ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – SOVEREIGNTY

Unlike centuries ago, we no longer have many sovereigns in our world today.  When we visited England, we stayed in London and went to Buckingham Palace, one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth II.  It is in downtown London and it takes up significant acreage with the palace, gardens and grounds.

2011-04 England 139

Looking at Buckingham Palace from across the grounds you can get a glimpse at the magnitude of the Queen’s residence. 

2011-04 England 152

Standing closer, we could see the guard making his route securing the sovereign, as we were on the other side of the gate looking in with a throng of others.  

We in the United States have a hard time with the concept of “sovereignty”.  Our whole corporate psyche is centered on freedom.  We believe that we were born free, to live as and where we choose while doing whatever it is that we want to do.  No caste system.  No one dictating what profession or job we must take.  No one telling us where we can or cannot live.  

Having a person over us who is sovereign is exactly what our forefathers rebelled against and it was the springboard for the Revolutionary War between our country and England.

So, when we come to the attribute of God that is titled “Sovereignty”, we have a hard time comprehending all that such term entails.  It is easy to speak the words that “God is in control of everything.”  But the reality of a Sovereign God is much more far-reaching than a platitude.

In Exodus chapter 18, we have a beautiful vignette of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro:

“And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and [how] the LORD had delivered them. Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, “Blessed [be] the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, [and] who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.  Now I know that the LORD [is] greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, [He was] above them.“”

Exodus 18:8-11 NKJV

Jethro was glad for the deliverance of Moses and the children of Israel and, after Moses had described all that God had done in Egypt, Jethro rejoiced and praised the LORD who is sovereign over all.  Nothing that some people may attribute to a god is outside His sovereign control.

The Psalmist says this about God’s sovereignty:

“Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

Psalm 115:2-3

God is sovereign over all mankind or anything that he worships, nothing compares to our God and Lord.

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

Proverbs 21:1

God is sovereign over other monarchs on earth – while the king might be making plans, the Lord God controls that which happens.

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

Proverbs 16:33

As with kings, even the common man is subject to the sovereignty of God.  Men cast lots and then make their decisions based on that result, but God is the One who controls the decision that the lot mandates.

In fact, God is even sovereign over the actions of animals.

Recall what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31

Now, remember Jonah’s free transportation in the belly of the great fish, and then, at the word of the Lord, his being catapulted from the fish onto dry land.  Jonah 2:10.   Also, remember how God gave Balaam’s donkey the power of speech when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the street, but his master did not.  Numbers 22.

There is nothing outside the control of God’s loving hand.

  • Not the plans of the wicked even if they are dictators or despots.
  • Not the way our physical world works which sometimes seems to be in opposition to mankind such as when there are earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, or droughts.
  • Not the actions of demons or even Satan, remember how Satan had to get permission to test Job and could only take action within the confines established by God.
  • Not even my own free will. Regarding salvation, we may believe that we accepted Jesus through our own free will, but even then, it is God Who quickens our heart to become aware of our sin and our need of His grace. 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:28, 38-39 

God’s sovereignty is a tremendous comfort to the believer because it enables him to have confidence that he does not need to fear, God is still on His throne and He is still sovereign – in charge – in control, no matter what might be going on in this temporal world.

We must remember that when sin entered the world, man had turned himself into a headlong catapult toward sickness, illness, pain, sorrow and death.  God intervened in Genesis 3:15 where we learn of a Redeemer, a Savior Who will pay the price of sin and redeem God’s children for Himself.  We all must die physically because of the curse of sin on our mortal bodies.  But, we don’t have to die spiritually if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.   

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37

Beloved, God’s sovereignty is an attribute that is hard for us to comprehend but it is the basis of God’s providence.  We know that God’s will, His providence, shall prevail because God’s sovereignty mandates it.  Nothing can defeat God’s will.  Praise His Holy Name!

God’s sovereignty + His love for His children

=

Unassailable confidence and comfort for the believer.

 

Father, there are no words available to express my praise and love for You and for Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Lord, I cannot comprehend Your sovereignty and all that such attribute entails, but I do have confidence in You and Your sovereignty brings comfort to my heart.  Thank You, Lord.

 

PAPERWHITES – LOST IN THE SEASONS!

This year we, in the southern United States, had a very mild fall and early winter. The temperatures were in the 60s and 70s when they should have been much colder than that. I’m not talking in the below freezing range, but surely colder than flip flops and tank tops for Christmas shopping attire.

 

The front lawn at our house is a challenge for us. Grass does not want to grow there because of the big trees that suck up the water and provide too much shade, especially along the street. We had a lawn service come in and put in new plants, but I don’t believe that the lawn service considered the fact that there is not a green thumb among any of the 20 fingers resident in our home.

