National Sovereignty and God – Revelation 21:10-12,25-27

God Reserves The Right To Exclude Those Who Can Enter His City

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel…25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Why Walls?

Many have wondered why, if we are all created equal and in the image of God, we should build walls, defenses, obstructions, barriers, or any other kind of impediment to people who wish to enter the borders of a nation.  For example, let’s choose a nation in particular, the United States of America.

The President of this nation as of this writing, Donald J. Trump, has made the very bold suggestion that a wall be built to separate the national borders between itself and its Southern neighbor, the country of Mexico.  Many have spoken out and said that building walls to keep people out of a country is RACIST, BIGOTED, and ANTIQUATED.

Yet, we see that GOD HIMSELF has built walls for His city, The New Jerusalem.  Let’s take a moment to look at the CHARACTER of God to see if God is RACIST, BIGOTED, and ANTIQUATED:

  • Is God RACIST?
    • There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
    • Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:11-12
  • Is God BIGOTED?
    • And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. – Joel 2:32
    • And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. – John 12:32
    • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
    • You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13
    • But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. – 2 Peter 3:8-10
  • Is God ANTIQUATED?
    • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16
    • What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. – Ecclesiastes 1:9
    • He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything [continually*] new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

These are just a few passages from God’s holy word about HIS character.  From what can be gleaned here, it would not appear that God is RACIST, BIGOTED, nor ANTIQUATED.  If that is the case, then building a wall around a sovereign area is NOT RACIST, NOT BIGOTED, and NOT ANTIQUATED. Therefore, when a leader of a nation, such as Donald J. Trump, POTUS, desires to build a wall around a sovereign nation, he is not RACIST, BIGOTED, nor ANTIQUATED (for wanting to build a wall around the sovereign nation that God has appointed him in his position of governance).

These arguments are instead a deceitful, emotionally charged, slanderous and/or libelous attempt to defraud, defame, and otherwise impugn the character of a leader of a nation for the purposes of influencing public opinion on a particular subject.  This type of distraction is very effective when directed towards people who have been trained to think with their emotions rather than logical and ethical/moral reasoning.

Guardians at the Gates?

God has placed angels at the gates.  The word angel is used to denote a messenger.  But angels have had specific duties in addition to delivering messages to people.  Usually these involve protection, or destruction.  In this case, although the Bible does not clearly say so, it is most likely protection (when taken together with the verses that are after it).  Why place guardians at the gates of your city?  Should we not allow EVERYONE to have complete, unrestricted, access the city, its people, and it treasures?

Access Allowed?

God has, in His sovereign decree, restricted access to His holy city, The New Jerusalem, to ONLY those who names are written in the Book of Life.  By sovereign decree, God is specifically EXCLUDING some who may desire to enter His city.

Viable Vetting?

God is in the process of vetting those who can access the city.  For instance, only those whose names are written in the Book of Life can enter.  So, what is the exclusionary criteria for barring entry into the city?

  • impurity
  • shameful acts
  • deceitfulness

Why would God specifically exclude anything impure, or shameful, or deceitful?  After all, isn’t God “inclusive” and “wanting everyone to come to Him” and “wanting no one to perish”?  Why would God NOT allow some people access to the city?  What possible motivation could God have that would even place the thought of being “EXCLUSIVE” into His thinking?

  • God is HOLY
  • God is RIGHTEOUS
  • God is PURE

God cannot stand wickedness in His presence.  God’s very nature abhors that which is antithetical to the truth.  And those who cannot accept that there is truth (a measurable and quantifiable definition of the absolute nature of reality) will not understand the concepts of HOLY, RIGHTEOUS, and PURE, because to them, these are all RELATIVE TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE PERSON VIEWING THEM, rather than objective and concrete and universal.  Sin is like yeast.  It alters and distorts that which it comes in contact with.

