There are a few doctrinal subjects which are meant to unify the Body of Christ but which the Enemy has used to divide us. The gifts of the Spirit come to mind. The Second Coming is another. Here’s another one: sovereignty. I think it’s a real tragedy—in a tragic reversal of Joseph’s declaration—that something that our Lord meant for good has been used by the Enemy for our confusion and detriment.
Before we get to the issue of sovereignty, what else does today’s passage tell us about him?
• There’s no one like him. You’ve heard the phrase “one of a kind”? Most of the time, it’s overused, but not here. There has never been anyone like him, and there never will be anyone like him ever again.
Can I make a quick side note here? This is in direct contradiction with the teaching of the Mormon Church (which they don’t mention on their TV commercials or when talking to prospective converts). They completely deny that God is unchanging and that there’s only one of him: “As God once was, man is. As God is, man will one day be.”
• He’s the only Savior. When someone tells you, “There are many paths to God,” that’s a half-truth. There are many, many, many paths to the one Savior. But if you’re looking for a Savior, there’s only one game in town.
Let me say one quick comment on that. If you aren’t worshiping the one true God, the God of the Bible, then in the end it really doesn’t matter what you’re worshiping in his stead. If you’re worshiping a false god, then what difference does it make what that false god is?
Now we come to the issue of sovereignty. For anyone who’s been reading this for a while, my apologies for repeating myself. For anyone just joining us, you should know that I like to define my terms, simply and clearly. What do we mean by the word? Simply put, God is in charge of everything, seen and unseen. As the last verse says, if he decides to do something, that’s it. No one can come along behind him and “deliver” out of his hand or reverse what he’s done. He’s accountable to no one, and everyone is accountable to him.
The problem starts when we try to define exactly how that works out in our lives. If someone places faith in Christ and is saved, was it ultimately because of that person’s choice or God’s? That’s the historical dividing line between a lot of Christians and churches.
But like I said, this glorious truth was never meant to be a topic of theological debate. That’s not the point, and it never has been. Well, what is the point? Why does God emphasize this truth so much in his word?
I think the reason can be discerned by looking at the last 27 chapters of Isaiah. Remember, the focus of the last third of his book (like the Bible itself) mainly focuses on Good News. The prophet spent 39 chapters focusing on judgment and God’s wrath and their utter failure to live up to his standards. He predicted over and over and over that the Lord's righteous anger would fall—ultimately in the form of invasion and exile by Babylon. But the last 27 chapters are addressed to the people in the middle of their exile. God’s wrath has come, and now he (through his servant) wants to give them a message of hope and security.
That’s what sovereignty is supposed to evoke within me: An assurance that God is in control. Not Fate. Not Chance. Not Karma. Not even an abstract idea of “God” who sits up in Heaven and who moves people and nations around like pieces on a chess board.
This is my Father who’s in charge of everything. My loving, compassionate, patient and forgiving Father. This is the One who sits on the Throne over the universe.
Aren’t you glad?
Father God, you are in charge. When I look at all the craziness in the world and all the evil that seemingly forever cries out for justice, I need to remember that one simple fact. Please help.