God Rules

But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
~ Psalm 9:7

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
~ Hebrews 8:1

But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
~ Psalm 115:3

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
~ Ephesians 1:21-22

Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
~ 1 Peter 3:22

God Rules Everything, by Arthur W. Pink. The following contains an excerpt from his work, ‘From The Sovereignty of God”,

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.—Psalm 103:19

God governs inanimate matter. That inanimate matter performs His bidding and fulfils His decrees is clearly shown on the very frontispiece of divine revelation. God said, “Let there be light,” and we read, “There was light” (Gen 1:3). God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so” (1:9). And again, “God said, Let the earth bring forth grass the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so” (1:11). And the Psalmist declares, “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psa 33:9).

What is stated in Genesis 1 is afterwards illustrated all through the Bible. After the creation of Adam, sixteen centuries went by before ever a shower of rain fell upon the earth, for before Noah “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Gen 2:6). But when the iniquities of the antediluvians had come to the full, then God said, “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.” In fulfillment of this we read, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen 6:17; 7:11-12).

Witness God’s absolute (and sovereign) control of inanimate matter in connection with the plagues of Egypt. At His bidding, the light was turned into darkness and rivers into blood; hail fell, and death came down upon the godless land of the Nile, until even its haughty monarch was compelled to cry out for deliverance. Note particularly how the inspired record here emphasizes God’s absolute control over the elements: “And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail” (Exo 9:23-26). The same distinction was observed in connection with the ninth plague: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Exo 10:21-23).

The above examples are by no means isolated cases. At God’s decree, fire and brimstone descended from heaven, the cities of the plain were destroyed, and a fertile valley was converted into a loathsome sea of death. At His bidding, the waters of the Red Sea parted asunder so that the Israelites passed over dry shod, and at His word they rolled back again and destroyed the Egyptians who were pursuing them. A word from Him, and the earth opened her mouth, and Korah and his rebellious company were swallowed up. The furnace of Nebuchadnezzar was heated seven times beyond its normal temperature, and into it three of God’s children were cast; but the fire did not so much as scorch their clothes though it slew the men who cast them into it.

What a demonstration of the Creator’s governmental control over the elements was furnished when He became flesh and tabernacled among men. Behold Him asleep in the boat. A storm arises. The winds roar and the waves are lashed into fury. The disciples who are with Him, fearful lest their little craft should founder, awake their Master, saying, “Carest thou not that we perish?” And then we read, “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mar 4:38-39). Mark again, the sea, at the will of its Creator, bore Him up upon its waves. At a word from Him, the fig tree withered; at His touch disease fled instantly…

What a declaration this is: “He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly. He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow” (Psa 147:15-18). The mutations of the elements are beneath God’s sovereign control. It is God Who withholds the rain; and it is God Who gives the rain when He wills, where He wills, as He wills, and on whom He wills. Weather bureaus may attempt to give forecasts of the weather, but how frequently God mocks their calculations. Sun spots, the varying activities of the planets, the appearing and disappearing of comets (to which abnormal weather is sometimes attributed), atmospheric disturbances, are merely secondary causes, for behind them all is God Himself…

Truly, then, God governs inanimate matter. Earth and air, fire and water, hail and snow, stormy winds and angry seas all perform the word of His power and fulfil His sovereign pleasure. Therefore, when we complain about the weather, we are murmuring against God.

God governs irrational creatures. What a striking illustration of God’s government over the animal kingdom is found in Genesis 2:19. “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (Gen 2:19). Should it be said that this occurred in Eden and took place before the Fall of Adam and the consequent curse that was inflicted on every creature, then our next reference fully meets the objection: God’s control of the beasts was again openly displayed at the Flood. Mark how God caused to “come unto” Noah every species of living creature: “of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee” (Gen 6:19-20)—all were beneath God’s sovereign control. The lion of the jungle, the elephant of the forest, the bear of the polar regions, the ferocious panther, the untamable wolf, the fierce tiger, the high-soaring eagle, and the creeping crocodile—see them all in their native fierceness, and yet, quietly submitting to the will of their Creator, and coming two by two into the ark.