“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do leaders have the right to impose restrictions of entry to people within the sovereign borders of their nations?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are merciful and gracious.  Yet You are also holy, righteous, and pure.  Thank You for having the iron fist with the velvet glove.  Blessed be Your name.  You and You alone are able to completely, without error, rule in correct judgment all created things, including me.  Help me to understand Your position on National Sovereignty.  If my views do not align with Your views, please change my heart to align with Your heart.  Break down every stronghold in my mind that the world, the flesh, and the devil have erected to stand in opposition to Your revealed word.  Help me to embrace Your character and Your heart, that I may draw closer to You as the last day approaches.  Help me witness with my actions, but more importantly, with my words, about who You are and what You believe.  Strengthen me as I encounter opposition to You and Your word.  Remember me in my efforts to faithfully tell about Your Son and what He has done for everyone.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog has been edited for clarity

*The Greek verb here for making, poiO, does not have a direct English single-word translation.  Strong’s notes on this verb indicate that it is:

  • apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary;
  • to make or do (in a very wide application, more or less direct).

The implication is that God will, for all eternity, be making His creation continually new.  Imagine being in a finite place that never changes and is always the same.  Many people call that JAIL.  God, understanding that He has imbued us with His creativity and curiosity, will be forever subtly or drastically altering the very Universe He created so that we will not become bored.  His glory, majesty, power, and dominion will be continually demonstrated and experienced by us for all eternity.

The Sovereignty of God – Psalm 104:10-16

God’s Love Is Displayed In His Sovereign Provision

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate-
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

Sprouting Springs

Water is an interesting substance.  It sustains life through hydration.  When heated, it can be used to generate electricity, and when frozen, it is the only substance known to mankind that expands in size, rather than contract into a smaller space.  By forming ice, God protects the creatures beneath the seas and oceans from being crushed beneath the very fluid that enables them to survive.  Ice also protects the waters beneath from the ravages of cold weather.  Even the Eskimos use ice to protect themselves from the harsh winter winds.

Water apparently has a mind of its own.  In Genesis, we see the waters covering the face of the Earth.  It is not until the Lord God Almighty tells it that it must recede that it goes where it should underground.  It is the Lord who determines where the boundaries of the waters are by saying where they can go and go no farther.  Wisdom bears witness to the sovereign creation of God, and that God has set boundaries on the waters of the Earth.

And it is God who brings forth water from the Earth to provide for all of creation.

Creatures Content

The beasts of the field are provided with the liquid that keeps them alive.  The birds above build their nests around water to ensure that they have easy access to the life-sustaining liquid.  God shows his love by providing for the needs of every creature on Earth.  He does not withhold his blessing upon them, except when He is rebuking man through drought.

Even creatures in the desert, where water is scarce, are provided for by Almighty God.  He has given them the ability to survive in these areas and even to thrive.  His provision continually demonstrates His love for all that He created.  He shows wisdom in the careful planning that went into the design of all creatures that live during their appointed times and at their appointed places and provides for their every need.

Sovereignly Satiated

The Psalmist also indicates that the land itself is satisfied with the sovereign provision of the Lord God Almighty.  The mountains are watered by His hand and command.  The land is satisfied with water.  If you ever doubt this, go somewhere after an intense drought has ravaged the land.  The land forms deep cracks and looks terrible.  But once the Lord waters the land again, it softens and gives up its nourishment to the plants that God had placed upon it.  And when God continually provides for the land, the plants thrive, and the creatures abound.

Furnish Food

It is the Lord God Almighty that provides the grass for the cattle.  He continually provides the water that allows the plants to survive and thrive.  It is He who gives them their sustenance.   But God is the one who also provides us with plants for our food.  Prior to the flood (say, where did all that water come from, anyway?), God had given all of the seed bearing plants as food for man.  He is the one who provides for our every need and desire.  It is God who furnishes us our food, and satisfies us with nourishment from His Earth.

Supplying Sustenance

God does not only provide for our minimal needs of existence; He also provides for those things that make our hearts glad.  In the picture provided here, the Psalmist shows that it is God who provides us with wine to gladden our hearts, and oil to protect and soften our skin.  He also provides bread that fills our stomachs and noses with aromas and flavors that far exceed the minimum required to sustain life.

