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Behold Your God - Part 7

"The Sovereignty Of God"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word''The Sovereignty of God' - and our reading is taken, our first reading, from Isaiah chapter 46, and our second reading from Daniel chapter 4. I will be asking you to look at a few Scriptures together as we go through this study - and let me say that we're not looking at any main passages of Scripture, as we haven't been doing really in these studies in the last few weeks. When you take a comprehensive theme within the word of God, such as the sovereignty of God, or the faithfulness of God, or the love of God, it's almost impossible to stay in the one passage of Scripture and do an exegesis of that. So please forgive me for that, but that's the nature of the word of God and the nature of these themes right throughout it. We want to get a panaroma of this theme of the sovereignty of God, so we will be looking at various Scriptures together.

As I was seeking the Lord over what to speak to you upon at the beginning of a new year and at the end of an old year, I was very reluctant to come out of the studies that we have been doing because I believe that that is God's will for us in these days: to behold our God

Isaiah chapter 46 and verse 10 - one verse - we'll read verse 9 just to get the lead-in: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure". Then our second text is found in Daniel 4, Daniel 4 and verse 35 - we'll read verse 34: "And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?".

Let's take a moments prayer: Our Father, we come and we acknowledge Thee as the sovereign God. We bow before Thee as Thy creatures, and we ask Thee to have Thine own way with us this day, to move among us, to move within us - Lord, to bless us, to correct us, to instruct us, to encourage us and enthuse us after Thy great purposes in Christ. Lord, touch those that must be touched, heal the broken hearted, strengthen the weak, and save the lost. For we pray these things in the name of the Lord Jesus, Amen.

As I was pondering and seeking the Lord over what to speak to you upon today, at the beginning of a new year and at the end of an old year, I was very reluctant to come out of the studies that we have been doing because I believe that that is God's will for us in these days: to behold our God. That's why we looked at the love of God last Lord's Day, as we were thinking of Christmas - and what a subject to look upon! As we look into an uncertain and indefinite new year, what greater subject could we take than the sovereignty of God?

Now, in a modern sense, and in modern political science, this is foreign. To say that there is a God, in fact, is foreign, let alone to say that that God is a sovereign God and that He has sway in heaven, as Daniel has said, and also in the kingdom of men on the earth. Indeed, sadly to say, also in the religious sphere the sovereignty of God is foreign - many have denied it, many have watered it down. And indeed, within modern man in general today, sovereignty is said to be 'in the individual' - that we, as human beings, are the authors of our own destiny and our own fate, and therefore if there be a God out there, He is not concerned with the affairs of men, He has no such plan or counsel, but we determine our own destiny and our own fate. 'Our fates', they say, 'are activated when we determine by our own will: whatever will be, will be'.

What exactly is this great thing that we call the sovereignty of God? Why is it a problem to some people? What difference does it make to you?

As we look into the word of God and into His counsels in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, I find that that perception of God - the perception of the moral and modern contemporary age in which we live - no more resembles the Almighty of the Scriptures, than a 15 watt light bulb resembles the glory of the noon-day sun. It is so far removed and so different, that you cannot find a God like that within the word of God.

Now, as we study this great subject, 'The Sovereignty of God', there are three questions that I want us to ask of ourselves as we look at it. The first is this: what is God's sovereignty? What exactly is this great thing that we call the sovereignty of God? The second question I want to ask is: why is it a problem to some people? Why can the world, and some even within the church, not accept that God is a sovereign God? And the third thing I want to ask is this: what difference does it make to you? It is not simply a theory or a theological precept or treatise, but what difference does this personal God's sovereignty make in your personal life?

