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The Sovereignty of God - Holy One of Israel Part 9

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
October 3, 2022 7:00 am

The Sovereignty of God - Holy One of Israel Part 9

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, thanks for the many of you who prayed for my back this week.

I'm doing a lot better and it's a privilege to be back with you. You know, we're involved in a series of messages entitled The Holy One of Israel. This is a series all about the attributes of Almighty God, all about the essential character of God. And so far we've looked at God's eternality, we've looked at his holiness, we've looked at God's omnipotence and his faithfulness, we've looked at God's omniscience and at his mercy and at more attributes than just these.

And we've looked at all of these from a certain perspective. And that perspective is that knowing God on an intimate personal level is not only possible, but more than that, it is the birthright and really, it should be the normal experience of every true follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, when you come near the great men and women of God in the Bible and in history, what you find is that what made them the great saints that they were is that their focus was not on the church and their focus was not on the sacraments and their focus was not on the ministry or even the Bible. Their all-consuming focus was on Almighty God himself.

Their passion was Almighty God himself. And as I shared with you in the message where we began this series, I believe that this emphasis on the person of God has sadly almost disappeared from the church in America today. So much so that it's now possible to walk into a church in almost any city in America and never even hear the name of God mentioned the entire service. It's also possible to go to good solid churches, but yet in those churches, we never talk about the attributes of God.

We never explain them to people. We never exalt the character of God. We talk about all kinds of other things, but we don't focus on God. And friends, I believe this is a real problem because I believe that no person ever rises higher spiritually than their conception of God. And no church ever rises higher spiritually than its understanding of God. And what all this means is that the weightiest obligation I have as the pastor of this church towards you is to make sure that every time you attend a service here, every time you attend a Bible study here, every time that you go to a small group that we sponsor, every time you buy a tape or a CD of something that was said here, in every one of these cases, my responsibility is to make sure that you walk away with a deeper and a fuller and a purer understanding of who God is. And also that we encourage you in your own personal quiet time to get into the Bible on an everyday basis and pursue God the way these great men and women of God in the past pursued God and to use the Bible as your textbooks to pursue him. Now that's what we're all about here at McLean Bible Church.

By the grace of God, this is what we are dedicating to do in your life every single week of every single year. And as part of that, we're doing this series about God. And we come today to part nine where today we're gonna talk about what I think is one of the most exciting attributes of God, namely his sovereignty. Now what exactly does it mean when we say that God is sovereign? Well, when we say the sovereignty of God, what we mean is that God is the owner of the universe and as such, he has the absolute right to do whatever he wants with it. The sovereignty of God means that God does what he wants, how he wants, when he wants, to whomever he wants. The sovereignty of God means that God has the final say in every event that takes place in this universe and that God is accountable to no one, that God answers to no one in terms of how he runs his universe.

In Matthew chapter 20, Jesus told the parable of an owner of a vineyard who says as part of the parable, don't I have the right to do what I want with my own things? And friends, this is precisely the attitude of God towards the universe. God's attitude is, hey, I created it and hey, I own it and therefore I can do whatever I want to with it. Now, the really critical thing for us to grasp about God's sovereignty today is that when the Bible tells us that God is sovereign, it's telling us that God's sovereign control over the universe is not just potential, but that it's kinetic.

You say what does that mean? What that means is that it's not just that God can control everything in the universe. What the Bible is telling us is that God does control every single thing in the universe, every event that takes place, and that he controls them directly and he controls them personally and he controls them proactively. Now, if you really know who God is, I mean, this is the only logical conclusion you can come to.

Think about it now. If God is eternal and he outlasts all, if God is omniscient and he knows all, if God is omnipotent and he prevails over all, if God is just and he sits in judgment over all, if God is faithful and he makes promises about the outcome of all, then folks, it is inescapable that God must be sovereign and in control of it all. In fact, to even question the sovereignty of God, well, it seems absurd. God says in Isaiah 40, to whom will you compare me? And who is my equal, says the Holy One of Israel. I am the first and I am the last and there is no God besides me. And who would dare dispute this claim?

Well, no one except man. We're the only ones that dispute this in the universe. And you know, it reminds me of the ignorance of ancient man who was convinced that the whole universe revolved around the earth. Well, today we have the ignorance of modern man with his humanism and he's convinced that the whole universe revolves around him. Now, if the whole universe revolves around man, you know, we're in big trouble, friends.

Think about it. We can't even find Osama bin Laden. I mean, we can't even figure out how to solve the Israeli Palestinian mess.

