There is a lot going on in our world. Censorship is happening like we could never have imagined. If you do not agree with the Left, you are censored. The first Amendment is being trampled and destroyed. When people who were blocked or censored on social media moved to the more conservative platform, Parler, Amazon took the whole platform down because it was on their servers. With all the censorship and the mask wearing, it seems more like we live in China than in America. There are military build ups around the country. We have three days left until the presidential inauguration. How are you feeling? Are you feeling sick that Biden or more likely Harris could be our president? I don’t think that will ever happen. But look what David did when he was afraid:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalms 56:3-4 ESV
David admitted that he was afraid. This great man of God, who fearlessly killed Goliath, still had times when he was afraid. We saw last week in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 that David pretended that he was crazy and drooled on himself as he scribbled on the wall. Fear was controlling David, and he was filled with anxiety. David was afraid but in the midst of his fear he chose to trust in God. David said, "In God I have put my trust; I will not fear." David's declaration in the 23 Psalm, "I will fear no evil," is equivalent to "I will trust the Lord in the face of evil."
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalms 16:8 ESV
To set Yahweh before me is to recognize His presence and His constant help, but this is something I must choose to do.
Yahweh is always with us. He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." There is no question of His presence with us. But we must recognize His presence; we must set Him always before us. We must choose whether or not we will believe His promises of constant protection and care.
Trusting Yahweh is a matter of the will; you must choose to trust Him. But if we are going to choose to trust Him, we must first have a knowledge of who He is. We must know that Yahweh is sovereign, wise, good, and loving. Once we have the knowledge of Yahweh, we must then choose whether to believe it and trust Him or to follow our feelings. In the midst of adversity, we must make this choice: will I trust Yahweh or allow my feelings to cause me anxiety and grief?
John Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace," watched cancer slowly and painfully kill his wife over a period of many months. In recounting those days, Newton said, "I believe it was about two or three months before her death, when I was walking up and down the room, offering disjointed prayers from a heart torn with distress, that a thought suddenly struck me, with unusual force, to this effect — 'The promise of God must be true; surely the Lord will help me, if I am willing to be helped!' It occurred to me, that we are often led…[from an undue regard of our feelings], to indulge that unprofitable grief which both our duty and our peace require us to resist to the utmost of our power. I instantly said aloud, 'Lord, I am helpless indeed, in myself, but I hope I am willing, without reserve, that thou shouldest help me.'"
John Newton was helped in a remarkable way. During those remaining months he tended to his usual duties as an Anglican minister and was able to say, "Through the whole of my painful trial, I attended all my stated and occasional services, as usual; and a stranger would scarcely have discovered, either by my words or looks, that I was in trouble. [The long affliction] did not prevent me from preaching a single sermon, and I preached on the day of her death…I likewise preached three times while she lay dead in the house... And after she was deposited in the vault, I preached her funeral sermon."
John Newton was helped by God because he chose to be helped. He realized it was his duty to resist "to the utmost of our power" an inordinate amount of grief and distraction. He realized it was sinful to wallow in self-pity. Then he turned to Yahweh, not even asking, but only indicating his willingness to be helped. Then he said, "I was not supported by lively sensible consolations, but by being enabled to realize to my mind some great and leading truths of the word of God."
The Spirit of God helped him by making needed truths of Scripture alive to him. He chose to trust God. He turned to God in an attitude of dependence, and he was enabled to realize certain great truths of Scripture.
David put it this way:
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4 ESV
David realized that it was his responsibility to choose to trust God and that he was dependent upon Yahweh for the ability to do it. We are responsible to trust Him in times of adversity, but we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to do so. We see this in the following story from Mark 9.
And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:17-24 ESV
We are to be just like this father. Our attitude should be, " Yahweh, I am looking to you for the strength to trust in you." We are responsible to be dependent upon Yahweh.
The whole idea of trusting Yahweh is based upon the fact that He is absolutely trustworthy. To understand this, we must be grounded in the truths of Scripture that Yahweh is sovereign, wise, good, and loving. As we learn these great truths, we will be able to lay hold of His great promises for us.
Now, you may be thinking, I trust Yahweh, but I don’t trust our government and I’m afraid of what they are capable of. That’s OK. You don’t have to trust them because Yahweh controls all things, even our government. The Scriptures are clear that Yahweh rules over individuals and governments.
Throughout the Scriptures, we see Yahweh’s rule over individuals.