So let's look at the first question: what is the sovereignty of God? Well, to give a definition of God's sovereignty, it's simply this: it is the right of God to govern and control the universe which He has created. He is the Creator God, and therefore it is His right to govern that universe and do as He pleases. We've been learning in recent weeks how God is all-powerful, He is almighty, He is omnipotent, He is supreme. We've learnt that God is transcendent, there is none above Him, there is none beyond Him, or none like Him - He has all supremacy. If you like, the sovereignty of God is the exercise of that supremacy, it is that all-power in action, it is God's ability to use the power that He has in the way that His own divine counsels will and will have. Because of that we must conclude that this God can be subject to none - we've said that He is beyond us, we cannot influence Him, we cannot bring Him down to our level and we cannot ascend to His great level. There is none like Him and there can be none who He is subject to.

Think of this, just for a moment, as we ponder the sovereignty of God. Can you imagine God asking permission of someone?

Think of this, just for a moment, as we ponder the sovereignty of God. Can you imagine God asking permission of someone? Of course you can't! For that is His right, that is His prerogative to do as He pleases - He is God, He asks permission of no-one. Can you imagine Him applying or making application to a higher authority? No! Why? Because there is no higher authority to God, He is above all, He is supreme and the sovereignty of God is the exercise of that supremacy that He has. Now, this is within the word of God, Isaiah 46 and verse 10 that we have read says He is: 'Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done'. God is declaring beforehand the things that will be done, it says He declares them in His own counsel: 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure'. As one has said: 'The sovereignty of God is none other than His Godhead', it is His Godhead, it is His nature. God - if He is God - must be a sovereign God, He must be in control, He must be! As Daniel says in chapter 4:35, that all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing compared to Him, He must do according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What are You doing?! No one can say that to a sovereign God.

To put it into modern language, and into language that we can really understand and grasp, we can say that: 'God does as He pleases'. That's the bottom line - God is answerable to no one, He's not answerable to us, or any in the hordes of heaven, or the hordes of the damned. God is His own interpreter and God will do what pleases Him. The Psalmist says that, Psalm 135 verse 6: 'Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places'. This is profound. We often say of folk that they run riot, 'He is a law unto himself' - and we usually say that in a negative sense, but we can say it in a very positive sense and almighty sense of Almighty God - that He is a law unto Himself! He is answerable to no-one, He does as He pleases. We said in weeks gone by that God doesn't do what is right, sure He doesn't? What God does is right, for God is above all, He is supreme.

Now, I submit that these things are very deep, these things are very hard to understand - in fact these things, at times, can become uncomfortable for us in our mean and finite sense. But nevertheless, we must grapple with this - as we behold our God, we must behold Him as the word of God portrays Him and reveals Him. Jehoshaphat, on one occasion, made a prayer to God - I want you to turn to that: 2 Chronicles chapter 20 and verse 6. 2 Chronicles chapter 20 and verse 6, and he prays to God these words: 'O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?', so Jehoshaphat is asking a question in a prayer. The answer to that question - not the specific answer, but the answer that we would be getting if we were asking that question from the word of God - is found in 1 Chronicles 29 and verse 11, if you turn to it. 1 Chronicles 29 and verse 11, keep the question of Jehoshaphat in your mind - 'O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?'. The answer comes, verse 11 of chapter 29: 'Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all'. Jehoshaphat asked: 'Is there one above Thee? Is there one beyond Thee who is Lord, who is God in heaven?' - and we could be asking that today, as we look around a world that seems to be in chaos, that seems to be breaking down morally, environmentally, in every conceivable realm it seems to be falling to bits, we ask: 'Is there a God in heaven?'. The answer is given: 'Yes, Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, Thine is the power, Thine is the glory. Thou art exalted head above all'.

As we enter a new year, God is saying to us: 'I am God in more than name. I am God in more than feeble men's theology. I am God in action as well as name. I am God upon the throne. I am the sovereign, all-powerful, Almighty God who worketh all things after the counsel of My own will. I am the sovereign God!'