 

front yard
Front yard along street where grass doesn’t like to grow!

 

Nonetheless, every year we try something new, trying to have our yard at least a little bit visually attractive.   This fall, we went to The Home Depot and picked up 2 bags of tulip bulbs and 1 bag of paperwhite bulbs. According to the instructions, they both would be good along the street and would provide some pretty flowers for cutting, etc. in the Spring.

 

So, my husband went to digging holes and (since my ankle was still not useable) I would sit on a chair and toss him a bulb to put into the ground. I wasn’t much help, in reality, since often my toss would send him out into the street to retrieve the bulb, but at least I felt like I was participating in this gardening effort.

 

We were very proud of the area along the street that had been cleaned, dug up and planted, with new top soil and a hearty dose of water, all according to the directions. Now all we had to do was to wait for Spring and we would have flowers galore.

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Paperwhites coming up shortly before Christmas.

 

Imagine our surprise when, in early December we saw green spikes coming up in our tilled soil. They were not all over the space, just in the center where we had planted the paperwhites. The weather continued to be cool, not cold, and the spikes grew taller.

paperwhites 2
Two of the paperwhite plants up close.

 

Indeed, by mid-December we had a crop of precious paperwhites. They stood along the street so tall and proud of themselves, unaware of our laughter as we drove down the driveway and saw them waving in the breeze. In our effort to have the yard visually appealing in the Spring, we now were the only ones on the street to have flowers blooming beside the piles of dried leaves waiting for the collection truck.

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The paperwhites share the curb with dried leaves waiting for the leaf truck.

 

The tulips apparently were a bit smarter, they are still in the dirt (unless the squirrels got them without our knowledge, always a possibility!) and we are anticipating some beautiful blooms in the Spring. Of course, we were expecting that from the paperwhites too, so our anticipation may not be well-founded.

 

And of course there is the next question, “What are the paperwhites going to do in the spring, when they are supposed to come up since they already made their appearance?” I don’t know … that is outside my area of expertise!

 

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes said:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

 

What the Preacher is saying is that God has ordained the seasons and, indeed, every matter under heaven. This, of course, includes the time to plant and to pluck up that which is planted. To put it bluntly, the Preacher is saying that God is sovereign.

 

God’s sovereignty encompasses all aspects of our world, its operation and workings, and humanity’s work, even each individual’s life and actions. The concept of God’s sovereignty is overwhelming to me. My finite mind simply cannot comprehend the scope of that which is subject to His control. His sovereignty is total – it is without limit – it is untouched by human plan or design. His decree will come to pass, without exception and without interference.

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Yosemite National Park

 

He is the Creator and has created and ordained the heavens and all beings therein, even the mountains and oceans do His work. Read Psalm 148 where the Psalmist commands that we and all of creation “Praise the Lord” and where he further says that what God has decreed will pass away.

Landscape Rainbow, Seward Highway, Alaska
Landscape Rainbow, Seward Highway, Alaska

 

One of the most beautiful statements of God’s sovereignty and majesty is found in the book of Job, chapters 38-41 where God responds to the questions Job has raised in his own defense to the situations presented to him. I encourage you to read the entire book of Job, but particularly these chapters. After listening what God has said, and after considering the chasm between God’s omnipotence and Job’s helplessness, Job replied, quoting his earlier statements and recanting from them, as follows:

 

Then Job answered the LORD and said:  “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:1-6 [ESV]

God knows the animals and has created them to accomplish that which He decrees.  Remember the story of Balaam and his donkey in Number 22, where the donkey saw the angels of the Lord standing in the road, blocking the way that Balaam wanted to go. In this case, God even opened the donkey’s mouth so that he could instruct Balaam! Also, remember the great fish that swallowed Jonah and then spit him up on to the land where God had told him to go! And remember the fish with the shekel in its mouth in Matthew 17, providing the money to pay the tax.

 

God even knows about the flowers in the field.

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Lilies blooming in the backyard.

 

How God sees the flowers of the field is revealed in Matthew 6 where Jesus is speaking:

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matthew 6:28-30 [ESV]

 

Take time today to consider the magnitude and majesty of God’s sovereignty as it is revealed in creation and in His Word, the Holy Bible.   Spend some time pondering the omnipotence of the Creator God, and then thank Him for his grace, mercy and sovereignty.  Thank Him for knowing you, not just as part of the universal creation but on an intimate, personal basis, and thank Him for letting us know Him, as revealed by Jesus Christ and as expressed in His Word and His indwelling Spirit.

 

Father, I cannot comprehend your power, magnificence and majesty.  I cannot begin to understand the scope of your sovereignty.  All I can do is bow in humble reverence and awe, and claim your Son as my Savior and Lord.  Thank you for your grace, mercy and love, through Jesus Christ, I pray.