Our Sovereign God

Our Father is Lord of heaven and earth, of all things above and below, of the flight of angels and the trajectory of a sparrow. He orders all things everywhere according to the good pleasure of his will. He is never arbitrary, never unjust, never tyrannical, and yet he is absolute and uncontrolled. No one slaps his hand and says, ‘Don’t!’. He is the sovereign Lord. There is not one maverick molecule in the universe that exists independent of him. If it did, then he could not be Lord of all. I would fly to the heights of heaven and, standing on a star, would declare that he is the absolute sovereign of everything that lies beneath those heights. He can do with them and in them and for them all he determines to do, and none can prevent him or challenge him. He can be trusted as he exercises his absolute sovereignty because his is an infinite love. I am saying to you that when Christ was filled with the spirit of joy then he ascribed that joy to this confidence, that his Father was the Lord of heaven and earth.

This is not a mere honorary title like the ‘Duchess of Cornwall’ or ‘Lord Snowdon’; God is the absolute owner and ultimate disposer of all that he has made. Being lord of heaven and earth is not referring to some general influence that he has in heaven and earth but he actually rules in them both. What he says goes both above and below. He is Lord of heaven, that is, over an innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. Every single one in heaven does his will so that we often pray, ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ When the angels gather before him each day to receive their instruction then all of them without exception delight to do whatsoever he says. But also on this fallen planet he is working out his purpose. Far sooner the sun stand still than God be hindered in his purposes for our world. The demons are chained in their intention to destroy us. Evil men can do their worst only with his permission. The chief priests and Pilate could not have crucified his dear Son without God allowing it to happen. Paul’s beatings and stonings and lashes were all permitted by God or they wouldn’t have occurred. God was not responsible for them – no way! God can do no evil. Men freely did such wickedness, but God put a restraint on how Paul was tortured until Paul’s work was over. God is in charge of our world. The winds are his messengers; the flaming fire is his servant; no natural occurrence is independent of him; prosperity is his gift; if calamity comes upon a man then it is the Lord who has done it. He raises up and he casts down; he opens the heart and hardens it.

He is the Lord of heaven and earth, with a universal and absolute sovereignty, but it is not a sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled to infinite wisdom, holiness and love. So here we have our Lord, full of joy through the Holy Spirit and Jesus is rejoicing from the reality that he shares with every child of God that, ‘Our God reigns!’ Our Lord knew God was in charge and had delight in it. If evil men were planning his crucifixion then God was still in charge. Jesus could rejoice that the devil had not pushed God off his throne and that he was torturing Jesus, No. Who would not rejoice in the reality of our lives being under the control of a loving heavenly Father? No one rejoices in fate. It is impersonal and you accept it. Who would not prefer to have all his or her affairs in the hands of a personal God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love? Too wise to be mistaken; too good to be unkind. That is what I’ve asked from him; ‘Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.’ Then I take what he gives me and I love him still. If you reject my dear sovereign Lord then who is in charge of what enters your life? The pride and presumption of man? The hatred of the devil? The roll of a dice? The bouncing of balls in some cosmic lottery, one ball of which has ‘cancer’ written on it, and another ‘road accident,’ and another ‘stillborn’, and another ‘Alzheimer’s disease’? Is it all mere luck in this world – this world of order and design and purpose? You exclude God and the alternative is bleak fatalism.

You know how the sovereign power of God is affirmed in the Bible, in Daniel 4:35; God ‘does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No-one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”‘ On the lips of Jesus; ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth’ (Matt 28:18). Paul, writing in Ephesians 1:22, ‘And God placed all things under Christ’s feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.’ Job says, ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted’ (Job 42:2). The psalmist cries with delight, ‘Our God is in the heavens. He has done whatsoever he pleases (Psa. 115:3). Paul tells the Romans, ‘But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Rom. 9:20, 21). The mighty rule of God is a theme of the Bible and the delight of its writers.

People often think of the Bible’s teaching about God’s sovereignty as a rather dark or depressing truth, and yet it fills the Son of God with joy. It is often presented in the context of psalms and praises and worship within the Scripture. When the angels sing ‘Glory to God in the highest’ they go on to bless God for those particular people on whom his favour rests. We find in Romans 9 to 11 that Paul expounds God’s sovereign purposes and the climax is an outburst of praise: ‘Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen (Rom.11:33-36). Jesus rejoices that his Father is in comprehensive control of this world. In other words, that God does not look away for five minutes and in that moment your husband finds another woman more attractive, or in that moment you lose control of the car, or when God was not on guard a virus slipped through and struck down you or your loved ones. No. God is the continued Sovereign Ruler of the rolling spheres, moment by moment, and of all that occurs in them. What blessedness to know this.

– Geoff Thomas

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