The Sovereignty of God and Our Trust In Him
The nature of the overall sovereignty of God certainly does not minimize man’s desire or need for obedience to God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He didn’t say, “I will overlook intentional disobedience and still consider you to be a worshiper and a lover of me.” He did tie the things together, so I’m not minimizing the need for man’s response to the simple truth of Jesus and obedience to Him. But what I do think is essential that we all continue to remember is that the sovereignty of God in so many things is God’s sovereign purposes worked out in our lives that are beyond our capacity to alter in and of ourselves.
An example might be our financial circumstances. Are we to work heartily as unto the Lord, to make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, and to work hard with our hands, and mind our own business in order that we might provide for ourselves and for others? Of course. But there’s something even larger than that that happens, and it’s called God’s sovereignty. As you consider your circumstances financially (and certainly do take responsibility for working hard and finding a way to provide for yourself and for the needs of others), but on the other hand remember that in Haggai, God mentioned that He could make our finances seem as if we had holes in our pockets. We try to store up, we try to accumulate, we try to make a wage and pay our bills, and mathematically there should be so much left over for this or that, or we should be able to pay our bills, but somehow there are holes in our pockets. It just doesn’t add up mathematically.
A similar situation on the reverse side is with the loaves and the fishes. It didn’t add up mathematically. But God, out of His favor and out of His sovereignty was able to make a minimal supply be adequate to feed several thousand people. Our wisdom, our intellect—these things are sovereign. If we were to take credit for our ability to see and to understand and to calculate and to contemplate and to reach conclusions, we would be fools.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psa. 14:1).
The fool says in his heart that God is not sovereign over those issues. You remember Nebuchadnezzar, a great and a mighty king and conqueror. God said, “I’m going to use Nebuchadnezzar as my instrument.” He chose Nebuchadnezzar and gifted him. It wasn’t too long though, after Nebuchadnezzar was conquering and subduing the nations and displaying unbelievable wisdom that he’s out eating grass, with his fingernails as long as his forearms. There was a sickness that God allowed to come in and his wisdom was gone. He was a fool. He was insane. It was God’s sovereignty that allowed him to be a conquering king, or to eat grass as a beast of the field. And then when Nebuchadnezzar was restored, not only was his sanity restored, but also, people immediately trusted him. They came to him and asked him questions and submitted themselves to him. The trust of men, the favor of men is also a sovereign issue. He shouldn’t have been trustworthy for a long, long time after that in a natural sense. But in God’s sovereignty, not only was his sanity restored, his wisdom restored, but also men’s trust in him was restored.
Our favor with man or the mistrust of man is oftentimes a very sovereign issue where God is working something spectacularly large that isn’t dependent on how nice we are to people, or how wise or kind. David was undermined by his own son Absalom. After the love that David had shown him, Absalom was very quickly able to betray his own father. The nation of Israel that owed their lives and their spiritual prosperity to David’s walk, easily sold David out. It seems unbelievable that this long-haired, pretty boy named Absalom could so easily sway an entire nation, so that their king, their beloved king, the singer of Israel could walk away with a rag on his head and bare feet with a handful of foreigners, and the whole nation could allow that to happen as their hearts had been won to Absalom. It’s a sovereign issue—the betrayal of man or the favor of man.
Another example of prophecy made a thousand years before Jesus was that Jesus would come to His own and would not be received by them. He would be rejected. He’d be scoffed at—an unbelievable thing. Was it His fault? Was it a personality problem? Was it He just didn’t say things right, that He wasn’t wise enough to say things right? Certainly not. That wasn’t Jesus’ fault. Who likes you can often be a sovereign issue, and Jesus Himself is a perfect example, as was David.
Your health and your physical appearance is a sovereign issue. In one day, a man can be totally changed physically. Warts on their face, change of complexion, change of the eyes, change of the limbs to where a person is barely recognizable. These are sovereign issues—our health, how we feel, and the energy that we have. Our health and even our physical appearance that we could put some measure of trust in seeing a slow changing sort of attribute—even those things are totally sovereign. I’m sure Job’s appearance changed. He got no explanation from anyone and there was nobody to sympathize for Job. His children were dead. He was betrayed by his friends and family. His appearance had changed with boils all over his body, his health had changed, his energy level—everything was different with Job.
Our conscience is a sovereign issue. What I want you to see in this, and maybe this is a simple truth for you that has already been apprehended, but whoever may be listening to this, whether friend or foe, I want you to understand that so many things in this life are sovereign issues, and in the midst of these conflicts and controversies within ourselves and without, there are two things that need to be maintained:
1. The truth of the implanted word is to be trusted implicitly, absolutely. To go back as a standard to the teachings of the Man who walked on water and calmed the seas, the Man that was vindicated after He was dead and gone and had no power left in Himself whatsoever—no breath, no brain waves, no heartbeat—that God Himself raised Him totally from the dead. The solid, immutable truth of the implanted word of God, the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and His holy apostles are to be trusted absolutely. Trust the word of God, the truth of the implanted word. Let that be your standard. Not your feelings, not your emotions, not things that you know are working inside of you and the way that you look at people.
2. Understand that some of these things are sovereign issues. It might be sin in your own heart. It could be sin in theirs. There are externals, certainly that play a part in these things, but the fact is that we need to understand that so much of life is a sovereign issue. Trust the truth of the word of the living God and also trust God. Put your trust in God no matter what happens and keep turning your face toward Him. In a trial and difficult circumstance, turn your face toward Him. Consider the lilies. Consider how He cares for the sparrows. Consider Jesus of Nazareth, the great Shepherd of the soul and entrust your heart to Him, allow Him to guard your heart and your mind in Him and to let His peace reign in your life and in your heart as you know He is your Father, Abba. He’s trustworthy. He’s incomparable. He’s unwavering. He’s not like the shifting shadows. Put your trust in God no matter what else in the whole universe might happen. Turn your face toward Him. Job had a lot of stress, a lot of trouble, but he didn’t just walk around whining. He sat on an ash heap and his face was toward God. Trust the truths of the word of God and trust Abba, turning your face continually toward Him, conscious of Him in every circumstance.
Another thought I want to expand on a little bit... a dilemma that a lot of people in the workplaces have in coming home and being burnt out and having to try to switch gears and the whole deal of living in two different worlds and trying to come home with the focus being the spiritual realm, when all day long it’s been a process of making decisions and delegating authority and solving problems, etc. The way out of all that is to have a worshipful attitude all day long, and then coming home is no problem. You are already in a worshipful attitude. You have nothing to change. The only way in the world we could ever have a worshipful attitude at work is if we really believe that our decisions are in God’s sovereign hands. We do our best, but the fact is that God determines the exact times and places. God determines what things work and what things don’t work, what solutions are effective and which ones blow up in our face. If we are busy being gods all day long, it’s difficult to worship the true and living God. And so, appreciating His sovereignty, it’s essential that we understand God’s sovereignty in all of our daily affairs and our decisions at work. Trust.