Acts That Can Only Be Derived
From God's Sovereignty
The sixth biblical witness or landmark to the sovereignty of God can be found in several acts of God which when we study them very closely could not be derived from any attribute of God other than His sovereignty.
How can we account for such things as the placing of man's everlasting spiritual condition on his eating or not eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Gen. 2:17, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
To men it seems strange but to God it obviously has a much deeper meaning other than the simple idea of eating a piece of fruit. It can only be accounted for in the mind and plan of God, in His sovereign view.
When both Adam and Eve did eat of the tree justice would have been properly served had God killed them both on the spot, but He did not. Why not? Obviously He was seeing another of His creation's sin and fall. He had already had to deal with the rebellion and fall of Lucifer and his followers and now He had to deal with Adam, Eve and their descendants. It had to be His sovereign mercy for a death sentence is a death sentence.
Then the unimaginable, where Adam and Eve is concerned we find God making a promise even though they had not asked for it. He promised them a Savior. Gen. 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." The seed here being one seed and not plural, referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.
It had to be His sovereign grace that made such a promise for there was nothing in what man had said or done that could have caused God to want to save him from that eternal spiritual death that man had brought upon himself and his descendants. It had to be the unmerited favor of God that made that promise of a way of salvation.
God gave a simple law. Eve was tempted by the thought of being like God and the fact that the forbidden object was attractive. Adam was tempted by the wife he loved yet the punishment of God was not immediate. If we read through God's word we certainly find other transgressions of the law of God that were punished on the spot.
Consider the single action of Uzza that could best be described as a reflex action. He put out his hand to steady the Ark of God so that it would not fall from the cart on which it was being carried. He was immediately struck dead. A simple infraction. But this, too, demonstrates the sovereignty of God, Dan. 4:35, "...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?"
Another act of God that should be looked at here is Ham, the son of Noah, whom God preserved from the flood even though He knew that he was as wicked as those who died in the flood. Gen. 6:5, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
Ham sinned against God and his father, Gen. 9:20-23, "And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness." The act of Ham was cursed, not Ham, whom God had blessed, but his son Canaan was to be the servant of his brethren, that is, to the descendants of Shem and Japheth.
Why should the son suffer for the father's sin. It was the will of God. The mind of God is not the mind of a man and His reasons cannot be understood by man. The heart of man so often rebels against the mind of God.
Then there is Jacob and Esau. Twins with Esau being the oldest by only seconds or minutes for it says that Jacob held on to Esau's heel as Esau was born and was born immediately afterwards.
Under most legal conditions the elder was to be the heir of the father. Esau then should have been the heir of the birth-right and the blessing. The scripture also tells us that Isaac, the father, loved the elder, Esau, but that Rebecca the mother, loved the younger, Jacob.
Even in their mother's womb they had struggled one against the other so that Rebecca went to the Lord for information concerning the child she was carrying and God told her there were twins and that the elder would serve the younger.
Even before their birth God discloses to man a part of His plan. It was His plan and we do not really understand why but Paul puts into words our thoughts, Rom. 9:10-14, "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
Paul makes the question that we might make and then answer it according to the sovereignty of God.
As we know the story Jacob and his mother decided to help God give to Jacob that which had been promised. Jacob caught Esau at a time when he was tired and hungry after being out hunting and when Esau asked for food Jacob said that he would feed his brother but the price of the food would be the birth-right, the right of the elder. Esau sold his position for a pot of red beans. The Bible says that he despised his birth-right, that is, that it had very little worth to him and so he gave it away for food.
Later by cheating and lying Rebecca and Jacob deceived the blind Isaac into thinking Jacob was Esau and so Jacob received the blessing as well.
We know how it happened that Jacob received both the birth-right and the blessing but we do not know how God had planned for him to get them, or was this the way that God wanted it to be. If so, we come again to the fact that God works things out to suit Himself, not for man's understanding.
For as a result of these actions Esau, as is natural, became very hostile to his brother and so Jacob had to leave and go to his uncle's house in Syria for safety.
In a study of these brothers we find that later when Jacob returned to Canaan he expected to be attacked by his brother because the Bible tells us that Esau hated his brother, Gen. 27:41. Jacob had good reason to expect an attack for his messengers told him that Esau was coming to meet him with 400 men.
