The Smallest Deviation

Weekly reflections on religion and what's going on in the world.

The assassin took aim from 400 feet away. Even the slightest deviation—a puff of breeze, the victim turning his head, or a nervous tremble in the hand holding the gun—could make a difference between life and death, and might even change the course of a nation or of the world.

Ahab, king of Israel, tried to avoid being a target in battle by disguising himself as a common soldier, yet “a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor” (1 Kings 22:34), another example of the smallest deviation making a difference between life and death.

The Lord governs the smallest details of our lives:
Every change or variation in the state of the human mind changes or varies something in the course of things at the time and so in the course of things that follow. How then not progressively to eternity? The case is like that of an arrow shot from a bow, which, if it should deviate in the slightest from the mark upon its being aimed, would at a distance of a thousand paces or more deviate immensely. So would it be if the Lord did not guide the states of human minds every least moment.
Divine Providence 202

In the Old Testament there are many examples of men who ascended to the throne by murdering the king. In some cases, it seems as if the Lord ordained those murders. For example, Elisha arranged for Jehu to be anointed king Israel, and Jehu then went out to murder most of the ruling family, becoming king in their place (2 Kings 9). Yet evil actions never come from the Lord. The Lord does not want anyone to be hurt or murdered.

The literal sense of the word contains fallacies and illusions, as when it says “that Jehovah feels anger, wrath, and fury against the ungodly, that he enjoys destroying and annihilating them, and even that he kills them. Still, those statements can serve as general containers for spiritual and heavenly ideas, because it is possible to inject certain notions into them. The first is that everything comes from the Lord; the next, that he allows things to happen but all evil comes from devilish spirits; then that the Lord provides and arranges for evil to be turned into good; and finally that nothing but good comes from the Lord. So the literal meaning disappears as it rises and turns spiritual and then heavenly and at last divine.” (Secrets of Heaven 1874)

No matter who becomes king or president, the Lord is in control, and He will turn all evil into good.