Imagine that the only thing available to eat was gruel with no salt (now imagine the Israelites eating manna for forty years without spices or herbs…).  Imagine eating that for every meal, day in and day out.  It is God who provides the seasonings for us to make wonderful meals.  The flavors and aromas of the vast cornucopia of produce and grains, let alone the spices and herbs, can provide a potential plethora of palatable provision.  And it is God who shows us how to make all of these different variations of meals to satisfy our hunger and thirst.

God does not merely want us to survive; He wants us to thrive, and to experience the majesty of all that He created so that we, in wonder of the work of His hands, would give Him all of the glory and praise that He so rightly deserves.

Provision for Plants

God not only provides for the land, and all of the creatures on it, He also provides for the plants.  Every time it rains, especially when we have more rain that we think we need, and while we long for the weather to break, and the sun to shine upon us again, God is providing the vital liquid that sustains the life of every plant.  And every time we see rain, we are seeing the supernatural provision of Almighty God for His plants, His creatures, and His land.  God waters His plants just as we do when they are thirsty.  And God replenishes the water in the rivers and lakes for all of the teeming life that He placed in them.

In everything, God is constantly providing for the needs and desires of all that He created.  He does not turn His back on us, His land, His creatures, nor His plants.  He continually refreshes them with the fruit of His labors, and watches in contentment as His creation thanks Him and returns praise for the mighty works of His hands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I see the mighty provision of God in all that He does?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, the heavens declare Your glory, power, infinite wisdom and knowledge.  And I praise and rejoice in You that You have provided so much for me to have.  Even when I am destitute in money and worldly possessions, I have You, and with You I am rich beyond blessing.  Help me to recognize, as I contemplate the workings of Your creation, just how much You love me and all that You have made.  Help me to gain deeper insight into the greatest aspect of Your character that You display for everyone to see – that You love all that You have made, and rejoice in it.  Help me to remember that You and You alone are sovereign over all You have made, and that You do not abandon that which You start, but rather see everything through to its very end.  Give me wisdom that my eyes might see, and ears might hear, all that You are communicating to me through Your word and Your world.  This I ask in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Travel by the Spirit – Acts 8:39

God Is Sovereign And May Take You Where You Need To Be

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

Virtually Vanished

Twice in the Bible, an interesting method of travel is mentioned by God concerning His people.  The first appearance of this is in 1 Kings 18:12 when Obadiah, a faithful servant of the Lord, is told by Elijah to announce to King Ahaz that he can be found where he stood.  Obadiah’s response is interesting:

11 “But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth.”

Obadiah is very concerned that Elijah won’t be there when Ahaz comes to take him away.  But there is a sense of the suddenness of Elijah’s departure that is interesting.  After all, Elijah on foot could only go so far.  King Ahaz’s men should surely be able to find him.  Yet Obadiah was concerned that the Spirit of the Lord would carry him off somewhere, implying that it would be very far away, and that no one would be able to find him.  We see the very exact same situation documented in Acts 8:39 where the Spirit of the Lord seizes (hErpasen, from the root word harpazo, from the same root word used to describe the effects of the taking of disciples during the rapture) Philip from the Ethiopian to be somewhere else.

This is amazing!  In God’s sovereign timing and will, prophets of old would be hErpasen by the Holy Spirit and taken where God wanted and needed them to be!  Who needs airplanes, cars, boats, rocket ships, or “Star Trek style” transporters when the Holy Spirit of God provides this as He desires?

Amazing Appearance

But while the seizing of someone was amazing, the appearing of someone was just as amazing.  In several scriptures we are shown where, suddenly, people appeared from nowhere.  They were most likely hErpasen by the Spirit of God and placed where they needed to be.  Acts 8:40 seems to indicate this:

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

This method of transportation appears to be used when it is needed, rather than all of the time.  When Peter was chained in prison, an angel of the Lord freed him, walked him out of the prison, and sent him on his way.  God could easily have hErpasen him to where He wanted Peter to be, but chose an angel to free him instead.