Now, what we're saying is this: what is God's sovereignty? The answer: God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and always as He pleases. In Isaiah 46, that we read from, we read this: 'Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me...I will do all my pleasure' - I will do My pleasure! If you go into the book of Daniel, you see his prophetic view, and he sees there the times of the Gentiles - and that simply is all the kingdoms and dynasties from Daniel, as he saw it, right up to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He will come to the earth and He will set His feet on the earth, and set up His kingdom that will reign from shore to shore. There, as Daniel sees that vision, the theme behind it all is simply this: that God sets up kings, God puts down kings, and God does as He pleases in the kingdom of men. And the theme of Daniel is this: that in all His dealings with men, He would teach them - Daniel 4:25 - 'Till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will'.

What is the sovereignty of God? It is this: God does, and can do, as He pleases. God wants the world in the 21st century, entering the year 2001, to realise that He will do what He pleases, that He rules in the kingdom of men and He giveth it to whomsoever He will'. As we enter a new year, God is saying to us: 'I am God in more than name. I am God in more than feeble men's theology. I am God in action as well as name. I am God upon the throne. I am the sovereign, all-powerful, Almighty God who worketh all things after the counsel of My own will. I am the sovereign God!'. That is what God's sovereignty is. We haven't even entered into how it relates to mankind and man's responsibility, and we may never do that this morning, all I want you to see is not 'behold man', but 'behold God'! God is sovereign, God will do as He pleases. In the life of this universe, in our world, in our church and in your individual experience, God is sovereign! No wonder it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.

Now, let's look at our second question: why is it a problem to some to understand that God is a sovereign God? I mean, it seems quite clear from scripture and I understand that also. It's clear what God has said, we've read it: 'I do My own pleasure. No one stays My hand, I do as I will and as I please'. God has that right - we have established it - as Creator of this universe, to rule as He will. But the fact remains that this doctrine - in fact, I would say there's no other doctrine that's hated more by men. They can't stand that God is in control, they can't stand that God is sovereign - and even, sadly, some Christians cannot get to grips with this great truth that God is sovereign! They will let God love, they can let God love unlimitedly - that is the way He loves, hallelujah! We were looking at it last week, there is no limit to God's love, there's no depths that we can fathom, there's no heights that we can reach - but men in our world, even those that are outside of Christ, will let God love all He likes. Men will let God create, they will let Him create a universe, they will let Him continue that creation in sustenance, and sustain everything that is around us and keep everything in consistency - men will let God do that. They will let God do anything, but they will not let Him be sovereign!

There's no other doctrine that's hated more by men. They can't stand that God is in control, they can't stand that God is sovereign - and even, sadly, some Christians cannot get to grips with this great truth that God is sovereign!

Spurgeon said: 'But when God ascends His throne, His creatures gnash their teeth'. Now, it is not my intention to get into controversy today - for there has been controversy raging round this subject for centuries, and I'm not going to enter into that today. But what I want to do is for you, as a child of God and a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, to see the great beauty that there is in the sovereignty of God for you. That's what I want you to do, I want you to behold your God who is in control! He is in control of this world, no matter what you see, no matter what you think, and He is in control of the life that you're living at this very moment in time.

Now let's think about this - it's important that we think. Men talk about freedom, and for God to be God - as A. W. Tozer says - He must be all-knowing, He must be all-powerful, and the third thing is He must be absolutely free. If God is to be sovereign He's got to know everything, isn't that plain? There can't be anything that's shut out from God's mind, or He can't forget about anything or overlook anything, for the decisions that He would make in that light would be false - He would be doing them wrong, in ignorance of things that are concerning Him and concerning a decision that He may make. So, God must be all-knowing to be all-sovereign.

