THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN ADMINISTRATION
First, a word concerning the need for God to govern the material world. Suppose the opposite for a moment. For the sake of argument, let us say that God created the world, designed and fixed certain laws (which men term "the laws of Nature"), and that He then withdrew, leaving the world to its fortune and the out-working of these laws. In such a case, we should have a world over which there was no intelligent, presiding Governor, a world controlled by nothing more than impersonal laws—a concept worthy of gross Materialism and blank Atheism. But, I say, suppose it for a moment; and in the light of such a supposition, weigh well the following question:—What guaranty have we that some day ere long the world will not be destroyed? A very superficial observation of "the laws of Nature" reveals the fact that they are not uniform in their working. The proof of this is seen in the fact that no two seasons are alike. If then Nature’s laws are irregular in their operations, what guaranty have we against some dreadful catastrophe striking our earth? "The wind bloweth where it listeth" (pleaseth), which means that man can neither harness nor hinder it. Sometimes the wind blows with great fury, and it might be that it should suddenly gather in volume and velocity, until it became a hurricane earth-wide in its range. If there is nothing more than the laws of Nature regulating the wind, then, perhaps tomorrow, there may come a terrific tornado and sweep everything from the surface of the earth! What assurance have we against such a calamity? Again; of late years we have heard and read much about clouds bursting and flooding whole districts, working fearful havoc in the destruction of both property and life. Man is helpless before them, for science can devise no means to prevent clouds bursting. Then how do we know that these bursting-clouds will not be multiplied indefinitely and the whole earth be deluged by their downpour? This would be nothing new: why should not the Flood of Noah’s day be repeated? And what of earthquakes? Every few years, some island or some great city is swept out of existence by one of them—and what can man do? Where is the guaranty that ere long a mammoth earthquake will not destroy the whole world? Science tells us of great subterranean fires burning beneath the comparatively thin crust of our earth, how do we know but what these fires will not suddenly burst forth and consume our entire globe? Surely every reader now sees the point we are seeking to make: Deny that God is governing matter, deny that He is "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3), and all sense of security is gone!
Let us pursue a similar course of reasoning in connection with the human race. Is God governing this world of ours? Is He shaping the destinies of nations, controlling the course of empires, determining the limits of dynasties? Has He described the limits of evil-doers, saying, Thus far shalt thou go and no further? Let us suppose the opposite for a moment. Let us assume that God has delivered over the helm into the hand of His creatures, and see where such a supposition leads us. For the sake of argument we will say that every man enters this world endowed with a will that is absolutely free, and that it is impossible to compel or even coerce him without destroying his freedom. Let us say that every man possesses a knowledge of right and wrong, that he has the power to choose between them, and that he is left entirely free to make his own choice and go his own way. Then what? Then it follows that man is sovereign, for he does as he pleases and is the architect of his own fortune. But in such a case we can have no assurance that ere long every man will reject the good and choose the evil. In such a case we have no guaranty against the entire human race committing moral suicide. Let all Divine restraints be removed and man be left absolutely free, and all ethical distinctions would immediately disappear, the spirit of barbarism would prevail universally, and pandemonium would reign supreme. Why not? If one nation deposes its rulers and repudiates its constitution, what is there to prevent all nations from doing the same? If little more than a century ago the streets of Paris ran with the blood of rioters, what assurance have we that before the present century closes every city throughout the world will not witness a similar sight? What is there to hinder worldwide lawlessness and universal anarchy? Thus we have sought to show the need, the imperative need, for God to occupy the Throne, take the government upon His shoulder, and control the activities and destinies of His creatures.
