See now that I, I am He,

And there is no god besides Me;

It is I who put to death and give life.

I have wounded and it is I who heal,

And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

Deuteronomy 32:39

What a hard, awesome statement declaring the absolute sovereignty of God. What a sobering thought, that the Lord has the right to wound me or to heal me, to give me life or to take it away. The Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, abound with such declarations of His absolute rulership over all in the universe. No other doctrine stirs such fear and awe and humility.

Yet how often have people shied away from this Biblical concept of God, concentrating only on His attribute of love, praising only the soft, friendly image of deity. But of course never, ever, is love bad, for “God is love.” Yet He is more than just love; He is the King over all heaven and earth. He is not just the Savior we befriend, but the Sovereign we revere.

Yet many revolt at the idea that God kills or causes suffering. “Would not He in all His all-powerful sovereignty be no better than a murderous tyrant?” they say. And if God were just another human being, puny and corrupt, a being not worthy to destroy what he cannot even create, the objection would be correct.

But God is not a man. And therein lies the chasm of difference extending to infinity. For God in a sense is infinitely higher than man: He is the Creator. Does not the One who makes have a right to do whatever He pleases with His handiwork? This very point upon God’s rightful sovereignty is what Paul stresses in Romans 9:18-23 when discussing why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart:

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to

me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you,

O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you

make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the

same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although

willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience

vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory

upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory . . .

In answering the objection to God’s absolute sovereignty, that man would have no responsibility for his sins, Paul could have used the argument that though man is a slave to sin and cannot help but sin without God’s changing his heart, man loves his wickedness and desires to do it with all his will. Man knows full well that he is transgressing and rebelling against God and His order; and since no one forces man to sin but man loves to sin with all his heart, he is fully responsible for participating in his own pleasure, sin.

But Paul did not use that argument. Instead, Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit replied, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” We do not have a right to question! Who are we but clay pots in the Potter’s hands, made as we are for His own good pleasure? Why should we complain if He makes some ceramics as the pinnacle of His creation and loves them and sets them upon His mantlepiece in glory, while others He fashions to hold the scrapings from the plate? Paul in his reply was not so much concerned with satisfying our need for explanations as he was with setting firm our conviction of the grand, absolute sovereignty of God. He owes no one any blessing or any explanation.

Yet this God, this Fashioner of worlds and heavens and stars and atoms, is infinitely good and infinitely love. This very God enthroned beyond the galaxies came down to earth, was born with the lowing cattle, lived without a place called home to lay His head. How every dust particle must have rejoiced at their Creator’s touch when He walked the roads of Judea! He died agonized and humiliated, the death of a criminal. O, how the sky and the earth mourned with lightning and quaking in that hour, as the Sovereign suffered for mere creatures!

But they are, we are, His creatures, the ones He chose before the foundation of creation to love with everlasting love. How love is praised when one lowly man sacrifices his life for another, but how much more is this love glorified when a King sacrifices His life for the lowliest of His people? When He loses His life for those who hate Him! Some would call it foolishness, but is not the wisdom of God the foolishness of the world? For God in His perfect sovereignty will bring all that He loves, all those of His who hate and despise Him, to faith in Him. Not one can be lost from our sovereign God’s arms until each one enters into glory and worships Him in heaven.

And so, the sovereignty of God glorifies His love. The fact that this awesome God stooped down to love us and suffer to save us makes His love so much everlastingly more incomprehensible in depth and width and breadth! What an ocean of mercy extending to infinity! O, now we can begin to grasp the sheer magnitude of the simple phrase, “God is love!” Now we can know why the Old Testament so stressed the sovereignty and power of God, so that when the New Testament revealed the love of the cross we will fall to the ground and cry and rejoice, “Our Creator came to us! Our holy Judge became our Savior – our Sovereign has become our Friend! Glory be to God in the highest! Glory in His mercy and grace!”

Now we can rest with confidence upon His promise that “all things work together for good for those who love God,” for God in His sovereignty will bring His perfect plan to fruition. If He has granted us disease, goodness is there. If He has granted us persecution, goodness is there. If He has granted us death, goodness is there. All the good and evil of the world He is working to a glorious goal in perfect sovereignty:

No eye has seen,

No ear has heard,

And no mind has imagined

What God has prepared

For those who love Him.

I Corinthians 2:9

May we all glory in the sovereignty of God.