God is sovereign. For God to be sovereign means that He is King. He is not merely a king, but He is the King. There is no one who rules alongside His Trinitarian deity. And there is no one who rules over Him, ordering, compelling, and dictating anything to Him.
For God to be sovereign not only means that He is King and the ultimate ruler over all men, but it also means that He is authoritative and commands and directs all events to accomplish His purposes.
Sovereignty has been defined in multiple ways and all definitions affirm in some way His authoritative command and direction of all events to accomplish His purposes. I have combined a couple of definitions to arrive at this comprehensive explanation: “Everything that happens does so because God wills it to happen, wills it to happen before it happens, wills it to happen the way it happens, and wills it in those ways for our good and His glory.” [Adapted from Derek Thomas and Jerry Bridges]
Last Sunday morning we briefly looked at the fact that God is sovereign over the nations: He is sovereign over His people Israel, and His redeemed people, the church; He is sovereign over all governments and governors; He is sovereign over all political decisions and military battles; and He is sovereign over all of future history. There is nothing in the nations that is beyond the authority of God. He commands and controls it all.
But God is not just sovereign over the nations. He is sovereign over all things. What is included among the “all things” over which He exerts His sovereignty?
God is sovereign in the act of creation. By that we mean that there was for an eternal time, nothing in existence, except for God. And then in one moment of time, by the expressed command of God, there was light (and day and night), and then there were heavens and then earth…and all these things (and billions times billions more), God brought into existence with the simple words, “Let there be (light)…” Every part of the created world is a testimony to God’s sovereign control. Nothing has come into being apart from His design and creation of it. (And it was all created for Him – Col. 1:16-17)
And God was not only sovereign in the act of creation, but He also continues to be sovereign over every aspect of nature. There is no part of His created universe that escapes the control, power and authority of God. When we turn to the weather channel in the morning, we tend to think like deists — some unnamed force has brought about the weather (don’t typically think of God’s hand in it) — cf. Job 37:3, 6, 10-13; Ps. 147:8, 16-18.
As just one example, consider the words of the Psalmist:
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.…
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow (Ps. 147:8, 16-18; consider also Job 37:3, 6, 10-13; Jer. 10:13; Amos 4:7; Mt. 5:44-45, just to cite a few references).
And every miracle of God and Christ is a demonstration of His sovereignty. Nature must obey His every command if He says —
- “River, stop flowing and stand up, and river bed, be dry…” (Ex. 14)
- “Sun, stand still” (Josh. 10)
- “Sea, hush. Be still” (Mk. 4:39)
- “Sea, hold Me up so I might walk on you…” (Mk. 6:45)
- “You blind eyes, see…” (Jn. 9:1ff)
- “Loaves and fish, be divided so you might feed 5000 and 5000 more and still more…”
This means that every natural disaster is not a “natural” disaster — it is a sovereignly ordained disaster. It is no accident, but it has been sent from the hand of God. We do not understand every reason why God brings natural disaster (to teach us to be as outraged at sin as we are at the effect of sin in nature), but every ray of sunshine and drop of rain and movement of wind is from Him (see Is. 45:7).
God is also sovereign over Satan. I have already written that there is no part of His created universe that escapes the control, power and authority of God. That is true of all His created beings, including Satan. Though Satan was the most beautiful angel in heaven, entrusted with guarding the holiness of God (Ezk. 28:14), yet nothing he did or does is accomplished apart from the sovereignty of God.
- He had to seek permission to oppress Job (Job 1-2)
- His minion demons are subject to God (Lk. 10:17-18)
- Satan could only tempt Christ — but Christ was fully sovereign over every attack of Satan throughout His ministry, all the way to the cross (Mt. 4; Jn. 7:44; Col. 2:15; Rev. 20:10)
As Steven Lawson has written, “Satan is like a dog on God’s chain.”
God is sovereign over the personal history of all men, including the beginning of each one’s life. He creates all human life, He ordains the arrival of the child (opening and closing womb, e.g., Gen. 16:2; 29:31; 1 Sam. 1:5; Lk. 1:13), and He ordains family into which the child arrives. God is the one who puts together each person’s body from the inside out, determining the identity, nature, disposition, and bodily characteristics of each individual (Ps. 139:13ff).
God is also sovereign over the end of each person’s life. God sovereignly controls the length of all men’s lives. Consider Deuteronomy 32:29 — “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (see also Job 14:5; Ps. 31:15; 39:5).
And He is sovereign over every activity that happens in men’s lives (see Js. 4:13-15; Mt. 6:25ff). And that includes the truth that God is sovereign over the “blessings” (the so-called good things of life). He knows the numbers of every hair on our heads, and He cares for us tenderly and graciously, so we need not fear (Mt. 10:29-31). And certainly He is sovereign over the greatest blessing of our lives, our salvation. He has predestined us by His divine purpose and His perfect will to salvation (Eph. 1:11).
God is also sovereign over all the so-called troubles of life. This was the experience of Joseph (Gen. 45:1-5; 50:20). And it was true of wicked rulers like Pharaoh (Ex. 9:16) and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4). It is true of every act of persecution (Jn. 16:33), and the most evil act ever committed, the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:23). God is sovereign over every act, including troublesome events and even sin. And God uses these difficulties for His own glory (e.g., Jn. 9:3; Gen. 50:20). Nothing in life ever “just happens.” It all is directly from or through His hand. A gift.
And finally, God is sovereign in Himself. No one makes God sovereign; because He alone is God, He alone is sovereign. Many Scriptures affirm this truth, but Psalm 115:3 says it most simply: “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (cf. also 1 Chron. 29:11-12; 2 Chron. 20:6; Job 23:13; 42:2; Ps. 135:6; Prov. 21:30).
All this means that there is nothing accidental in our lives. Everything comes directly from God for our good and transformation. Cancer and home runs, broken transmissions and sunny days, unbelieving, rebellious children and free cups of coffee are all given by God. Beware of the mindset that God is strong enough to provide the good stuff and incapable of preventing the bad stuff. He is sovereign over all. And that is our comfort in a political election and in every event of life on every day.