But has the man of faith any difficulty in perceiving the government of God over this world? Does not the anointed eye discern, even amid much seeming confusion and chaos, the hand of the Most High controlling and shaping the affairs of men, even in the common concerns of every day life? Take for example farmers and their crops. Suppose God left them to themselves: what would then prevent them, one and all, from grassing their arable lands and devoting themselves exclusively to the rearing of cattle and dairying? In such a case there would be a world-famine of wheat and corn! Take the work of the post-office. Suppose that everybody decided to write letters on Mondays only, could the authorities cope with the mail on Tuesdays? and how would they occupy their time the balance of the week? So again with storekeepers. What would happen if every housewife did her shopping on Wednesday, and stayed at home the rest of the week? But instead of such things happening, farmers in different countries both raise sufficient cattle and grow enough grain of various kinds to supply the almost incalculable needs of the human race; the mails are almost evenly distributed over the six days of the week; and some women shop on Monday, some on Tuesday, and so on. Do not these things clearly evidence the overruling and controlling hand of God!
Having shown, in brief, the imperative need for God to reign over our world, let us now observe still further the fact that God does rule, actually rule, and that His government extends to and is exercised over all things and all creatures. And,
1. God Governs Inanimate Matter.
That God governs inanimate matter, that inanimate matter performs His bidding and fulfils His decrees, is clearly shown on the very frontispiece of Divine revelation. God said, Let there be light, and we read, "There was light." God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear," and "it was so." And again, "God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so." As the Psalmist declares, "He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."
What is stated in Genesis one is afterwards illustrated all through the Bible. After the creation of Adam, sixteen centuries went by before ever a shower of rain fell upon the earth, for before Noah "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Gen. 2:6). But, when the iniquities of the antediluvians had come to the full, then God said, "And, behold, I, even. I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die;" and in fulfillment of this we read, "In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights" (Gen. 6:17 and 7:11, 12).
Witness God’s absolute (and sovereign) control of inanimate matter in connection with the plagues upon Egypt. At His bidding the light was turned into darkness and rivers into blood; hail fell, and death came down upon the godless land of the Nile, until even its haughty monarch was compelled to cry out for deliverance. Note particularly how the inspired record here emphasizes God’s absolute control over the elements—"And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt." So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail" (Ex. 9:23-26). The same distinction was observed in connection with the ninth plague: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings" (Ex. 10:21-23).
The above examples are by no means isolated cases. At God’s decree fire and brimstone descended from heaven and the cities of the Plain were destroyed, and a fertile valley was converted into a loathsome sea of death. At His bidding the waters of the Red Sea parted asunder so that the Israelites passed over dry shod, and at His word they rolled back again and destroyed the Egyptians who were pursuing them. A word from Him, and the earth opened her mouth and Korah and his rebellious company were swallowed up. The furnace of Nebuchadnezzar was heated seven times beyond its normal temperature, and into it three of God’s children were cast, but the fire did not so much as scorch their clothes, though it slew the men who cast them into it.
What a demonstration of the Creator’s governmental control over the elements was furnished when He became flesh and tabernacled among men! Behold Him asleep in the boat. A storm arises. The winds roar and the waves are lashed into fury. The disciples who are with Him, fearful lest their little craft should founder, awake their Master, saying, "Carest Thou not that we perish?" And then we read, "And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm" (Mark 4:39). Mark again, the sea, at the will of its Creator, bore Him up upon its waves. At a word from Him the fig-tree withered; at His touch disease fled instantly.
The heavenly bodies are also ruled by their Maker and perform His sovereign pleasure. Take two illustrations. At God’s bidding the sun went back ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz to help the weak faith of Hezekiah. In New Testament times, God caused a star to herald the incarnation of His Son—the star which appeared unto the wise men of the East. This star, we are told, "went before them till it came and stood over where the young Child was" (Matt. 2:9).
What a declaration is this—"He sendeth forth His commandment upon earth: His word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: He scattereth the hoar frost like ashes. He casteth forth His ice like morsels: who can stand before His cold? He sendeth out His word, and melteth them: He causeth His wind to blow, and the waters flow" (Ps. 147:15-18). The mutations of the elements are beneath God’s sovereign control. It is God who withholds the rain, and it is God who gives the rain when He wills, where He wills, as He wills, and on whom He wills. Weather Bureaus may attempt to give forecasts of the weather, but how frequently God mocks their calculations! Sun ‘spots,’ the varying activities of the planets, the appearing and disappearing of comets (to which abnormal weather is sometimes attributed), atmospheric disturbances, are merely secondary causes, for behind them all is God Himself. Let His Word speak once more: "And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up into your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord" (Amos 4:7-10).
