Good morning, Bereans, and Happy New Year. We will get back to our study of 1 Thessalonians next week. For our study this morning I want to try to encourage us to trust in Yahweh no matter what circumstances we are dealing with.
On January 10th of 2021 I said, "We are 10 days away from the presidential inauguration. How are you feeling? I feel great, I have every confidence that President Trump will have another 4 years as our president. I believe that in the next 10 days we are going to see some mind-blowing stuff as Trump makes arrests and takes down the deep state. This election was stolen! And those who certified this election have committed treason. The evidence is overwhelming."
Now before you break out the stones and stone me as a false prophet, please notice that I said, "I believe" I didn't say, "Thus says the Lord." I was giving you my opinion, I wasn't prophesying. We just did two messages on prophecy, so you know that I don't believe that prophecy is for today.
I also said recently that I believed that President Trump would be back in office by the end of last year. Wrong again! So, no more predictions. I apologize for making these predictions. But, let me say that I still believe that the 2020 election will be overturned, and Trump will return to office. How anyone can believe that Biden won the 2020 election is beyond me. He rarely ever left his basement.
In the speech that President Trump gave on November 15, 2022 he said, "Pretty soon we're going to put our beautiful Flag on the surface of Mars." Why would he say that? Who cares about a flag on mars? You care if you know what mars is. MARS stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System (https://www.mars.af.mil/), which is the Emergency Broadcast System. The EBS will be used to announce that the 2020 election has been overturned and Trump is reinstated to office.
But for right now, the things that we see happening in our country should make you sick to your stomach. Our southern border is wide open and people are pouring in, some of them murders, rapists, and drug dealers. Inflation is at 7.1 percent. I'm sure that you have noticed that everything you buy is going up in price. Some people are really hurting because of this. And while Americans suffer, the Senate just passed the $1.7 trillion omnibus deal. This gives $45 billion in emergency funding to support Ukraine. The bill includes $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $9.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control. The bill includes $200 million for a "Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund" (which will be used to promote "gender programs in Pakistan") and $286 million for Title X funding (which funds groups like Planned Parenthood). Earmarks also include $105,000 for an LGBTQ+ mentoring program at the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, $856,000 for the facilities and equipment at an LGBT Center in New York, and $1.2 million for LGBT support centers at the San Diego Community College District. Another $750,000 is set aside for "Transitional Housing and Services for LGBT and Gender Non-Conforming" in Albany, New York, and $1.5 million for the LOFT or "The Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center Inc.," in New York. The omnibus bill will funnel MILLIONS of taxpayer dollars to LGBT groups peddling radical gender ideology. Many of those dollars will go to organizations that target youth.
It seems like every day our country moves further away from Yahweh, the God of the Bible. Wrong has become right and right has become wrong. I could go on for quite a while about how messed up our nation is, but I think you get the point. So how do God- fearing Christians deal with this? It can be depressing; it can be discouraging. When it seems like your world is falling apart, what do you do? I think we know what we should do—we should trust God. But many of us today are like King David before Achish, king of Gath. Instead of trusting, we are drooling on ourselves.
And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, "Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, 'Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands'?" And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 1 Samuel 21:10-13 ESV
This is David the giant killer. What happened to him? Fear is controlling David, and he's filled with anxiety. Does he call out to God? No. He chooses to handle it himself by acting like he's a mad man so that the king will let him go. David's ploy worked. The king sent him away, but he was still afraid of and running from Saul.
David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. 1 Samuel 22:1 ESV
Here David sits in a cave and starts to think about what a jerk he's been. Do you think that God could have delivered him from Achish? Did he think so? Theologically, yes, but he was focusing on the problem and not on his God. In Psalm 57, which was written from this cave, David begins to put his theology back together:
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Psalms 57:1-11 ESV
David begins to focus on God, and his strength and stability return. He had forgotten that God was on his side. Have you ever done that? Your theology works on Sunday, but during the week when you hit the wall of trials, trouble, or persecution, you start to panic, and you end up scribbling on the walls and drooling on yourself. If you have an awareness that God is Sovereign and that He is on your side, you will have stability. Why should I worry or fear when I know that the Sovereign God who loves me is here?
