Volume 50 | Number 3 | July–September 2022

Inglés Español

The Singular History of God’s Plan

By Dr. H. T. Spence

One of the great fallacies of interpreting history is the fragmenting and isolating of one history from another. Perhaps this is a real danger in any study. Collected facts and truths compartmentalized and studied apart from the whole of epistemology can result in distorted conclusions. This is especially true when it comes to history. There are so many history studies to which a person could give his life that he could never view them in the light of the whole of history. However, we must carefully note that history in the sight of God is a singular sight. All aspects of history, even those taking place simultaneously, are interwoven as one reality in God’s plan.

One History versus Many Histories

Though God works in the meticulous details of every minute aspect of life, the coherence of it all is viewed by God as one plan always unfolding in time. We mortals can only see the facts as history has unfolded itself to the present time; even still, our sight is limited. For example, we now see seven historic Church ages having unfolded in the light of Revelation 2 and 3, but it was not until the mid-1800s that this prophetic view was first discerned by God’s men as they reflected over history from their standpoint in time. Although we read prophecy in Scripture, even with its much-pronounced specifics, it is only when a prophecy is finally fulfilled that we see its exactness and its reality now as part of history.

There is no separate history. All history, no matter what kind, is part of God’s singular purpose. Though we see certain aspects of history being fulfilled, yet how is it to be seen in the whole or the entirety of history? Only God sees the whole of history, and every thread of its histories is delicately interwoven by providence into one singular history. We may see a fulfillment of a part of history, but God’s people have had to be in continual re-examination of whatever thought or models and perspectives of history are current. The history that has happened will be in keeping with the revealed pattern and purpose as the Bible continues to unfold itself, giving insight to God’s people.

God’s plan of salvation is very simple— it is so simple a child can understand the basis for participation. However, God’s pattern of history is very complex. It is so complex that men find it difficult to comprehend just what is presently happening in history. This is particularly true of all which still lies ahead of us in the unfolding of history. We know not if its course may slightly or dramatically alter. The pattern of history as set forth in the Scriptures is there for all to read, yet it is so complex that no man has ever exhaustively set forth a statement of the historical proposition.

The fact that God has given a revelation of history is found in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

The purpose of the revelation of God’s Word is threefold: First, the revelation shows that God is the author of history.

That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it (Isa. 41:20).
Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it (Isa. 46:10, 11).
Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them (Isa. 42:9).
And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them (Isa. 44:7).

Second, the revelation stands as a witness against unfaithful men:

Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (Isa. 46:8–10).
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them (Isa. 48:3–5).
These verses reveal that only God has been the unfolding power of history.

Third, the revelation allows the faithful to understand and take comfort as history unfolds.

Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I (Isa. 52:6).
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25–27).
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe (John 14:29).
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he (John 13:19).
But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you (John 16:4).

Among the innumerable history books that have been written (ranging from an honorably attempted objective perspective to the modern existential Geschicte perspective), which ones are more accurate, and which ones are more subjectively written? Which ones are written in the light of a singular event while isolated from all other events? None could be written in the light of the whole of history; only God can do that. And only God can interpret even portions of history in the light of the whole. Not one history written by man will necessarily be in accord with God’s full and real history. There could have been many different histories, but there has been only one history. The full pattern of history only comes from outside ourselves; God must reveal it. God has ordained time, history, and the plan of history including every meticulous aspect.

Every event, every birth, every death, every nation, every philosophy, every government, every human accomplishment, every contributing thought to humanity, every song, every invention, every battle, every war, every good, every evil, every biblical sermon preached, every heretical sermon preached, every crime committed, every movement of providence, every building built, every word spoken, every oppression, every persecution, every marriage, every blessing, every curse, every event in the universe, every conversion, every falling away, every recovery, every apostasy, every movement and work of man, every action performed, every lion that kills, every bug that moves—no matter how significant or insignificant, these all are intricately woven into the plan of history through the providence of God! And that plan of history is the plan that God had from the foundation of the world. There has not been one event or word or thought that has not somehow become part of the whole of history.

The Threads of History Interwoven into the Whole

There is the boule will of God (which we have dealt with in our writings) that presents the sovereign decrees of God throughout history; this will is unalterable. Yet, how does God weave the myriads of His theileime will, His “wish or desired will” that may not be fulfilled? Second Peter 3:9 declares that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” This is His “wish will” and desire, but not all will repent. Yet even the rejections of His will for them are all carefully and intricately interwoven into God’s plan and God’s singular history for this world. In all the planning, deliberations, conspiracies, and manipulations of individuals, families, communities, cities, states, and nations, God will both permit and restrain man’s actions. All these permissions and restraints are a part of His plan for this world’s history. It must be acknowledged that mankind is humanly inadequate to read the total pattern of history. It will be impossible to submit the total pattern of history to human logic. God’s divine pattern is truly “translogical” since history’s author is a transcendent God. We believe the Bible teaches that history is neither open-ended nor cyclical; it is climactic. There is so much said in the Bible of judgment, harvest, the fullness of time, the Day of the Lord, etc., that we cannot think otherwise.