Truly, then, God governs inanimate matter. Earth and air, fire and water, hail and snow, stormy winds and angry seas, all perform the word of His power and fulfil His sovereign pleasure. Therefore, when we complain about the weather, we are, in reality, murmuring against God.
2. God Governs Irrational Creatures.
What a striking illustration of God’s government over the animal kingdom is found in Genesis 2:19! "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." Should it be said that this occurred in Eden, and took place before the fall of Adam and the consequent curse which was inflicted on every creature, then our next reference fully meets the objection: God’s control of the beasts was again openly displayed at the Flood. Mark how God caused to "come unto" Noah every specie of living creature "of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, of every creeping thing after his kind: two of every sort shall come unto thee" (Gen. 6:19, 20)—all were beneath God’s sovereign control. The lion of the jungle, the elephant of the forest, the bear of the polar regions; the ferocious panther, the untameable wolf, the fierce tiger; the high-soaring eagle and the creeping crocodile—see them all in their native fierceness, and yet, quietly submitting to the will of their Creator, and coming two by two into the ark!
We referred to the plagues sent upon Egypt as illustrating God’s control of inanimate matter, let us now turn to them again to see how they demonstrate His perfect ruler-ship over irrational creatures. At His word the river brought forth frogs abundantly, and these frogs entered the palace of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and, contrary to their natural instincts, they entered the beds, the ovens and the kneadingtroughs (Ex. 8:13). Swarms of flies invaded the land of Egypt, but there were no flies in the land of Goshen! (Ex. 8:22). Next, the cattle were stricken. and we read, "Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel. And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land. And the Lord did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one" (Ex. 9:3-6). In like manner God sent clouds of locusts to plague Pharaoh and his land, appointing the time of their visitation, determining the course and assigning the limits of their depredations.
Angels are not the only ones who do God’s bidding. The brute beasts equally perform His pleasure. The sacred ark, the ark of the covenant, is in the country of the Philistines. How is it to be brought back to its home land? Mark the servants of God’s choice, and how completely they were beneath His control: "And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place. And they said. . . . Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them: And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return Him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof, and send it away that it may go. And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then He hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us." And what happened? How striking the sequel! "And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left" (1 Sam. 6:12). Equally striking is the case of Elijah: "And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." (1 Kings 17:2-4). The natural instinct of these birds of prey was held in subjection, and instead of consuming the food themselves, they carried it to Jehovah’s servant in his solitary retreat.
Is further proof required? then it is ready to hand. God makes a dumb ass to rebuke the prophet’s madness. He sends forth two she-bears from the woods to devour forty and two of Elijah’s tormentors. In fulfillment of His word, He causes the dogs to lick up the blood of the wicked Jezebel. He seals the mouths of Babylon’s lions when Daniel is cast into the den, though, later, He causes them to devour the prophet’s accusers. He prepares a great fish to swallow the disobedient Jonah and then, when His ordained hour struck, compelled it to vomit him forth on dry land. At His bidding a fish carries a coin to Peter for tribute money, and in order to fulfil His word He makes the cock to crow twice after Peter’s denial. Thus we see that God reigns over irrational creatures: beasts of the field, birds of the air, fishes of the sea, all perform His sovereign bidding.
3. God Governs the Children of Men.
We fully appreciate the fact that this is the most difficult part of our subject, and, accordingly, it will be dealt with at greater length in the pages that follow; but at present we consider the fact of God’s government over men in general, before we attempt to deal with the problem in detail.
