GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY EXTENDS FROM THE HIGHEST AND THE GREATEST EVENT OR PERSON TO THE SMALLEST AND LEAST SIGNIFICANT
When parents of troubled teens come for counseling they are often surprised by the amount of work I require them to do to strengthen their own relationship. I usually motivate them by sharing that if their teen sees them working hard on their materials, he has no excuse for not doing the same. If the work is necessary for the greater in experience and authority (in this case, parents) how much more so for the lesser in experience and authroity (teenager). We have heard the same type of argument about the absolute necessity for prayer when it is stated that Jesus spent time in prayer. if the greater (Son of God) needs to pray, how much more do we? The same argument can be made in regard to God’s sovereignty. If God is sovereign over the greater — the severest evil conditions, the most powerful men, and over time and space, then He certainly is sovereign over the lesser — believers and their circumstances. The question then must be answered, can we prove the extent of God’s sovereignty?
I. GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IS CLEARLY TAUGHT IN THE SCRIPTURE
A. God’s Sovereignty is Clearly Taught in the Old Testament (Ps. 105)
B. God’s Sovereignty is Clearly Taught in the New Testament (Rom. 8:28)
Ephesians 1:11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
– “counsel” = plan, schme, program (not just God’s desire); very strong word
– “will” = desire or volition
Sovereignty defined: God is number 1.
II. GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IS CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED IN THE SCRIPTURE
A. God’s Sovereignty is Demonstrated in the Old Testament — Gen. 37 (life of Joseph); Daniel 1-4
B. God’s Sovereignty is Demonstrated in the New Testament —
The Birth of Christ (Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 2:1-20) — (focused on this area since this was a Christmas message)
1. God is sovereign over the world’s evil conditions at the time of Christ’s birth.
The birth of Christ took place in the midst of political, social and religious darkness.
The political situation in Palestine was dominated by the Herod dynasty which by any standard was a corrupt and violent era. Politically, it was not an effective time for the birth of Christ to occur. Herod’s evil reign was coming to an end and he was very paranoid about any mention of another “king” — so paranoid was he that he previously murdered his wife and two sons in his jealous insecurity. If there ever was an inappropriate time politically for the birth of Christ to occur, it was during Herod’s evil regime. This guy was so morally corrupt that Josephus in his secular history of Herod doesn’t even mention his order to kill the babies in Bethlehem because in contrast to his other catalogued acts this hideous event was relatively insignificant.
Social and Religious darkness:
Socially, the atmosphere for a radical new “movement” was poisonous. The Jewish leaders had their own thing going and wanted no interference from outsiders — especially those claiming to represent the Messiah. They were the ones to determine who was or wasn’t the Messiah. Consequently, religiously the atmosphere was hostile to Christianity — especially when a new movement would try to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies literally in obvious contradiction to the interpretation of the Jewish leaders. There was so much hostility on the part of the Pharisees and Scribes that they not only tried on several occasions to kill Christ, but finally attributed His miracles and teachings to Satan.
The hostile environment surrounding Christ’s birth actually fulfilled God’s holy purposes.
a. by showing the stark contrast betweeen the teachings of the Pharisees and those of Christ and His followers. In Matt. 5 Christ in His Sermon on the Mount clearly contrasted the differences between His teachings and the Pharisees’ system of religion. The times were dark but such a condition was a valuable backdrop for the unveiling of the Son of Man. As a diamond’s brilliance is better contrasted by a black felt background, so the evil conditions: morally, socially, and religiously all provided an ample contrast for the wonderful sovereign working of our God at Christ’s birth.
b. by utilizing man’s sinful condition to fulfill the will and purpose of God to sacrifice His Son on the cross. Since evil men were prepared to perform such an incredible act (killing the Son of God), God used man’s evil condition to accomplish His sovereign will (Acts 2:23). The wrath of man does not intimidate God, nor in any way frustrate the accomplisment of His sovereign purposes.