We referred to the plagues sent upon Egypt as illustrating God’s control of inanimate matter; let us now turn to them again to see how they demonstrate His perfect rulership over irrational creatures. At His word, the river brought forth frogs abundantly, and these frogs entered the palace of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants. Contrary to their natural instincts, they entered the beds, the ovens, and the kneading-troughs (Exo 8:3-13). Swarms of flies invaded the land of Egypt, but there were no flies in the land of Goshen. (Exo 8:22). Next, the cattle were stricken, and we read, “Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain. And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel. And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land. And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one” (Exo 9:3-6)…Is further proof required? Then it is ready at hand. God makes a dumb ass to rebuke the prophet’s madness. He sends forth two she-bears from the woods to devour forty and two of Elijah’s tormentors. In fulfillment of His word, He causes the dogs to lick up the blood of the wicked Jezebel. He seals the mouths of Babylon’s lions when Daniel is cast into the den, though later He causes them to devour the prophet’s accusers. He prepares a great fish to swallow the disobedient Jonah and then, when His ordained hour struck, compelled it to vomit him forth on dry land. At His bidding, a fish carries a coin to Peter for tribute money, and to fulfil His word He makes the cock crow twice after Peter’s denial. Thus, we see that God reigns over irrational creatures: beasts of the field, birds of the air, fishes of the sea—all perform His sovereign bidding.

God governs the children of men. We fully appreciate the fact that this is the most difficult part of our subject; and, accordingly, it will be dealt with at greater length in the pages that follow. But at present, we consider the fact of God’s government over men in general before we attempt to deal with the problem in detail.

Two alternatives confront us; and between them, we are obliged to choose: either God governs or He is governed; either God rules or He is ruled; either God has His way or men have theirs. And is our choice between these alternatives hard to make? Shall we say that in man we behold a creature so unruly that he is beyond God’s control? Shall we say that sin has alienated the sinner so far from the thrice Holy One that he is outside the pale of His jurisdiction? Or shall we say that man has been endowed with moral responsibility, and therefore God must leave him entirely free, at least during the period of his probation? Does it necessarily follow because the natural man is an outlaw against heaven, a rebel against the divine government, that God is unable to fulfil His purpose through him? We mean not merely that He may overrule the effects of the actions of evildoers, nor that He will yet bring the wicked to stand before His judgment bar so that sentence of punishment may be passed upon them—multitudes of non-Christians believe these things—but we mean that every action of the most lawless of His subjects is entirely beneath His control, yea that the actor is, though unknown to himself, carrying out the secret decrees of the Most High. Was it not thus with Judas? And is it possible to select a more extreme case? If then the arch-rebel was performing the counsel of God, is it any greater tax upon our faith to believe the same of all rebels?

Our present object is no philosophic inquiry nor metaphysical casuistry, but to ascertain the teaching of Scripture upon this profound theme. “To the law and to the testimony” (Isa 8:20), for there only can we learn of the divine government—its character, its design, its modus operandi, its scope. What, then, has it pleased God to reveal to us in His blessed Word concerning His rule over the works of His hands, and particularly, over the one who originally was made in His own image and likeness?

“In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Act 17:28). What a sweeping assertion is this. These words, be it noted, were addressed, not to one of the churches of God, not to a company of saints who had reached an exalted plane of spirituality, but to a heathen audience, to those who worshipped “the unknown God” and who “mocked” when they heard of the resurrection of the dead (Act 17:23, 32). And yet, to the Athenian philosophers, to the Epicureans and Stoics, the apostle Paul did not hesitate to affirm that they lived and moved and had their being in God, which signified not only that they owed their existence and preservation to the One Who made the world and all things therein, but also that their very actions were encompassed and therefore controlled by the Lord of heaven and earth. Compare Daniel 5:23, last clause.

“The preparations (disposings (margin)) of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD” (Pro 16:1). Mark that the above declaration is of general application—it is of “man,” not simply of believers, that this is predicated. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Pro 16:9). If the Lord directs the steps of a man, is it not proof that he is being controlled or governed by God? Again: “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand” (Pro 19:21). Can this mean anything less than that no matter what man may desire and plan, it is the will of his Maker that is executed?…“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Pro 21:1). What could be more explicit? Out of the heart are “the issues of life” (Pro 4:23), for as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Pro 23:7). If the heart is in the hand of the Lord, and if “he turneth it whithersoever he will,” then is it not clear that men, yea, governors and rulers, and so all men, are completely beneath the governmental control of the Almighty.

