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.

 

PALACES, DOMINION, AND ME?

I watch the BBC drama Downton Abbey when it is being aired, and I will record it if I am not able to see an episode when it first comes on television. We have DVDs of the earlier seasons and will watch those episodes on occasion “just because.”

 

One of the main characters, in my humble opinion, is the castle itself.  Rather than being called Downton Abbey, the castle’s real name is Highclere Castle. It is located in Hampshire, England and is the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon. It is an imposing, but beautiful, castle which is decorated with exquisite furniture, massive portraits and paintings, ornate staircases … well, suffice it to say that it is what little girls dream of when thinking of the princess in the palace!

 

I recognize that Downton Abbey is a drama and that it is a fictional representation of how titled English landowners lived in earlier days. But for me as an American, who has never lived in that type society, it is a fascinating look at how the Dukes, Duchesses, Ladies and Lords lived while the servants were living and working behind the scenes.

 

When we were in England several years ago, we did not see Highclere Castle but we did have occasion to see a number of other castles and palaces.

 

I had always heard of the White Cliffs of Dover, so we went to Dover, England and discovered an incredible castle, thriving busy port, and beautiful chalk cliffs.

Dover cliffs
The white cliffs at Dover, England.

 

According to information obtained about Dover Castle,  William the Conqueror strengthened the defenses at Dover with an earthwork and timber stockade in 1066, and from that point on, Dover Castle was garrisoned uninterruptedly until 1958. The stone castle was built by King Henry II in the 1180s and it sits above the white cliffs where there is the shortest sea crossing distance between England and the continent.

Dover castle 2
Dover Castle sitting high above the cliffs and defending the narrowest waterway between England and the continent.

 

Dover Castle was an incredible example of a medieval castle. In short, the trip to Dover, England was great!

 

Of course, we also visited Buckingham Palace in London. The crowds made it difficult to get a picture of the palace in its entirety, but suffice it to say, it was huge, and beautiful.

Buckingham palace
Buckingham Palace, London, England.

This is Buckingham Palace from the gardens between the commercial area and the palace. The palace is protected by a huge gate as well as uniformed officers.

Buckingham palace guiard
Buckingham Palace guard.

 

We also had the privilege of going to see Blenheim Palace, the place where Winston Churchill was born. Today, it is the residence of the 12th Duke of Marlborough.

 

It, too, was immense and ornately furnished. We were not able to take pictures inside and the outside was undergoing some renovation, but the scope of the palace is clear.

 

This picture is of the gate that you go through before you get to the palace building itself.

Blenheim palace Gate
Blenheim Palace Gate.

 

After you go through the gate, you come into a courtyard with the palace surrounding you on three sides.   This is one of the sides of the palace.  On the right edge of the you can see the main section of the palace.  There was a great deal of renovation work going on so we were not able to get good pictures of the front of the palace itself.

Blenheim palace buildings
One part of Blenheim Palace. Incredible beauty on a gigantic scale.

 

The palace grounds were beautiful.  This is just a small portion of the grounds surrounding the palace.

Blenheim palace grounds
Just some of the palace grounds surrounding Blenheim Palace.

 

The size of the palace was mind-numbing for me. A picture of one of the statues that surrounded the walkway outside the palace with a man standing nearby is, for me, a real perspective setter.

Blenheim palace statuary
Statue at Blenheim Palace.

 

Obviously, I cannot imagine living in this type of opulent surroundings, complete with the incredibly large staff that would be required to run the place.

 

But, watching Downton Abbey brings into sharp relief one clear fact.

 

The lord was the absolute ruler of the house and realm associated with the palace. Indeed, the serving staff referred to the Lord of the house as “M’lord” and his wife was “M’lady”. No first names … no pet names … no familiarity expressed, even though they may have known many secrets about the family members. The immutable fact of sovereignty over-rode anything else.

 

Simple as that. The will of the master was controlling and it was carried out by those under his authority. In short, the lord of the house had dominion over all his realm. Even the people in the village attached to the castle would bow or give homage to the lord of the estate when he rode past. This was the person who had control of their destiny; this was the person whose will would prevail and to whom they were subject.

 

The Old Testament prophet named Daniel had a vision of the son of man who was given dominion over all things:

 

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14 ESV

 And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

Daniel 7:27 ESV

 

Here, the word “dominion” was taken from the Aramaic, and the transliterated word used is sholtan. The meaning for this term is “sovereignty” or “realm”.

 

Imagine living in a realm where the One in charge has full dominion and authority. Imagine a Sovereign who is loving and Who puts the interests of those in His realm over His own. Imagine a realm where the Sovereign is not questioned and His edicts are not reversed.

 

Imagine living in a realm where the Sovereign loves us so much that He died in our place so that we become His redeemed people. Imagine being under the sovereign rule of the Child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, Who was, is and always will be the One who bears the name: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, … Jesus.

 

If you have not watched Downton Abbey, check it out. I think you will find the setting beautiful and the interaction between characters intriguing.

 

But, on a matter of eternal significance, if you have not met the Lord of all Creation Who will have a kingdom where all dominions will serve and obey Him, open your Bible and meet Jesus.

 

And, if you have met Jesus, and He is your Lord and Savior, then bend the knee, humble yourself, and thank Him for the salvation that has been given to you, for His grace and mercy and love, and seek to know Him more and more each day in this new year.

 

Father, help me to love you more, help me to serve you, and help me to learn more of your holiness, love, mercy and grace so that I can reflect that to those I come in contact with at home, work, school, church. Thank you for your Spirit and for your grace.