So, as God easily controlled man’s sinful and hostile condition at Christ’s birth, so he does the same today in our lives. Perhaps you are presently living within an evil situation. Perhaps, for instance, you are married to an unsaved person who is hostile to your Christianity, yet wants to remain with you as your mate. This adverse situation must be accepted as the will of God but is certainly not outside of God’s ability to fully control. Perhaps you are a teenager living with unsaved or carnal parents who do not share your spiritual desires, goal, or maturity in Christ. Certainly God does not want you to abandon your God-given authority because the situation is evil or unpleasant. God in his sovereignty will use the apparently harmful situation for your good and His glory as you faithfully implement His word. Perhaps you work in a hostile setting. God is in control of the conditions you face too.
(1) God ordains evil situations to accomplish His will; we must persist in following biblical principles in the midst of such conditions. Evil conditions should not discourage us from applying God’s Word.
(2) God will not allow an evil situation to cause more problems or pressure than we can spiritually bear. 1 Cor. 10:13.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
Doesn’t it stand to reason that if God has total control over extremely evil conditions (as illustrated at the birth of Christ) that He also has total control over the lesser evil conditions — that we face?
SOMETHING TO DO:
What evil conditions do you face? List them, then get on your knees with the list and thank God that He has sovereign and easy control over those conditions. After you have earnestly given thanks, list the positive aspects “hidden” within your pressurized situations.
2. God is sovereign over the designs and purposes of the most powerful of evil men (Matt. 2:1-18)
Magi arrive in Jerusalem
Matthew records that the Magi arrived in Jerusalem asking “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” This is all that Herod needed! Matthew continues that when Herod heard these things that he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him — whenever Herod was troubled everybody was troubled because they did not know what evil he would do next. (Herod was very insecure and jealous.)
Herod was extremely sinister — so much so that the slaughter in Bethlehem was not even mentioned by Josephus in cataloguing Herod’s crimes. Henry Alford summarizes Herod’s wicked character by saying:
“He sought to strengthen his throne by a series of cruelties and slaughters, putting to death even his wife Marianne, and his sons Alexander and Aristobulus. His cruelties, and his affection of the Gentile customs, gained for him a hatred among the Jews, which neither his magnificent rebuilding of the temple, nor his liberality in other public works, nor his provident care of the people during a severe famine, could mitigate. He died miserably, five days after he put to death his son Antipater, in the seventieth year of his age, the thirty-eighth of his reign, and the 750th year of Rome.”
Magi meet Herod
While Magi must have heard some of these reports, they believed and trusted Herod’s boldfaced lie. When they left Herod, they obviously felt that he was a fellow comrade in their search for the newborn king. (Even Gentiles knew that Jewish people wre looking for a king and that a great birth was going to take place.)
Magi follow the star to Bethlehem
Again seeing the star, they followed it to Bethlehem where they found Jesus and worshipped Him. No doubt they were prepared to return to Herod and tell him the good news when God warned them in a dream not to return to Herod (Matt. 1:12).
God reveals Herod’s real motive to the Magi
God in his sovereignty bypassed the king’s word and evidently the Magi were more impressed with following the advice of the dream from the Almighty God than obeying Herod! Herod’s “secret” plan was an open secret to God. The light and the darkness are both alike to Him.
— “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Prov. 21:1.
— “O God, thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from thee.” Psalm 69:5.
— “He revealeth the deep and the secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness and the light dwelleth with him.” Daniel 2:22.
When we are alone we glorify God the most — only God knows the secret, deep things of our heart.
He felt he was mocked and had been made a fool of by the Magi. God not only sovereignly diverted the Magi from Herod but also removed his Son from Herod’s subsequent evil revenge. Matthew 2:16 states: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceedingly angry and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem and in all its borders, from two years old and under …” Herod made sure that he gave himself enough margin in territory and in age to snare the young king in his evil net, and he would have if God had not warned Joseph of Herod’s intention even before it happened. Psalm 139:4 says “for there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.”
God warns Joseph to flee
Joseph didn’t know Herod’s intentions. Herod’s intentions and plans although hidden from the Magi and from men were not hidden from God. According to Matthew 2:13 “an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.'”
No power on earth can thwart God’s will. No evil plan regardless how secret and how devious can thwart God’s will. No person can hinder God’s plans and purposes from being fulfilled.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
Doesn’t it stand to reason that if God has total control over the most powerful of evil men that he also has control over the evil men of lesser power we face?
SOMETHING TO DO:
What individuals (especially evil people) in your life seem to have final control over your destiny? List them. How has God used them to develop your spiritual life?