Other instances of people suddenly appearing include, but are not limited to:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Tremendous Timing

In each case, it was the sovereign will of God in His timing that each of the people appeared where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.  God’s timing in His word is impeccable, and further confirms that He is sovereign by showing that everything that He says will come about does come about exactly when it is supposed to happen.

God’s timing is crucial in every aspect of life.  There are times when a delay in our day seems like Satan is trying to impede our progress.  If you believe this, seek out and find all of the people who found themselves delayed on September 11, 2oo1 2001 as they were headed to their jobs at the Twin Towers in New York City.  God spared each and every one of them.  God’s warnings and discipline are timed exactly when they need to occur in order to get the job done right.

God’s blessing and provision are also timed exactly right to ensure that God receives the maximum glory and honor that He so richly deserves.  And God’s timing, in the act of taking people from one place and (with an apparent instantaneous action of) moving people from to another place, fulfills His plan to ensure that every resource that He has available is being used to their fullest capacity while giving God the maximum glory.

Forever Faithful

Our God is an amazing God.  He does things that seem impossible, but for Him, are not only possible but done to increase our faith and our effectiveness.  We can be assured that God is faithful in all that He does, and that no one can thwart His plans, no matter how egregious the enemy rages against God.  In the end, God is the one who will ensure that everything that He has planned in His heart will come to fruition.  Nothing on Earth, under the Earth, or in the heavens above are able to keep The Lord God Almighty from being faithful to His word, His plan, and His people.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to be used by God in such a way that I would accept, without reservation, if He suddenly seized me and placed me elsewhere?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are a most glorious and wonderful God.  There is none like You.  Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Give my heart encouragement that no one and nothing can stop You in executing Your perfect will in Your perfect plan.  Help me to accept my circumstances as being sovereignly permitted by You for Your will and my sanctification.  Give me encouragement as I see the enemy do everything in his power to try to thwart Your plans.  And help me to humbly rest in joy as I watch You exert Your sovereign will in all of these things.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Transition of Power – 1 Chronicles 11:1-3

The Whole People Should Recognize The Leader That God Has Chosen

1 All Israel came together to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. 2 In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.'”

3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, he made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel.

A Great Gathering

After Saul died, all of Israel came together as a group.   This was important, for it showed unanimous consensus among God’s people that they recognized the transition of leadership to David.  Samuel had anointed David’s head with oil as the next king over a decade prior.  And now, that promise of God was being fulfilled.

Royal Recognition

It is important that all of them recognized the transition of power.  Rather than refuse to acknowledge the new king, they embraced him as God intended as one people.  It is very difficult when questionable circumstances overshadow the transition of power.  That can divide a nation and cause irreparable harm to the unity of the people.  It has been said, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

The enemies of peace have long understood this concept, and work tirelessly in opposition to unity in order to foment discontent and resentment towards the leaders that they do not like.  When a nation is torn in two this way, the nation is being set up to be financially pillaged and eventually overrun.  There is great profit in confusion.

In this particular case, the people pulled together to recognize David as their new king.  The ardent followers of Saul supported David.  They did not try to stage a coup and insert their own candidate for king.  This served to unite the people even more.

A Climatic Covenant

David not only assumed the throne, he made a covenant with the people.  He did not merely take a verbal oath, he made a promise that carried with it the penalty of death should it not have been held up.  David was a servant to the people.  He shepherded them as God intended, rather than seek His own glory, power, and recognition apart from The Lord God Almighty.  This solidified his position with the people and gave him the accountability necessary to ensure that he would take promise and responsibility towards the people with the gravest of attitudes.