In Habakkuk, we see this same idea of someone going from fear to faith by focusing on Yahweh. The thing we can learn from Habakkuk is that a mind fixed on Yahweh can turn doubts into devotion and all confusion into confidence. Go to the Book of Matthew, turn left, and go back five books to Habakkuk:
The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw. O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So, the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so, justice goes forth perverted. Habakkuk 1:1-4 ESV
Habakkuk says, "Yahweh, why don't you do something? Why are you allowing this to happen? Why do you allow all the evil to go on?" Have you ever felt like this? I have! This is how I feel when I hear about adrenochrome, child sacrifice, pedophilia, depopulation, and the many other wicked deeds our own government is involved in.
In verses 5-11, we have God's disclosure. The change of speakers is apparent from the verbs. The unstated but understood plural "you" is the subject of the Hebrew verbs "Look" and "watch." Yahweh speaks!
"Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!" Habakkuk 1:5-11 ESV
Verse 10 says, "they pile up earth and take it." The Babylonians were known for piling up dirt by the city wall until they had a ramp to go up into the city. They were a fierce people with no mercy. Now Habakkuk has a worse problem. How can God use such an evil nation to punish Judah? He was traumatized by God's revelation.
I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Habakkuk 3:16 ESV
He was so upset that he could have been hospitalized. What is he going to do? Here stands a shaken prophet; his problems are real. He is in fear for his nation just like many of us are. He is talking about the wiping out of his nation. This is serious stuff. In verse 12 of chapter 1, he starts to remind himself about Yahweh.
Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. Habakkuk 1:12 ESV
He develops his own catechism (to teach orally by repetition). He uses a question-and- answer format. "Are you not from everlasting?" This requires an affirmative reply, "God you are eternal—You're bigger than history, and Your plan is always good." "Oh LORD my God"—Yahweh, the eternal "I AM." The self-existent God who is uninfluenced, "My Holy One"—God makes no mistakes.
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? Habakkuk 1:13 ESV
"You are holy and you must deal with sin—we deserve this. God, You are eternal, self-existent, holy—we shall not die—God made a covenant with us, and He can't lie. He won't destroy us, but He is disciplining us."
God is sovereign and He is in control. Do you see what Habakkuk is doing? He is saying, "Everything I know about You, God, tells me to stop worrying, You're in control."
"Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4 ESV
Here is the principle: We are to live by faith, trusting God. But in order to trust God, we must know Him in an intimate, personal way. David said:
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalms 9:10 ESV
Those who know Your character will put their trust in You. To know God's character is to be able to trust Him. Do you know God well enough to trust Him? Do you know Him well enough to have such confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power? To know God's name is to know Him in an intimate personal way. Do you have such a relationship with God and such a confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity, even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power? Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. True peace and true freedom from anxiety can only be found by faith in Yahweh.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalms 20:7 ESV
What the psalmist is saying is that we are not to trust in our own strength, but in God. We are able to trust in Him when we remember His name (i.e., His character).
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Isaiah 50:10 ESV
Isaiah exhorted the servants to walk by faith, trusting in the name of the Lord, trusting His character.
In Habakkuk chapter 3, he outlines the worse possible situation.:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 ESV
Habakkuk is saying that matter how bad his circumstances get, he will rejoice in his God. God is faithful and I will trust Him. In Him I find my joy and contentment. This is a stable man, and his stability is related to his view of God. "I will take joy in the God of my salvation" (salvation here is better translated deliverance).
Believers, whenever we are dealing with difficult circumstances, we must always remember that our God is absolutely sovereign!
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Revelation 19:6 ESV
The word "Hallelujah" is an exclamation of praise. It recurs frequently in the Book of Psalms. It means "Praise Yahweh!" This is a praise to God because of the fact that He is ruling. Is that fact a reality in your life? As you see things happening in this country that greatly disturb you, do you remember that Yahweh is reigning?
