God’s Sovereignty over People 2
God’s Sovereignty over People 2
As we continue our discussion on God’s sovereignty over people I want to make it clear that God will never do anything to or for an individual that that individual was not already disposed or inclined to do. This is very important that we understand this point otherwise we would only become robots at God’s bidding. There is a very good example of this in Matthew 23:37 where Jesus laments over the people in Jerusalem. Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Jesus wanted what was best for the people in Jerusalem but they made their own decisions to reject God. We know from John 17:21 that what God wanted was also what Jesus wanted.
There are many examples in God’s word where he demonstrates his sovereignty over people I want to continue that list because each example is a little different.
Isaiah 45:4–5 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, It is not necessary for a person to acknowledge God’s sovereign control in his life or to even acknowledge the existence of God. Neither the Egyptians nor Cyrus had any intention of obeying God’s will. They acted as their hearts were directed by God. God armed them for the work they were to do. God moved people’s hearts to respond to Cyrus’ proclamation.
Ezra 1:5 ….. everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem. Everyone whose heart God had moved prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. God selected the ones he wanted to go to rebuild the temple. Cyrus issued a proclamation. There must still be a response from the Jews. They had been in exile for 70 years. They must decide to leave the safely of their homes and undertake a hazardous journey back to Jerusalem and began the long and difficult task of rebuilding the temple. How did God ensure this would happen? God moved both the heart of the King and the hearts of the people to accomplish His purpose.
Ezra 6:22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the LORD had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. This was a later King, King Darius, so God moved the hearts of two Kings, one to start the project and one to keep the project going. God also moved the hearts of the Jewish people. This was also necessary to get the project started. God does move people to accomplish His purpose.
Another illustration of God’s influence in the heart of the official is found in the life of Daniel. Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with food from the King’s table. Daniel asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself. Daniel 1:9–10 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, 10 and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” This was a very difficult request to make. The chief official was concerned for his life. He granted the request because God had first moved his heart to show favor and sympathy for Daniel. God’s sovereignty had moved the chief official’s heart.
2 Corinthians 8:16–17 But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. Titus’s actions are attributed by Paul to God who put a concern for the Corinthians into Titus’ heart. Titus acted with enthusiasm and on his own initiative. Titus acted freely under the mysterious sovereignty of God. I do not understand how God accomplishes this. But I do trust that He is able to accomplish His sovereignty over people.
This is a very difficult concept to comprehend. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. I have not always understood this correctly. But through adversity and study I now understand that God does exercise His sovereignty over individuals. There are many books out there on adversity and there are many different opinions about how God works in this area of our lives. But after much study and adversity I feel a comfort knowing that God is sovereign over my life.