His Own Assertion Witnesses Of His Sovereign Power
The fifth landmark or witness of the sovereignty of God is: His own assertion. Consider the authority He speaks with throughout His Word.
The Pharaoh of Egypt was one of the most powerful kings of the ancient world and yet God sent Moses with a message for him that demonstrated what God thought of him and just how He considered Himself, for He knew with certainty who He was.
Look at the passage in Exodus just preceding the plague of hail, Exodus 9:15-16, "For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence: and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power: and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."
The power of God was demonstrated time and time again through the plagues that were sent on Egypt. Jehovah was shown to be absolute. He was in control of man and nature and all things that are. He had created all things and controlled all things and all things are proceeding according to His will. God's absolute sovereignty was stated and demonstrated as He constantly says , "I will...do that" and finally "I raised thee up..." God takes credit for the existence of Pharaoh and says that his existence has a specific purpose, a purpose in God's will.
Paul in his epistle to the Romans quotes the above scripture from Exodus to prove that God may raise up men and use them as He will to achieve His overall plan. Lets look closely at the verses in Romans 9:14-17. To put this into context Paul has just said that it is written that God loves Jacob and hates Esau, then He goes on to say, "What shall we say then? Is that unrighteousness with God? God forbid." If God were unfair or if God were to do something purely selfish then He would be unrighteous for what is righteousness? My Funk and Wagnall's dictionary says, "Conforming in disposition and conduct to a standard of right and justice; upright; virtuous; blameless; morally right; equitable; right-thinking." It certainly speaks very well from the secular view. The one part of this definition that rings true for Christians is the "justice" definition. God is completely just. He is purely just. All that He has done and all that He will do is just. Our God is a merciful God but His mercy can never clash with His justice. God always does what is right. This should help us to understand what Isaiah meant when he writes in 64:6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;...." We certainly can never be blameless or purely just for we can never know the heart of man.
God always does what is right, God is the one who has decided what is right and what is wrong. These are things that we cannot understand or reason out for ourselves for we cannot think like God. What man does not do for God is done for selfish reasons. What God does for His elect is done without a selfish reason because God had no need of us to start with, so what He does He does because of His will and for His honor and glory but is not selfish.
Look at verse 15, "For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Man is God's creature, His creation and so God may do as He 'II with His creation. He explains this as Paul speaks here of "mercy" and "compassion." And the mercy and compassion that is received is not because of the receiver but because of the giver. And then we have the quote concerning Pharaoh "So it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." After indicating that mercy and compassion belongs to God and explaining that the giving of such has nothing to do with the man that "willeth" or "runneth" Paul proceeds with his argument. During the time that Moses and Pharaoh faced off with each other God showed his power, that power was over inanimate life (He turned Moses rod into a serpent, and He turned the waters into blood), He controlled the lice, the frogs, the locusts, the sickness of the cattle, the darkness and life itself in the taking of the first born son of all those of Egypt and any who did not listen to Him and obey His orders for that night. Then at the Red Sea He showed His power over the waters of the seas. There had not been such an out-pouring of the power of God since the Flood.
God was getting man's attention again. "Here I am" He is saying, "I'm still here and I'm still in charge. And don't forget it."
If you read on in that 9th chapter of Romans you will find that Paul added power to his argument by paraphrasing the testimony of Nebuchadnezzar from Dan. 4:34 and 35, "...,and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, 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?"
Sometimes God testifies of Himself by His actions rather than in words. His actions in Egypt (the plagues) was a testimony of His greatness and His sovereignty.
Other actions were His miracles for the Children of Israel while they sojourned in the wilderness such as shoes and clothing that never wore out Deut. 29:5.
There was, of course, the Flood, the Tower of Babel and other universal actions but then there were his actions that took place in the more national or to a very city as in Kings 19:35, "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, they were all dead corpses." The "they" in that last sentence were the army outside of Jerusalem.
Instances like the above are many in the scriptures. Some things that took place in nature that we have already discussed can be placed here such as the sun standing still and the sun going back ten degrees on the sun dial.
In the New Testament God's action in the loaves and the fishes testify to His greatness as does that moment when He commanded the winds and the waves to be peaceful. You can search them out in the Bible for they are many and they are all moments when God gives testimony of His sovereignty, His control of His creation.
In another place God is very explicit that our physical condition is in His hands and is His will, Ex. 4:6,1 1, "And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow." Then God had him put it into his bosom again and when he brought it out it was "...as his other flesh."
In verse 11 we read, "And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?"
Very explicit. When we have physical problems we should remember these verses. It is of God, the why we may not know but who is in charge we can know.
There are those who say that there is much that is secret and we can not know it but that is seeing the glass half empty but seeing the glass half-full says that there are many secrets that God has made known to us even though He may not give us exact dates. For instance, God tells us that He has appointed the time of our death and the mode. That if we live long lives it is again His will. "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me." Deut. 32:39-41.
I cannot help at this time from making a point for election. When God speaks of showing mercy He is speaking of salvation, so that the person who receives this mercy is being saved from hell. He is not speaking of some sort of remission from illness or from monetary problems, etc., though these may be involved in the mercy shown. When He says in Exod. 33:19, "I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy," He is underlining election. He says He is the one who decides, not the person, for salvation is not a result of what we do or what we want but because God so desires or so wills.
There are times when it seems that God speaks out to the idolaters, the atheists, the unbelieving scientists, etc. of this world and says, "Let me see your god do the things that I have done, such as calling the worlds into being from nothing." He seems to say, "Show me!" Note the way He speaks in Isa. 44:6 and 7, "...I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God; and who as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order before me? since I appointed the ancient people, and the things that are coming and shall come."
These are all testimonies of God given by Himself, testimonies of His sovereignty not of His existence for God never tries to prove His existence He simply states it and leaves it as a truth.
In this light we find that He tells us that it is impossible for us to get God to change His plans, that there is nothing that we can do to accomplish that. We cannot do good works or anything else for He tells us "For I am the Lord, I change not;..." Mal. 3:6. In Isa. 46:10 this statement is strengthened, "My counsel shall stand; I will do all my pleasure." In Isa. 55:11 we read, "So shall my word...accomplish that which I please; it shall prosper; in the thing whereto I send it."
And so, this fifth landmark of the sovereignty of God stands as God asserting His sovereign prerogative, God doing according to His will because it is His prerogative to do so since He is the Creator and Sustainer of all that is.