Two alternatives confront us, and between them we obliged to choose: either God governs, or He is governed: either God rules, or He is ruled; either God has His way, or men have theirs. And is our choice between these alternatives hard to make? Shall we say that in man we behold a creature so unruly that he is beyond God’s control? Shall we say that sin has alienated the sinner so far from the thrice Holy One that he is outside the pale of His jurisdiction? Or, shall we say that man has been endowed with moral responsibility, and therefore God must leave him entirely free, at least during the period of his probation? Does it necessarily follow because the natural man is an outlaw against heaven, a rebel against the Divine government, that God is unable to fulfil His purpose through him? We mean, not merely that He may overrule the effects of the actions of evil-doers, nor that He will yet bring the wicked to stand before His judgment-bar so that sentence of punishment may be passed upon them—multitudes of non-Christians believe these things—but, we mean, that every action of the most lawless of His subjects is entirely beneath His control, yea that the actor is, though unknown to himself, carrying out the secret decrees of the Most High. Was it not thus with Judas? and is it possible to select a more extreme case? If then the arch-rebel was performing the counsel of God is it any greater tax upon our faith to believe the same of all rebels?
Our present object is not philosophic inquiry nor metaphysical causistry, but to ascertain the teaching of Scripture upon this profound theme. To the Law and the Testimony, for there only can we learn of the Divine government—its character, its design, its modus operandi, its scope. What then has it pleased God to reveal to us in His blessed Word concerning His rule over the works of His hands, and particularly, over the one who originally was made in His own image and likeness?
"In Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). What a sweeping assertion is this! These words, be it noted, were addressed, not to one of the churches of God, not to a company of saints who had reached an exalted plane of spirituality, but to a heathen audience, to those who worshipped "the unknown God" and who "mocked" when they heard of the resurrection of the dead. And yet, to the Athenian philosophers, to the Epicureans and Stoics, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to affirm that they lived and moved and had their being in God, which signified not only that they owed their existence and preservation to the One who made the world and all things therein, but also that their very actions were encompassed and therefore controlled by the Lord of heaven and earth. Compare Dan. 5:23, last clause!
"The disposings (margin) of the heart, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord" (Prov. 16:1). Mark that the above declaration is of general application—it is of "man," not simply of believers, that this is predicated. "A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps" (Prov. 16:9). If the Lord directs the steps of a man, is it not proof that he is being controlled or governed by God? Again; "There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand" (Prov. 19:21). Can this mean anything less than, that no matter what man may desire and plan, it is the will of his Maker which is executed? As an illustration take the "Rich Fool" The "devices" of his heart are made known to us—"And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there I will bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Such were the "devices" of his heart, nevertheless it was "the counsel of the Lord" that stood. The "I will’s" of the rich man came to nought, for "God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee" (Luke 12:17-20).
"The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will" (Prov. 21:1). What could be more explicit? Out of the heart are "the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23), for as a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). If then the heart is in the hand of the Lord, and if "He turneth it whithersoever He will," then is it not clear that men, yea, governors and rulers, and so all men, are completely beneath the governmental control of the Almighty!
No limitations must be placed upon the above declarations. To insist that some men, at least, do thwart God’s will and overturn His counsels, is to repudiate other scriptures equally explicit. Weigh well the following: "But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth" (Job 23:13). "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations" (Ps. 33:11). "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord" (Prov. 21:30). "For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isa. 14:27). "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else! I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa. 46:9, 10). There is no ambiguity in these passages. They affirm in the most unequivocal and unqualified terms that it is impossible to bring to naught the purpose of Jehovah.
We read the Scriptures in vain if we fail to discover that the actions of men, evil men as well as good, are governed by the Lord God. Nimrod and his fellows determined to erect the tower of Babel, but ere their task was accomplished God frustrated their plans. God called Abraham "alone" (Isa. 51:2), but his kinsfolk accompanied him as he left Ur of the Chaldees. Was then the will of the Lord defeated? Nay, verily. Mark the sequel. Terah died before Canaan was reached (Gen. 11:31), and though Lot accompanied his uncle into the land of promise, he soon separated from him and settled down in Sodom. Jacob was the child to whom the inheritance was promised, and though Isaac sought to reverse Jehovah’s decree and bestow the blessing upon Esau, his efforts came to naught. Esau again swore vengeance upon Jacob, but when next they met they wept for joy instead of fighting in hate. The brethren of Joseph determined his destruction, but their evil counsels were overthrown. Pharaoh refused to let Israel carry out the instructions of Jehovah and perished in the Red Sea for his pains. Balak hired Balaam to curse the Israelites, but God compelled him to bless them. Haman erected a gallows for Mordecai but was hanged upon it himself. Jonah resisted the revealed will of God, but what became of his efforts?
