Luther Quote of the Day

When God works, He turns His face away at first and seems to be the devil, not God. Thus in the present account His face was turned toward the harlot and the tyrant; He disregards Joseph and cherishes these alone. Thus Jeremiah also complains: “Thou art near in their mouth” (12:2). Therefore they boast that God is at their side, is well-disposed toward them, and cherishes them. “God dwells here!” they cry out. But Joseph, Jacob, and Abraham do not have this face turned toward them. This means that the devil is dwelling here. “You cannot see My face” (Ex. 33:20). For God is accustomed to lead and govern His own as is described in the song of Habakkuk: “Thy paths are in many waters, and Thy footprints are not known.”59 Likewise in Is. 30:20–21:60 “Your eyes shall see your Teacher, and your ears shall hear the word of One giving admonition behind you.” And Christ says to Peter: “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7). “You want to see My face; you want Me to do what seems to you to be advantageous and good. But I shall act in such a way that it will seem to you that some fool has done this, not God. You must see My back, not My face. You must not see My works and counsels with which I am fashioning and refashioning you according to My good pleasure. It should seem foolish to you. But you will not accept and understand these things in any other way than as if they were death and the devil himself.”

Therefore let us learn this rule and order which God is wont to employ in governing His saints. For I, too, have often attempted to prescribe to God definite methods He should use in the administration either of the church or of other matters. “Ah, Lord,” I have said, “I would like this to be done in this order, with this result!” But God would do the very opposite of what I had sought. Then the thought would come to me: “Nevertheless, my plan is not disadvantageous to the glory of God; but it will contribute very much toward the hallowing of Thy name, the gathering and increasing of Thy kingdom, and the propagation of the knowledge of Thy Word. In short, it is a very fine plan and excellently thought out.” But the Lord undoubtedly laughed at this wisdom and said: “Come now, I know that you are a wise and learned man; but it has never been My custom for Peter, Dr. Martin, or anyone else to teach, direct, govern, and lead Me. I am not a passive God. No, I am an active God who is accustomed to do the leading, ruling, and directing.”

Luther’s works, vol. 7: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44 p 103-104


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