The Outstretched Hand of God

 

 Thoughts on the Sovereignty of God

“For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched out hand, who can turn it back?”    – Isaiah 14:27

Recently I was involved in a study series on the kings of Israel and Judah.  Interestingly, it started with a look at God’s sovereignty.  In a review of Psalm 95:3-7, we saw the people of Israel expressing their heart for the Sovereign God: “The Lord is great!… in Whose hand are the depths of the earth… Come, let us worship… we are the people of His pasture”. We’re in His care, He’s right here with us, taking care of us, we adore Him and want to worship Him.  

What’s regrettable is that when this heart for the Father was tested, things didn’t go too well. Even with their first king Saul, they should have known that this monarchy thing was going to be a challenge. After David’s marvelous reign, his son Solomon rose to power only to succumb to the very temptations God had warned about (Deuteronomy 17).  After Solomon, the nation split, and beginning with his son Rehoboam, most of the following kings were rebellious to the things of God and led both nations in idol worship. Warring with each other and the surrounding nations caused much suffering and loss.

In the midst of all that, how did true believers in the God of Israel feel?  Did they wonder, “Is God still sovereign?  Does He still hold the hearts of the kings in His hands?  Is He still providing for His people? Is He still moving His program and promises forward?”

Yet, based on what we know to be true about God, we know that He is always in control! He is unchangeably sovereign, by Him all things consist — what a marvelous God we serve! Jeremiah 32:21 says “You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt…with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.” He never changes, His strong arm is always managing the affairs of man.

 
The importance of understanding and being committed to the sovereignty of God cannot be overstated. It is on the basis of God being the “master of the universe” that we can stand confidently in the midst of the turmoil this life brings us. Whether our struggle is centerer on the results of a natural disaster, or the pain of a loss inflicted by physical disease or some random act of violence — God is in control, He knows the end from the beginning, He will carry us through.
 
1. God’s Sovereignty is…
To begin our study, think about what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “sovereignty of God”.
Study Thought:   Take out you Bible Study journal and write a few of those things down.
We will review a few of those things here, but you probably have some good points written down, and it would be a good exercise for you to back up each of those points with some Bible passages.

God’s sovereignty involves all of His creation, from the smallest detail of the creation around us on earth, to the most vast outermost part of the universe — He is actively involved in every detail.

Study thought:   Take a look at what Colossians 1:17 says about this. 

God’s sovereignty also involves His authority over the affairs of man, His execution of a master plan for history end-to-end. All of the countless schemes of man are under the watchful eye of God.
Study thought:  How does Proverbs 21:1 put it? 
The Easton Dictionary describes God’s sovereignty this way — “He is under no external restraint whatsoever. He is the Supreme Dispenser of all events. All forms of existence are within the scope of His dominion.  And yet this is not to be viewed in any such way as to abridge the reality of the moral freedom of God’s responsible creatures or to make men anything else than the arbiters of their own eternal destinies. God has seen fit to create beings with the power of choice between good and evil.  He rules over them in justice and wisdom and grace.”

Spurgeon had this heart-felt description — “There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne.”
2. What does the Bible say about God’s Sovereignty?
As we think through what we understand about God, we know we must begin with basic facts that are “settled” in our thinking..
  • God is — Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God…”  He created and reigns over the entire universe.
  • God is Who He says He is — Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  His character never changes – He is holy, just and compassionate.
  • God will do what he says He will do — Job 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”  He will judge sin, and He will declare righteous those who accept His gift of Redemption.

Below are a list of Scriptures that relate to God’s sovereignty. Take the time now to read through each, noting what you learn from each about God’s sovereignty.

  • 1 Samuel 2:2-10
  • Job 5:8-20; 9:2-30; Job 10:2-18; Job 12:7-20; Job 26:7-14; Job 33:12-30; Job 34:10-30; Job 37:1-24; Job 38:1-41; Job 39:1-30; Job 40:1-24; Job 41:1-34; Job 42:1-6
  • Psalm 8:3-6; 93:1-2; 103:19; 115:3; 135:6
  • Ecclesiastes 3:14-15
  • Isaiah 14:24, 27;43:13; 46:9-10
  • Jeremiah 10:10-13; 29:11
  • Daniel 2:20-23
  • Hosea 11:1-4
  • Habakkuk 2:13-14
  • Acts 17:24-26
  • Romans 1:20; 8:28-29; 9:11, 16, 20
  • Ephesians 1:11
Rest assured that this list isn’t exhaustive. You may think of other passages that you need to add to the list. Take time with this — we really need to hear God’s Word on this marvelous truth!
3. The Character of God’s Sovereignty
It’s interesting to think about how God’s sovereignty is an extension of His character in many ways.  Look through this list and think about how each character traits ascribed to God has something to do with God’s sovereignty, perhaps comparing it with the list of scripture passages above.
  • Compassionate
  • Faithful
  • Foreknowledge
  • Goodness – Mercy – Grace
  • Holy
  • Immutable (don’t feel bad if you need look that up in the dictionary first!)
  • Jealous
  • Justice
  • Love
  • All knowing
  • All powerful
  • Preserver
  • Providence

Closing Thoughts:

Never finish reflecting on the marvelous character of God. The depths of the riches of Who He is cannot be defined or grasped. Knowing Him better defines the path of our Christian walk.

God’s’ Sovereignty is the rock-solid foundation of our life. We know we will face struggles & frustrations. Having it settled that He is in control, and He does have our best interests actively in His mind, make it a sure thing that “real” good will always result.