God’s Secret Providence
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)
I’ve watched the TV show “Fixer Upper” a lot since I’ve been back in The States. I’ve probably seen every episode, including the Gains’ restoration of their restaurant and the Silos. So my trip over the weekend to Waco was mostly to satisfy my curiosity. My friends and I ate at Magnolia Table after our three-hour wait, shopping in a nearby store where Joanna shopped for the show. Then we went to the crowded Silos and Magnolia Market but decided to skip the bakery, since the line was down the block. I am satisfied because I enjoyed being with my friends, and I am no longer bothered by wondering if the iconic sites are as they looked on TV (which they do). One of our Uber drivers shared his disillusionment with the Gains family personalities, the difficulties of neighbors whose taxes increased when they restored homes in their community, and dismay at the prices they charge for their merchandise. But all along I knew TV was doing its work by creating a cult following with idealistic images. I wasn’t shocked (now that I’ve tarnished your image of them), and I don’t care about these issues since I was only curious about these two restorations.
It’s ironic that our passage today is about not trying to uncover the secret things that only belong to God. Unlike reality TV personalities, God’s image and character are perfect and consistently righteous, pure, and infinitely deep. “The reference to “secret things” may suggest that Moses anticipates the uncertain future of the nation, remembering their waywardness and how they turned to the golden calf at Horeb (Ex. 32). In this uncertainty, Moses trusts the hidden future to his trustworthy God.” (1) “Not everything that is true of God has been revealed…there are secret things anticipates the need to trust, obey, and be humble before God.” (2) God owns everything and controls the mysteries of his person and work, revealing them as he sees fit, redeeming, encouraging, strengthening, redirecting, convicting, sanctifying, and teaching his people, for his glory and purposes. Paul expresses it this way in Romans 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
What God has revealed in his Word, however, is meant to be obeyed with faith. Scripture should inform, change, and work actively in our lives as God works out his purposes in his providence. It’s easy to look back to see how our lives have been affected and perhaps driven by God’s intentions, but harder to humble ourselves today, accepting that we don’t know what the Lord is ultimately doing. How will we speak and behave, with these limits and instructions?
(1) TheReformation Study Bible, Deuteronomy 29:29, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
(2) ESV Study Bible Notes, Deuteronomy 29:29,(digital edition), Crossway, 2008.