We can't even figure out how to keep the dollar from falling against the euro. How in the world are we going to run the universe as human beings? Listen, if any man comes along and says to you that humanism is right, you dismiss that person as being blind. I don't care how many college degrees he or she may have, and I don't care how much they're regarded as an intellectual by this world. If they try to convince you that man is the center of the universe, they are ignorant, they are deceived and they are blind.

When it comes to running this universe, my friends, only almighty God has the knowledge of what to do and only almighty God has the sovereign authority to carry it out. Period. Period.

Exclamation point. Anybody agree with that? Well, say so.

There you go. Now, let's look at some scripture that reinforces everything we've just said. First of all, you know there are all kinds of verses in the Bible about God being sovereign in a general way. Psalm 115 says, our God is in the heavens. He does what he pleases. Psalm 135 says, whatever the Lord pleases, he does. And he does it in the heavens and on the earth and in the seas and in all of their depths. I think that pretty well covers the world, don't you? But I want to go on and I want us to focus a little more on some of the specific areas in this world that the Bible says God is sovereign.

I've got four to tell you about. Number one, the Bible says God is sovereign over the physical universe. First of all, in Job chapter 38 and 39, you'll remember, Job had been arguing with God about the sovereignty of God and the way God was running things. And here's what God said in response, Job 38. God says, hey, Job, have you ever given orders to the morning or do you show the dawn its place? God continues.

Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons? Can you raise your voice to the clouds and bring rain? Do you send lightning bolts on their way and do they report to you?

You know, after that discussion, Job didn't have a whole lot left to say. In Mark chapter 4, you remember the story about the disciples and Jesus in the boat on the Sea of Galilee when this huge storm came up and the disciples were terrified that the boat was going to sink. Now these disciples, many of them were professional fishermen.

Friends, when you're in a boat with a bunch of professional fishermen and they're terrified that you're going to sink, you know you're in big trouble. And so Jesus wakes up and he stood up, the Bible says, and he rebuked the wind and he said to the waves, hush up, be still. Then the wind died down and it was immediately calm and the Bible says, then the disciples said to each other, who is this man? Who is this guy that even the winds and the waves obey him? Well, the answer is this man was God wrapped in human flesh and God is sovereign over the natural world. When he tells the waves and the winds to stop, they stop.

Number two, God is sovereign second of all over the animal kingdom. You remember the story of Daniel in the lion's den. After the whole night passed, the king came and knocked on the door and said, hey Daniel, son, you still alive in there? And Daniel called out and said, my God sent his angel and he shut the mouths of the lions. Listen, when the sovereign God of the universe tells lions to shut their mouth, they shut their mouth. And then there was the case in Numbers 22 where the Lord opened the mouth of Balaam's donkey so he could talk. And then God told Job, Job 39, the hawk flies by my wisdom, the eagle soars at my command. You know, the Bible even says at the end of the age, God is going to completely change the animal kingdom so that we're not even going to hardly recognize it.

Isaiah 65 says the wolf and the lamb will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Who has the right to change the animal kingdom around and control and command it like this? Well, the sovereign God of the universe. Number three, the Bible tells us that God is sovereign over all the political nations here on earth. Daniel says the most high is sovereign. Ah, there's our word over the kingdoms of men and he gives reign over these kingdoms to anyone he wishes.

The person who's going to win the 2008 presidential race, you know what? God's already decided who that is and they're not going to win because they get more money or they're more slick. This is a God choice in every nation in the world. This is a God choice who runs those nations. Isaiah chapter 40 says God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its people are like grasshoppers before him.

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. And I love what the apostle Paul said. He said God made every nation of men and he determines the exact times and the exact boundaries set for them. Listen folks, the Bible is clear. The destiny of every political nation on earth is a personal decision made by a sovereign God.

He is in direct control of this. No nation rises to greatness by chance. It is a sovereign decision of God and no nation declines by coincidence. It is a sovereign decision of God. Alexander and Caesar and Napoleon and Stalin, they all lived to serve the sovereign purposes of God. And I may not understand why there was a Hitler, but I understand that God understands and that's all I need to understand. You understand?

All right, you got that. Now this truth should be a great source of comfort to us today in light of all the political upheaval going on in our world. Folks, Iran exists today as it does on the verge of nuclear weapons because God wants it to.