No limitations must be placed upon the above declarations. To insist that some men, at least, do thwart God’s will and overturn His counsels is to repudiate other Scriptures equally explicit. Weigh well the following: “But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth” (Job 23:13). “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Psa 33:11). “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD” (Pro 21:30). “For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa 14:27). “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa 46:9-10). There is no ambiguity in these passages. They affirm in the most unequivocal and unqualified terms that it is impossible to bring to naught the purpose of Jehovah…

Ah, the heathen may “rage” and the people imagine a “vain thing”; the kings of earth may “set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD” and against His Christ, saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psa 2:1-3). But is the great God perturbed or disturbed by the rebellion of His puny creatures? No, indeed: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Psa 2:4). He is infinitely exalted above all, and the greatest confederacies of earth’s pawns and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat His purpose are, in His sight, altogether puerile. He looks upon their puny efforts, not only without any alarm, but He “laughs” at their folly. He treats their impotency with “derision.” He knows that He can crush them like moths when He pleases or consume them in a moment with the breath of His mouth. Ah, it is but “a vain thing” for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of heaven. Such is our God; worship ye Him.

Mark, too, the sovereignty that God displayed in His dealings with men. Moses, who was slow of speech, not Aaron his elder brother, who was not slow of speech, was the one chosen to be His ambassador in demanding from Egypt’s monarch the release of His oppressed people. Moses again, though greatly beloved, utters one hasty word and was excluded from Canaan, whereas Elijah passionately murmurs and suffers but a mild rebuke and was afterwards taken to heaven without seeing death. Uzzah merely touched the ark and was instantly slain, whereas the Philistines carried it off in insulting triumph and suffered no immediate harm. Displays of grace that would have brought a doomed Sodom to repentance failed to move a highly privileged Capernaum. Mighty works that would have subdued Tyre and Sidon left the upbraided cities of Galilee under the curse of a rejected gospel. If they would have prevailed over the former, why were they not wrought there? If they proved ineffectual to deliver the latter, then why perform them? What exhibitions are these of the sovereign will of the Most High.

God governs both good and evil angels. The angels are God’s servants, His messengers, His chariots. They ever hearken to the word of His mouth and do His commands…(Many) Scriptures might be cited to show that the angels are in subjection to the will of their Creator and perform His bidding: “And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod” (Act 12:11). “The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done” (Rev 22:6). So it will be when our Lord returns: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Mat 13:41). Again, we read, “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat 24:31).

The same is true of evil spirits: they, too, fulfil God’s sovereign decrees. God sent an evil spirit to stir up rebellion in the camp of Abimelech: “Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem,” which aided him in the killing of his brethren (Jdg 9:23). Another evil spirit He sent to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets: “Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee” (1Ki 22:23). And yet another was sent by the Lord to trouble Saul: “But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him” (1Sa 16:14). So, too, in the New Testament: a whole legion of the demons goes not out of their victim until the Lord gave them permission to enter the herd of swine (Mar 5:9-13).

It is clear from Scripture, then, that the angels, good and evil, are under God’s control and willingly or unwillingly carry out God’s purpose. Yea, Satan himself is absolutely subject to God’s control. When arraigned in Eden, he listened to the awful sentence but answered not a word. He was unable to touch Job until God granted him leave. So, too, he had to gain our Lord’s consent before he could “sift” Peter. When Christ commanded him to depart—“Get thee hence, Satan”—we read, “Then the devil leaveth him” (Mat 4:10-11). And, in the end, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire that has been prepared for him and his angels.

“The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev 19:6). His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over the brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself. No revolving world, no shining of star, no storm, no creature moves, no actions of men, no errands of angels, no deeds of devil—nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is a foundation of faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is “an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Heb 6:19). It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or devil, but the Lord Almighty Who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for His own eternal glory.

What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?” I believe in the everlasting Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who made of nothing heaven and earth with all that are in them, Who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence. This God I believe to be my God and Father for Christ’s sake, and therefore to trust in Him and rely on Him that I do not doubt that He will provide all things necessary both for my soul and body. But also, whatever evils He sends on me in this troublesome life, He will turn out to my safety because He is both able to do it, being God Almighty, and willing to do it, being a bountiful Father.—Hercules Collins

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