The Powerful Promise

By uniting the people, recognizing his role, and taking the necessary steps to ensure his accountability, the promise that God had made to David was fully secured in the support of the people.  Samuel’s anointing of David’s head as the next ruler of the people of Israel was complete, and he was able to rule them in joy and with God’s protection and power.  God demonstrated His choice of David as His chosen vessel of authority over men in that He increased David’s power and influence among them.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to accept the leadership that God has placed over me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have placed leaders over us for our protection and to bring about Your will.  Help me to be supportive of Your decisions, and to do my very best to submit to leaders who are yielded to You.  Father, I ask that You would strengthen and encourage the men and women You have chosen as leaders over me to yield themselves to You.  Help them to become the servant-leaders that You desire them to be.  Give me the strength to endure wicked leaders when You send them as judgment upon a nation, and to encourage all to pray for the people who are under difficult leadership that they would call out to You, and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, that You would heal the land.  Bless the leaders that You have chosen with wisdom, restraint, and advisors that would honor and glorify Your name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sovereignty of God – Joshua 10:12-14

God Is Sovereign Over All The Universe

12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

as it is written in the Book of Jashar.

The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!

Celestial Commotion

In these latter days, it takes a lot to get our attention.  We are constantly surrounded by the miraculous with technology.  People are so overwhelmed, they often fail to react when something truly amazing happens.  Each new iteration of technology brings awe and wonder to us as we are dazzled by the seemingly impossibility of it.  Robots performing automated surgery?  That was the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago.  How about cars that drive themselves?  That again was Sci-Fi relegated to movies like “Minority Report“.  Smart bombs, drones, gene therapy, missions to mars – just fifty years ago, these were mere dreams.  But now they assault us every day, as we wait for the next great thing to happen.

So what if the Sun and the Moon stopped in their tracks in the sky?  Would that capture your attention?  It should.  This type of thing just doesn’t happen every day.  It would cause people to fear for their lives that the end of the world was at hand.  People would flock to churches, hoping that God’s wrath was not upon them.  And those who were on the other side of Planet Earth, would be plunged into a much longer darkness than before, wondering if the Sun would every shine again.  Our concept of how the Universe worked would be severely shaken.  What we have taken for granted for generations -millennia – would be thrown out the window.

Powerful Prayer

It is recorded here that this was the only time, EVER, in the Old Testament, that the Lord God Almighty listened to the command of a man.  Joshua, in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, in the presence of God and man, commanded the Sun and Moon to stop until Israel had avenged itself on its enemies.  Never before, nor after, had God listened to the command of a man.  Until Jesus:

He [Jesus] replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” [Caption added for clarification]

We must remember that faith is closely tied to submission and obedience.  Submission and obedience is the outward sign of our faith.  For if we did not believe, we would not be foolish enough to wait upon God for action.

God would not honor a person who desired to be fabulously wealthy and who said to a pile of rocks, “turn into gold!” for personal gain.  It is the power of God in faith through submission and obedience that would cause these things to happen.  Greed, envy, and every other base and vile attitude of the heart would prevent such a thing from happening.  However, if it is the will of God, for His glory, and for  His purposes, surely it would come to pass.  We are not to abuse the wonderful gift that we have been given:

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Intervention for Israel

God, in causing the heavenly bodies to behave in a nature contrary to what the laws of physics would dictate, would certainly have caused fear and horror in the eyes of Israel’s enemies.  God surely fought for Israel that day.  God surely fights for Israel today.  And God will surely fight for Israel for all eternity, for Israel is the chosen people of God.  He will not abandon them, or allow them to be scattered ever again to the four winds.

God has fulfilled His prophesy, and no one and nothing will ever prevail against her again.  And when she turns her heart fully towards God, those who seek to rob her of her land, her sovereignty, and her lifeblood, will surely be punished in a manner that will strike fear into the heart of every human being alive.  Centuries ago, it might have taken months or years for the world to know what happened in lands far away.  But now, technology gives us instant access to events that transpire in real-time and vividly, soon to be with live 3D visual effects and perhaps even 4D realism.  The destruction of the enemies of Israel will be available to be watched by nearly everyone on this planet with access to a television or the Internet.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I trusting in the sovereignty of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have shown us Your mercy and grace, and provided us with these wonderful accounts of what You have done in the past so that we may know who You are.  Give me the strength to wait upon You for Your timing in all my circumstances.  Help me to remain faithful in affliction and times of difficulty.  Uphold me and carry me when my body and spirit are too weak to continue.  Help me to always look to You for my help.  Father, You have done miraculous things for Your people in the past, and You are the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  You have adopted me into Your family, and I pray dear God that You would help me.  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sovereignty of God – Job 1:6-12

