Pastor David B. Curtis

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Our Sovereign God

Revelation 19:6

Delivered 07/27/1997

Revelation 19:6 says, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!" The word "alleluia" is an exclamation of praise. It recurs frequently in the Book of Psalms meaning, "Praise Yahweh!" This is a praise to God because of the fact that He is ruling. Is that fact a reality in your life? Do you live as if God is reigning?

Let me share with you an experience that happened about 18 years ago that the Lord used this week in my life. When I was in Bible college I had a professor that I grew to love dearly. I first met him when I was registering for classes. I told Cathy that I hoped I did not have him for any classes because he seemed weird. Well you guessed it, he was the teacher in my Systematic Theology class. I didn't sit under his teaching long before I grew to greatly admire him. He had his PH.D. in Bible and he knew his Bible well. I sat under his teaching for years and learned much from him. Then something happened that confused and disappointed me. The college had decided to close and as he told us about it, I sensed a real fear and anxiety from him about his future. He was worried about the sale of his house and finding a new job. I couldn't understand how such a man of God could be shaken by circumstances. I wondered if he really believed all that he had taught me about God.

I remembered that experience this week as I was experiencing anxiety over my own circumstances in life.

I had to ask myself if I really believed what I have been teaching for so many years about the sovereignty of God. So I went over in my mind what I believed about God and my countenance was refreshed, my perspective changed. As I reviewed my Theology, I asked myself the same question that David asked himself in the Psalms. "Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God." After reviewing my theology, particularly the doctrine of God's sovereignty, I found myself saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!" I am going to preach to myself this morning and you are welcome to listen in. I needed this reminder and you might also.

How well do you know your God? I don't mean just know about Him, but know Him. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the Name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind than thoughts of God. Thus preparing us to worship God, who resists the proud.

Knowing God is not just a matter of theology, it is crucially important for the living of our lives. All conscious behavior is preceded by and arises out of our thoughts. Notice Paul's thoughts in:

Philippians 3:7-10 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

When Paul says that he counts the things he lost as rubbish, he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind. What normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of rubbish? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign. By sovereign we mean that God possesses and exercises supreme authority and control in all creation, including man.

Modern political science and modern religion hold to a theory that sovereignty resides in the individual. We must guard our thinking. Left to ourselves we tend to immediately reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him. We want a God we can in some measure control. The control of God seems to be an underlying theme of the positive confession movement. Kenneth Copeland has said, "You don't have a God living in you; You are one." Ruth Carter Stapleton who studied under Agnes Sanford says, "God is wholeness; and you are God. In you He lives and moves and has His being." E. W. Kenyon teaches that we are to walk as Jesus walked, without any consciousness of inferiority to God. Ken Copeland said, "We have all the capabilities of God. We have His faith." They have a wrong view of God. He is not sufficient in himself, but can only do what he does by using the universal faith-force in obedience to certain cosmic laws. Their god is not the God of the Bible. Pink summed it up this way, "The god of modern religious thought no more resembles the supreme sovereign of the Bible than does the dim flickering of a candle resemble the glory of the noon day sun."

When we say that God is sovereign we're saying that God has an absolute right to rule over everything.

1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (NKJV) Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 "Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.
Psalms 47:7-8 (NKJV) For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.
Isaiah 46:9-11 (NKJV) Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
Revelation 19:6 (NKJV) And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
Psalms 115:3 (NKJV) But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

God calls ALL the shots, He rules over all. Why is that? Because He is God. God defends his sovereignty on the basis of creation in the book of Job. If you were to come home and find your house burned down to the ground with all your belongings, and you had no insurance, how would you respond? Would you question God? What if one of your children died, or all of your children died, would you question God? What if you became ill and could no longer work and you had no insurance, would you question God? What if you lost everything in one cataclysmic moment, your job, your cars, your house, your savings, your children. How would you respond?

In the book of Job we have a true story about a real man who lost it all. Let's look at how he responded.

Job 1:20-22 (NKJV) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Notice that Job didn't view God as passive, he didn't say, "The Lord let this happen" or "God allowed Satan to do this to me." He said, "The Lord has taken away." He viewed this as from the hand of God, and his response is worship. In the midst of the worst calamity he worships God.

