44. Is God sovereign over every single event that takes place on earth?
To many Christians the idea of God's absolute sovereignty over every event that takes place, no matter how minute, seems laughable. The conception of God as a dignified old gentleman, who only concerns himself with the “big” matters, and would not get his hands dirty in minor affairs, or else as a cosmic “watchmaker,” who wound up the universe and lets it keep on ticking, is common. Others would say that, while God is somehow “sovereign” over everything, he does not actively exercise that sovereignty in directing the actions of men, for to do so would violate the principle of free will, and make people mere robots. But instead of dwelling on these philosophical ideas and objections, we ought instead to examine the scriptures, and see what they have to say on the subject.
Fortunately, the scriptures are very clear on this matter. The bible depicts God as the only and absolute King of the universe, who rules over all, and does everything he pleases (Exo 15:18; 1Ch 29:11-12; 2Ch 20:6; Psa 22:28). And not only is he sovereign in some abstract way, in that he retains the right to govern all events actively according to his will, but chooses not to do so; but he actually and actively ordains and brings to pass everything that takes place on the earth (Deu 32:39; 1Sa 2:6-8; Job 9:12; 12:6-10; Psa 33:11; 115:3; 135:6; Isa 14:24; Isa 45:7; Act 15:17-18; Eph 1:11). From the smallest matters of “chance,” such as the casting of a lot into the lap (Pro 16:33), to the greatest events of the earth's mighty kingdoms (e.g. Isa 45:1-4), God is bringing all things to pass according to his will. He governs and superintends “coincidental” happenings (1Ki 22:20, 34, 37), the wicked actions of men (Gen 45:5; 50:20; Exo 4:21; Jdg
14:1-4; Psa 76:10; Pro 16:4; 21:1; Isa 44:28; Amo 3:6; Act 2:22-23; 4:27-28), the good deeds of men (Joh 15:16; Eph 2:10; Phi 2:12-13), the actions of both evil spirits and good angels (1Sa 16:14-16; 1Ki 22:19-23; 1Ch 21:1/2Sa 24:1; Psa 103:20-21; 104:4), the habits of animals (Num 22:28; 1Ki 17:4; Psa 29:9; Jer 8:7; Eze 32:4; Dan 6:22), and the operations of all creation (Gen 8:22; Psa 104:5-10, 13-14, 19-20; Mar 4:39).
The bible is clear that God is in no way culpable for evil (Jam 1:13), and that humans are all morally responsible for their actions (Ezek 18:4); so we must not let our understanding of God's sovereignty tempt us to minimize these truths; however, the bible is equally clear on the matter of God's active governance in and through all the actions of men, and we must not deny this either. If we err in one direction or the other, we must set our errant thought aright by looking to the cross, where God accomplished his intention for the ages, which he had planned before the world began; but he did so through the most morally reprehensible and culpable actions ever done, in the betrayal of Judas, the false witnessing of the Jews, the cruelty of the Romans, etc. (see Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).
For Further Study:
Letter from Visitor on Calvinism, Evil and God's Holiness by John Hendryx
Essays on the Sovereigty of God @Monergism
Essays on God's Meticulous Providence Over All Things @Monergism
Essays on God's Sovereignty Over Ordaining Evil, Yet Remaining Without Sin @Monergism
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