SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 13 June 2021
Sermon Text: Isaiah 45:5-13
Sermon Series: “The Sovereignty of God”
I. God made all things at His perfect will
II. God runs all things with complete freedom
Conclusion: How to be content with God’s sovereign creation
Last Friday, Western Australia recorded zero active coronavirus cases for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone in our state seems enjoying a COVID-free life at the present.
While this liberty excites us the W. Australians, we will soon face a completely different kind of ‘liberty,’ an evil of our generation, that is, any individual who wishes to choose to die could legally do that in our state. I’m talking about the ‘voluntary assisted dying’ which will be enacted in WA from 1 July. We’re following the state of Victoria which legalised the same legislation in June 2019. Up until March this year, the record says that a total of 581 Victorians have applied, and up to Dec last year, 328 have died through that Victorian legislation of voluntary assisted dying.
The fact is that VIC and WA are not the only states with this evil, unbiblical law. Canada legalised a similar law in 2016, and, in March this year, Spain joined the other three European nations who had earlier followed the Canadian way. While the COVID-19 virus pandemic is a threat to the residents of the earth, the evil of some man-made laws like this ‘voluntary assisted dying’ draws people farther away from the righteous law of God.
The rationale behind this evil legislation is human freedom and right to keep one’s dignity. The supporters of this law argue that human beings have an absolute sovereignty over one’s own death as over life. So, they say that, as one has a perfect right to choose his/her life, he/she can also choose the way of death.
But this view is based on their complete rejection of the sovereignty of God, and their complete ignorance of mans’ responsibility to the Creator God. As one misunderstands, or lacks in comprehending God’s sovereignty, that person misses what he owes to God, that is, his life and death, and everything in between. God alone is sovereign; and all in mankind are not. God alone has the right over life and death, but not so with all in humanity.
Sadly, not all Christians have fully grasped God’s sovereignty either. As a result, some experience various troubles in their faith and life. For example, a group of protestants claim that God can only see the present in time, not the future, thus, makes His decisions according to what takes place at present. Like watching a soap opera, and expecting what might immediately follow in the story, God observes what is happening now, and decides what to follow next moment in His creation. That’s their view on God’s sovereignty. Despite they view themselves as Christians, they completely reject the teaching of God’s sovereignty – in a word, their God is not sovereign, but subservient. Their rejection, thus, complete lack of understanding of God’s sovereignty has pushed themselves to the very edge, if not completely outside, of the widespread spectrum of modern-day Christianity.
A group of Christians are milder, and only partially limit God’s sovereignty. These people say that man has freedom of accepting or rejecting God, thus, claim that, although God is sovereign, He cannot mar or impair human freedom. The basis of this view is incomplete understanding of God’s sovereignty.
Like these examples show, the unbeliever’s rejection of this truth will surely cause a deep chaos in the world and, among Christians who misunderstand this truth, insufficient confidence of their salvation in the Lord, thus, incomplete peace or joy in their daily life. In this way, understanding God’s sovereignty is so important and urgent matter for all people, for both Christians and non-Christians.
Having said, let me remind you of the definition of God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty means, ‘He is independent, He is not under another’s authority or power; He is not responsible to anyone or anything, but He alone is the Ruler of all that is; in His sovereignty, God governs and exercises supreme, permanent authority over all according to His goodness and righteousness.
I sincerely pray that today’s message may help you meditate on the word of God and learn deeply about God’s sovereignty. And today, we’ll consider this subject in terms of His creation of all things and running of all things. Lord willing, next week, we’ll continue looking into this subject of God’s sovereignty in terms of God’s choice or election.
I. GOD MADE ALL THINGS AT HIS PERFECT WILL
The first point to consider today is God’s act of creation as the ultimate foundation of His sovereignty. Because He made all beings and things of the world, He alone is sovereign – in other words, He alone is independent, above all things, not being responsible to anyone else.
This is the basis of why there is only one God, and there must be one God, no other. Gen. 1:1 declares this fact. He alone is the Creator of all things, and therefore, He alone is God and sovereign. God declares the same in Isa. 45:7, “I form light and create darkness,” and again in v. 12, “I made the earth and created man on it; it was My hand that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” God stands above all He created, and He alone did it and none has assisted or taken part in His work. So, repeating this truth again in vs. 5 and 6 is not at all cumbersome, and God says, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.”
Here comes in the picture of the potter and a pot as used in v. 9 of our text passage. The same is also mentioned in Rom. 9. The potter uses his hands and forms a clay pot. Then, he has a full right over his work of creation. Rom. 9 uses this picture to talk about the right of the potter to choose whatever form he wishes to make out of a lump of clay. But the focus of Isa. 45:9 is slightly different, and it demonstrates the independence – or in another word, sovereignty – of the potter over the clay pot he made. The potter’s right is more than what he wishes to make with a lump of clay; it is the wholeness of ownership, and intention of usage, plus the permanent, unchanging, relationship with his work of creation. I mean, he is eternally the creator of the pot.
Let me take you back to Gen. 1:1, and explain more about the uniqueness of God’s creation, and how His creation in the beginning is the foundation of His eternal and never changing sovereignty. Gen. 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In describing God’s act of creation, a Hebrew word ‘bara’ is used. This is an interesting Hebrew word, because this word is never used for describing an act of any human being but only of God’s creation. Whenever the Bible points out God’s act of creation, ‘bara’ is the word used. The unique usage of this Hebrew word again tells us that God is the Creator of all beings and things, thus, His relationship with all things created never changes. He is above all that exists and, thus, sovereign.
