God’s Perfect Providential Timing

Ecclesiastes 3:1; Ezekiel 10:13
       To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.
       And as for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): To all God’s purposes there is a time, a proper time.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): The providence of God was presented in a vision to Ezekiel, under the image of a vast wheel [Ezekiel 1; Ezekiel 10]. The design was to show that its dispensations were constantly changing. For as, in the motion of a wheel, one spoke is always ascending, and another is descending; and one part of the ring grating on the ground, and another is aloft in the air; so it was with the affairs of empires, families, and individuals―they never continue in one stay.

DANIEL ROWLAND (1711-1790): In a clock there are several wheels, which run counter to one another; some move slowly, and others whirl about with great velocity; yet all unite in keeping the clock in motion, and contribute their share to make it a true index of the flight of time. So is every event, however opposite it may seem, disposed by the secret, impelling hand of God, to promote His glory, and to further the salvation of His chosen.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): Ten thousand purposes is the Lord daily prosecuting by the measures of His providence. One purpose, for the time, may rise into a position of prominence and importance that seems to cast all others into the shade. Yet while that one alone, from its palpable and forcible prominence in our view, may concentrate and engross all our attention, it neither engrosses the Divine attention, nor deranges the Divine designs. The subsidiary and subordinate ends are advancing under the Divine control with a regularity never interfered with, and with a wisdom past searching out.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): There is a clock with which Providence keepeth time and pace, and God Himself setteth it.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): The timing of affairs is a part of the wisdom of man, and an eminent part of the wisdom of God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Admire the punctuality of Providence. God never is before His time; He never is too late…My soul stands trembling while she sings the glory of her God, whose providence is high, even like Ezekiel’s wheels; but the wheels are full of eyes, and, as they turn, all the surroundings are observed and provided for, so that there are no slips, or oversights, or accidents, or delays.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The great Shepherd and Head of the Church has an appointed time and manner for the accomplishment of all His purposes; nothing can be effectually done, but when and where He pleases; but when His hour is come, then hard things become easy, and crooked things straight; His Word, His Spirit, and Providence then will all concur to make the path of duty plain to those who serve Him; though, perhaps, till this knowledge is necessary, He permits them to remain ignorant of what He has designed them for. By this discipline they are taught to depend entirely upon Him, and are afterwards more fully assured that He has sent and succeeded them.

WILLIAM JAY: Men, and even good men, may for a while be baffled in their efforts, to teach them the lesson of dependence upon Providence, and to keep them, when success cometh, from sacrificing to their own net, and burning incense to their own drag, as if by these their portion hath been made plenteous. He loves to astonish as well as relieve His people; He therefor often delays His appearance, till our hopelessness has prepared us for the display of His glory to the greatest advantage…Thus good men sometimes see their affairs, after many a fruitless struggle, taking a favourable turn, and succeeding beyond their expectation.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): In rightly interpreting Providence, it is very important to judge nothing before the time. God’s people are led in a way they know not. It is not given to mortals to see far before them. We must learn to stand still if we would see the salvation of the Lord.

MATTHEW HENRY: God’s providences often seem to contradict His purposes, even when they are serving them.

THOMAS MANTON: Before corn be ripened it needeth all kinds of weather. The husbandman is glad of showers as well as sunshine; rainy weather is troublesome, but sometimes the season requireth it.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): There are times when providence straitens the people of God; when the waters of comfort ebb and run very low, wants pinch; if then the soul returns filial dependence upon fatherly care, saying with David, Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want―“it belongs to Him to provide, and to me to depend: I will trust my Father’s care and love.” Here now is sweet communion with God under pinching wants.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): It is impossible to be submissive and religiously patient, if ye stay your thoughts down among the confused rollings and wheels of second causes, as O, the place! O, the time! O, if this had been, this had not followed! O, the linking of this accident with this time and place! Look up to the master-motion and the first wheel; see and read the decree of heaven and the Creator of men.

C. H. SPURGEON: Our trials come in due season, and go at the appointed moment. Our fretfulness will neither hasten nor delay the purpose of our God. We are in hot haste to set the world right, and to order all affairs: the Lord hath the leisure of conscious power and unerring wisdom, and it will be well for us to learn to wait. The clock will not strike till the hour; but when the instant cometh we shall hear the bell. My soul, trust thou in God, and wait patiently when He says, “My time is not yet come.”

MATTHEW HENRY: Promised mercies are to be expected when the full time for them is come, and not before.

ROBERT FLEMING (1630-1694): One minute sooner than God’s time would not be His people’s mercy.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Christ times His operations, His appearings and withdrawings with much tenderness, wisdom, and discretion.

WILLIAM JAY: Let us therefore, when our notions and His schemes disagree, distrust our own judgment and confide in the rectitude of His conduct. Let us not think of regulating His sun by our dial, but our dial by His sun. Let us not judge of His Word by His providence, but of His providence by His Word. Let us not judge of His heart by His hand, but of His hand by His heart. Where can we find His heart to judge by? In the promises, in the cross; He loved us, and gave Himself for us. Before we undertake to amend, let us be assured that there is something wrong; and before we censure, let us at least understand. Who knows what is good for a man in this life? How liable we are to err, from pride, worldly-mindedness, from impatience, from unbelief! Let us judge nothing before the time. He will give a good account of Himself at last, and bring us over to His own mind. But till we walk by sight let us walk by faith, and believe now what we shall know then, that “his work is perfect, his ways are judgment,” Deuteronomy 32:4.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): The darkest clouds in due time will break, the most puzzling enigmas will sooner or later be unriddled by the blessed Spirit interpreting them, and the darkest providences cleared up; and we shall see that God is in them all, leading and guiding us “by the right way, that we may go to a city of habitation,” Psalm 107:7.


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