Some aspects of God’s sovereignty
Read time: 5.7 minutes
Once again we are approaching a New Year, a time to reflect upon the past year and to resolve to do better, be better. We want to set things right. So in three blogposts: a look at Jeremiah 29:11; some aspects of God’s sovereignty and our response to God’s sovereignty, I will help lay a foundation for you so you can set things right, right from the start.
Today we take a look at some of the aspects of God’s sovereignty as explored through various Scriptures.
God uses earthly powers and suffering for our good
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
As discussed at length in my first post, the context of the Jeremiah passage is one of exile, of suffering. No more will be said about this passage here.
In the short book of Habakkuk, we see God dramatically using political powers and suffering. In the beginning of the book, Habakkuk complains about the evil rulers over all of Israel and asks God for deliverance from them. God answers Habakkuk’s plea by telling him that He will send the Babylonians to conquer Israel (hence, the rulers of Israel). Habakkuk is astonished and tells God so, as he argues that the Babylonians are even worse than the Israelite rulers. God then tells Habakkuk that He will, in time, defeat the Babylonians. Particularly in this book and throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see God using earthly political powers and suffering for His purposes.
God is sovereign over earthly kingdoms.
We can’t assume we know what God will do in any given situation
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
This verse says it all.
God exercises His sovereignty as He will; He is sovereign and subject to none.
God is sovereign over all
In Job, Chapters 38 through 41, God answers Job’s frustration with a full-throated reply that I like to call “God’s smackdown of Job.” Here we see God sarcastically responding to Job by asking him questions such as:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” (38:4)
“Where is the way to the dwelling of light and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? You know, for you were born then, and the numbers of your days is great!” (38:19-21)
“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the does?” (39:1)
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook or press down his tongue with a cord?” (41:1)
Through these chapters, we are left with no conclusion other than God is sovereign over all.
God sent Jesus, who has dominion over all
In The Book of Daniel, Chapter 2, we learn of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and how God revealed to Daniel the nature of the dream. Starting in verse 33, we read:
The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.
Most Biblical scholars see the statue as representing various kingdoms: The head of gold represents the Babylonian empire; the chest and arms of silver the Medo-Persian empire; the middle and thighs of bronze the Greek empire and the legs of iron and feet of iron and clay the Roman empire. And just as in Daniel’s dream, all these empires did come to an end.
But there is more to this story.
Daniel next provides the interpretation of the king’s dream. Starting in verse 44, we read:
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.
Most Biblical scholars agree that the “stone” in Daniel’s dream is “the stone that the builder’s rejected” (Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:8-12) and that “stone” is Jesus. Jesus, fully man yet also fully God, and the second person of the Holy Trinity, has dominion over all kingdoms. And His kingdom will have no end.
The Book of Daniel has much to say to us today about God’s sovereignty. For a fuller understanding, check out Alistair Beeg’s newest book: Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World
God works all things for our good and that “good” is conformity with Christ
When we face hardship in our Christian lives, one of the verses many of us cling to is Romans 8:28:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.
And that is most certainly true. However, the following verses provide more specificity:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
The “good” mentioned in verse 28 is conformity with Christ, it reveals a bit of who we are in Christ. St. Paul knew this principle well when he stated in Philippians 3:8-10:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
In His sovereignty, God uses all things for our good and that good is conformity with Christ. This is who we are in Christ.
Because God is sovereign, because He is who He is (God), then we have nothing to fear
In spite of the trials, the hardships, the pain we face in our Christian living, we can have true inner peace because of God’s total sovereignty. Few passages boldly proclaim this truth as does Romans 8:31-39:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] 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 bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.