The Sovereignty of God
A. Seeing God
1. C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
a) “Aslan” said Lucy “you’re bigger”.
b) “That is because you are older, little one” answered he.
c) “Not because you are?”
d) “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
2. I think that this addresses one of our biggest problems as believers – we just don’t get how big God really is!
a) The better we know Him, the more mature we get as believers, the bigger we will see that God is.
b) God has not changed! He is the same as He always has been.
c) We just see Him better and better as we grow in our walk with Him.
d) So how big is God to you this morning?
B. The World Today
1. With all that is going on in the world today many people are trying to explain it all by reviewing history over the last 75 years and putting human opinions around what is happening.
a) We do the same thing with events in our personal life.
b) If we get desperate enough we might even ask God what is going on.
c) If you were to do that today with all that is going on in the world and with the things going on in your personal life, this might be the answer you would get from God:
(1) Isaiah 46:8-11
8 “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
2. This is our primary text for today’s message.
a) We need to be very careful in studying this passage that we do not get into anything that does not come from the word of God.
b) This topic is very serious, and touches on many painful realities, so we dare not trust ourselves to come up with any truth without being told by God himself.
3. In Isaiah 46:9, God says “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”
a) So the issue is the uniqueness of God among all the beings of the universe.
b) He is in a class totally by himself.
c) No one is like him.
d) When something is happening, or something is being said or thought, and God responds, “I am God!” (which is what he does in verse 9), the point is: You’re acting like you don’t know what it means for me to be God.
4. That happened with Job in Job 38
C. God Shows Job His Sovereignty
1. Job 38 is almost a little humorous except that it is such a serious issue for each one of us!
a) In Job 23:1–5 Job is saying, “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! I sure would like to have a talk with Him. And I have some questions I want to ask Him”.
b) So finally, in Job 38, the Lord starts to speak.
c) But He doesn’t answer a single question.
d) Instead God starts asking questions.
e) Job 38:1-6
1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
(1) “Now Job, when I got ready to build this universe; when I swung this world into space; when I scooped out the seas, heaped up the mountains, flung out the sun, the moon, and the stars, did I ask you how to do it? Job, did I sit down and get some information with you? Did I consult with you? Did I get your permission? Did I get your wisdom; or, Job, did I do it all by myself? Job, I’m the sovereign God.”
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
f) God is saying, “Job, let me be God! Don’t play God. There are some things, Job, you just don’t know.
g) Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.
I. He Is the Lord God Almighty!
A. The One and Only God
1. In Isaiah 46:10 God tells what it means to be the one and only God.
a) At the heart of His God-ness – v 10 “I declare the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.”
(1) I declare how things turn out long before they ever happen.
(2) Not just natural events but also human events — things that are not yet done.
(3) I know what these doings will be long before they are done.
2. Now at this point you might say, “What we have here is the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge, not the doctrine of his sovereignty.”
a) But in the next half of the verse, God tells us how he foreknows the end and how he foreknows the things not yet done.
b) Verse 10b: “I declare the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”
c) When God “declares” ahead of time what will be, He “declares” it “saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”
3. The way God declares his foreknowledge is by declaring his fore-counsel and his fore-purposing.
a) When God declares the end long before it happens, what he says is, “My counsel shall stand.”
b) And when God declares things not yet done long before they are done, what he says is, “I will accomplish all my purpose.”
4. That means that the reason God knows the future is because he plans the future and accomplishes what He plans.
a) The future is the counsel of God being established.
b) The future is the purpose of God being accomplished by God.
c) Then, in the next verse, 11b, God gives a crystal clear confirmation that this is what he means: “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”
d) The reason God’s predictions come true is because they are His purposes, and because He is the one who brings them about.
B. God Purposes All Things
1. God is not a fortune-teller or a predictor.
a) He doesn’t have a crystal ball.
b) He knows what’s coming because He plans what’s coming, and He brings about what He plans.
c) Verse 10b: ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’
d) God does not form purposes and wonder if someone else will take responsibility to make them happen.
e) “I will accomplish all my purpose.”
2. Based on this text, here’s what the sovereignty of God means:
a) God has the authority, the freedom, the wisdom, and the power to bring about everything that he intends to happen.
b) Therefore, everything he intends to come about does come about.
c) Which means, God plans and governs all things.
3. When God says, “I will accomplish all my purpose,” he means, “Nothing happens except what brings about My purpose.”
a) Therefore, what God means in Isaiah 46:10 is that nothing has ever happened, or will ever happen, that God did not use to accomplish His purpose.
b) Everything that has happened or will happen is purposed by God to happen in order to accomplish His purposes.
c) Now if that seems too complicated, or you think that I am just expressing my opinions, let’s look at God’s sovereignty in some other passages of Scripture.
4. Nothing you are about to hear contradicts the very real responsibility that humans, and angels, and demons have to do what God commands.
a) God has given us a will.
b) How we use it makes our eternal difference.
II. God’s Sovereignty Over Nature
A. Is Nature Random?
1. He is sovereign over what appears the most random acts in the world.
a) Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
b) In modern language we would say, “The dice are rolled on the table and every play is decided by God.”
2. There are no events so small that he does not rule for his purposes.
a) “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus said, “And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:29–30).
b) Every role of the dice in Las Vegas, every tiny bird that falls dead in the thousand forests — all of this is God’s command.
