“For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulcher. But God raised Him from the dead…” – Acts 13:27-30
If you ever need a reminder that God is in control of the happenings of earth, as a master chess player is in control of the board, you only need to look at this passage. Continuing the analogy, I remember a time when I had the opportunity to play a real genius in chess, along with about ten or fifteen other people. He would simply go around the tables and make his move, then go to the next board and move his piece. I thought since he was so distracted with the others, surely I could catch some mistake and beat him. I was very wrong, and ended up losing very quickly. He was in control the entire time. Despite every counter attack I attempted, he utterly won.
Paul is recounting the story of what happened to Christ in Acts 13 in an attempt to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. According to this passage, it was the Pharisees and the chief rulers who planned to have Jesus slain. On top of that, we know it was Judas’s plan to betray Jesus into their hands. There was also another even more sinister character, pulling strings from the dark shadows of Hell: the devil himself planned to slay Jesus.
I’m certain those who pushed for Christ’s demise thought in their pride, “Well, that takes care of him. He won’t be causing any problems anymore.” Perhaps Satan thought he had the victory on the cross. Before any of this happened, however, Jesus spoke this to His disciples: “… the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do” (John 14:30-31).
It may have appeared that God was losing; it may have appeared that His purposes were frustrated. But it was not so. That last phrase of the verse in Acts is so crucial: “But God raised Him from the dead.” In a sense, the leaders of this world laughed, thinking they had won in taking the Queen, the most powerful piece on the board. Yet as Colossians 2:15 says, Christ “having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” That is pure genius; the genius of God.
As it was then, so it is today. Romans 8:28 is one of the most overused passages in Scripture, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true and powerful: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” If you love God, and are called by Him, then this verse applies to you. No matter what happens, know that God is in control. Evil men make plans to subvert God’s cause, but all they’ve done is fallen into His trap and fulfilled His plan written before the beginning of all things. As Professor Clyde Kilby said, “… this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.”
God has been working throughout the entirety of history, turning perceived evils into greater goods than we could possibly have imagined. He can do it for you as well. What He needs is your trust. Imagine, if God can use evil men to propel His purposes, how much more can He use a vessel yielded to Him for His glory?