And Joshua said, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!” Joshua 7:7
Look up the word sovereign and you are apt to find a definition such as this: “Sovereign: A British coin. See Pound Sterling.” The definition continues, “The name sovereign was first applied to kings. Everyone in a kingdom was a subject of the king. The king himself was usually sovereign, which means subject to no one.”
But this definition omits an important fact: God was considered sovereign long before any king ever considered himself to be subject to no human being whatsoever. For centuries British kings acknowledged that they, being human, were subject to the Almighty—something which some politicians have never learned. But the issue to focus on is this: Is God Himself sovereign? To whom does He answer and give an account? And if God is sovereign, how does this affect our lives?
After considering the issue for almost 70 years, Bible teacher, Guy Duffield wrote, “Life is largely a problem of orientation—getting things in their proper place in relation to everything else. If we get God in His rightful place in our life everything else will fall into proper position…. Thus,” he said, “if we get God fixed, all else will find its rightful place.”
If God is really sovereign, it means that He answers to no one, He does anything He pleases, and that He rules according to His will. This, of course, would be a pretty scary premise if God were an unjust dictator, one who rewards or damns at the whim of an emotional roller-coaster. Some, reading only parts of the Old Testament without an understanding of the context, see God just like that. No wonder they prefer to ignore his sovereignty.
If God is really sovereign, there are some binding consequences as far as our relationship to Him is concerned. If He is sovereign, then I am His subject. If He is fully in control, then what I think about Him is not nearly as important as what He thinks about me. The bottom line: Simple obedience is not only a requisite, but an absolute necessity.
It is little wonder that many prefer to never think about God’s sovereignty or consider their relationship to Him. For those who have never learned something of His nature—His mercy, His kindness, His grace and goodness, thinking of God as one who is absolutely in control of our destinies is disconcerting. Then, too, standing between people and a sovereign God results in a lot of misunderstanding for many. “Where is God when people suffer?” they ask, or “Why didn’t God do something when my baby needed help?” Most of the questions which form a dark cloud obscuring the sovereignty of God are issues which, should God explain them to us, are completely beyond our understanding.
The real issue that separates us from the grand and comforting truth of God being in control, is that we are fearful of losing control. We want to hold onto the notion that we are masters of our fate and that we are at the helm of the ship called destiny. This, of course, is a sad illusion. The flip side is that when we acknowledge our dependence upon a loving and mighty God, we then enter into a parent/child relationship, and God’s care becomes personal and intimate.
Understanding more of the nature and character of God—the real thing described in the Bible, not the misunderstood counterfeit offered by some religions--is the key to knowing God; and when you really know Him, you will grasp His great love for you. You will respond in love to Him, and when you love Him, your fears will dissipate. Give God the rightful place in your life and all else will find its rightful place.
Resource reading: Ephesians 1:1-14