3. “Will we see our greatest hope in the sovereignty of God, or will we insist there is a better one?”
a) From tornados in the clouds to stars in the galaxies, God governs the natural world.
(1) In the book of Jonah, God commands
(a) a fish to swallow Jonah (1:17)
(b) a plant to grow to give Jonah shade (4:6)
(c) a worm to kill the plant (4:7).
(2) And far above the life of worms, the stars take their place and hold their place at God’s command.
b) Isaiah 40:26 says, “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.”
4. How much more, then, the natural events of this world — from weather, to disasters, to disease, to disability, to death.
a) Psalm 147:15–18 says, “He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.”
b) Job 37:11–13 says, “He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.”
B. God Could Have Stilled the Winds
1. So snow and rain, and cold, and heat, and wind are all the work of God.
a) When Jesus finds himself in the middle of a raging storm, he merely speaks, “Peace! Be still!” And as the text says, “the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).
b) There is no wind, no storm, no hurricane, no cyclone, no typhoon, no monsoon, no tornado over which Jesus can say “Be still,” and it will not obey.
c) That means, that if it the wind blows, God intends for it to blow.
d) “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6).
e) All Jesus had to do with Hurricane Harvey was to say, “Be still,” and there would have been no rain, no flooding, and no damage.
2. What about the other sufferings of this life?
a) “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?’” (Exodus 4:11).
b) And Peter said to the suffering saints in Asia Minor, “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19).
c) “It is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).
3. Whether we suffer from illness or disability or from the evil of others, God is the one who ultimately decides — and whether we live or die.
a) Deuteronomy 32:39 says, “There is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”
b) James 4:13–15: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’”
c) Job says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
4. The roll of the dice, the fall of a bird, the crawl of a worm, the movement of stars, the falling of snow, the blowing of wind, the loss of sight, the suffering of saints, and the death of all — these are included in the word of God: “I will accomplish all my purpose” — from the smallest to the greatest.
III. God’s Sovereignty in Human Actions
A. Human Choice
1. When we turn from the natural world to the world of human actions and human choice, God’s sovereignty is just as sure.
a) You should vote on Tuesday — on the candidates and on the amendments.
b) But let there be no man-exalting illusion as though mere human beings will be the decisive cause in any victory or loss.
c) God alone will have that supreme role.
d) “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; . . . the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” (Daniel 2:21; 4:17).
e) “‘I will accomplish all my purpose’ — from the smallest to the greatest.”
2. Whoever the next president is, he will not be sovereign.
a) He will be governed and we should pray for him that he would know this: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).
b) And when he engages in foreign affairs he will not be decisive. God will.
c) “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:10–11).
3. What is the worst thing in history that nations have done?
a) Their absolute worst was the murder of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
b) They had not slipped out of God’s control, but they were doing his bidding at their worst moment to accomplish the purposes of God Almighty!
c) “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28).
d) The worst sin that ever happened was in God’s plan, and by that sin, sin died and the punishment for your sin and my sin was paid!
B. Our Salvation Is Totally Due to God’s Sovereignty!
1. Our salvation was secured on Calvary under the sovereign hand of God.
a) If you are a believer in Jesus, if you love him, you are a walking miracle!
b) God granted you repentance (2 Timothy 2:24–25).
c) God drew you to Christ (John 6:44).
d) God revealed himself to you (Matthew 11:27).
e) God gave you the gift of faith. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
f) So the sovereignty of God in your salvation by grace totally excludes any boasting on your part.
2. There may have been a hundred horrible things in your life.
a) But if today you are led to Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can write over every one of those horrors the words of Genesis 50:20: Satan, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
b) Listen to the words of Paul in Ephesians 1:11, “God works all things according to the counsel of his will.”
c) All things — from the circuits of stars, to the rise of presidents, to the death of Jesus, to the gift of repentance and faith.
C. Why God’s Sovereignty Matters
1. What then does this mean for us? Why is this precious to us?
2. Let us stand in awe of the sovereign authority and freedom and wisdom and power of God.
3. Let us never trifle with life as though it were a small or light affair.
4. Let us marvel at our own salvation — that God bought it, and wrought it, with sovereign power, and we are not our own.
5. Let us groan over the God-belittling, man-centeredness of our culture that acknowledges nothing of God and His sovereignty.
6. Let us be bold at the throne of grace knowing that our prayers for the most difficult things can be answered. Nothing is too hard for God.
7. Let us rejoice that our evangelism will not be in vain because there is no sinner so hard that the sovereign grace of God cannot break through.
8. Let us be thrilled and calm in these days of great upheaval because victory belongs to God, and no purposes that he wills to accomplish can be stopped.
D. Peace in God’s Sovereignty
1. The Sovereignty of God should be to you a place of calm and peace instead of fear and potential doom.
a) C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(1) “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
b) We can look to God’s eternal reign and feel peace and hope because He is our all powerful King of kings and Lord of lords, but He is good!
2. Knowing that you are created by God and for Him and understanding how great His love is for you, your heart is free to enter into praise and worship of Him.
a) Psalm 71:16 “I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.”
b) 1 Chronicles 16:31 “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’”
c) Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
3. With everything going on in our world today, we can turn to God and know that in His sovereignty, all things will be worked out to His will.
a) We may not understand why certain things happen and we might feel helpless in our circumstances, but we can know beyond a shadow of doubt that “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28