Bring out the people who have eyes but are blind,
who have ears but are deaf.
Gather the nations together!
Assemble the peoples of the world!
Which of their idols has ever foretold such things?
Which can predict what will happen tomorrow?
Where are the witnesses of such predictions?
Who can verify that they spoke the truth?
“But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the Lord.
“You are my servant.
You have been chosen to know me, believe in me,
and understand that I alone am God.
There is no other God—
there never has been, and there never will be.
I, yes I, am the Lord,
and there is no other Savior.
First I predicted your rescue,
then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
says the Lord.
“From eternity to eternity I am God.
No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
No one can undo what I have done.”
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon,
forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
I am the Lord, your Holy One,
Israel’s Creator and King. (New Living Translation)
I am an ordained Minister in a smallish denomination, the Reformed Church in America. This particular Christian tradition has its roots in the magisterial reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin placed a strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God. In other words, all things hinge on God as the supreme Being of the universe. As Creator of all things, God’s actions and inactions are in no way dependent upon us creatures.
I believe in God’s unconditional election of persons to salvation and new life. Maybe that means nothing to you, and to others it means everything. For many folks, it’s just some churchy mumbo-jumbo which is rather irrelevant to the real stuff of the Christian life.
I do not agree. It seems to me to be quite important. The heart of Reformation faith is a focus on God’s sovereignty, majesty, power, and grace. It is God who justifies, and not any human. That means there are no conditions to which God is beholden to act. That is, God works in the world according to divine free will and is not reliant upon anyone or anything to accomplish good purposes and fulfill good promises.
Today’s Old Testament lesson is a soaring view of God’s grace and powerful control. Throughout all eternity God is God. There is none who can thwart the Lord’s plans. God acts freely and mercifully and nothing can cancel out those actions. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. We might jump from finger to finger in our puny attempts at autonomy, but we are not getting out of God’s hand!
For me, this is a balm and a comfort to my soul. Not everything is up to me, as if my action or inaction has cosmic repercussions. As a guy who easily tends toward carrying the world on his shoulders, it is good for me to know that the earth spinning on it’s axis isn’t my job.
It seems to me, the assurance of God’s sovereignty in the world really ought to be a comfort to every believer. God’s decrees will be fulfilled, and there is not one thing any wicked person can do to subvert divine initiatives.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no way we can screw-up God’s purposes. We simply do not have such power. Our great task as believers is to rest secure in God’s will and to therefore place our trust in the One who knows exactly what he is doing in the world.
So, take a few minutes, draw in a few deep breaths, and think on the wonderful truth that God is sovereign. To help you, here is the great opening to the Reformed confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, giving us a glimpse into the majesty of God:
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins
with his precious blood,
and has set me free
from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation.
Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me
of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him. Amen.