God is Sovereign

by Mike Ratliff

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old. When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’– for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, 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 4:19-28 ESV)

When we make statements like, “God is Sovereign.” we sometimes include a qualifier in that statement like this, “God is Sovereign over ‘something.” That is a fallacious statement though meant well. God is Sovereign. There is no need to add any qualifier to that statement. I have heard many well meaning people say, “God is Sovereign over salvation.” Well, He is, but He is also Sovereign over all of creation. There is nothing He is not sovereign over.

Today at church I heard a sermon on the book of Jonah that was one of the most evangelical messages I have ever heard. The preacher did a masterful job of showing God’s hand in control of the events in that book. He also showed God saving that generation in Nineveh despite the fact that Jonah hated them and preached only four words to them from a rebellious and prideful heart.

There were ten “miracles” in the book of Jonah. The 1st one is found in 1:4.

But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4 ESV)

The storm that caused the sailors to despair of life and eventually cast Jonah into the sea was “hurled” by God onto that ship. It was not a freak natural event. The sailors recognized that the storm was of a “divine” nature. Also, Jonah told them that they were suffering because of his sin of running from God’s command to go preach to the people of Nineveh.

The 2nd miracle is found in 1:7.

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. (Jonah 1:7 ESV)

The lot falling on Jonah was God’s intervention into these events to accomplish His will.

The 3rd miracle is found in 1:15.

So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. (Jonah 1:15 ESV)

The sea ceased from raging as Jonah was thrown overboard. This had to cause the sailors to know that Jonah’s God was the real god not Baal, whom they worshipped. We see this in 1:16.

the 4th and 5th miracles are found in 1:17.

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)

God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah alive. This actually saved Jonah from drowning. Also, Jonah remained alive in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This would be impossible normally, but God did these things and He is Sovereign. His will is done, His way in His timing.

The 6th miracle is found in 2:10.

And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. (Jonah 2:10 ESV)

Again, God does things His way. His ways are not our ways. He thoughts are not our thoughts. The fish was completely obedient to God. Jonah repented in the belly of the fish. This is found in his prayer in chapter 2. The last verse of this prayer is amazing.

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9 ESV)

Salvation belongs to the LORD! This is true. No one comes to God unless God acts first to draw them to Himself. The whole process of our salvation is in His hands. He must declare us Righteous according to Christ’s Righteousness. We cannot do that. We cannot do one thing to save ourselves. God must do it. Jonah recognized that then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

The 7th miracle is found in 3:10.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:10 ESV)

Actually, the entire 3rd chapter is a miracle. Jonah’s one sentence sermon contained only four Hebrew words. Jonah may have repented and obeyed God, but he still hated the Ninevites and did not think they deserved salvation. He did not understand grace. To him, salvation was for the Jews alone. Despite a very mediocre sermon from a non-God-focused heart, God used those four Hebrew words to pierce the hearts of the Ninevites from top to bottom. God saw their repentance and relented from judgement. If that isn’t a picture of our own desperate need for salvation I do know what is. Each of us are born with God’s wrath hanging over our heads. Only by God saving us can we avoid that wrath. Praise be to God that He is merciful and has provided a way for us to be saved!

The 8th miracle is found in 4:6.

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. (Jonah 4:6 ESV)

God appointed a plant to provide shade for Jonah who had departed the city to await its destruction. Again, all of God’s creation is subject to His sovereignty.

The 9th miracle is found in 4:7.

But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. (Jonah 4:7 ESV)

God gave Jonah the plant, God took away the plant. Why? Don’t we all ask those questions when disaster comes upon us (at least we think it is) for “no reason.” Friends, we deserve nothing but wrath. The fact that all in Christ will never experience God’s wrath is wonderful! However, even we will suffer. God uses suffering to perfect us unto Christ-likeness. In Jonah’s case, God used the the plant, the worm and the last miracle in this book, the hot East wind, to show Jonah that He is God and Jonah is not. He does this with us all the time doesn’t He? He shows us that we actually deserve nothing and all good things in our lives are by His grace.

The 10th miracle is found in 4:8.

When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8 ESV)

I have told God to kill me several times. Go ahead and end this God! But, He has not done so and He is still working on me. Jonah needed to see the Ninevites the way God did, but he refused. God saved them anyway. Praise be to God!

Soli Deo Gloria!

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10 thoughts on “God is Sovereign

  1. “Soli Deo Gloria!” I’m not sure why people use that term which I believe means “To God alone belongs the glory!” in English. But I agree in its meaning completely, and when we stand in front of the throne with thunders, and lightnings, and Seraphim, and the seven Spirits, and the emerald hue, and eclipsing all of the surroundings appears the Lamb, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Risen and Victorious Son of the Living God, we will fully realize that there never was any glory but His!!!

    Soli Deo Gloria! (I guess)

  2. Rick,

    I use that term because it is my way of succinctly stating that all I do is for His glory alone. As a writer you should know that people are always telling you what a good job you are doing. When I teach I get that (sometimes) :-) However, I must not take the glory for myself, but instead, give it to God where it belongs.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Hi Mike,

    “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases” ( Psalm 115:3)

    Who has commanded and it came to pass, unless the Lord has ordained it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and evil come? ( Lamentations 3:37-38)

    When we sometimes question God about things that happen that we can not understand, we have to remember God sees the whole picture. He knows the purpose behind it. When tradgedy happens we sometimes wonder what purpose is in this and we may never understand, but ultimately it is to bring all the Glory to HIM. Jonah realized that and so did Job.

    That’s where faith comes in, we need to trust that He has a purpose because that is what the Word of God says.

    Isaiah 46:9-11 9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.

    Cristina

  4. So thankful for HIS Sovereignty. We are the most privleged and blessed people to know with absolute confidence that nothing happens that is not ordained by God. What joy and hope. Keep us O, LORD from railing against Your ordained works. By the power of Your Holy Spirit working in us, strengthen us that we will gladly and peacably accept your providence. That we would say, come what may, God is good, God is good, God is good. HE is right in all HIS ways.

  5. I am so needing to hear messages of hope like this. Everywhere I look, I see the world has gone mad. And what is worse not just “out there,” but “in here” too. When I see a new kind of persecution facing the church – that from within – I am sometimes cold with fear. I lose my hope, my faith and the enemy takes me down a path of unbelief that God can ever salvage this. And I wonder how I will ever stand up under it; I wonder how my teenaged son will ever stand up under it. I need to keep hearing more from all of you! I am so glad you are there!

  6. Littleglo,

    I have been out of town for a week and unavailable to respond until today as my wife and I just got home. I pray that God will draw you into a closer relationship with Him. I pray that He will give you peace and joy.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  7. Mike
    I have been in a relationship with Jesus Christ for over 30 years. Somewhere along the way I lost the peace and joy. I listen to what is going on in the world, even in the body of the followers of Jesus Christ, and I am constantly in danger of my love ‘growing cold.’ Feeling powerless to do much leads me to either despairing, or re-learning that HE is indeed Sovereign. And therein I am trying to get back to that place of rest, to cease striving – In repentance and rest I will be save…In quitness and trust is my strength. It is good to read about His Sovereignty, about hope.

  8. Littleglo,

    Please read my lastest post, “Fasting and Feasting.” I think that may give you the “starting place” you are seeking. The fact that you desire His Righteousness in your walk is a clear indication that He is drawing you to Him. Rejoice in that!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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