So does North Korea and Venezuela and Afghanistan and Syria and Israel. They all exist for a divine purpose. Listen folks, our world may look like it's a mess. It may look like it's out of control, but the testimony of the Bible stands and that is the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Don't you worry about the things going on in our world today, friends, because our God has every geopolitical thing perfectly and completely and sovereignly under control. Number four, and finally, God is also sovereign over every single human life here on earth. And he's sovereign over our lives in three ways. Number one, first, he's sovereign over our birth and over our lot in life. God said to Jeremiah, before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, Jeremiah, and before you were born, son, I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

That was my decision, not yours. And in Psalm 139, David says, all the days that were ordained for me were written in God's book before one of them ever came to be in time and space. God had my life already planned out. My lot in life was chosen.

Just think how different your life would be today if you'd have been born in communist Russia or if you'd have been born as a peasant in Bangladesh, or if you'd have been born to a mom with AIDS in Africa. And who made the decision that you and I weren't born there? Well friends, it was God, the sovereign God of the universe made that decision.

You and I didn't decide it. He has control over our lives in that regard. Second, God has sovereign control over our destiny in life. Proverbs 16 nine says, the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. And in first Samuel two, the Bible says it is the Lord who makes the poor and the rich.

He decides who to exalt and who to bring low. You know, I've seen so many people and so of you who have set out to be a great force in life and they give it every ounce of strength that they got. And you know what? It doesn't happen.

And you know why? Because friends, if that's not the sovereign plan of God for a person's life, I don't care how hard you try or how much energy you give it, it ain't gonna happen. And on the other hand, many of history's most influential people were content to live in total anonymity, but God sovereignly stepped in and exalted them, even though they didn't try to get there to positions of enormous power. The bottom line that I'm trying to help you see is that it is the sovereignty of God and not the effort of man that determines the destiny of every single human being alive.

And last of all, God's sovereignty, and this one blows me away, even extends to the very thoughts and the very inclinations of people's hearts. Proverbs 21 verse one says, the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord and the Lord turns the king's heart wherever he, the Lord wants it to go. I mean, God inclined Pharaoh's heart towards Joseph so that Pharaoh wanted to make Joseph the prime minister, which is where God wanted him to be. God inclined King Artaxerxes' heart towards Nehemiah. So Artaxerxes wanted Nehemiah to go build the wall of Jerusalem, which is what God wanted to happen. God inclined Pharaoh's daughter's heart towards little Moses in the basket so that she wanted to pick him up and adopt him and make him her son. God inclined King Nebuchadnezzar's heart to Daniel so that he wanted to lift Daniel up and make him one of his key advisors. Now if you ask me how God does this to people's hearts, I can't tell you that. But if you ask me why God changes people's hearts like this, that I can answer. God does this friends because he has a sovereign plan for the world and he has a sovereign plan for every follower of Christ's life. And if God needs to sovereignly redirect even the very thoughts and inclinations of another person's heart to get his children where he plans to get them, not only God will do that, but friends, God has done it numerous times in history.

He does it all the time. Amazing. In summary then, how far does the sovereignty of God extend? How sovereign is God? Well, the Bible says he is sovereign from the course of the stars and the galaxies all the way down to the very thoughts and inclinations of your heart and my heart. Pretty amazing. You say, well, Lon Lon, I understand all that.

I got it. But what about the free will of man in all this? I mean, how does that fit into all of this? Well, that's a great question. Friends, the Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. On the one hand, the Bible says that there is nothing man will ever do that can stop the sovereign plan of God from happening. On the other hand, the Bible says that every human being alive has independent freedom of choice for which God will hold every one of us completely and eternally accountable.

Now, this is what the Word of God teaches. I can't figure out how the two of them fit together. As a matter of fact, I've given up trying to figure out how the two of them fit together. I just accept them both and go on with life. And I figure when I get to heaven, if it really matters to me all that much, the Lord will explain how they fit together.

It probably won't. But down here, you can't figure it out. I can't figure it out. And I'm amazed that some people who get so hung up trying to figure it out that it paralyzes them spiritually. They can't go either direction. They're like, oh my gosh, the sovereignty of God over here. Oh my gosh, the free will of man over here.

Oh my gosh, and they're stuck. That's stupid. That's stupid.

This is crazy. Listen, friends, I may not understand how the sovereignty of God and the free will of man fit together, but there's one thing I do understand. I understand that no matter how they fit together, the Great Commission is still the Great Commission. The Bible still says either way, go ye into all the world, Matthew 28 and 19, and preach the gospel to every human being alive. That I got. And it doesn't matter whether you're a Calvinist on one side or an Arminian on the other side or whether you're animal or vegetable or mineral in between.

