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TEXT: Proverbs 16:32

SUBJECT: God is Sovereign #7: Over Himself

Here's a name you don't hear every day: Ahasuerus. Do you know who he is? He was the king of Persia in the Sixth Century BC, and also the husband of Queen Esther, who, along with her relative, Mordecai, saved the Jews from annihilation.

What kind of man was Ahasuerus? If all you knew about him was what the opening verse of Esther said, you'd think he was the mightiest man in the Ancient World. There he is introduced to us as not 'some other Ahasuerus', but-

The Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over one hundred-twenty seven provinces.

If you look at a map, you'll see that even by today's standards, he ruled over a huge Empire; in fact, the largest Empire the world had ever known up until that time. Ahasuerus, therefore, was a very, very powerful man. That's the testimony of Esther 1:1.

But, when you go on to read the rest of the book, you'll see this very powerful king wasn't so powerful after all. He ruled an Empire-the Bible says-but he couldn't rule himself. He couldn't rule himself.

While he should have been sober and calm and principled, he was, in fact, drunk, angry, and impulsive. So, back to the original question: What kind of man was Ahasuerus? Was he a strong man or a weak man? A sovereign or a slave?

Proverbs 16:32 leaves no doubt as to what kind of man he was. Let's re-read it-

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,

And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

When it comes to 'taking cities' the king was the mightiest man in the world. But when it came to 'ruling his own spirit' he was a weakling. And the Proverb says it is self-control-not the control of other people-that determines one's strength or weakness. Ahasuerus, therefore, was a weak man, a slave to his own silly desires.

This brings us to the topic for today, which is the Sovereignty of God. Over the last few weeks, I've tried to show that God is Sovereign, that He is in control of all things, from galaxies to grains of sand, angels to demons, and every man, woman or child in the world. In the most unqualified sense of the words, He--

Works all things after the counsel of His will.

This means the Lord controls not only all of His creatures, but also their Creator; in other words, God is Sovereign over Himself.

THE MEANING

Over the years, I've read a fair number of books on the Sovereignty of God, and to the best of my knowledge, not one of them has said anything about His Self-Control.

And so, what is it? When applied to us, we know very well what it is. In a general sense, it is doing what you intend to do. I don't know anyone who intends to overeat, but many of us do. Because we lack self-control. Applied to eating, therefore, self-control would be eating only what you intend to eat-and nothing else.

Morally, self-control means doing the right thing, even when it's costly or dangerous. Here I think of 'whistle blowers', turning in powerful persons or corporations or government agencies, even when threatened with being fired or jailed or even killed. This is moral self-control.

Spiritually, Self-control means Doing what God wants you to do, even when doing it is very hard. Here, I think of the Three Hebrew Children who preferred a fiery furnace to bowing to the king's Golden Image.

Which form of Self-Control does God practice? All of them, of course, always and perfectly. He does everything He intends to do, and everything He intends to do is both morally and spiritually right. What was said of our Lord Jesus Christ is equally true of the Father and the Holy Spirit-

He has done all things well.

THE PROOF

If this is what Self-Control is, is it true of God? Does He ever do anything He does not intend to do? And if not, are all of His intentions good?

The second question is easy to answer: All of God's intentions are good. We know this because God is good-not good 'most of the time' or good 'in most areas', or 'good as far as He goes' but infinitely and eternally good. Two Psalms suggest its length (in time) and breadth (in space), Psalms 52:1; 33:5-

The goodness of God endures continually.

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

The other question is (almost) as easy to answer. Does God do everything He intends to do-and its obverse: Does He ever do anything He does not intend to do? Here, again, the Bible could not be clearer, Isaiah 46:10; Psalm 33:11-

My counsel shall stand and I shall do all my pleasure.

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,

the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

God does everything He intends to do, and He never does what He does not intend to do. This is why the Bible says things such as-

God cannot lie.

The Lord does not repent.

He cannot deny Himself.

The Lord your God, He is the faithful God.

The Lord never acts inconsistently with His own character. Unlike you and me, He is always Himself and always 'at His best'. He never forgets; He never grows weary; He never falls asleep; He never has 'a bad day', Malachi 3:6-

I am the Lord, I change not.

THE IMAGE

This is what the Bible teaches about God in general; in other words, what it says about the Trinity. But two of the Three Divine Persons are less well known to us than the other One. God is most clearly and fully known in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, especially when He dwelt among us. Jesus Himself says, John 14:9-

Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.

Paul knows the testimony, of course, and builds on it, calling Jesus, Colossians 1:15-

The Image of the Invisible God.

Consequently, if God is truly sovereign over Himself, you'd expect to see the same Self-Control in His Son. Which we do.

When He lived on earth, our Lord Jesus had the same emotions and physical needs that we do. At times, He was hungry, tired, angry, disappointed, and scared. But never did He allow such things to cause Him to sin.

When He was nearly dead with hunger, the devil urged Him to turn stones into bread. He didn't, choosing instead to-

Live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

When He was tired, it would have been easier to turn His back on people, get rid of them till He had had a good night's sleep. But He didn't, allowing one needy person after another to cut in on His private time and keep Him busy when His body and mind were shot. See Mark 1.

When disappointed with His disciples, He overlooked their faults or corrected them, but He didn't whine or feel sorry for Himself and He didn't cut them off or turn a cold shoulder to them!

When scared, He prayed-

Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.

Even His anger was always kept without bounds. At times, He got mad at His disciples and bawled out Peter, and of course, He overturned the tables in the Temple and drove out the livestock. Was His anger justified?

The disciples saw His Temple cleansing-not as an example of a man losing self-control-but as proof that He was the King-

Zeal for your house has eaten me up.

As for speaking sharply to the disciples, this is not wrong; in fact, the Bible tells us to do it at times, Proverbs 27:6-

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,

But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

In summary: Since Jesus is both God Himself and also God's fullest revelation to us, then His character will be identical to God's. And, if He was in complete control of Himself, God is Sovereign over Himself.

THE VALUE

If the sovereignty of God over created things brings us much comfort, His sovereignty over Himself brings us far more. If God fully and forever controls Himself, two things necessarily follow:

Firstly, His people are going to Heaven! There's nothing we can do to forfeit His love or make Him give up on us. Sometimes even the best couples split up, but Christ will never divorce His Bride! We are His and He is ours-forever!

Secondly, we can trust His Word. My late father was the most reliable man I ever knew. In our fifty-plus years together, I don't ever recall him lying to me. But even he forgot once in a while, and sometimes when he didn't forget, he couldn't do what he said, and now, of course, he can't do anything for me.

My father on earth was a wonderfully trustworthy man! But our Father in Heaven is perfectly trustworthy. He never lies-and cannot lie! He never forgets His Word to us and He never fails to back it up when we trust it. Best of all, God never dies!

God is sovereign over everything. Even Himself!

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