The God who Governs
You alone, whose name is the Lord, are the most high over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)
The God we,re invited to trust is the One who governs the universe- including all actions of all creatures, both men and animals. Jesus tells us He is the One apart from whose will the sparrow cannot fall to the ground(Matthew 10:29). Paul calls Him “the blessed and only Sovereign”(1 Timothy 6:15). In the book of Daniel, we read that “that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will” and that He “does according to his will among the hosts of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?”(Daniel 4:32,35). As David says to Him, “You are exalted as head above all…..and you rule over all”(1 Chronicles 29:11,12) Jeremiah asks, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?”(Lamentations 3:37)
No one can act outside God’s sovereign will or against it. As Augustine wrote centuries ago, “Nothing…..happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen: he either permits it to happen, or he brings it about himself.” Phillip Hughes said, “ Under God…..all things are without exception fully controlled- despite appearances to the contrary.” Nothing is too large or too small to escape God’s governing hand. The spider building its web in the corner or Napoleon marching his army across Europe are both under God’s control.
As God’s rule is invincible, so it is incomprehensible. His ways are higher than our ways(Isaiah 55:9). His judgements are unsearchable and His paths are beyond tracing out (Romans 11:33). We’re therefore wrong to question His sovereignty simply because we do not understand what God is doing. God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don’t understand.
That God has a plan for us is evident from Scripture. We read this in Jeremiah.
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you [and approved of you as My chosen instrument], And before you were born I consecrated you [to Myself as My own]; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
God also has plans for humanity and all that He has created. Though those plans seem at times to be thwarted, nonetheless, God continues in His sovereignty to bring them to pass. When Satan rebelled in heaven and persuaded a third of the angels to join him in the rebellion, God’s sovereign plan continued. Though God has granted His creation choice, He still controls the outcome of that creation. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God sovereignly continued His plans for mankind. As a matter of fact, it is here that we are first made aware of God’s sovereign plan to redeem mankind from his choice of sin bondage.
There are numerous examples of God’s sovereignty throughout the Bible over nature, humans, governments, all that He has created. We read that God was in control of the flood that destroyed the inhabitants of the earth but He also controlled the safety of His servant Noah. We read that when mankind began to build the Tower of Babel, God sovereignly divided their languages but one day in heaven, every people of every tribe and every tongue will worship together in unison. We know that with Joseph, though it seemed his brothers acted to put him in the pit and sell him into slavery, God’s sovereign plan determined the outcome and Joseph was placed in a position to bless his family. Hear his words:
And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they approached him. And he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to save life and preserve our family. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
We could spend pages writing examples of the sovereign acts of God in the lives of men in the world.
Let us turn briefly to the New Testament for a few more examples.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet [Isaiah]: “ Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel ”—which, when translated, means, “ God with us.”
Out of all the virgins in Israel, God chose Mary. We may ask why but intimately the answer becomes: because He chose to do so. He no doubt could have chosen another but He chose Mary.
He chose the twelve. He could have chosen another twelve, but He chose this twelve.
16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.
On the larger scale we read in Matthew 24 that there will be things occurring that indicate time of full redemption of mankind and the earth will begin. We trace this through the writings of New Testament writers such as Paul, Peter, Jude and John. All this speaks of the sovereignty of God and His control over all. Often we have the perception that God has somehow relinquished His control to humans or governments or even to the devil. And though He may give space for choice, that space is for a season and eventually will comply with the sovereign will of God. Notice if you will the crucifixion of Jesus. We could attribute it to the Sanhedrin who schemed for it. We could attribute it to Judas who betrayed Christ. We could blame the mob who cried for crucifixion. We could blame Pilate and the Roman government who authorized it. We could hold the soldiers who did the actual work of crucifixion. We could, as many have said assumed responsibility as sinners for this death. We could do all this until we read the Bible. When we do, we find that the crucifixion was the sovereign plan of God. Though Satan meant it for destruction and misdirection of God’s sovereign plans God sovereignly carried out His will perfectly.
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Finally, we note that God’s sovereign plans for His creation will take place and none and nothing can hinder those plans. Though we may question, we may doubt and we may view all that’s happening in our world with fear, let us find hope in the sovereign power and grace of God. Let us rest in the peace that passes all understanding knowing that if the Sovereign Lord of the Universe takes note of a little sparrow, then He surely notices us.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him
How I’ve proved Him o’re and o’re
Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus
O for grace to trust Him more.
Dr. John Thompson