Nothing Happens In All Of Existence Without The Express Prior Permission And Knowledge Of Almighty God

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Supreme Sovereignty

The Lord God Almighty is the only non-created being ever to exist.  He has existed before time, matter and the angels.  And in that, God and God alone has ultimate sovereignty and authority over all that has been created.  John the apostle tried to show this in the very first verse of his gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The interesting part about translations is that they don’t always capture the full meaning of the original.  In this particular case, the Greek work for “was” is En, and the verb is conjugated as “was continually (with no beginning)”.  This speaks of the eternity of Jesus (who is the Word of God), and of God, with whom He is:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Created Creatures

God reveals something very powerful in this passage.  ALL of the demons, and even Satan himself, are created beings:

  • The devil can be in only one place at a time
  • As a created being, he is subordinate to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  As such, he was required to present himself before God to give an accounting of his activities and whereabouts.

Powerful Praise

When faced with trials and tribulations, we don’t have all of the facts.  In the case of Job, God highly praised him before Satan.  Scripture speaks of our trials in a favorable way:

  • Trials produce perseverance, which makes us complete, lacking in nothing
  • Trials are to be put in the joy column of our spiritual accounting ledger (the Greek word “count” in James 1:2, hEdEsasthe, is an accounting term as well as an imperative command!)
  • Trials are a way that we identify with Jesus, for the student is not greater than the teacher

When faced with trials, we must remember that God may be praising us as well, and the trials can be a testing of that praise.  If so, we should count it as joy, for if God is praising us, we have truly received the highest praise possible.

Allowed Authority

And as we suffer through trials, we must remember that they are sovereignly allowed in our lives.  Nothing happens to any of us without God’s notice or express prior approval.  In this passage, Satan complained to God that he had placed a hedge of protection around Job and his possessions.  It was only until God permitted Satan the authority to harm all that Job had been provided by God that he was able to do anything.

As we are going through our trials, we must remember that God is sovereign, and that nothing escapes His attention.  Additionally, we must remember that He is the one who has sovereignly approved or appointed our trials.  And while these trials may not directly benefit us (with the possible exception to produce perseverance), they will be used to bring glory to God.  And they may well be used to open the eyes of some who, in seeing the sincerity of our faith and trust in God through the most grueling and difficult circumstances, may see that our faith is not in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering that God is with me as He allows the trials of my life to destroy that which keeps me from drawing close to Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful to behold.  Help me to remember Your goodness as I am struck down by sickness and foes.  Help me to remember Your sovereignty as You allow unseen spiritual forces to assault and harass me.  Help me to remember Your faithfulness when You allow me to be dragged through the valley of the shadow of death.  Help me to persevere, and praise you as Paul did after he was severely beaten and placed in prison.  In all things, help me to remember that You and You alone have approved these trials.  Help me to not despise Your discipline, though the trials that You have appointed may not end until I am rejoined with You in Heaven.  For You are good in all that You do, Lord God Almighty, and none may lay a charge against You.  In all this, help me to remember Your character, for if man had done this, it would be bearable to be found worthy of suffering disgrace for Your name.  When there is no one who can be identified as being responsible for the trials – no one I can pray for – it is unbearable.  This I ask in Jesus Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God the Son – Colossians 1:15-20

The Supremacy Of God The Son

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Invisible Image

Jesus was sent so that the invisible would be made visible.  Jesus has said,

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,”

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

“…Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus came not only to bear witness to the truth; to seek and save the lost; but also to display His Father to all through Himself.  Through the submission of Jesus to the Holy Spirit, He was able to display His Father through His words and actions.  Jesus displayed relationship with the Father as well as the Father’s mercy, grace, righteousness, and justice.  We get a clear picture of God the Father through God the Son.