God must be all-powerful to be all-sovereign, mustn't He? This is foolish, to think that God could have a will and wouldn't be able to carry out that sovereign will because He was impotent, no power! But the third thing is this: He must be absolutely free. 'I do as I please', God says - that means He has no interference, there is no one who stays His hand, there is no one who changes God's mind, He has freedom. Now freedom is bandied about, it was the theme and the national anthem of the 60's and it still is today. Men want freedom, don't they? They want to be free from all restraints - and the sad thing is in their sinner-ship, when they look for that freedom they find that they bring themselves into more and more bondage to sin. Freedom is hard for our minds to conceive and to imagine, because there is no absolute freedom in this universe - it just doesn't exist! God alone is all and absolutely free!

Now, let's think about this: there is the expression 'as free as a bird', isn't there? And you know what that means, that a bird can just jump off a pinnacle and just float into the air and soar away. 'As free as a bird' - and you know what that means, it's talking about only one sphere of that bird's existence: the fact that it can fly - and it seems, as we look and we can't fly, 'Boy! That bird is free!'. But that statement 'as free is a bird' is foolish, and it's not an absolute statement because birds are not free! It's not true freedom at all, for that bird has instincts, that bird has fears that are built into it, that it will not run into danger, it'll fly away from predators, that bird has to be dictated to where it will go because of the weather - you'll not see the birds out in the rain and in the snow. It's not absolutely free, it can't fly in air pressures that aren't suited to aviation, it can't go to a place where there is no food supply, it won't go there because it's not free - only God is free! That's what I want you to see, that in the natural realm, in our world all objects are dependent upon one another. This is a whole world - God has made it this way - of dependency. You can see it in the food chain, where we need our food - and there is that chain of the men eating the beasts, and the beasts eating the grass and so on. It goes round and round, and you can see the beasts free in the field, you can see me driving down the road free in my car - but we are not absolutely free, there are things that we are dependent upon, and if they are interfered with we will suffer.

Governments don't like you talking about the sovereignty of God, they laugh at it. Prime Ministers, and Presidents, and Kings, and Potentates don't entertain the idea - they want to believe that all authority rests with them

Now, that's important to get that into our heads today: that we are not absolutely free. The only one that is free is the sovereign Almighty God! Now, why is it a problem to some to conceive of that? Well, of course, the obvious problem is that if God is all-sovereign, well that means they're not in control and they're not the final one to be answered to. Governments don't like you talking about the sovereignty of God, they laugh at it. Prime Ministers, and Presidents, and Kings, and Potentates don't entertain the idea - they want to believe that all authority rests with them! In every individual man and woman there is that little kingship of their own life, where they say: 'I will not have this Man to rule over me'. It's the old problem of pride, isn't it? The mother of all sin.

But we'll not deal with that for just a moment - I want to deal with what I believe to be the main problem: why people cannot, even Christians, accept the sovereignty of God. It is this: the presence of evil within our world. People ask the question: 'Why do the wicked flourish?', the Psalmist asked it in Psalm 37. Why is it that wicked people are getting on in the world, getting to the top of the world, yet the righteous are trodden under foot? That leads to another question: has God got a part in men's sins? If God is sovereign and God is in control why does God let all these men do all these terrible things - has God ordained this in some perverse, strange way? You can understand those questions, can't you? The reason why we do understand those questions is we have minds like [that] ourselves. And we think of the Lord - and as the hymnwriter has said, as we've been singing: 'We judge the Lord in feeble sense'.

Now, what we cannot do or allow ourselves to do, is deny what we have already established from the word of God because of the questions of men. But what I want to do is bring some reasons why I believe that these are problems for people, concerning the sovereignty of God and the presence of evil. The first thing is this: often God's providences - and that's simply another way of describing His sovereignty - they seem to run contrary to His promises. Now, listen to that: God's providences, what God does and what God declares, at times in our lives seem to go against all that God is and all that God has said. To put it in our language, we ask ourselves: 'This shouldn't be happening to me! I'm a Christian, why is God letting this go on my life? How can God let this happen?'.

Why is it that wicked people are getting on in the world, getting to the top of the world, yet the righteous are trodden under foot? That leads to another question: has God got a part in men's sins? If God is sovereign and God is in control why does God let all these men do all these terrible things - has God ordained this in some perverse, strange way?