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
Yahweh controls the king's thinking. This is demonstrated throughout Scripture. We see this in the account of Cyrus, king of Persia, when he issued a proclamation to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: Ezra 1:1 ESV
This pagan king issued a proclamation because Yahweh moved his heart. Now, if Yahweh controls the hearts of kings, He surely controls the hearts of all men. We see in Scripture that Yahweh does, in fact, control the hearts of all men. When the Israelites finally left Egypt after the ten plagues, they didn't leave empty-handed. The Egyptians gave them all their wealth.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 12:35-36 ESV
The Egyptians did something very strange and quite unnatural when they voluntarily gave away all their wealth to the Israelite slaves. Why did they do this? They did it because Yahweh sovereignly moved them to. The Bible tells us, "Yahweh made the Egyptians generous to the people." So, the Egyptians acted freely of their own will, but they did so because Yahweh moved them to.
Yahweh’s sovereign control is not mechanical. It's not that the Egyptians didn't want to give the Israelites their money, but they couldn't help themselves — they gave away all their money willingly!
Yahweh usually works out His sovereign plan through ordinary circumstances. He uses means to accomplish His ends. This is seen very clearly in the book of Esther. As you read Esther, you see the hand of Yahweh in every circumstance. Yahweh was as sovereignly at work through ordinary circumstances in the time of Esther as He was through the miracles in the time of Moses.
The book of Esther is set during the era when the Persians ruled over Judah in the reign of King Xerxes (Hebrew "Ahasuerus"). The Jews became subjects of the Persian Empire when Cyrus the Great, king of Media and Persia, conquered Babylon in 539 BC. (Babylon had taken over Judah in 605 BC, and many Jews were deported to Babylon as captives and remained there from 605 to 586 BC.)
The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states:
Not only is Esther the only Biblical book that contains no reference to God; it also contains no prayers, sacrifices or any other religious observances. To say that this absence is unusual would be an understatement: almost all ancient Near Eastern literature is permeated with religious language. The lack of religious references in the book of Esther is highly remarkable—and almost certainly intentional. Perhaps there is some deliberate irony intended, for God seems to lurk everywhere in the background of this book, in the unlikely coincidences and remarkable deliverances that make the story so entertaining."
Let's look at the book of Esther and see how God sovereignly moves to protect His people. Esther is the story of an orphaned Jewish girl who became queen of Persia and delivered her people with the help of her faithful uncle. The narrative itself teaches the story without mentioning Yahweh or Elohim or giving prophetic explanations.
Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces, Esther 1:1 ESV
"Ahasuerus" is the Hebrew form of the Persian name "Khshayarsha," [She-yar-sha] better known by his Greek name Xerxes I. [Zerk-sees] He ruled the Persian Empire for 21 years, from 485 to 465 BC. He is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible in Ezra 4:6 and Daniel 9:1. Judah was one of the provinces over which the king ruled (cf. Neh. 1:2).
The King was having a six-month party with his friends and he sent his chamberlains,
to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him. Esther 1:11-12 ESV
Her action was a breach of etiquette. The king was used to getting whatever he desired, whenever he desired it. Why did she refuse to come to the King? Jewish tradition holds that Vashti had been ordered to appear naked before the king, but the tradition has no historical support. The text doesn't tell us why she refuses to come, but as we read, we see that God was removing her so that Esther could take her place.
The king has Vashti put away from him and decides to look for a new queen. Out of all the women brought before him, he chooses Esther.
The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Esther 2:17 ESV
Esther was an orphan who was raised by Mordecai. They were both Jews, but Mordecai asked Esther not to let her kindred be known.
Mordecai overheard a plot to kill the king and he told Esther who reported it to the king.
When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king. Esther 2:23 ESV
What Mordecai had done was written in the chronicles.
The king promoted a man named Haman to the number two spot in the kingdom, and Haman came to hate Mordecai, Esther's uncle.
And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Esther 3:2 ESV
Why wouldn’t Mordecai bow to Haman? The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that "Ancient Near Eastern peoples often knelt before one another as a sign of respect. Israelites generally had no qualms with such demonstrations (e.g., Ge 33:3; 42:6; 1Sa 20:41; 24:8). Given that prostration was such a common sign of respect, Mordecai’s refusal to kneel down or pay Haman honor (v. 3) is a mystery."
All the text tells us is that Mordecai would not bow because he was a Jew (3:4).
And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus. Esther 3:5-6 ESV
Haman wanted his revenge but did not want to make it look like a personal matter between him and Mordecai. So, he began to plot a scheme to whip up anti-Semitic feelings.