Ah, the heathen may "rage" and the people imagine a "vain thing"; the kings of the earth may "set themselves", and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Christ, saying, "Let us break Their bands asunder, and cast away Their cords from us" (Ps. 2:1-3). But is the great God perturbed or disturbed by the rebellion of His puny creatures? No, indeed: "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision" (v. 4). He is infinitely exalted above all, and the greatest confederacies of earth’s pawns, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat His purpose are, in His sight, altogether purile. He looks upon their puny efforts, not only without any alarm, but He "laughs" at their folly; He treats their impotency with "derision." He knows that He can crush them like moths when He pleases, or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth. Ah, it is but "a vain thing" for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven. Such is our God; worship ye Him.
Mark, too, the sovereignty which God displayed in His dealings with men! Moses who was slow of speech, and not Aaron his elder brother who was not slow of speech, was the one chosen to be His ambassador in demanding from Egypt’s monarch the release of His oppressed people. Moses again, though greatly beloved utters one hasty word and was excluded from Canaan; whereas Elijah, passionately murmurs and suffers but a mild rebuke, and was afterwards taken to heaven without seeing death! Uzzah merely touched the ark and was instantly slain, whereas the Philistines carried it off in insulting triumph and suffered no immediate harm. Displays of grace which would have brought a doomed Sodom to repentance, failed to move an highly privileged Capernaum. Mighty works which would have subdued Tyre and Sidon, left the upbraided cities of Galilee under the curse of a rejected Gospel. If they would have prevailed over the former, why were they not wrought there? If they proved ineffectual to deliver the latter then why perform them? What exhibitions are these of the sovereign will of the Most High!
4. God Governs Angels: Both Good and Evil Angels.
The angels are God’s servants, His messengers, His chariots. They ever hearken to the word of His mouth and do His commands. "And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and He repented Him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, Stay now thine hand. . . .And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put his sword again into the sheath thereof" (1 Chron. 21:15, 27). Many other scriptures might be cited to show that the angels are in subjection to the will of their Creator and perform His bidding—"And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent His angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). "And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to shew unto His servants the things which must shortly be done" (Rev. 22:6). So it will be when our Lord returns: "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matt. 13:41). Again, we read, "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt. 24:31).
The same is true of evil spirits: they, too, fulfil God’s sovereign decrees. An evil spirit is sent by God to stir up rebellion in the camp of Abimelech: "Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem,. . . which aided him in the killing of his brethren" (Judges 9:23). Another evil spirit He sent to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets—"Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee" (1 Kings 22 :23). And yet another was sent by the Lord to trouble Saul—"But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him" (1 Sam. 16:14). So, too, in the New Testament: a whole legion of the demons go not out of their victim until the Lord gave them permission to enter the herd of swine.
It is clear from Scripture, then, that the angels, good and evil, are tinder God’s control, and willingly or unwillingly carry out God’s purpose. Yea, Satan himself is absolutely subject to God’s control. When arraigned in Eden, he listened to the awful sentence, but answered not a word. He was unable to touch Job until God granted him leave. So, too, he had to gain our Lord’s consent before he could "sift" Peter. When Christ commanded him to depart— "Get thee hence, Satan"—we read, "Then the Devil leaveth Him" (Matt. 4:11). And, in the end, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which has been prepared for him and his angels.
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over the brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself. No revolving world, no shining of star, no storm, no creature moves, no actions of men, no errands of angels, no deeds of Devil—nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation for faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.
"Ten thousand ages ere the skies
Were into motion brought;
All the long years and worlds to come,
Stood present to His thought:
But’s found in His decrees,
He raises monarchs to their thrones
And sinks as He may please."