Now, if you'd let me I want you to cast your mind back to David - and you remember in the early stories of David when he was out in the field with the sheep, being a shepherd, and God was working with him and moulding him. Old Samuel came to his home and he anointed David King - after looking at all the rest of Jesse's sons, he then anointed the smallest one and the youngest one: David. He was anointed as King, and that was the providence of God, God had declared: 'This man shall be King'. That was God's promise: 'David, you will be King' - but as the days, and the months, and the years went on we find that that promise, the providence of God seemed, in our eyes, to contradict it. What am I saying? I'm saying the promise of God was that David would be King, that he would have the crown - but we find Saul pursuing him, like a partridge over the mountains of the wilderness, ready to kill him. God's providence allowed that, God's providence permitted that - and there are times in our life that we have a promise from God, we read His word, we take it to our hearts, but everything that's around us seems to be going against that - but we need to realise today, if that's our situation, that there are times that that seems to be happening. It seems that God's providence is running contrary to His promises, but that is not the case! It's not the case!

If you think of Paul, remember in the book of Acts he was in the ship and God promised all the lives of those who were in the ship - but what began to happen? Imagine you as Paul, and God had given you this great promise, and then the ship starts to break up and you start to sink, and you think you're going to lose your life and the rest of the crew - yet every single one of them, God had promised they would be saved. It seemed that God's providence was running against God's promise, but what do we read? We read that in the broken pieces of that boat every single one of those lives was brought to shore. That's the sovereignty of God! It may seem in our lives that things are running against God's promises and God's ways, but God overrules, God is sovereign, God is in control - and if your life's boat is broken in pieces, listen, this is God's message to you as you go into a new year: you can float ashore even on those pieces! God's promises will not be overruled.

Even when the providence of God seems, in our feeble sense, to go against His will - God is in control!

Secondly, another reason why people find this difficult is because the way that we take in life can be bitter and it can be sweet mixed together. We wonder: 'How can we have bitter things in our life? How can God allow bitter things and odd things to happen when He only wants good for us?'. It's like a chessboard, black-and-white, and our way from one end to the other seems to be chequered. And we know that hell, where the damned reside, is a place of bitterness; we know that heaven is a place of sweetness - but we also know, all too well, that earth on which we live is mixed with both sweetness and bitterness. It's like the rod and the manna that were in the Ark of God, the rod was for discipline and for leading, and the manna was for being fed - and it's like our earthly pilgrimage along the wilderness, that it's this mixture of bitter and sweet. But you must see, as David saw in the Psalms: 'I will sing of mercy and of judgement' - mercy and judgement! God overrules my life, no matter what is happening, God is in control - and like Joseph, even though he was sold into slavery, even though he was put into prison for a crime he didn't commit, even though he was down there in that dungeon and those that had promised him things reneged in their promise, this was said of him: 'But God was with him'! That's it! Even when the providence of God seems, in our feeble sense, to go against His will - God is in control!

Thirdly, one of the reasons why people have problems is this, as Thomas Watson the puritan said: 'God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick'. God can do anything, God can bring all things according to the counsel of His own will. What I mean is this: something that is evil from the hand of a sinful man, at the same time can be good from the hand of God. Now that baffles - don't ask me to explain that, because I can't explain it - but something that can be meant and motivated from the hand of a man for evil, God at the same time can be motivating it from His hand for good. That's powerful, but that is our sovereign God! Remember Joseph? His old brothers were envious, weren't they? They were jealous of the father's love and they sold him, they put him down a pit, and he went to prison - as I said - and got into all sorts of problems. But what was the sovereign will of God, what was His invisible hand behind it all? He knew that there was a famine coming, he knew that the people of Israel and all Israel, Jacob's family, needed to be fed - and at the end of the day what did He want to do? He wanted to get all that family up into Egypt. Isn't that amazing? From the evil hands of Joseph's brothers, God was able - and God intended, and God ordained the good of the children of Israel.

