GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY, 10.01.19
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
There are many definitions of the word, sovereign; and many declarations of what that exactly means. Most commonly, sovereignty alludes to kingship, complete authority, and encompasses the absolute right to do as one pleases. Study Corner will look at this topic from the Scriptural context, and what that suggests in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, Who embodies all that sovereignty implies.
When God assigned Moses to the task of bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Moses asked Him who He should say sent him; “God answered Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Then He said, “You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, ‘I AM’ has sent me to you”(Ex.3:14). The very phrase, I Am Who I Am indicates that the speaker has no intention of explaining Himself, for He needs not justify or defend Himself. By His sovereign will He will give direction, commands, and do as He pleases. He will covenant with whomever He chooses, as well: “I am cutting a covenant. Before all your people I will do wonders, such as have not been done in all the earth, or in any nation. All the people you are among will see the work of Adonai—for what I am going to do with you will be awesome! (Ex.34:10).
Just as God admonished and warned the Israelites that just because He had chosen them, it didn’t mean that they were better than anyone else, that He loved them more, or that they’d done anything to warrant His choosing them. “So you should understand that it is not because of your righteousness that Adonai your God is giving you this good land to possess—for you are a stiff-necked people” (Deut.9:6); “when you cross over the Jordan and settle in the land that Adonai your God enables you to inherit . . . the place Adonai your God chooses to make His Name dwell, there you are to bring all that I command you— . . . tithes, the offering of your hand, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to Adonai” (Deut.12:10,11). It is clear from these statements that nothing anyone did or didn’t do had anything to do with the decisions made by Almighty God/Yahweh. Neither does it mean that when He chooses any individual for a particular role/assignment, that they are somehow superior to others.
When Yahweh chose to reveal His Presence to Moses, He said: “I will be gracious toward whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will be merciful” (Ex.33:19). He owes no one any explanation for any action He chooses; nor does He offer any apology for any action or inaction. When Job confronts God about his plight, Yahweh responds with: “Who is this, who darkens counsel with words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man; I will question you, and you will inform Me! “Where were you when I laid the foundations of earth?” (Job 38:2-4). Take notice that, after all Job’s suffering, which God well knew, He made no apology, no effort to appease him, nor did He provide any explanation as to why he had been required to undergo such an ordeal.
Just as Yahweh can sovereignly choose whomever He chooses, and cause to have happen whatever He wills, so He also sovereignly chooses in whatever situations He so chooses, to assign intercessors to stand in the gap in order for His sovereign will to be done: “I searched for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand in the breach before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My fury on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; I have brought their own way upon their heads.” It is a declaration of Adonai” (Ezek.22:30,31). Sometimes God will work through human agents; other times He will perform His will independent of any person, action, or circumstance. Why does God want to bother employing anyone, when He could do it all Himself? Why does He, in certain situations, choose to handle it Himself, while in others, He chooses to assign a human agent to either do it for Him, or intercede with Him, on behalf of others, before He will do whatever it is that He wants done? We don’t know, because He does not tell us.
In Job, chapter one, are some very important lessons regarding God’s sovereignty: “Adonai said to the satan, “Everything he has is in your hand. Only do not extend your hand against him!” (Job 1:12). Clearly identifiable are two principles residing in this statement: (a) God, by His sovereign will, can and will, as He chooses, employ even Satan in His bid to test our faith/faithfulness/loyalty/obedience to Him; and (b) God by His sovereign will can limit what Satan is allowed to do. And then, verse 21 of Job 1, Job says “Adonai gave and Adonai has taken away; blessed be the Name of Adonai.” By His sovereign will, He can curse, cause pain, and losses; by His sovereign will He can create wealth, give gifts, blessings. Wrong are those who say “God doesn’t work that way,” intending that God does not ever cause pain/bad things to happen: “I am Adonai—there is no other. I form light and create darkness. I make shalom and create calamity. I, Adonai, do all these things” (Isa.45:6,7). He can use it for good, if He chooses. He can employ evil people and evil leaders to chastise, discipline, bring judgment and punishment on peoples/nations as He chooses, just as He can employ them also to bless (Gen.12:1-3).
“Surely, as I thought it, so it will be. As I have purposed, so it will stand” (Isa. 14:24). “I will carry you. I have done it; I will bear you; I will carry you; I will deliver you. To whom will you liken Me, or make Me equal or compare Me, that we should be alike?” (Isa.46:4,5). No one is like Him. Remember the former things of old: For I am God—there is no other. I am God, and there is none like Me—declaring the end from the beginning, from ancient time, what is yet to come, saying, “My purpose will stand, and I will accomplish all that I please.” . . . Truly I have spoken; I will bring it to pass; I have planned it; surely I will do it” (Isa.46:9-11). “Adonai works everything out for his own purpose—even the wicked for a day of disaster” (Prov.16:4). He reminds us not to expect to understand, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa.55:8,9).
”Now we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose . . . those whom He foreknew He also predestined . . . those whom He predestined” (Rom.8:28,29). In His sovereignty He has even predetermined those whom He has chosen. Nothing has occurred by happenstance; it has all been part of a predestined plan – His Sovereign Plan. God says to His people: “You only have I chosen from among all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2). And Yeshua says: “You did not choose me. But I chose you” (John 15:16). And Paul explains: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4). God does not reveal His blueprint to us; but it is clear that He has one.
A sovereign God will do as He wills, without explanation, apology, justification, or permission from anyone. Because we cannot expect to know the answers to our “whys” it will serve us well to stop asking, and simply accept that there will be times when God will heal, and there will be times when God will withhold His healing touch; there will be times when He will give what we ask, and there will be times when He will not. There will be seasons of storms, trials, and testing, and then there will be seasons of blessings, (“There will be showers of blessing” Ezek.34:26), all in accordance with His sovereign timing, and will. Just as Yeshua taught, we are to pray in accordance with His will, which includes His timing, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt.6:10). When we submit to God’s sovereignty and allow Him to have His Way in our lives, then we will have complete Shalom, and walk in freedom and victory. When we come to that place in our walk where we can surrender each and every single thought, desire, emotion, action, interaction, inaction, and decision to the Lord, then we can accept His sovereignty in our own lives as well as in the world around us.
© 2017 revised 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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