrive. Sometimes He intervened directly through His people; other times He inspired Gentiles, like King Cyrus, to open doors for His people. Our free book The True History of God’s True Church recounts many such cases.
The flip side is another reason God intervenes in history: He strengthens enemy nations to punish His people. For example, He raised Babylon to conquer the kingdom of Judah, and He raised the Assyrians to overthrow the kingdom of Israel. How difficult is it to raise an empire? How many strings must God pull, how many factors must He influence to cause the combination of capable leadership, resources and wealth, military prowess, technology, relative strength compared to neighboring powers, ambition, will, obedience in the people, national spirit in tens or hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes millions—to all coalesce at the right time to make such a thing happen? How deeply involved in history God is.
But not in past events only. God also shapes world events today. For example, Habakkuk 1:6 and Isaiah 10:5 prophesy of God personally raising a foreign power to punish America and Britain in the time just ahead. The Trumpet tracks countless current headlines and trends that fulfill biblical prophecy in similar ways.
A fourth reason God intervenes in history is most inspiring of all. To understand it, you must know God’s plan to resurrect all men who have ever lived without knowing Him and to offer them salvation for the first time (learn more here).
God intervenes to lay seeds for that resurrection. His ultimate intent is to save all people (e.g. 1 Timothy 2:4). Everything He does aims for that goal.
Throughout human history, God has been revealing Himself through His creation. He has been teaching men through physical family, work and other experiences. He has supplied blessings and performed miracles and other demonstrations of His power. Romans 13 shows that all those in authority rule at God’s discretion.
God is no impartial, passive observer. Scripture reveals Him as a Father who wants to bring all men to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). It shows He actively measures, discerns and considers events on Earth. He scatters seeds of His truth, watching how people respond, sanctifying some and setting them apart in preparation for a future calling. He sees how people respect the conscience He has implanted within all men, tracking sins that He will later show them in the judgment to bring them to repentance. He looks for qualities of character He will be able to later use. He blesses individuals and punishes individuals based on their choices, protecting them or allowing the devil to attack them. And all the while, He steers events to fulfill His prophecies and purposes.
God is deeply involved in history and in world events. He is love. He loves all people and expresses that love in countless ways. To truly recognize this, you must know His plan. The history of humankind is the history of God preparing to restore His government to Earth! Soon He will rule this whole world, and will call all men who have ever lived into His eternal Family.