But there was a sudden turning of Esau's heart to love Jacob whom he had previously hated and whom he had come to destroy. In a moment of time everything changed and the Bible says in Gen. 32:4, "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." After this he is so changed that he offers his soldiers to be Jacob's protectors in the land but Jacob refused and so Esau went home to Mt. Seir. An inexplicable change in a man who had been filled with hate.
God's absolute sovereignty made the difference for Jacob was God's man. A man whose name was changed by God from Jacob, Deceiver, to Israel, one who prevails with God.
Note along this same line God told Jacob's father-in-law Laban, who was pursuing him to get back the wealth that Jacob had left Syria with, that he was to do nothing or say nothing either good or bad to Jacob. Laban obeyed God. He made a pact with Jacob and went home. God again turned one who was angry against Jacob around and sent him away.
We can continue with the actions of God where Jacob and his children were concerned. When one of the men of Shechem raped their sister but then wanted to marry her, Jacob told the men of Shechem that they would all have to be circumcised, and so they were. While all of the adult men of that city were unable to stand up and protect themselves two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, killed them all and spoiled the city and took for themselves all the riches of that city and all of the cattle. They took the wives and the children captive. Gen. 35:29 says, "...and even all that was in the house."
You would think that the Amorites, for the men of Shechem were of the Amorite nation, would follow after and slay all of the family of Jacob for this terrible cruelty but they did not. Instead the Bible says, "...and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob."
The hand of God is in the affairs of men. It's always there and God does not forsake His own even when they sin and we are certainly all sinners.
In Deuteronomy 2 there is another instance we need to look at. In verse 24 of that chapter God speaking to Moses tells him to rise up and take the journey across the river Arnon and "...behold, I have given into thine hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle."
God had Moses send a message of peace to Sihon and so He hardened the heart of Sihon and made him obstinate so that he refused to allow the Children of Israel to cross his land and went to war with them and was destroyed.
Why did God work this way. He could have simply forced them into battle and destroyed them as He finally did, but He hardened the heart of Sihon as He had Pharaoh and made him obstinate and then destroyed him.
God has His reasons that our very finite and emotional minds cannot in the least grasp.
Here is a good place to remind ourselves of what God has to say in Psalm 50:21 "...thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself:...." and in Psalm 90:2 and 3, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction;...."
When the Ammonites and the Moabites gathered a great conspiracy together in 11 Chron. 20 and marched against Jehoshaphat king of Judah, the king called a great fast and a great meeting of the whole congregation before the Lord in the Lord's House and prayed, and the Lord told them not to fear but He would conquer this great army. All they had to do was not to fear and to go forth the next day prepared for battle.
In verse 17 we read, "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, 0 Judah and Jerusalem:...."
The Jewish army went out the next day to the sound of the singers singing praise unto the Lord and unto the beauty of holiness, v. 21, then as they watched the Ammonites and Moabites turned against the Edomites and began to destroy them and then to fight each other. The great army of conspiracy that had set out to destroy Judah and Jerusalem had now destroyed each other.
In using this way to defeat this great army the Lord was in a sense defeating numerous enemies of Judah. "And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel." 11 Chron. 20:29.
In conclusion consider two New Testament incidents: 1) Jesus in praying to the Father says these words, "..., I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Matt. 11:25. Why did God do this seemingly illogical thing? All we need to do is go to the next verse, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." No reason that man can understand. It seemed good in the sight of God. 2) Jesus spoke in parables, why? Why not teach in a straight-forward manner so that everyone might be able to understand? Mark 4: 11 and 12, "...,Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."
We preach "whosoever will may come" because we do not know who is the Lord's elect and who is not. Jesus did know and He acted accordingly. You and I may not understand why He did it this way but He did and it must have seemed best to Him.
Other incidents that can be studied are: The severe punishment brought down on the house of Hezekiah for simply showing the Babylonian ambassadors his house and treasures; and Job, the Bible tells us that there was "not a man like Job in all the earth;" he had lived a very strict and holy life yet the Lord puts him completely (except for his life) in the power of Satan. Why? For His sovereign reasons.