Job 2:10 (NKJV) But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

We all think God is good when he gives us what we consider as good, but He is good all the time. Even when he brings calamity upon our lives. This is an incredible man! Job's response is nothing short of amazing. How would you do in his sandals? As this trial went on it began to wear on Job. He begins to question God.

Job 10:2 (NKJV) I will say to God, 'Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me.
Job 31:35 (NKJV) Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book!

Job asks, "Why is this happening to me? Show me? I've lost everything except my wife, why? He gets no answer, just the arguments from his peers. In chapter 38 God speaks. He doesn't answer Job's questions, he asks some questions of his own.

Job 38:1-5 (NKJV) Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: 2 "Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4 "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

Job has absolutely no right to question God. In a series of questions on cosmology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy God challenged Job's competence to judge His control of the world.

Job 38:4 (NKJV) "... Tell Me, if you have understanding." Job 38:18 (NKJV) Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.
Job 40:1-5 (NKJV) Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said: 2 "Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it." 3 Then Job answered the LORD and said: 4 "Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further."

In verse 6 of chapter 40 thru 41:34 God focuses on two animals, behemoth and leviathan. He shows Job that he could not even control these animals let alone take over God's job of controlling the universe. God in effect says, "I created everything, I own everything, and I control everything, who are you to question me?" Notice Job's response in:

Job 42:1-6 (NKJV) Then Job answered the LORD and said: 2 "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, 'I will question you, and you shall answer Me.' 5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6 Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes."

Job says, "I understand that you are God and you are sovereign, please forgive me. I was wrong for not recognizing your sovereign right to give and to take away. I hate myself. How could I ever question you?"

Job was a remarkable man. How could he be so strong in his faith? I think we get a clue from:

Job 23:12 (NKJV) I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.

God's Word was more important to Job than his food. Is that true in your case? How many meals have you missed this week? How many spiritual meals have you missed? Job learned of God's sovereignty. He created, he controls.

Sovereignty is the exercise of his moral power whereby it is lawful for him to do what he will with his own creation, even if we don't like it. Think about what it would be like if God was not in control. What if there was nothing more that the natural laws of nature to depend upon. Man is totally helpless against the elements.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Keep that in mind. It is only because of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed.

The Scriptures show us that God exercises sovereign rule over all the physical universe, over plant and animal creation, over the nations of the earth, and over all individuals. Let's look at what the Scripture says about God's rule of His creation.

GOD RULES OVER THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE:

Scripture tells us that God controls the Sun, wind, rain, hail, snow, and ice. The heavenly bodies , the sun, stars, and planets obey his will.

Joshua 10:12-14 (NKJV) Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." 13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

The Bible is written to men, so God uses here the language of observation. We speak of a sunset or a sunrise. But we know that it is really an earth revolving. God literally stopped the earth from revolving. In an other incident God opened up the earth and swallowed Nadab and Abihu and then closed it up.

God uses the beneficent elements as expressions of his goodness and love, and the destructive elements as instruments of discipline and chastening.

So God sovereignly rules over the physical universe and

GOD RULES OVER THE PLANT AND ANIMAL CREATION.

In the book of Jonah, we see God's control over a fish, a gourd and a worm, that's right, a worm.

Jonah 1:17 (NKJV) Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah 4:6-7 (KJV) And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. 7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.

The Hebrew word for "prepared" is manah, (maw-naw); to weigh out; to allot or constitute officially; to appoint, prepare.

The book of Jonah blows away all of the soul-winning techniques taught in our day. Jonah says, "Repent," and the whole city turns to God. God is sovereign over the salvation of man.

We see God's sovereignty over the fish as Peter fishes all night and catches nothing. Then the Lord tells him to cast out his net and he can't bring it in for all the fish. God had all the fish in the sea head for Peter's net. We see Ballam's donkey speak. That's probably not a big deal though, I'm sure you've heard a donkey or two speak. And how about all the animals lining up to get into the ark before the flood. You don't think that Noah went out and caught all those animals do you? And how about how God fed Elijah by the Brook Cherith:

1 Kings 17:4-6 (NKJV) "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

This is the original bird feeder.

