Providence, Pagans and the Worship of God POHFW

Providence, Pagans and the Worship of God POHFW

Preparing our Hearts to Worship


In an effort to help you prepare for the May 20, 2018, Sunday morning corporate worship gathering and to aid you in your own reflections on the God’s Story of Salvation through the Scriptures. I wanted to pose a few questions and provide a few resources to prayerfully consider over the coming days. Our sermon is entitled, “Providence, Pagans and the Worship of God” The main Scriptures for the day are Ezra 1-6. The other passages are either referenced in the message or provide additional insight for reflection. 


(Pick and choose from the many resources and options, which I have tried to make available for your devotional life.)


From the Scriptures


Please read through Chapter 19 of The Story this week, this is a lightly edited selection of Scriptures from Ezra 1-6, Haggai 1-2, Zechariah 1, 8 that seeks to maintain the broad story line of the Scriptures.


You can read or listen to them here.

You can listen to Chapter 18 of The Story here. (25 minutes)

(If you choose to read all of Ezra (40 min), Haggai (7 min), Zechariah (40 min) it will take roughly 1.5 hours.)


From the Creeds and Confessions  

 Heidelberg Catechism Q27-28


Q27: What do you understand by the providence of God?

God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.


Q28: What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and still upholds them by his providence? 

We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from his love; for all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot so much as move.


 Westminster Larger Catechism Q18-20

Q. 18. What are God’s works of providence?

A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory.

Q. 19. What is God’s providence towards the angels?

A. God by his providence permitted some of the angels, willfully and irrecoverably, to fall into sin and damnation, limiting and ordering that, and all their sins, to his own glory; and established the rest in holiness and happiness; employing them all, at his pleasure, in the administrations of his power, mercy, and justice.

Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?

A. The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.  

Belgic Confession Article 13

Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence

We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.

Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.

We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.

This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground20 without the will of our Father.

In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.

For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.  


From the songs, hymns and spiritual songs of the Church


Provider (Urban Rescue): Lyrics, Video

Good, good Father (Tomlin): Lyrics, Video

God and God alone (Green): Lyrics, Video



For Thoughtful Reflection, Prayer, or further Study


Watch The Bible Project’s video summary of Ezra-Nehemiah

To learn more about the Babylonian and Persian rulers of this period, this website has a great amount of readable information.

Read and Reflect upon How could Isaiah predict King Cyrus?

For more biblical insight upon Isaiah 44-45, read here.



The Sermon will be available online on May 20, 2018 at 12:30 pm.



Disclaimer: Reference to a particular article or website does not constitute endorsement or agreement with everything in that article or on that website.


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