Why doesn't He do something about it? Why doesn't He take control? Why doesn't He overrule the evil in the world that exists?

Remember Shimei's cursing of David? Remember he cursed him up and down? It was evil and it was wicked, and it was a terrible sinful thing to do, it came out of a heart of malice against David - but at the end of the day God ordained that cursing to be used to humble David for his adultery and for his murder. And at the end of the day, we look to Calvary, we look to the Lord Jesus Christ - and wicked men, murderous men took Him, and hung Him, and put Him to death humanly speaking, Judas sold Him and betrayed Him - yet we are given redemption by His blood. Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that wonderful, the sovereign God that we have - and we can look at our lives, and it's like looking into a smith's workshop, isn't it? And you look into the smith's workshop, and you see tools that are hooked - horrible things, horrid things, evil things, painful looking instruments whereby he does his work. But when we see the finished article, it's beautiful. Do you know why it's beautiful? Because of the master's hand. That is the sovereign God! That is my God! That is the God we worship, a God who is in control - and the reason why He permits evil in this world, and the answer to the world's question - they're shouting it so loud that they can't hear God giving the answer. 'Why doesn't He do something about it? Why doesn't He take control? Why doesn't He overrule the evil in the world that exists?' - it's answered! The answer is: He is overruling it. Day-by-day, moment-by-moment, He is permitting certain things that He might bring good out of it.

Here is my question to you today, as we close in our final moments (and by the way I've noticed that clock has a different time to my watch, so I'm going by the clock if you don't mind - it's a bit slower!). What does it mean to you? What does that sovereignty - what are you doing about it? Don't ask the world, don't sing to the world: 'God is still on the throne, and He will remember His own' when you're not living like it! That's the third question: what difference does it make to you? I'll tell you what it means, it means this: there's no blind fate. It means that there is nothing by chance, there's no coincidence, there's no luck - and even the very rolling of a dice, the word of God says [in] Proverbs 16:33: 'The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of God'. God is the pilot of all things, God is in the driving seat - if I can say it - of all creation. And imagine this, child of God - let this sink into your mind: if this God is your God, the sovereign God is for you! He's with you, He's for you - but in a moment of sobriety, if that sovereign God is not your God, He's against you - and God help you, for He's is the only one who can if He is against you.

Recognise this - if you're not saved - that God's side will win, that sin cannot win, and that Christ says to you today: 'He that is not with Me is against Me'. There's no sitting on the fence

Imagine this - what must we do, what difference does it make? The first thing I want to say is this: you must submit to His sovereignty. That's it! People talk about the responsibility of man, well, this is the responsibility of man: that he submits to the sovereignty of God, isn't that right? That he submits to God's rule, he acknowledges that He alone is high in heaven, that He is the one with whom we have to do, that God is God of all. To recognise God as God, to recognise this - if you're not saved - that God's side will win, that sin cannot win, and that Christ says to you today: 'He that is not with Me is against Me'. There's no sitting on the fence.

The second thing is this: you must trust His sovereignty. It's not something you believe in your head - and I say this: there is no attribute of God that is so comforting to the believer as the sovereignty of God. Don't lose it, don't let men arguing about it make you forget it and say: 'I don't want to be bothered with all that'. Dwell on it! Meditate on it! For there's nothing more comforting - and let me say this: I believe this is the first way that God revealed Himself to men, in His sovereignty. The first book that was ever written was not Genesis but Job, and that's the whole theme about it: God is in control! God is above all! This is the God that we serve and we must submit, we must trust His guidance in the worst circumstances of life. In the most severe trials that we go into we must realise that God has ordained our path, but also this: that God can overrule it, that God is a God who answers prayer, that God can move. I believe there is little more important to you today, as we enter a new year, than the fact that God is on the throne.

