What is the…
Sovereignty of God

What does it mean?

God is the ultimate King of the world; He rules over all in the physical universe and the spiritual world. As the Creator of both, He has the ABSOLUTE RIGHT to do all things according to His own good pleasure.

…I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,

“For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

…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…” —Romans 9:15-23 NASB

The Creator and King of the universe—and Heaven and Hell—has the full right to do—or allow—whatever He chooses, no question—no matter what our human opinions may be. As fallible humans, we are certainly in no position to judge the infallible God. Only He knows the big picture; He knows ALL—past, present and future.

In comparison, mankind knows very little, is wicked and very prone to error, confusion, and foolish pride—operating with fallen minds.

People tend to forget that even the most brilliant and knowledgable genius knows only an extremely tiny percentage of all there is to know. Even all combined human knowledge is sorely inadequate when compared the infinite knowledge of our Creator. Humans are bound by time and space, and cannot directly access the past or time travel into the future. Despite modern advancements, mankind knows very little about the future (always uncertain), and generally very little about the past.

Unlike God, we are not omnipresent or omnipotent, and neither are the angels.

The King of kings

“…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings
Lord of lords” —1 Timothy 6:15 NASB

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for
You created all things, and
because of Your will they existed, and were created.” —Revelation 4:11 NASB

A mighty king utterly humbled by the One True King of all

During the time of Daniel, God demonstrated His Sovereignty to the then-greatest king in the world, Nebuchadnezzar. Due to this king’s sins against God and his arrogant pride, he refused to acknowledge God’s true Sovereignty over him—and all. So, God utterly humbled him—but not without a merciful warning—which the king ignored. God’s prophet Daniel spoke to King Nebuchadnezzar this warning—which is a warning to us all.

See: Humility

…O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, that you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and 7 periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.

And as it was commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be confirmed for you from the time that you know that Heaven rules.

Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar's Humiliation

All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar: At the end of 12 months, he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, and the king answered and said,

“Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”

While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven,

“O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and 7 periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”

“Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.” —Daniel 4:24-33 ESV

Nebuchadnezzar—William Blake’s planographic color printing with water color and pen and ink additions to the impression
Artist’s impression of Nebuchadnezzar’s Divine humiliation. The acclaimed great King of the Babylonian empire was humbled, becoming, for a time, a naked, insane beast of the field, deserted by all. Artist: William Blake.

When the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment was complete, he humbly acknowledged truths that one day ALL mankind—past, present and future—will fully understand,

“I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven,
for all his works are right
and his ways are just;
and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
” —Daniel 4:34-37 ESV

Streaming video— 
“Twin Truths: God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility”
John F. MacArthur, Litt.D., D.D., Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary
Video by Grace to You, Copyright © 2020, Grace to You. All rights reserved.
Length: 28½ minutes

Learn more about our Sovereign God

Article Version: May 11, 2019