My recent contemplations of the wonderful grace of God continually lead me to consider other aspects of God that make Him unique. Being a finite being, I at times struggle with the revelations of God that exceed my understanding and must be accepted on the basis of faith in His Word and what it is the Word reveals to us of His character. One of those qualities that I have been pondering this week is His sovereignty. What do we mean when we say that God is sovereign? Simply stated, God is on the throne of the universe and He is directing all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). God not only created all things but is also ruling and reigning over all the works of His hands. He is the Almighty, and is absolutely sovereign over every detail of His creation.
In Psalm 139, the Psalmist David declared that God wove him in his mother’s womb and that before he ever saw the light of day, God had already determined the span of time that he would walk on planet earth. To young Jeremiah God said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). The Apostle Paul told the Stoics and Epicurean philosophers on Mars Hill in Athens, “God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). As to sovereignty over the smallest of His creatures we read, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).
Now, believe me when I tell you that I personally struggle with the sovereignty of God when I look upon a world in disarray. In fact, in all honesty, it periodically looks to me like evil is winning and goodness is losing. But here, once again, I must not look at the lay of the land in front of me or the new reports of such events. I must return to the scriptures.
The Bible tells us that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the Children of Israel for His own purposes and glory (Exodus 7:3). When God’s children turned from Him years later, God used a heathen king named Nebuchadnezzar and his brutal army as His tool of judgment, referring to Nebuchadnezzar three times in the Book of Jeremiah as His Servant. In the New Testament we find God using, for His eternal purposes, the likes of King Herod and Pontius Pilate. Things are not always as they appear to the naked eye but because God is sovereign, every event on earth plays into His eternal purposes.
God’s Word tells us that it is He who raises up rulers and it is He who takes them down (Daniel 2:21, Romans 13:1). What is incredible here is that when the Apostle Paul said that, “…there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” Nero was on the throne of Rome. And of the all the rulers that rise and fall, we read, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).
The fact of the matter is, God is Sovereign over all of His creation as well as all of history. History is moving along a determined path, guided by One who said, “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).