Righteous Resurrection

Jesus was the firstborn among creation.  He was the first person to experience resurrection in its fullest.  Although other people were brought back to life from the dead, they eventually died again.  Jesus has died, and was resurrected as the firstborn of creation.  He has taken His place at the head of creation at the right hand of God.

Creator’s Command

There was nothing created that was not created by God the Son, Jesus Christ.  He spoke everything into existence that was created, whether it was invisible or visible.  Jesus created Satan and the heavenly host.  He created the sun, the moon, the stars and the Earth.  He created Adam and Eve, and even now, He knits us together in our mother’s wombs as we are created through childbirth.  Everything that is created was created by Him and for Him.  And God the Father gave Jesus all of creation, with the Earth as His footstool.  He has won it back from Satan’s control through His perfect life, death, and resurrection.

Supremely Sovereign

Jesus holds all things together.  He is rightly the head of the Church, for He founded it. He again was the firstborn through resurrection so that in all things, Jesus Christ is declared sovereign over all.  There is nothing in the heavens or on Earth or below the Earth that Jesus is not sovereign.  He rules from Heaven, and awaits the time for God the Father to reveal Him again to the world.  His second coming will be as lion, though He first came as a lamb. All things will be completed when He arrives again.

Resulting Reconciliation

Jesus chose to put aside His glory and majesty to show us the Father, and to reconcile us to the Father.  All things will be reconciled to Him since He has paid the price to have them reconciled.  It is through His perfect, sinless, shed blood that we are reconciled.  He was the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin.  Jesus has rightfully restored what Adam lost.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile us to the Father as we live our daily lives?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious to behold.  You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that You love us so much to have sent Your Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Remember me this day, Father.  Help me to keep in mind the great and terrible sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile me to You.  Even now, as I pray, You have given me this opportunity to come before You to praise You, present my concerns to You, and experience relationship with You, all because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  May I never forget what it cost You to bring this about.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Perspective of God – Genesis 1:27

Who Is Sovereign?

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Two Thoughts

In the United States of America, there are currently two prevailing thoughts on the idea of person-hood:

  1. Man has evolved from a primordial ooze brought about by a “big bang” ex nihilo.
    1. Purpose: to fulfill his own needs and desires as man sees fit
  2. Man was created in the image of God
    1. Purpose: to worship God and have relationship with Him

In the first case, many take the position that man just evolved from lower life forms, such as apes.  This particular thought process identifies man as the chief architect over his life, goals, desires, motives, and directions.  In other words, it establishes that man is sovereign over his own life, and all life.  The complete end of accountability is with himself.  This is the model of self-focus.

In the second case, others take the position that man was sovereignly created by God for the purposes and pleasure of God.  Rather than having any sovereignty of his own, man is charged with stewardship over what God has created.  Because of this, man is accountable to God for everything that is done while man is alive.  This is the model of other-focus.

Sovereign Selection

This is effectively a question of sovereignty.  Is man sovereign, or is God sovereign?

From the perspective of sovereign man, it doesn’t really matter what man does.  There is no afterlife, there is no accountability, there is no real purpose in life.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, regardless of the outcome, because there is nothing else.  This is the natural extension of this particular viewpoint.  And as an added bonus to this viewpoint, there are no consequences to be endured after man has ceased to physically be alive.  This viewpoint allows for any and all things to be done while alive.

Additionally, it removes responsibility for actions.  Since the chief end of man in this perspective is that he will be growing daisies with his decomposing body, he has the full right to extinguish the lives of others.  Since there is no inherent value in life, apart from enduring it until one pushes daisies from six feet under ground, man can say that his body is his own to do with whatever he wants.  And while certain actions decrease the success of the propagation of the species (such as the choice of a woman to prematurely end the growing process of a child in her womb), the belief is that enough people will want to continue the process of life so that any particular single decision regarding this matter is not significant and does not directly impact society as a whole.