It doesn't make any difference. The Great Commission is the Great Commission. So folks, don't let all this stuff hang you up. God is sovereign. Yes, man has free will. Yes.

How does it fit together? Who cares? Who cares? Get out there and preach the gospel. Don't go out there and go, oh, are they elected? Oh my gosh, are they not elected? Oh my gosh, do they have free will?

Oh, maybe they don't have free will. Just preach the gospel. Just preach the gospel.

The elect will get saved and who cares? It'll happen. God will work out the details. That's not your business.

You just get out there and share Jesus with people. That's our command. All right? You got that?

Yes? All right. Now let me just say if you're here today and you have never trusted Christ in a real and personal way, what we've been talking about regarding the free will of man is really important for you to understand. Friends, yes, God is sovereign, but remember what we said. You have freedom of choice. The Bible is clear about that, to choose Christ or not to choose Christ. And friends, God is going to hold you eternally and completely accountable for that choice. If you choose Christ, man, you're going to have an eternity that you're going to really enjoy. And if you don't choose Christ, when you stand before God and he holds you accountable for that decision, it is going to be really, really ugly.

You are not going to like what happens. And so I'm appealing to you. I'm begging you. Do what the Bible says and surrender your life to Christ now. Make that choice so that when you stand before Christ, he can bless you with all the blessings that come with a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is your choice and God will hold you accountable. My friends, I beg you, make the right choice. I beg you.

Well, that's as far as we're going to go in the theology today, because we want to stop and ask our most important question. And you thought I forgot this question, but I haven't forgotten it. So are you ready?

Are you ready? All right, nice and loud. Here we go.

One, two, three. Oh, how sweet it is. Yes. You say, Lon, so what? Say, all right, I understand all of that.

That's really good, man. You dumped all the hay on the horses today, dude. But what difference does any of this make tomorrow morning when I drive the carpool, when I go to school, when I'm sitting on the beltway going to work?

I mean, what difference does this make? Well, let's talk about that. You know, I run into a lot of followers of Christ who will admit that God is sovereign when it comes to his control over the galaxies and the planets and the nations. But those very same followers of Christ often rob themselves of tremendous blessing by not seeing that God's sovereignty extends to the tiniest details of everyday life.

Remember what Jesus said, Matthew Chapter 10. He said, are not two sparrows sold for a penny? You know how trivial and insignificant that makes a sparrow? And yet Jesus says, not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Heavenly Father. Now, from a human perspective, this seems like a terrible waste of God's time to be involved in such trivial things as sparrows worth half a penny.

But friends, not so. As the old saying goes, large doors turn on small hinges. You say, what does that mean? What that means is if God is going to control the big things in life, he must first control the little things in life or otherwise he can't control the big things in life. You know, think about it, friends, it was a flight of pigeons heading southwest that caused Columbus to steer away from a course headed straight for Virginia in 1492 and instead to discover the West Indies. If he had not seen that flight of pigeons and followed them, he would have discovered Virginia and think how the history of America and the entire world would have been different. It was because King Xerxes couldn't sleep one night that he got up and read through his chronicles and rediscovered that Mordecai had saved his life in the Book of Esther and that led to the preservation of the entire Jewish race. In 1066, it was God's sovereign direction of a stray arrow so that it went through the eye of King Harold of England that led to the Norman conquest of England and England becoming a world empire. And in 1588, it was God sending a freak storm into the British Channel that destroyed the Spanish Armada and allowed the British Empire to survive.

It was an early winter, a freak early winter in Russia that destroyed the army of Napoleon and brought his empire down in Europe. And how about the Confederate cigars discovered by a Union soldier 80 miles from here on September 13th, 1862. Now folks, there was nothing special about the three cigars but they were wrapped in a piece of paper that turned out to be Robert E. Lee's General Order Number 191 that laid out where all of his troops, divisions and corps were and what their movements were for the next 48 hours.

That paper was handed to Union General George McClellan and because he had that in hand, he was able to defeat Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. That allowed President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and that proclamation kept England out of the war on the side of the South and that sealed the fate of the South and means that today we've got one nation with equal rights for all Americans because of three cigars lying on the ground. Listen my friend, there is not one minute detail in all the universe that God doesn't have under his total sovereign control and what that means for us as followers of Christ, listen now, is that there is no such thing as mere chance in our life. It means that coincidence and random fate, these things don't control our lives, neither do the schemes of men, neither do the designs of Satan. There is only one thing that controls your life and my life and that is the sovereignty of Almighty God and what this means if we really get a handle on it. It means that fends in everything that happens to us, whether we get it or we don't get it, there is an eternal significance, a divine significance to every single thing that happens in our lives.

