Is Anything Really Random?

One of the sayings we often use is, “that was random.”  I have discovered that different people mean different things by that, but usually that statement carries with it the idea of chance or accident.  I had a guest preacher come in last Sunday who asked the question, is anything really random?  He asked this question after reading a Scripture passage about Ahab, the evil King of Israel.  Here is the passage:

28 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead. 29 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle. 30 Now the king of Syria had commanded the captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.” 31 As soon as the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; God drew them away from him. 32 For as soon as the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him. 33 But a certain man drew his bow at “random” and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” 34 And the battle continued that day, and the king of Israel was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians until evening. Then at sunset he died.  (2 Chronicles 18:28-34)

What the Biblical author is saying in verse 33 is that the archer was not aiming for Ahab.  He simply drew his bow at “random” and it hit the King, by chance. Was this just a lucky shot or was there something more going on here?

The sovereignty of God is a major biblical theme.  You cannot read the bible and miss the fact that God governs, guides, and rules the cosmos.  God is in control of everything, big and small.  We can either acknowledge that reality or fool ourselves into thinking we are in control of our lives.  Let’s consider some verses from just one biblical book, Proverbs:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (3:5-6)  “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” (16:1)  “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (16:9)  “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (16:33)  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (19:21)  “A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?” (20:24)  “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” (21:1)  “No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord.  The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” (21:30-31)

Returning to our original question, the answer is nothing.  There is nothing random.  There is nothing in the universe that happens outside the sovereign hand of God.  In the case of Ahab, God had numbered his days.  No matter what Ahab tried to do to save himself (including disguising himself), it would not matter.  God ordained that Ahab would die in battle and that’s exactly what happened.  A random archer’s arrow penetrated the king’s armor and it proved fatal.  So even though it was a “lucky shot” in one sense, it was in accord with God’s will in another sense.  This is similar to what Joseph told his brothers after the death of Jacob.  “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20)

How amazing it is to think that all things work together to achieve God’s purposes.  What we need to do is surrender ourselves to God’s will for our lives, and quit trying to govern our own lives.  Pray, “God accomplish your will through my life.”  Pray, “God glorify your name through my life.”  And like we are instructed to do in Proverbs 3:5-6, acknowledge God in everything you do.

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