Saturday, August 16, 2014


(I inadvertently deleted this post which is Part 1 of a three part series)


Who can speak and have it happen
    if the Lord has not decreed it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that both calamities and good things come?
Why should the living complain
    when punished for their sins?
Lamentations 3:37-39 (NIV)

In the army there is a hierarchical system that runs all the way from the Commander-in-Chief right down to the Private. If you were to view the rank structure as a ladder, the Private is at ground level. First rung up would be Lance Corporal. The next rung would be Corporal, then Sergeant and so forth all the way up to Warrant Officer Class One. From there it’s Sub-Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Captain, Major and so forth all the way up the ladder to the General who is the Chief of Army.

That is roughly how it is in the Army. Everyone all the way down to the ground level, whether they realise it or not, is in the process of implementing the Chief of Army’s intent. The Chief of Army calls the shots and the Army implements them.

However, in ordinary everyday life, as Scripture says, “God is in heaven and you are on earth” (Ecclesiastes 5:2), which is to say that you are on the ground level and God is in Heaven. Therefore, you are not even on the ladder! But, every last one of us, whether conscious of it or not, is in the process of implementing the Most High’s intent.

The bottom line is that God is sovereign. He is the Most High. There is none above Him. There is none His equal. He is the Creator. We are His creatures. God is God and we, His creatures, need to learn to let God be God! However, letting God be God is easier said than done!

In the following, as we consider God’s sovereignty, we shall attempt to let God be God. We’ll see that God’s sovereignty is confronting, covenantal and comforting.

1. God’s Sovereignty Is Confronting
God is the great Commander-in-Chief. He is the One that calls all the shots.
“Who can speak and have it happen
 if the Lord has not decreed it?” Lamentations 3:37. This is a rhetorical question, which is to say that no one can speak and have it happen if the Lord Himself has not commanded it!

Think about it: The eternal Triune God spoke creation into being from nothing: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Why? Why did God create the heavens and the earth? Was it because He was lonely? How can the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit ever be lonely when They have each Other from eternity unto eternity?

This is where it starts to get confronting. The Almighty, all-knowing, and ever present God created the heavens and the earth for His own glory, full stop; period; end of story. What? As the line in the pop-song asks, “What about me? It isn’t fair…” Well, not so fast with all your “It isn’t fair” talk! It’s not about you. It is about God!

I hear you say, “Well, if I were God there would be no tears, no death, no mourning, no crying and no pain! God can’t be sovereign. He can’t be in control because I can see suffering all around. There’re wars going on. There’re people killing and raping, kidnapping and robbing. God is not sovereign. For a sovereign God would not allow evil to flourish!” Such is the thinking of some.

God’s sovereignty is very confronting. How can Scripture say, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Lamentations 3:38. If you were to look at the way this verse is worded in ye olde KJV you’d read, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil proceed?” Good and evil coming from God? Surely this cannot be!

Before any of us start doing mental gymnastics and brain contortions to try to make sense of the idea of evil proceeding from the mouth of God let us try to get things into some sort of perspective.

The population of Australia has the highest incidence of melanomas. Sorry for anyone who has had one, but was the doctor being evil by surgically removing it? From the doctor’s perspective he was doing a good thing. And every sensible human being understands that the surgeon is inflicting pain for the greater good. However, let’s say you are a little baby, infant or a young child getting inoculated against measles or chicken pox or whatever. All you see is someone coming at you with a needle and inflicting pain on you. You do not understand why someone is causing you pain.

The doctor wants a world without disease. Therefore, he/she has to inflict some pain and some suffering to bring about that end, doesn’t he? Well, so it is with the Sovereign God. God is working all things together for good, including evil things or calamities. 

So then, right from the very first word God uttered when He spoke creation into existence He knew that there would be pain and suffering. “Then,” I hear you ask, “Why did He do it? If God knew that there was going to be all this pain, suffering, death and misery, why did He go ahead with creation?” Now, we all, I’m sure, know someone who has died or has suffered or is presently suffering. God’s sovereignty is really confronting when we think about someone suffering, isn’t it? Why God? Why the pain?

Perhaps something of an answer may be found in the words of Joseph when he said to his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt,You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Or as that verse is rendered in ye old KJV, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20.

So we see then that, even though people do bad things, evil things, to each other, the sovereign God means that evil or calamity for good.

Let’s summarise before we move on: The sovereign God created a creation in which evil, calamities, pain, suffering and death presently exist. He created creation for His own glory. And even though we suffer in this life and die, as Paul puts it in that well-known verse of Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Bottom line: Even if we do not understand why, whatever evil or calamity comes upon us comes upon us for our own good (at least for those who love Him), from out of the mouth of the sovereign God. He is the One who decreed or commanded it.

In the Book of Job neither Job nor his wife understood why God did what He did to them (albeit by permitting Satan free-rein and open slather). Job’s wife said to him, “‘Curse God and die!’ He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble [“evil” KJV]?’” Job 2:10.

Okay, we’ve seen that everything that happens happens because God has decreed, i.e., commanded it to happen. God is Commander-in-Chief. Therefore, everything that happens happens because it is His intent.

How are we to make head or tail of this? How are we to understand God’s intent at a ground level?

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