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TEXT: Psalm 148:1-14
SUBJECT: God is Sovereign #3: Non-Human Creation
God is in control of all things. The Bible plainly teaches this, and while many Christians say they don't believe it, their actions belie their words every time they bow their heads to pray. In a lifetime of hearing other people pray, I have never heard anyone say, 'Lord, if you can do such-and-such, please do it'. All Christians know that there's nothing God cannot do if He wants to do it. This is another way of saying, 'God is in control of all things'. Or, as the title of this series has it, 'God is Sovereign'.
To be 'sovereign' means 'to rule'-not to reign as a figurehead king-but to actually rule, to control, to have His way, not sometimes and in some place, but all the time in all places. This includes the human world, of course, and we'll get to that presently, but for today, we'll explore God's sovereignty over the non-human parts of His creation.
If this sounds somewhat academic, believe me, it isn't. The world is full of superhuman powers, powers that can easily destroy you-either quietly, as cancer eats away at your pancreas, or with the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb.
Gravity kills people every day as they slip in the bathtub. Momentum kills people when their cars hit embankments. Water drowns people, fire burns people to death, smoke suffocates them, and our arteries are filling up with plaque as I speak. These are all non-human powers, and every one of them threatens each of us and the whole human race.
And then there's another non-human power. Have you guessed which one I'm thinking of? It's not a natural power, like an avalanche or a virus, but it's every bit as deadly; more deadly, in fact. I mean demonic powers. When looking at the world, I have a grain of respect for atheists. But when they tell me they don't believe in the devil, I cannot take them seriously! Evil is real, and while it is connected to human will, it is not limited to it. Talk to a drug addict, and he'll tell you that something's got a hold of him! Something outside of himself is exerting a hateful and destructive power over him. The Bible calls this 'something' the devil and his angels.
Like earthquakes and bacteria, they endanger our lives every day, but unlike the evils of nature, their evil is intentional, purposeful. The devil and his servants are really trying to corrupt and stop the work of God in the world and in your soul and mine. Is God sovereign over them? That's something worth knowing!
So, let's get to it: God is Sovereign over Non-Human Creation.
OVER NATURE IN THE BEGINNING
Many verses could be cited to this effect, but if you'd rather not range all over the Bible, the first page or two of Genesis will do. This is typically called the Creation Week, and I've no quarrel with that title, but with equal justice, you might call it the first week of God's Sovereignty. Not that He became stronger that first week, but this was the first time He exercised it over the heavens and the earth.
In Genesis 1:1, we find Him ruling nothing-by which I do not mean 'not ruling', but ruling the nothing that was before there was something. Christians have always affirmed our belief in-
Creatio ex nihilo.
That is, God created everything out of nothing. To do this, of course, means He rules the nothing.
In the verses that follow, we see Him arranging all He made in the beginning. Starting with (a) light and darkness.
Then, (b) separating the sky from the earth, (c) the seas and dry land, (d) vegetation, (e) sun, moon, and stars, (f) birds, (g) fish, (h) mammals, great and small, and finally (I) humans, male and female.
Two things stand out in the passage: (a) Unlike the gods of pagan mythology, God did not have to struggle with the elements to make something out of them, and (b) He did His work through His Word (as a King would see that His will was done by commanding his servants).
And so, from the first page in the Bible, we find God is the King and nature is His servant, whether it's a blade of grass, a blue whale, Mount Everest, or the Pacific Ocean. The dry land doesn't argue with God: It obeys Him. The sun and moon don't switch places, but stay at the posts God assigned them.
OVER NATURE EVER SINCE
If God ruled nature in the beginning, He has not relaxed that rule. At the Exodus, He controlled light and darkness, with His cloud being light to the Jews and darkness to the Egyptians (cf. Exodus 14:20). At the Flood, He controlled the waters above and below (cf. Genesis 6:17).
In the days of Jonah, He controlled the seas and whales (cf. Jonah 1-2). In the days of Joshua, the sun and moon stood still at His command (cf. Joshua 12:10). As for the stars? One of them directed the Magi to worship the King of the Jews (cf. Matthew 2:2). Birds? The ravens fed Elijah (cf. I Kings 17:6). Mammals? Balaam's ass, the mice that plagued the Philistine and Behemoth--whatever that is! (cf. Numbers 22:23, I Samuel 6:4, Job 40:15).
God's creation of all things is followed up by His Providence, or ongoing rule of everything He created, Psalm 103:19-
The Lord has established His throne in Heaven and His Kingdom rules over all.
If all we had in the Bible was the Creation Week, we might think God stopped ruling on the Sabbath, either forever, or for that one day, or possibly one day out of every seven. But Jesus says otherwise, John 5:17-
My Father has worked hitherto and I work.
After Six Days, God stopped creating, but He has not stopped ruling, providing, directing, restraining, and so on. If He did, the world would come apart, for Paul says, in Christ, Colossians 1:17-
All things hold together.
I haven't mentioned sickness yet, because it wasn't part of God's creation. Whether He created viruses, but also gave Adam and Eve an immunity from them, or if they are somehow the twisted offspring of some good and healthful thing He did make, I cannot say. But I can say this: God is sovereign over disease. We see this, in two places in particular:
He inflicted diseases on the Egyptians. When Christ came, He healed all kinds of sicknesses and handicaps, from blindness to speech impediments, leprosy, epilepsy, paralysis, you name it, He healed it! This is why He called Himself, Yahweh Rapha-
The Lord who heals you.
THE PRACTICAL VALUE
A few minutes ago, I mentioned the practical value of this doctrine, and it bears repeating and applying. The Lord is in control of all non-human things, from the AIDS virus to Category Five hurricane.
This means we don't have to live in fear of them. Should we respect the powers of the world? Of course we should. If it's wrong to jump off the Temple Roof because God promises to protect you, it's wrong to be reckless about swimming in a rip tide of lying in the sun too long.
But, if we should respect the dangerous powers of the world, we should not live in terror of them. Many people do. I worry far too much about cancer; others worry about the ozone layer or acid rain, and so on. Make no mistake about it: These things can kill us! Tennyson was right: Nature is-
Red in tooth and claw.
We can face the risks with courage and hope. Everything that comes our way first passes through the loving hands of our Heavenly Father. Including cancer cells. And high blood sugar. And peanut allergies.
If not a sparrow falls without our Father, we don't fall without Him either. We can trust Him in life, in sickness, in times of natural disaster, and in death. Because He loves us and proved that love by sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS
If God is sovereign over all natural things, He is also sovereign over supernatural things, and in particular, the devil and his angels.
The devil is real and is really evil and is set against us and our salvation. If God wanted to, He could step on him at any moment and he would never bother us again. He does want to do this, but not yet.
In the meantime, the Lord allows Satan to tempt us only so far, and not an inch farther. But this is not all God does, limit the devil's power. He also counteracts it by the Gift of the Holy Spirit (who wars against the devil), the Gift of His Word (by which we are made aware of his 'devices'), by the Church (as brothers and sisters support us in times of temptation), and by His cheering promise, that one day our temptations will be no more, and when the devil is finally and forever defeated, God will wipe away every tear.
This means we ought to respect the devil's power and cunning. But not live in terror of it either. Because-
Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.
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