In the other perspective, because of the position that man has in relation to God, there is great impact and accountability with what man does while he is alive.  Man has a specific purpose, and that purpose is expected to be fulfilled by God.  There is not only responsibility and accountability to someone other than himself, but carries with it the knowledge that there are consequences to these choices beyond the physical life.  There is a sense of eternity in this view, and the consequences of life will follow the person into eternity.

Due to the responsibility for their actions, man is held accountable for his views and actions.  With regards to person-hood, this reveals itself as a deep respect for all life, and specifically the life of man, as man is an image-bearer of God.  The act of depriving another person of life is very serious.  This includes life that is growing but has not yet fully developed.  Because of eternity, man must pay very careful attention to how he conducts his life and affairs, knowing that these things will follow him into eternity.

Eternal Effects

These boil down to a question:  Is there life after death (eternity), or is there just death?  Is there a God, or isn’t there a God?  If there is a God, and man believes otherwise, he is in for a rude surprise once he physically dies.  If there is no God, nothing matters, and man can act in any way that he desires (regardless of his desire to act in any particular way, either in partnership with others or in opposition to others):

  • The strong can rule over the weak with impunity
  • Retaliation is not only allowed but should be encouraged to extend the natural life of man, as laws would only be a false construct of man to control the behavior of others
  • Anarchy and emotion will rule over man
  • Reason will have no part in deciding whether or not to act in a particular way, as life is over when you die anyway.
  • Buy bigger guns – you will need them to fend off the people around you as they seek to acquire your resources and force you to do their bidding

This is not to say that this viewpoint precludes people from acting morally.  It is just that since there are no consequences for actions after death, there is no driving reason to do so.  And once a situation arises that places the person’s self interests into direct conflict with the interests of others, the average person will choose their own interests (self-preservation) over the interests of others.

If there is a God, and we are accountable for everything we think, say, and do, we had better be ready to give an accounting for what we have done with the life that has been graciously given to us, and face any consequences that our thoughts, words, and deeds may carry into eternity.

The choice is yours.  Choose wisely.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Regardless of what we say publicly, do we believe that God is sovereign, or that we are sovereign?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, help me to have a perspective that sees You as my provider, protector, and instructor.  Guide me in every way I should go.  Help me to see how my actions will affect myself, others, and You.  Place within me a desire to see from Your perspective.  Guard my heart as I am bombarded with ideas and beliefs that directly or subtly contradict Your word.  Help me to have a Kingdom perspective of Your sovereignty and my role as Your child.  This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

Worshipping God – Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The imperative command, “Be still!”, is very interesting.  It is translated in Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible as “Desist!” Another good way to translate this is “Cease striving!”

How often we strive!  As we go about our daily lives, we take our eyes off of God and try to do things our own way.  God offers us this wonderful place of refuge in Himself, yet we keep trying to change our circumstances ourselves.  We do not avail ourselves of our fortress, our hiding place, our place of rest.  Instead, we worry, we scheme, we fret; we forget that it is God who is sovereign.  When we cease striving, and (experientially) know that the LORD is God, we are able to properly put everything back into perspective.

We then can relax a bit, knowing that the Lord is taking care of our circumstances.  When we step back and do this, we are also better able to properly worship our loving Father.  We get to see with greater clarity the ways in which He works.  We see our prayers being answered, and know for sure that it was God – because we stopped trying to do it ourselves.  It isn’t until we cease striving that God is able to fully manifest Himself in our circumstances and bring the greatest glory to Himself.  Then will we be able to say that God is our refuge.

What issue has you frazzled today?  What deep and abiding pain just won’t go away?  Take God’s advice:  Cease striving, and know that He is God.  Let him enter into your circumstances in a greater capacity, and allow Him to reveal Himself to you in a deeper, more intimate way.

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come before you today to praise You and worship You as Almighty God.  Too often in this life do I try to do things when You earnestly seek to show me new facets of Yourself – if I would only stop and let You.  Guide me, comfort me, and show me how to step back from these issues so that You would be glorified.  Help me to find rest in You as You work these things out.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?