Have you noticed that the doctrine of sovereignty has taken a bad rap lately? Why? As one author states, “Often before the impact of the tragedy has gone from your head to your heart, some goody-two-shoes, wannabe theologian wraps his overly familiar arm around your shoulders and whispers words intended to comfort, but instead they cut like a knife. ‘God is sovereign; all that He allows is for a higher good.’” I believe the primary confusion regarding this theology is less in our academics and more in our applications. The Word “dwells in us richly” when it is not only understood in minds but experienced in daily living.
I recently saw a humorous picture of bubble wrap with the following caption: “Imagine the self-control one must have to work in a bubble wrap factory”. Many today who claim to understand the depth of God’s sovereignty demonstrate shallow, carnal lives and ministries. While God is in control of all things; we must choose to fully benefit from being under His Lordship. The application of God’s sovereignty, according to Isaiah 45, can be summed up in one word- “submission”. The question is how do we practically choose to place ourselves under this Ruler.
Choose to submit under God’s authorship.
1. God alone authors our consequences.
Isa 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
In reality, God does far more than fail to stop human hardship; the Bible says He causes it based upon our choices. God is not the author of sin, but He is the One who created the world in which we can choose. And from our choices flow the sin and suffering that we see around us. He brings eventual well-being for those who turn to Him, regardless of any hardship He may allow, but eventual calamity for those who reject Him, regardless of how well their immediate life may be going. These consequences are not the result of random fate but the direct and promised responses of a holy, compassionate God.
2. God alone authors our righteousness.
Isa 45:8 “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.”
According to this verse, God declares that it is His responsibility to fill our lives with righteousness. Paul states in Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” The choosing is ours, but the righteousness itself comes only from Him. Any good in us starts with the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ.
Choose to submit under God’s authority.
1. God alone authorizes our past.
Isa 45:9 “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?”
Isa 45:10 “Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?”
Isa 45:11 “Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”
Isa 45:12 “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”
According to these four verses, God is the originator of our past “fashioning” (vv. 9-11) and past “footing” (v. 12). Many of us have a past littered with what appears to be arbitrary neglect and wrong from others in our lives. While I personally feel for you, ultimately your bitterness and excuses based upon a difficult past are disrespectful to your Sovereign. May I encourage you that God’s control of your past is in effect NOW!
2. God alone authorizes our future.
Isa 45:13 “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Often our fear of the future compromises our faith in the sovereignty of God. Is He really in control of a world that seems to be spinning out of control toward economic meltdown, nuclear oblivion, political upheaval, moral wasteland, and the list could go on? God’s control of your future is in effect NOW! Romans 11:36 reminds us, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.” When God says “I will,” He always will.
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks (“occults”) the Sun. May I remind all of us that our world’s dark “moon moments” may cover but NEVER compromise the “sun” of God’s sovereignty! If that truth does not comfort you, it is because you are still fighting a war you can never win. God is sovereign, and there is incredible comfort in embracing what He chooses to allow, even when-no, especially when-that is most difficult for you. Someday we will stand with saints from every age of history and worship God for who He is-the righteous Ruler and the sovereign Lord of eternity. Will you move beyond the academic to the application of God’s sovereignty with heart-level submission?
To hear the full sermon of Isaiah 45:1-13 click “Great Sovereignty.”