When experiencing anxiety over my circumstances, I often have to ask myself if I really believe what I have been teaching for so many years about the sovereignty of God. When this happens, I go over in my mind what I believe about God and my countenance is refreshed, my perspective changes. 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, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!."
How well do you know your God? I don't mean just know about Him, but know Him. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, and 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. And if we want to live a stable life in an unstable world, we must understand that Yahweh is sovereign. By sovereign we mean that He 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. 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.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 ESV
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. Psalms 47:7-8 ESV
remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. Isaiah 46:9-11 ESV
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Psalms 115:3 ESV
Yahweh our 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.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1:20-22 ESV
Notice that Job didn't view God as passive. He didn't say, "Yahweh let this happen" or "Yahweh allowed Satan to do this to me." He said, "Yahweh 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.
But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10 ESV
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. Job is an incredible man! His response is nothing short of amazing. How would you do in his sandals? How could he be so strong in his faith? We get the answers from him.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. Job 23:12 ESV
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.
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, ice and ground. The heavenly bodies, the sun, stars obey His will. When Korah challenged Moses' authority, Yahweh demonstrated his sovereign power.
And Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD." And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So, they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. Numbers 16:28-33 ESV
Yahweh opened up the earth and swallowed Korah and all of his people, 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, we see that God sovereignly rules over the physical universe. But His rule does not stop there.
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, over a worm:
And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 ESV
Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. Jonah 4:6-7 ESV
The Hebrew word for "appointed" is manah, It means "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 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.
You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. " Sohe went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 1 Kings 17:4-6 ESV
This is the original bird feeder. Yahweh moved His people out of captivity in Egypt by controlling water, insects, animals, disease, and death. And in the story of the Exodus, we also see that Yahweh rules over all other gods.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. Exodus 12:12 ESV
while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments. Numbers 33:4 ESV
So, God sovereignly rules over the physical universe, the plant and animal creation, and the gods. But He also rules in the affairs of men.
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 in the prospect that other great world empires would 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, and that history is indeed no more than His-story. The central truth taught throughout 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 into favor with the prince of the eunuchs. In chapter 2 we see that God controls dreams and removes and sets up kings.
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; Daniel 2:21 ESV
In chapter 3 we see God controlling fire so that it has no effect on His servants. In chapter 4 we see God controlling men's hearts.
Let his mind be changed from a man's, and let a beast's mind be given to him; and let seven periods of time pass over him. Daniel 4:16 ESV
In chapter 5 God sets up and removes kings. In chapter 6 God controls the lions. Because Daniel knew that God was sovereign, his theology kept him strong in the midst of terrible circumstances. Daniel knew that God was totally in control so that even while he was in a lion's den, he got a good night's sleep. On the other hand, in the palace the king was a wreck because he had no sense of the sovereignty of God.
God sovereignly rules over the physical creation, the plant and animal creation, the gods, the nations, and:
OVER ALL THE AREAS OF EACH MAN'S EXISTENCE
God is sovereign over the birth of man.
But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. 1 Samuel 1:5 ESV
For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife. Genesis 20:18 ESV
Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" Genesis 30:2 ESV
God is not only sovereign over our birth but over our career and our death as well. God provides for all of our needs.
"Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:25-26 ESV
The omnipotent God Who reigns, cares for us.
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 ESV
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.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalms 4:8 ESV
He provides for our good.
For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield. Psalms 5:12 ESV
He sustains us.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalms 63:8 ESV
God works all things out for our good.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV
This could not be true if God was not controlling everything. God protects, provides for, and sustains His people through natural and supernatural means. Our God is in control of everything. 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 as recorded in the book of Judges. His army was 300 strong, men armed with pitchers and torches and trumpets. And Jehoshaphat 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 processes of man.
The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. Proverbs 21:1 ESV
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.
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 and we do this by trusting Him.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 ESV
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's still controlling things in America. Doesn't that sound ridiculous?
God is sovereign. He controls everything. He loves us. 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."
So, I ask you this morning: "Is Yahweh sovereign over everything?" Yes, He is. So don't let your circumstances cause you to fear. Trust Him! He is in control of America, and all its politicians and everything else in your life.