Moreover, because God is good and righteous, perfect in His wisdom and power, He made all things at His perfect will. Hear what the psalmist says about this in Ps. 135, “I know that the LORD is great … Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
Because He has not sold His creation to anybody, His ownership is fully operative and fully effective. This nullifies the claim people make – that is, they claim to be the master of their own life. No! No one is the master of his/her own life – God alone is the Lord who owns life. Moreover, He owns death also, and everything in between. Nothing belongs to any man, because no one is self-existent but born of one’s own parents, who were born of their parents, and so on and on. Then, the beginning of all people is God the Creator who created all things at His perfect will!
II. GOD RUNS ALL THINGS WITH COMPLETE FREEDOM
It seems to be a heavy stuff, doesn’t it? If not, then, not really interesting, I guess. But, stay with me, and consider this second point together – that is, ‘God works or runs all things with complete freedom.’ As He runs all things now, as He has always been, and will always do, He is sovereign, and the whole world runs according to His plan. This is why God is sovereign now, as has been and will always be.
Guess that you throw a cricket ball into the air. What would happen to it? Of course, it would fall down. Everything that goes up comes down, doesn’t it? It’s a never-changing law of nature. When morning comes, the sun rises from the east, and runs across the sky, and sets over the horizon in the west. Never does the sun return to the point it has set the previous day, and rise from there in the west – it always rises from the east – a never-changing law of nature. Every season follows another; the earth spins at the exact rate of rotation, and races around the sun at the exact rate of revolution – it’s the most exact clockwork of the law of nature. Nothing can interfere this law, let alone change it. The whole universe follows a law that is set over them.
This is the work of God, and He talks about it in Isa. 45:7 in these words: “I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” I’ll come back to this word, ‘well-being,’ and see what it means in a minute, but let’s continue and listen to the Lord in v. 8, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness” – of course, shower and rain always come from above, and faithfully following this rule God set over His creation reveals God’s sovereignty, and doing such is ‘raining down righteousness,’ isn’t it? Moreover, in v. 12, God adds and says, “it was My hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.” Since the very moment God commanded all the hosts of the heavens, none has been disobedient, none has altered its course, but followed the Creator’s sovereign command faithfully!
Having said, we need to go back to the word in Isa. 45:7, that is, ‘well-being.’ This word is the transition of a Hebrew word you know well. That is, ‘shalom.’ And ‘shalom’ is what God makes.
I believe you understand this word ‘shalom’ as ‘peace,’ and it is a Hebrew greeting or farewell. But this word has much deeper meaning than that. It is a great strong term for wholeness, completeness, soundness. This is why this word is generally known as ‘peace’ because when everything is whole, when everything is complete and sound, that is ‘peace.’ Simply put, when we think of everything as right, and all is at peace, that is ‘shalom.’ And God made or caused shalom, well-being, peace or prosperity. The whole things in the universe are in completeness, in shalom. And this ‘shalom’ is the work of God and He runs all things.
The Lord does this in His freedom. He runs all in His complete freedom as the sovereign Creator and Ruler. So, all affairs of this world are according to His sovereign will.
Unfortunately, this truth of God’s sovereignty often becomes to many people a shrewd objection to God and Christianity and, to some Christians, a stumbling block and hinderance to their growth in faith. They raise their voices and make statements like, ‘If God is sovereign, how come He causes natural disasters and kill innocent people?’ ‘If God is in control of all things of the world and runs all things in His freedom, it’s unfair for Him to allow wars to take place and sufferings among people.’
But all questions people raise in this sense are missing the point altogether. I mean, before asking such a question, people should acknowledge God’s existence, first; and recognise His sovereignty over all things, second. Once they do, then, their questions should focus on why the sovereign God has to allow natural disasters in the world and why, in His sovereignty, He allowed wars in the past, and does still at present. People’s inquiry should be directed to knowing why the sovereign God who is good and righteous, who is perfect in wisdom and power, who is gracious and loving, has allowed not only wars, but also virus pandemics and diseases and more calamities in this world.
Then, the unbelievers would realise man’s sinfulness, on the one hand, thus, their urgent need of a Saviour. Then, turning their eyes to Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, they would realise the unfathomable grace of the Father who has given His only Son to die on their behalf, and take their penalty on Himself, so that anyone, everyone who comes to Him in repentance and faith will have His life instead, and live forever more in Him! On the other hand, for Christians who have joined the unbelievers and questioned God’s sovereignty, they would throw away their fleshly pride, abandon their worldly reasoning, and prostrate flat on their face before the Lord, and praise the Lord!
CONCLUSION: HOW TO BE CONTENT WITH GOD’S SOVEREIGN CREATION
This leads us to our lesson for today, that is, ‘we should be content with God’s sovereign creation.’ I mean, we should observe all things of the world and find God and His sovereign hand and will. Beginning from ourselves, all of us should be content with how God has made each of us. All of us are different and each of us are unique in many ways.
We must find God’s sovereign creation in each of us according to His perfect will and with His complete freedom. In a word, we’re God’s unique ‘workmanship,’ as Eph. 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We are called to be content with God’s creation.
We must find God’s sovereign plan and wisdom and grace from observing both ourselves, and all in His creation. Nothing of us is accidentally given to us. All things together reveal our Creator’s absolute power and wisdom and unfathomable grace!
This is why we’re not allowed by the Lord to be envious of anything, as being envious means discontentment toward our Maker.
Also, when we observe – or even experience – any natural disaster or calamity or illness, we’re urged by God to be content, instead of complaining, and seek the Lord’s will behind it all. This is because our God ‘plans and carries out His perfect will as He alone knows is best for each of us, as for over all that is in heaven and earth, and He does so without failure or defeat.’
Let us praise our sovereign God who is our Heavenly Father who has given us His eternal blessing through Jesus our Saviour! ***