We are continuing through Jesus' instructions for the Twelve Disciples on their first-ever mission to spread the Gospel to the Jews. In the previous study, we observed how Jesus told them to fear God, not man. This study picks up right were that one left off.
The Fall of a Sparrow
“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.” Hamlet, Act 5 Scene 2, ShakespeareOne of the things I find fascinating about the works of Shakespeare is how they have eloquently encapsulated the Christian beliefs of an era gone by. In this quote, Hamlet is telling his good friend that God is in control of whether or not he will die that day. This type of belief still exists, but it seems to be modified in the Christian culture of our times. One of the sources of this belief, and the inspiration for Hamlet's line, is Matthew 10:29-30:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” NIVThe meaning is clear. God is in control of everything from how many hairs you have on your head to exactly when you (and every other creature on earth) will die. In Matthew 10:31, Jesus goes on to explain that the Disciples should not worry because God thinks that they are more valuable than sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 echos all of these words too.
Modern Christianity does recognize this Godly control, but the extent to which it is recognized varies greatly across denominations and churches because of its implications. If not a single sparrow dies except by the will of God, than surely not a person dies except according to God's will. That means that every death of every person is through God's will.
Every person to die from age-related degradation, trauma, electrocution, poison, accident, fire, disease, cancer, parasites, thirst, hunger, a fall, a birth defect, cold, heat stress, radiation, asphyxiation, wild animal attack, lightning, tornado, earthquake, volcano, tsunami, hurricane, or whatever the cause, that person dies by the will of God. God controls death. All death.
If you do believe, if you are a Christian, you do not have an excuse for thinking that God does not control the carnage from natural disasters or that God does not kill people through cancer, and it is your challenge to reconcile this with the concept of good.
Finally, because God does control all death, then there should be no talk of God conquering death or Jesus' victory over death. It is a hollow victory to affect what you have absolute control over.