The Sovereignty Of God
Is God really God? You say, “what kind of question is that? What does that mean?” In Isa.40:18 the LORD asked, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?” Let me ask another question : what do you mean when you say, “God is God”? The Biblical answer is that God is the Sovereign God. That means God is the absolutely, infinitely, completely, totally, Sovereign God. I know I was repetitious but I repeated myself for emphasis and so that you would not miss the point. Do you believe that God is absolutely, infinitely, completely, and totally sovereign? It is at this point that most peoples’ belief in God stumbles. They believe there is a God. They claim to believe in this God. They say that they believe that God is sovereign. But when you press them to define what they mean by “sovereign”, they begin to stumble. They begin to stumble because they do not want to commit themselves to say that they believe that God is absolutely, infinitely, completely, and totally sovereign. Such a belief creates a conflict in their minds. And that conflict has to do with man’s freedom and sovereignty.
Let us briefly examine the Bible to discover, in brief, what the LORD has revealed about Himself. As an aside, let me mention here that the word “LORD”, with capital letters, is the translation of “Yahweh”, God’s revealed name in the Hebrew language. Yahweh has been anglicized as “Jehovah”. In Exod.6:2-3 God said to Moses, “I am the LORD (Yahweh); and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, (Yahweh), I did not make Myself known.” Isa.42:8 says, “I am the LORD (Yahweh), that is My name.” (See also Psa.68:4; 83:18; Jer.16:21; 33:2.) There are those, like the Holman Christian Standard Bible, who say the name Yahweh should not have been translated.
1Tim.1:17 says God is “the only God.” 1Tim.6:15 says God is the “only Sovereign”. Psa.103:19 says, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.” Psa.47:8 says, “God reigns over the nations, God sits (has taken His seat) on His holy throne.” Now, if you believe in God, I am sure you believe what these verses teach. But let us go a little further.
Psa.115:3 says, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psa.135:6 says, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.” Note the emphasis in both verses : whatever the LORD is pleased to do, He does. Do you believe what these two verses teach? Well, let us push this a bit further. Dan.4:34-35 tell us,
“But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
Note carefully what is being said : firstly, God does according to His will. Or we can say God does whatever He is pleased to do. Secondly, no one can ward off God’s hand, that is, resist God or stop God from what He is doing. Thirdly, no one can question God about what He has done. WOW!! You may be thinking, “Are you serious? Does the Bible really teach this?” Well, let us find out. I would urge you to read these verses slowly and thinking carefully about what they are teaching you.
Jer.49:19, “For who is like Me, and who will summon me into court?” (cf. 50:44). In other words, who can summon God to court to answer questions. Have you ever read the book of Job? Have you ever noticed that God never answered Job’s questions?
Isa.45:6c-7,9, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these…. Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker – An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” Or the thing you are making say, “He has no hands”?”
Now read very carefully Rom.9:10-21 (the bolding of statements are mine for emphasis), “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”
Are you ready for more? You may need to catch your breath before you read on.
Job 42:2, “I know You can do all things, And no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”
Isa.14:24 & 27, “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand…. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
Isa.43:13, “Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”
Isa.46:10c-11, “My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure…. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.”
Psa.33:10-11, “The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.”
Prov.19:21, “Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.”
Prov.16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Prov.16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.”
Prov.21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (cf. Ezra 6:22).
Prov.21:31, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.”
Psa.139:16, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
Matt.10:29-30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Eph.1:5 & 11, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” (cf.3:11).
Now in summary, let us note the following. The sovereignty of God means God is the absolute and irresistible Ruler of heaven and earth. The sovereignty of God means God is in absolute control of all that is happening in this universe and on this earth. As one theologian put it, there are no rogue atoms in this universe.
The sovereignty of God means God planned, in minute detail, all that will happen in this universe and on this earth. From God’s perspective there are no random or chance events. Everything that happens, happens in keeping with God’s foreordained will or according to His eternal purpose. God knows the past and the future because He planned everything. Gen.1:1 can say, “In the beginning God created” only because that was God’s sovereign will, plan, and purpose. And “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20), will usher in the end because this is God’s sovereign will, plan, and purpose.
God’s sovereignty is backed up by His omnipotence. God is the all-powerful God and nothing is impossible with God. God’s sovereignty is not capricious. God’s sovereignty is governed by His holiness and wisdom (omniscience). God is holy, holy, holy. (Isa.6:3). Everything God has planned and does is governed by His wisdom. God sees and understands in ways that finite human beings cannot see and understand. Isa.55:8-9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Rom.11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Isa.40:28 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable” (that is, cannot be searched out).
There are things about the sovereignty of God your finite mind will not be able to understand nor explain. But this is where faith is tested. Do you believe in God? Do you trust God even when your finite mind cannot understand nor explain? This is where humility is tested. Can you bow humbly before this sovereign God, knowing that you will never fully understand Him and His ways, and knowing He does not have to answer your questions or resolve your difficulties? Do you want a God who is truly sovereign? Or do you want a God with whom you are on equal terms? Before you answer, be reminded that this was Satan’s promise in Gen.3:5, “you will be like (equal to) God.”