3. God is sovereign in His Word regardless of the time lapse or apparent contradiction of human circumstances.
Circumstances that fulfilled specific Old Testament prophecies about the birth of Christ.
These particular prophetic circumstances clearly demonstrate God’s ultimate sovereignty in that they had to be specifically fulfilled as prophecied in the Old Testament.
 The virgin birth predicted in the Old Testament
Isaiah 7:14 — “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This prophecy was uttered by Isaiah under divine inspiration some 800 years before the birth of Christ. This prophecy was obviously supernatural in origin and execution.
When the angel appeared to Joseph who was troubled by Mary’s pregnancy, he was “minded to put her away privately; But while he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’ … Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying, ‘Behold the virgin shall be with child …'”
 Christ’s birthday prophecied in the Old Testament.
Micah 5:2 “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of these shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
Joseph was living at Nazareth in Galilee while Mary was pregnant but as her time drew near, they were constrained to go to Bethlehem to register under the decree of Caesar Augustus. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth fulfilliing accurately the prophecy of Micah uttered hundreds of years prior to the event. Did not God arrange the circumstances of a great empire to accomplish His holy will?
 Murder of the children in Bethlehem prophecied in the Old Testament.
Jeremiah 31:15 “Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.”
Matthew 2:17 “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah, the prophet, saying … ” clearly indicates that this text was literally fulfilled when Herod slew the children of Bethlehem. The reason that Rachel is mentioned is because she is considered the mother of Israel and she was buried very near Bethlehem. The remark is a poetic way of saying that all the mothers weeped for their children during that horrible event.
 Flight into Egypt prophecied in the Old Testament.
Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
Matthew (2:19) records that when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord again appeared unto Joseph saying “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel.” Hosea’s words were accurately fulfilled 700 years later!
 Christ’s hometown prophecied in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 11:1 “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” (There is no other specific OT verse, so this must be the passage.) The Hebrew word for rod is “nezer” from which the word Nazarene was evidently derived.
After the flight to Egypt from Bethlehem, Matthew indicates (2:23) that “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
These specific prophecies were spoken 700-800 years before the birth of Chrit relative to the exact birthplace, boyhood home, mode of birth, and routes of travel. They cannot be coincidence, chance, or luck. It must be the hand of an Almighty God manipulating circumstances to accomplish His ordained word. Will not God continue to honor His word today?
SOMETHING TO DO:
As you read your daily Scripture, record specific promises God makes to you. Memorize them and believe them as you do the narratives of the birth of Christ or passages about salvation. God will honor His Word.
4. God’s sovereignty is demonstrated in the fact that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways.
This concept is clearly demonstrated in the events of the story of Christ’s birth. The following are some suggested areas of difference between how God ordained to send His Son and how differently man would plan and execute the same event.
 What man would do: Totally avoid the Gentile world.
What God did: Announce to the Gential world through the star.
 What man would do: Announce the birth only to the elite.
What God did: Announce to Gentiles and Shepherds.
(those sensitive to the signs)
 What man would do: Plan for the king to live in Jerusalem (city of David)
What God did: Ordain Him to live in a despised city in obvious preparation for his minstry to the lowly.
 What man would do: Avoid the humiliation of a virgin birth.
What God did: Virgin birth.
 What man would do: Clean up the evil conditions before Messiah’s birth.
What God did: Totally ignored the human conditions.
 What man would do: Provide a birthplace suitable for a king.
What God did: Provided a situation (manger) befitting our meek, lowly and humble God.
(Apparently, what man thinks is important is not even a factor in God’s way of thinking.)
The birth of Christ clearly demonstrates that God is sovereign over the most evil conditions and hostile environments in the world, over all of the designs and purposes of evil men, in the absolute fulfillment of His holy Word — regardless of circumstances or what man thinks.
If we say we believe this account of the birth of Christ, then we must agree:
1. That God’s sovereignty extends over our lesser evil situation because it extended over greater evil conditions and situations in this account.
2. That God’s sovereignty extends over all people in authority over us because it extended over the highest authority in this account.
3. That God’s sovereignty extends to accomplishing his word regardless of time and space because it was fulfilled in this account (regardless of time and space perspective).
4. That the outworking of God’s sovereignty will differ greatly from man’s wishes and thinking because it did so in this account.