In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. This week I want to look at what the decrees of God are.
When we speak of the decrees of God we mean God’s actions that he has planned and then wills to happen. The Bible is quite clear that God has planned what happens in our world and then makes sure it happens. For example in Isaiah we read ‘I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do’ (Isaiah 46:10-11).
Thus the future is not some random unknown, but rather the future is all planned by God, and the present is simply the unfolding of God’s plans. This is because God’s plans are always fulfilled. This is seen in Lamentations where we learn that the downfall of God’s people Israel is not somehow the failure of God’s plans, but the fulfilment of his decrees: ‘The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes’ (Lamentations 2:17).
So how does God make his decrees? With his infinite wisdom that is beyond our comprehension. Paul says: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!’ (Romans 11:33).
Now, are God’s decrees something that we can undermine and change? The Bible’s answer is a flat no: ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails’ (Proverbs 19:21). And in another place: ‘The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations’ (Psalm 33:10-11). You can try all you can to make your own decrees, but God’s decrees always win.
So do you recognise that God makes decrees that are always fulfilled, or do you worship a different god?