God's Sovereignty Proved Through
The General Acceptance Of Men
The third landmark of our God's sovereignty or supremacy is simply the general acceptance of men, but particularly those who knew Him best.
There are those in scripture who were very close to God, for instance, it is said of Enoch that he walked with God. While Adam was in the Garden of Eden it is said that he walked and talked with God in the cool of the evening. And of David it is said that he was a friend of God. There were those who were seemingly very close to God.
How well any man ever knew God is questionable and perhaps can only be answered not only in how God dealt with him but how he dealt with God because he believed God.
The only way to accomplish this is to rely on scripture concerning these men who accepted God as He said He was. Men who never argued with God, men who accepted every act of God as right and just and according to His plan.
a. Abel believed God and brought the firstlings of his flock as an offering to God. The Bible doesn't tell us how Abel knew what to bring as an offering but he knew for Gen. 4:4 says, "And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering;...."
To really understand this we must realize that Cain and Abel as the children of Adam and Eve knew where the gateway to Eden was for there was where the Cherubim with the flaming swords stood guard. In scripture you will find that where the Cherubim are there is where God is. Isaiah saw them around the throne of God and they were shown in the Tabernacle guarding the Mercy Seat. Where the Cherubim are there is the place of worship in the Old Testament. God establishes the place of worship, not man. In the New Testament He established His churches and He is there and His angels.
Again, we must ask ourselves if this was the first sacrifice or offering ever brought to God? I don't think so for Abel would not know what to bring by osmosis. I believe that Adam made sacrifice to God and taught his sons to do the same thing and that the sacrifices were made there at the gateway to Eden where the Cherubim guarded, that that was the appointed place of worship and that both Cain and Abel knew the story of their parents and the fall and of their being cast out of the garden. They knew intimately the story of Almighty God and believed in Him, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. They both knew what offering would be acceptable to God and Abel knowing God and trusting Him, accepting Him, brought that which was acceptable to Him. Cain deliberately disobeyed.
There was Abram who became Abraham of whom we read in James 2:23 "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called a friend of God." And again of Abraham we read in Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
There are those who say that Abram was an idolater but I do not think so not for a moment. Why should he have been an idolater since certainly the knowledge of God had come down after the flood to the people of the time of Abram, in fact, Shem, the son of Noah, was still living when Abram went out of Ur. Abraham was a descendent of Shem. I believe that he is called an idolater because he lived in Ur of the Chaldees and because people think it is a great miracle if he were and idolater and God spoke to him once and he suddenly believed this dream or vision. Abraham knew who spoke to him and believed the God that spoke. Wouldn't it be wonderful today if every saved man and woman truly believed God and was willing to do what God has given us to do "Go ye...."
Abram knew God. He was as we have said a descendent of Shem, the tenth (10th) generation from the flood and just as we are given the generations of those who believed and trusted God before the flood so I believe that we are given the generations of those who believed and trusted God after the flood and Abram was one of them. He was one of those who knew and understood Him best. When God spoke he listened and obeyed. Gen. 12:1-3, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house unto a land that I will show thee; And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." That last statement was the cornerstone, the main purpose for the Jewish nation. It would produce the Savior, the Messiah, for all those whom God had chosen.
God spoke to Abram and he did not hesitate to obey, to pack up and move out of Ur, it's true that taking his father along with him held him up but he went on "unto a land that I will show thee;...." How many Christians today would do the same thing. Some do. But most do not even want to give up a job where they find it impossible to glorify God. They are too afraid that God will not give them another as good. He has said "I will never leave thee no forsake thee..." but they don't really believe.
Abraham again, Abraham was placed in what the world would call an appalling situation. God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac and he went out to accomplish what God had told him to do. He didn't argue and tell God that He did not normally ask for human sacrifice as a man of faith he trusted God, the God who had led him out of Ur and into Canaan and had not only promised him a son but had fulfilled that promise when he was 100 years old and Sarah, his wife, was 90 years old. Abraham set out to obey his God.