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from a man who was greatly disturbed that Donald Trump did not get back in as president. He questioned God’s promise of Genesis 12, that God would honor those who would honor the seed of Abraham. And that because of this, Trump should have providentially gotten back in as president. I told him though Trump moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem and was an open friend to Israel, this does not mean that God’s will was to return Trump back into the White House. We may ask, “Why did God not permit Trump to return to the presidency in 2020?” There is a simple answer—it was not God’s will!

Though Trump honored the Jews, there are two biblical prophetic truths that must be kept in mind. The first is that we have come to the End Time, a consummation of the ages; and according to biblical prophecy the national governments must collapse to bring about the global governmental power. President Trump did indeed reveal how evil America’s leadership is, especially the political maneuverings of its Deep State. The second truth is that it seems God’s appointed history now is to collapse the whole of world governments to bring about the coming of Antichrist. Yes, there is an Antichrist coming, as well as a deepening of the apostasy of the Jews; and America must fall as part of the whole of history.

God’s will, plan, and providence are working toward the culmination of evil, when man’s great day of sin will bring the earth to absolute exhaustion, and God will collapse all man’s vain plans. Christ revealed that the days of Noah and the days of Lot would return in the time surrounding the Second Coming of Christ.

Amidst the Neo-Christian crowd declaring in the presidential days of Donald Trump that a national revival of Christianity would take place, even in the White House, God used that president to reveal the darkness, the powers of Satan, and the deep evils of immorality that are a part of America, and the giving over of this nation to “the Lie.” His presidency may have been simply to reveal to God’s people how deeply wicked this nation is and how spiritually corrupt modern Christianity is that empowers wickedness. His time in office caused a reaction that truly opened the floodgate of evil and Satan in full force and open display. The shootings in Texas and in so many other places across our country, including over twenty-one other shootings that weekend (January 6) that did not make the headlines, proved that our country is so filled with violence it has become the norm of society. How will all this, even the confusion that surrounds all these daily incidents, be part of the singular history of God’s Plan?

Therefore, it is impossible to interpret history or interpret prophecy ahead of time. We may know a certain thing will happen according to prophecy. But how will it happen? When will it happen? And what will it affect? We only know of the coming event; but how all this will tie into God’s whole history and plan, we do not know. We read the parts; when it happens, we view the parts, but what does it all mean? We should never interpret a providence while we are in it; only in the aftermath of it does it become plain. But even then, what is that providence in the light of the whole of History? Oh, the many histories that flow at the same time in the great river of history—many tributaries flowing, but one great river. Some histories stand out and become more prominent; others are never written about. Others are events that happened with only one present or no one present. There are places where only animals, fish, and fowl of the air are present; yet everything in God’s creation is making history and being part of history.

What Is History?

When the Roman Catholic historian Will Durant wrote the immense work The History of Civilization, he was asked, “In all the decades of your study of history what has it taught you?” He responded:

Is it possible that history has no sense, that it teaches us nothing, and that the immense past was only the weary rehearsal of the mistakes that the future is destined to make on a larger stage and scale? At times we feel so, and a multitude of doubts assail our enterprise. To begin with, do we really know what the past was, what actually happened, or is history “a fable” not quite “agreed upon”? Most history is guessing, and the rest is prejudice. The historian always oversimplifies, and hastily selects a manageable minority of facts and faces out of a crowd of souls and events whose multitudinous complexity he can never quite embrace or comprehend. History smiles at all attempts to force its flow into theoretical patterns or logical grooves; it plays havoc with our generalizations, breaks all our rules. The historian will not mourn because he can see no meaning in human existence except that which man puts into it; let it be our pride that we ourselves may put meaning into our lives, and sometimes a significance that transcends death. If a man is fortunate, he will, before he dies, gather up as much as he can of his civilized heritage and transmit it to his children. And to his final breath he will be grateful for this inexhaustible legacy, knowing that it is our nourishing mother and our lasting life.

Such was his perspective of history.

From a Christian’s perspective we can say that history has two sides, a divine and a human. On the part of God, it is His revelation in the order of time (as creation is His revelation in the order of space), and His successive unfolding of a plan of infinite wisdom, and to His glory. There must be a universal (or whole of) history because of the unity of God. A view of history which overlooks the divine factor starts from deism and consistently runs into atheism. The opposite view, which overlooks the free agency of man and his moral responsibility and guilt, is essentially fatalistic and pantheistic. And then we have a third power that enters the history of the world—that of Satan and fallen angels.

In the temptation of Adam in the garden, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, and at every great epoch, Satan appears as the antagonist of God, endeavoring to defeat the plan of redemption and the progress of Christ through history, using weak and wicked men for his schemes. But he is always defeated in the end by the superior wisdom of God. The central current and ultimate aim of the universal whole of history is God’s Kingdom that is to be established by Jesus Christ. Secular history must directly or indirectly subserve God’s sacred history’s ends. Secular history can only be fully understood in the central light of Christian truth and the plan of salvation.

The apostle Paul declares in Colossians 1:17, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” This statement includes history! But we must remember that God alone is the Historian! He is the One Who writes history and interprets it, the One Who, we will both discover and acknowledge one day, has penned the true history of the grand plan of His Son, the Love Gift to Him, and that will triumph over all that has come against the heart of God in His Son!