Haman went to the king with a plan to destroy all the Jews in the kingdom with the pretext that they didn’t obey the king's laws. The king agrees to the plan, and letters were sent throughout the kingdom.
Letters were sent by couriers to all the king's provinces with instruction to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. Esther 3:13 ESV
Could Yahweh have supernaturally stopped this murderess plot? Sure, He could have, but He didn't. What Yahweh did do was work through natural means to save his people.
Mordecai heard of the plan and told Esther, asking her to go to the king and intercede on behalf of the Jews. In the meantime, Haman built gallows on which to hang Mordecai.
Esther, chapter 6, reveals in a remarkable way how God sovereignly uses the most ordinary circumstances to accomplish His purpose.
On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, "What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?" The king's young men who attended him said, "Nothing has been done for him." Esther 6:1-3 ESV
Was it just a coincidence that the king couldn't sleep on this particular night? Why would he ask to have read to him a register of facts? Why didn't he ask them to play some soft soothing music? Was it just an accident that the reader happened to read from the particular section of the book where Mordecai's actions were recorded? Was it just a coincidence that this happened on the very night that Mordecai was to be hanged on the gallows? Why had not Mordecai been rewarded before now? Why didn't the king reward Mordecai at the time when he saved his life? Let’s read on:
And the king said, "Who is in the court?" Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king's palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king's young men told him, "Haman is there, standing in the court." And the king said, "Let him come in." So Haman came in, and the king said to him, "What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?" And Haman said to himself, "Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?"
And Haman said to the king, "For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king's most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’"
Then the king said to Haman, "Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned." So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor." Esther 6:4-11 ESV
Why did Haman show up at that moment to ask the king's permission to hang Mordecai? The answer to all these questions was that Yahweh was sovereignly orchestrating the events of that night to save His people.
Esther went to the king and told him that she was a Jew and informed him of Haman's wicked plot to destroy all the Jews. So, Haman was hanged on his own gallows, Mordecai was promoted to the number two spot in the kingdom, and the king sent out an order stopping the slaughter of all the Jews.
The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor. And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them. Esther 8:16-17 ESV
Because we see that Yahweh was sovereignly working out the events in Esther for the good of His people, are we justified in concluding that Yahweh always orchestrates the events of our lives to fulfill His purpose? According to Romans 8:28, I believe we can.
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
The sovereign Yahweh is in control of all events that happen in our lives. It gives us tremendous comfort when we understand the very powerful truth that God loves us.
Many Christians will accept the fact that God is sovereign over nature and impersonal circumstances, but they reject the sovereignty of God over the decisions and actions of people. Believer, if God is not sovereign in the decisions and actions of other people as they affect us, then there is a whole major area of our lives where we cannot trust God, where we are left to fend for ourselves. But the Scriptures clearly teach that Yahweh is sovereign over people and moves them to accomplish His purpose.
The rulers in Babylon granted Daniel's request because God moved their hearts:
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king's food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, Daniel 1:8-9 ESV
Yahweh brought Daniel into favor with them so they granted his request. So, Yahweh gives us favor with our enemies. I think this is clearly demonstrated in:
When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 ESV
Yahweh makes our enemies to be at peace with us because Yahweh changes their hearts. He also restrains people from decisions or actions that would hurt us. Remember Abraham lied about his wife, Sarah, saying she was his sister? As a result, Abimelech took Sarah as his wife, but God keeps Abimelech from touching her.
Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Genesis 20:6 ESV
Was it that Abimelech tried to sleep with Sarah, but some mysterious power held him back? Was he physically unable to do what he wanted? NO! Abimelech had no consciousness that the Lord was restraining him, although He was.
Yahweh moves in the hearts of people to accomplish His will. Our first response to this truth should be one of trust. Our careers and destinies are in His hands and not in the hands of bosses, commanding officers, politicians, professors, coaches, and all other people who, humanly speaking, are in a position to affect our futures. No one can harm you or jeopardize your future apart from the sovereign will of Yahweh. You can trust your future to Yahweh.
Because Yahweh is sovereign over the hearts of men doesn't mean that things will always turn out as we would like them to. All things will work together for our good, but we may not like how they turn out. We need to trust Yahweh in the bad times as well as in the good.
In Acts 12, we read about two apostles, James and Peter, who had very different events happen to them. James is put to death and Peter is miraculously set free from prison.