Let's look carefully at this passage for there is so much in that story to support this great landmark of the sovereignty of God. Gen. 22:1-2, "And it came to pass after these things, that God did test Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."
First note, this was a conversation, not a dream for God spoke to Abraham and Abraham answered, so Abraham couldn't pass it off as a figment of his imagination. He is told to take his son, now the word says he had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, but God considered that there was only one and that one not the son of the bond-woman but the son of Sarah, for he follows that first statement with the words, "thine only son Isaac." There is no doubt which son is being required of Abraham. Isaac is to be the sacrifice and God not only says "thine only son" but the son of promise for that is who Isaac was and that's what his name denotes. Abraham is told to take the son that had been promised to him for decades, the son through whom the promises to Abraham were to be fulfilled and through whom the Messiah would come, and sacrifice him.
Now Abraham was not just being told to take him to a mountain and cut his throat and burn his body, but to do it with an attitude of worship. To do it gladly, willingly and worshipfully; just as he would do it with a lamb that had been found to be without spot or blemish and could be sacrificed.
God was asking Abraham to do a very hard thing, a thing that only a man of faith could do. And notice the very next verse, Gen. 22:3, "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and cut the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him." He didn't wait, no hesitation, he rose up and went, just as he had done in Ur. When God said "Go" Abraham went. He was a man of great and wonderful faith. Would that Christians today had his faith.
His great faith and knowledge of God is shown well in the 5th verse, "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." That last statement is a statement of the faith that Abraham had in God. God had promised Isaac and had fulfilled that promise and he had said that through Isaac all the nations of the world would be blessed. Just read through this section of Genesis and you will see how time after time God and Abraham talked and God confirmed and reconfirmed His covenant with Abraham and that covenant had to pass through his promised son and his son by Sarah and no one else.
Note in the 8th verse that he even told his son Isaac that God would "provide himself a lamb," he never doubted. And in verse 12 we read this, "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." In light of the New Testament we can see a reading in this that says "Thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. I will not withhold my son, mine only son from His work for thee."
In Hebrews 11 we read, "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called; Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead,...." And it is in Isaac's seed Jesus that we are called and accounting that God was able to raise Him, Jesus, even from the dead.
Abraham was one of those particular ones who knew God well, had learned his lessons well from whoever it was who taught him and so trusted and believed in a sovereign God, one who was all powerful, who held the world and all that is in His hands and he knew that all things worked together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. He knew that all things worked according to the will and the purpose of God. He knew Him and had an understanding of Him. And as we quoted from James, "He believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
That kind of faith takes an acceptance of God in the first place and an acceptance that He is who He says He is and that He has the power He says He has, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth." Matt. 28:18. That kind of faith requires a knowledge that can only be in the heart, deep in the heart and a love that trusts that He is working out everything for your good and according to His plan and will.
Let us think briefly of Job who when he was stripped of everything, children, houses, riches and even had a wife that told him he should curse God and die, instead, fell down and worshipped Him, Job 1:20-21, "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Here was a man who knew his God and loved and trusted his God. He had that faith that told him that what God does God does for our good.
In Genesis 14:19 and 22 we have the testimony of two men who knew their God and knew His greatness. Melchizedek in verse 19 says to Abram, "....Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:..." and in verse 22 this, "And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth." These two men not only said these words but they knew their meaning and knew that these words applied to Jehovah God the Creator of heaven and earth and that all that they were and all that would come was in His hands. And they were glad that they could rely upon such a great God. People today talk about a different God. The God I hear them talk about is a small God, a God they can't depend on and so they need not have any real faith in Him. Our God should be the God of our small troubles and problems as well as the God of the universe. We should know that He controls our lives as well as the paths of the planets and the comets. He is the possessor of the heavens and the earth. He is the Most High God.