God moved his people out of captivity in Egypt by controlling water, insects, animals, disease and death. So God sovereignly rules over the physical universe, the plant and animal creation, and:

GOD RULES OVER THE NATIONS:

This is seen so clearly in the book of Daniel. In the face of the might and splendor of the Babylonian empire, which had swallowed up Palestine, and the prospect of further great world empires to follow, dwarfing Israel by every standard of human calculation, the book as a whole forms a dramatic reminder that the God of Israel is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; that God's hand is on history at every point; that history is in deed no more than His-story. The central truth taught all through this book is: "That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will." We see in Daniel 1:9 that God brings Daniel in favor with the prince of the eunuchs. In chapter 2 God controls dreams, and removes and sets up kings.

Daniel 2:21 (NKJV) And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.

In chapter 3 we see God controlling fire, it has no effect on his servants. In chapter 4 we see God controlling men's hearts.

Daniel 4:16 (NKJV) Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.

In chapter 5 God sets up and removes kings. In chapter 6 God controls the lions. Daniel knew God was sovereign, his theology kept him strong in the midst of terrible circumstances. Daniel knew that God was totally in control, and in the midst of a lions den, Daniel got a good nights sleep. On the other hand, in the palace the king was a wreck, he had no sense of the sovereignty of God.

God sovereignly rules over the physical creation, the plant and animal creation, the nations, and:

OVER ALL THE AREAS OF EACH MAN'S EXISTENCE.

God is sovereign over the birth of man:

1 Samuel 1:5 (NKJV) But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb.
Genesis 20:18 (NKJV) for the LORD had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.
Genesis 30:2 (NKJV) And Jacob's anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

God is not only sovereign over our birth, but our career and our death as well. God provides for all of our needs:

Matthew 6:25-33 (NKJV) "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

The omnipotent God who reigns, cares for us.

1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV) casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

The sovereign God who orders every event of the universe, cares for us. That ought to give you great comfort and peace. God gives us safety.

Psalms 4:8 (NKJV) I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

He protects us:

Psalms 121:3 (NKJV) He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

He provides for our good:

Psalms 5:12 (NKJV) For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

He sustains us:

Psalms 63:8 (NKJV) My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.

He supplies our needs:

Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

God works all things out for our good:

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

This could not be true if God was not controlling everything. God protects, provides for, sustains his people through natural and supernatural means.

Acts 12:5-7 (NKJV) Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. 6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. 7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands.
Acts 12:10-11 (NKJV) When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people."

How could Peter get a good nights sleep when he was going to be killed the next day? He knew and trusted in God's sovereignty. What else could explain it? Jesus told Peter he would die when he was old. Peter trusted in the words of Jesus.

John 21:18-19 (NKJV) "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."

Here are some examples of God's providential care:

Acts 14:19-20 (NKJV) Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. 20 However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV) But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
Acts 27:44 (NKJV) and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
Acts 28:3 (NKJV) But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. Acts 28:5 (NKJV) But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.

Our God is in control of everything. God controls disease. You can gargle with Listeren every day and take all the vitamins you want, but the bottom line is that God is sovereign over germs. In 2 Chronicles 26 he smote Uzziah with leprosy. In Acts 12 he smote Herod with worms and he died.

God controls battles. You remember the battle that Gideon fought in Judges. His army was 300 strong armed with pitchers and torches and trumpets. And Joshoshaphat won the battle in 2 Chronicles by putting the singers out front and praising God.

God determines the time and circumstances of our death (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

God is even sovereign over the thinking process of man.

Proverbs 21:1 (NKJV) The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Do you get the picture? God is absolutely sovereign over the universe. The sovereignty of God is the ground of peace and confidence to all his people. They rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Neither chance, nor the malice of men control the events of life and all their issues.

When people hurt you, or you've been wronged, when you think your circumstances are more than you think you can bear, remember Romans 8:28. God is in control and He loves you. If God be for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Since God is sovereign, why do we try so hard to please people over Him? Since the King's heart is in God's hand, why do we worry about the king? We are to seek first and foremost to please God.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

We believe the Biblical accounts, yet doubt God's control in our everyday lives. Yes, God protected, preserved, and cared for his saints, but I'm not sure he can get me through this. Doesn't that sound ridiculous?

God is sovereign. He controls everything. He loves you. What more could we ask for? If we worry or fret, it is only because, as Martin Luther said to Erasmus, "Your thoughts of God are too human."

May we see God for who he is, and trust Him in and for everything. What a mighty God we serve!

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