Now, when we understand that, the import, the practical application is huge. What this means is when our car breaks and when we lose our job or when we get transferred or when we miss a promotion or when we don't get that contract we work so hard for or when we suffer financial setbacks or when our kids get sick or they have trouble at school, when it means when our washer breaks and the dryer acts like it doesn't want the washer to get ahead of it, you understand, it means that when sudden illness or tragedy strikes our life or we find ourself in crisis and we've got pain and a heartache, it means when the doctor looks in your eyes and says you've got cancer, it means friends that the one thing that makes all this bearable and not just bearable, but the one thing that allows us to embrace this with joy is that we know something. We know that this is not an accident.

We know that this is not chance. We understand that this is our sovereign God in total control of our life, taking our life where he has designed it to go from before the day we were ever born. And when you know that, you can embrace anything this world throws at you, anything.

And you can embrace it with joy and peace, my friend. Listen, if God oversees sparrows and cigars and freak storms and pigeons and early Russian winners, he certainly does not leave the affairs of his precious children in Christ to chance, you understand that? And that's why he says in the Bible, Psalm 46 10, be still and know that I am God. God says, you just slow down a second and I want you to remember I'm running the universe here. You just slow down a second. I want you to remember I'm still in charge.

You just slow down. I want you to relax. Everything's right on schedule. It may not be on your schedule, but it's right on my schedule, which is the important schedule. So relax, be still and remind yourself that I'm God, not you, me, and I'm running this world and I'm running your life.

So relax. We sang about it in that great old hymn, be still my soul. Thy God doth undertake to guide the future just like he did the past. Your hope, your confidence, don't let anything shake that. Everything that looks mysterious now will be bright at last.

And I love the end of this. Be still my soul. The winds and waves still know his voice who ruled him while he was below. Folks, I believe the greatest need in the church today, and I believe the greatest need in our lives as followers of Christ today is for us to have a flaming conviction that an omnipotent God is in total and sovereign control of our lives and of this universe.

Let me repeat that. I believe the greatest need you and I have is to have a flaming conviction that the omnipotent God of this universe is in sovereign control of every detail of our life. When we have that conviction, there is nothing this world can throw at us that we can't absorb and absorb with peace and tranquility when we believe that and we know that. And I'll bet there's a lot of us here, let me close by saying, we've got turmoil in our life and anxiety in our life. We've got things that are unresolved and it produces fear.

And you know, I've got those things in my life. I've got some things pending now with some people in my family that could go either way and there's one way I really want them to go and there's another way I really don't want them to go and we're just hanging out and the decision's going to be made not by me and not by the members of my family by somebody else. And we have no control over it except we know that God does. And so whichever way it goes, whether I like it or I don't friends, I've already gotten myself ready either way to say either thank you Lord it went the way I wanted or Lord it didn't go the way I wanted but you're sovereign. And because you're sovereign, Lord I can accept that and I can embrace it even though I didn't like it. And friends, that's where you need to be.

It's where all of us need to be. And when we really believe God is sovereign down to the pigeons and God is sovereign down to the sparrows and God is sovereign down to cigars then we can do this. And so I hope that you'll learn the lesson the Bible wants us to learn and that is as Jesus said, in the world you will have trouble.

Ha ha. But in me you can have peace. When we come and lay our lives at the feet of the invincible sovereignty of God, we can have peace.

And may God help you to do that. Let's pray together. Dear Lord Jesus, thanks for reminding us today as Marty prayed earlier that we live in a world with much turmoil and that turmoil easily produces fear and anxiety in our lives. But Lord thank you that there's a place we can go where there's peace. Thank you there's a place we can go where our soul can rest and be still. And that place Lord Jesus is the sovereignty of God. Running into the arms of a sovereign God and resting there and allowing that sovereign God to reassure us that everything is under control.

That he has everything perfectly planned out and that we can be still. Lord Jesus when you tell us to fear not, it's not on the basis of positive thinking, it's on the basis of the sovereignty of Almighty God. And so help us today Lord Jesus to embrace your sovereignty and to lay our lives at your feet and trade in all of our fear and anxiety for the sweet peace of God that passes understanding. Lord change our lives because we were here today. And may we not just practice this today but every day of our life. May we become men and women who live all of life through the lens of the sovereignty of Almighty God. And we pray these things in Jesus name and God's people said, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 06:55:57 / 2022-12-28 07:08:24 / 12

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