Think about this as we close: if God didn't sustain the world, where would we be? I was talking to someone this week and he brought to my attention that if God just let it rain for a day, we'd all be in a real fix, wouldn't we? One day, you've seen what the snow has done, you see what the floods do over in England, you've seen what earthquakes and volcanoes can do - and yet, in everything that does happen, in meteorites that miss the earth by fractions, in the fact that if we were a little bit nearer the sun we'd fry, if we were a little bit farther away we would freeze, God is in control. God sustains, He is upholding all things by the word of His power.

Secondly: quietly learn to submit to the sovereignty of God. Will you do that? Just learn to submit! Can you do better than God? Can you plan your life better than Him? Imagine where we would be if we were left to ourselves! What I want you to do today is to go away and, like old Eli say this - when he heard all the terrible things that happened to his sons and happened the Ark of God, he said: 'It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth good'. Can we say that? Can we say like Job: 'The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away' - and this is the key - 'blessed be the name of the Lord'? 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him'? Like the Lord Jesus Christ: 'Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight'? Think of this: that your crosses in life fit better than your clothes, because God is the tailor, God has ordained them, God has made them for you - and the miracle of grace is this: that every single thing will work together for your good.

I believe there is little more important to you today, as we enter a new year, than the fact that God is on the throne

I know it doesn't seem it, but that's what God's word says. It's like the wheels of the clock, they seem to be going contrary, but they're all going in the one direction - and that is to put the clock forward, and to make it chime. No matter what's happening in your life, my friend, it's all for your good - and that should be a cure [for] fear, nothing should touch you because you realise that God in His loving providence will not permit any evil against His will. It should make us long for heaven and make us long for home. It's a problem, this sovereignty of God, it's a problem for me to understand, it's a problem for us all - in fact, there's times we even doubt it because of the things that are happening in our lives - but there's a day coming when we'll know longer see through a glass darkly, but face-to-face we will see, and we shall know even as we have been known.

This is the God who brought Esther before the King out of all the virgins, but she was chosen. This is the God who brought ravens, who wouldn't even feed their own young, to feed the prophet of God - Elijah. This is the God who made the cock crow, this is the God whose invisible, sovereign hand is seen through the word of God, and seen in the book of Esther that doesn't even mention His name - why? Because the point is this: God is God in the affairs of men - and you, my friend - listen! - are the apple of His eye, and the eyelid of God's sovereignty day by day drops to protect you, and to defend you.

Oh, I wish we had longer - I'm sure you don't! Let me say this as we close: the book of Revelation is a letter to people who were persecuted. John was on the Isle of Patmos - and there is a word to describe the sovereignty of God in that book that is repeated, that you find nowhere else within the word of God. It's the word 'all-sovereignty' in English that's what it means, you find it in chapter 1 and verse 8: 'I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty' - the all-sovereign, right throughout that book. Do you know what He was wanting those people to do? To lift their eyes heavenward and to see this: no matter what is happening in your life, there is an all-sovereign God who is in control.

'When statesmen have had their last party,
And despots have made their last threat.
When prophets are dumb with misgiving,
And forces of conflict are set.

When factions, misleading and treacherous,
Bring chaos where order prevailed.
When freedom, long cherished, is vanquished,
and leaders long trusted have failed.

When God and His word are derided,
And men call it useless to pray.
Remember that God is still sovereign,
and He has the last word to say'.

Our Father, we thank Thee for this blessed assurance, that we know not what the future holds but we know who holds the future. Lord, we ask that that deep, deep sense and security of Your guidance may be what garrisons our heart as we go forward into this new year. Touch hearts that must be touched, and bless us now as we part, Amen.

Don't miss Part 8 of 'Behold Your God!': "The Mercy Of God"

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins,
Preach The Word.
January 2001
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh tape in his 'Behold Your God' series, titled "The Sovereignty Of God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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