The priest Eli had a different problem, he loved his sons too much and never disciplined them for any infraction of the laws of God. When God spoke to Eli through the child Samuel he said, "...the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice no offering forever," 1 Sam. 3:14. There was no way, nothing Eli could do to rectify his sin and the sins of his sons. He had not reared them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord but had given them anything they wanted which reminds one of the parents of today, where it is said that we try to give our children all the things we never had but never give them the things we did have, like real parental love. Eli's family had gone from bad to worse until they committed adultery at the very doors of the Tabernacle. No sin offering, no peace offering, nothing could atone for their sins. Eli when he heard did not protest the words of the Lord for he knew the ways of God. He simply answered, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth to him good," 1 Sam. 3:18.
The sons died in battle and lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines, it was taken into the battle with them and when Eli heard the news of his sons and the loss of the Ark he fell over dead.
Eli, another man who knew God and served and trusted in His judgment to do that which was right in God's eyes and not according to the views of man. There was no pleading, or begging or even an attempt at explaining, he knew God was sovereign and His plans and desires were all that counted.
David is one you have to admire and recognize that he too knew his God and trusted his God with his very life when his son Absalom drove him from his throne and from the city of God. We know he still loved his son for his cry when he hears of his sons death is the cry of a father who loves that son. Yet what was it that David said of the Lord in 2 Sam. 15:26, "Behold, here I am, let him do to me as seemeth good to him."
One of my favorites though was not even a Jew but a man who came to know God and His power and His greatness by suffering, Nebuchadnezzar. Because of his pride, in what he felt he had done to show to the world how great he was, his words left out God. Dan. 4:30, "... is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?" God heard and even while the words were being spoken God spoke to him and took the kingdom from him and left him mad so that he was driven into the fields to live like the cattle of the field, eating grass. He lived like that for seven years.
Nebuchadnezzar was not a stranger to the Almighty God, he had taken the Jews into captivity and among those were Daniel and the three Hebrew Children and he had come to know them and trust them and know of their devotion to the God Jehovah. He had seen the three young men come out of the fiery furnace without even the odor of smoke on them and he had heard Daniel interpret his dream when he couldn't even remember the dream. He was no stranger to Jehovah.
After the seven years in the field living like an ox he came back to his senses and began to make good sense for he now knew God, knew Him well, he had had a personal experience with God and knew of what he spoke when he said, "And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou?" Dan. 4:34-35.
These are some of the most profound words in scripture for it should leave no doubt in any man or woman's mind about who is absolutely in charge of things in the heavens and in the earth. It spells out who is in charge of your life and mine who holds our breath in his hand. It is specific about who is absolutely sovereign and "...none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" He is so completely in charge of all things that we do not even have the right to ask Him why He did this or that where our lives are concerned.
Then there were the men of Nineveh who when they heard the preaching of Jonah and knew that their destruction had been pronounced and that as far as they knew there was no hope of remission, for God gave Jonah no word of promise that it would be remitted if they repented, yet "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands." Jonah 3:5, 8.
They saw their sin and understood that they had sinned in the eyes of God and so they repented, their repentance was not based on whether or not the city would be destroyed but on the fact that they knew they had done evil before Jehovah God.
They repented and God accepted that repentance and did not destroy that great city.
Here are men who have given their general acceptance of God's sovereign power. Abel, who believed that the sacrifice must be as God had demanded. Abraham who believed the word of God and so went forth blindly to a country that he would inherit, and he was led by that God. Again, Abraham who was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice believing that God would raise him from the dead if it were necessary to keep the promise that He had already given.
There was Job who put God above all, Eli who accepted the punishment of his house for their sin because God knows what is best. And all the others, Aaron, who as High Priest, accepted the fact that he could not mourn for his two sons who had sinned and died for their sins.
These are but a few of those who without doubting accepted the existence of God and knew Him well and trusted Him implicitly.
They all recognized the sovereignty of Almighty God (and if we call Him Almighty we must recognize the meaning of that word, mighty in all things, and recognize in Him the existence of all power, for that is implicit in the meaning of Almighty God, and these men and women gave Him their vote of confidence that what He proclaimed or did was best for them for though it had not yet been written they believed what Paul later wrote in Rom. 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Following these, we have those that own the greatness and sovereignty of God in their confessions and attestations.