Put yourself in the shoes of James's wife and then Peter's. One is grieving over the murder of her husband; the other rejoices over the miraculous deliverance of hers. Peter's wife rejoices over the sovereignty of God, but what does James's wife do? Was God any less sovereign in the death of James than He was in the deliverance of Peter? Is God sovereign only in the "good" circumstances of our lives? No! God is in control of both good and bad circumstances. He is in control of the bad circumstances—directing them to His glory and our good.
James' wife must trust in God and in His sovereign control over her life—even in the death of her husband. In the midst of her heartache and grief, she may respond with, "Yahweh, I know You were in control of this dreadful event. I do not understand why You allowed it to happen, but I trust You."
We honor Yahweh by choosing to trust Him when we don't understand what He is doing or why He has allowed some adverse circumstances to occur.
Yahweh is not only sovereign over individuals; He is sovereign over the nations.
The governing authorities are not puppets with no will of their own. They make choices, and they do exactly what they want to do; but in doing so, they carry out the sovereign will of God.
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. Acts 4:27-28 ESV
Herod and Pilate did to Yeshua just what they wanted to do, yet what they did was exactly what God planned that they do.
John Newton, known for his familiar hymn "Amazing Grace" wrote:
"The kings of the earth are continually disturbing the world with their schemes of ambition. They expect to carry everything before them, and have seldom an higher end in view, than the gratification of their own passions. But in all they do they are but servants of this great King and Lord, and fulfill his purposes, as the instruments he employs to inflict prescribed punishment upon transgressors against him, or to open a way for the spread of his Gospel… They had one thing in view, he had another."
We know that Yahweh rules over all authorities because the Bible tells us that He does. And thus, we should see the events reported in our news feed as the sovereign out workings of our great God. No matter what happens in our nation, we can trust that God is in control and working all things together for our good.
God appoints the good and powerful rulers as well as the weak and foolish rulers. God appoints the Bill Clintons and Obamas as well as the Ronald Reagans and Donald Trumps.
The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’ Daniel 4:17 ESV
Yahweh not only determines who will rule; he determines the time of their ruling.
who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. Isaiah 40:23-24 ESV
Yahweh not only determines who governs and how long they govern, He also rules in the decisions that they make.
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33 ESV
"Every decision is from Yahweh"—the sovereign God controls the decisions of our authorities for His glory and our good. Even their bad and stupid decisions are under God's control. Absalom chose to follow Hushai's bad advice instead of Ahithophel's good advice. Why?
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel." For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom. 2 Samuel 17:14 ESV
Absalom disregarded the good advice because Yahweh caused him to do so.
Yahweh works in the hearts and minds of rulers and authorities to accomplish His sovereign purpose. We must learn to trust that God is working through our authorities.
Scripture also teaches that Yahweh rules in the victories and defeats between nations on the battlefield.
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. Proverbs 21:31 ESV
And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, "Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys," therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’" And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 1 Kings 20:28-29 ESV
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 2 Kings 5:1 ESV
And when Judah looked, behold, the battle was in front of and behind them. And they cried to the LORD, and the priests blew the trumpets. Then the men of Judah raised the battle shout. And when the men of Judah shouted, God defeated Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah. The men of Israel fled before Judah, and God gave them into their hand. 2 Chronicles 13:14-16 ESV
America is, without a doubt, the most powerful nation in the world today, but we are not to trust in our nation's military but in Yahweh.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalms 20:7 ESV
America is great because Yahweh, using President Trump, made it great, and if we continue to seek His face and turn to Him, He will keep America great.
In Isaiah 5, God speaks through the prophet and tells of the forthcoming invasion of the Assyrian army. Notice what he says:
He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; Isaiah 5:26-27 ESV
In this last statement, we see the absoluteness of God's sovereignty; it covers every detail. Nothing is left to chance. Yahweh says that not even a strap of their sandals will be broken.
Believer, if we understand Yahweh’s sovereignty, we can trust in Him in the midst of the worst possible circumstances. Could our country be turned over to a Biden-Harris presidency? Maybe, but if it does, it is under the sovereign control of Yahweh and not the conniving, cheating acts of the communist Democrats who are in bed with China and plan to destroy the United States of America. But apart from the sovereign will of Yahweh, they can do nothing. We may not trust our government to make the proper decisions concerning our nation, but we can trust our God who controls the decisions of kings.
Yahweh rules over our nation and all nations. He is in control of its authorities and all their decisions are in His hand. We can trust Him. What a comfort and joy to know that our nation is not run by a cheating, lying, murdering government but by our sovereign God.