We repeat here the fact that both Melchizedek and Abram call Him, Jehovah, "... the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth," Gen. 14:19,22.
Job professed that though he was a righteous man, yet if God will contend with him, "...he will not answer, but make supplication to his judge,..." Job 9:15. Job recognized that God was his judge not men. Job realized that in his own righteousness there was something lacking and that God was the one who could and would judge that which was lacking. Isaiah later wrote concerning man's righteousness and said that it is as filthy rags, or rags used by a leper to clean his sores. Job knew this also and so knew that he must be judged one day no mater how good he was and how much he had served God.
In Proverbs we hear Solomon saying, "The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea even the wicked for the day of evil." Prov. 16:4. Too often we do not read the words that are written and we try to make passages mean what we want them to mean. Here we read that God made every thing, all things, even the wicked, for Himself. That must include you and me and the unregenerate sinner, we are made for Him and being made for Him we are then like the clay that a potter uses. He can make what He likes with it or not even use it if He so desires.
In Rev. 4:11 we bear John speaking, "Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Isaiah says it in another way in chapter 64 verse 8, ..."we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." Who are you? You are God's creation and He has given you a place in His plans and you will be that person and play that role no matter for you cannot change the circumstances.
Eph. 1:11 repeats this thought, "..., being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Your will has no power. His will is the only power in this creation.
In Job 33:13 we read, "Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters." In the Hebrew it says that "he answereth not." He does not answer you when you question what He does. Why be angry with God? Being angry with God accomplishes nothing for God tells us very often that He is God and He changes not. And that means that He does not change His mind.
Turning back to Job 12:10 we find another quote that spells out the sovereignty of God, "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind." That last phrase actually says in the Hebrew, "...all flesh of man."
When it comes to the Holy Spirit inspiring men to speak of the sovereignty of God He did not hold back. It's in the Book. It's there spelled out so that any reader who has spiritual discernment can see it and understand it.
These are all statements of men who lived close to God, who knew His inspiration, who knew His blessing and in the case of Job knew the test that God can allow in the lives of His people.
How can anyone accept the old black preacher's idea that God votes to save us, the Devil votes to condemn us but the final vote is up to us and we can vote either with God or the Devil. To believe such a thing is to deny all that we have spoken of concerning the sovereignty of God. It denies the witness of Abraham, Daniel, Job, Paul, Solomon, Isaiah, John the beloved disciple, and many others that we have quoted here.
Scripture gives us those instances where even the wicked are made to confess that there is a higher and greater than themselves and is made to bow before Him and to confess to the world just what Nebuchadnezzar confessed, "...the most High doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none shall stay his hand, or say unto him, what doest thou." This sounds just like Solomon and like John in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Finally, let us consider others who were not believers who nevertheless attested to the greatest and sovereignty of God.
The Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Moses is one example. In Ex. 5:2 we read, "...Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." But just four chapters later we read something quite different, Ex. 9:27 and 28, "And pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail: and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer."
He changed his tune. So will every sinner, not only those who are saved and change their tune but those who are never saved will one day bow their knee and confess Him as God, Isa. 45:23, "I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." This is quoted in Rom. 14:11 and that verse ends with "...and every tongue shall confess to God." Meaning to His existence.
Another is Balaam in Numbers 22:18. He had been hired to curse Israel and he tried to do what he was hired to do but everytime he had to back down and here he does it the first time, "And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, if Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more." Balaam knew the bounds had been set and no matter how much he wanted to earn the offered money he could not do what was asked of him. His answer testified to the power of God. He could not go beyond the word of God.
Now let us end with the testimony of one of the great kings of the Medo-Persian Empire, Darius the Persian from Dan. 6:26- 28, "I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."
I don't know if he was a saved man but Darius had had an experience concerning the God of the Jews and he learned from the experience and could testify to the greatness of God and to the fact that God did as he willed in the affairs of men.
God brings everyone to his knees sooner or later, in this life or in the next and all men shall own Him as God and King and all men will recognize Him as Sovereign.