The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
As Americans, we get most of our ideas of royalty from books, movies, and British royal weddings. We think of lavish ceremonies, extravagant clothing and priceless jewels. Depending on our personal tastes in books and movies, we may think of palace intrigue, power struggles, and scandal. Or we may think of nobility, great battles against evil, and selfless sacrifice.
No matter the source of our views, our thoughts of human kings and queens will fall far short of the reality of the Sovereignty of God. God is Sovereign. That means He is absolutely supreme in ruling power and authority. Nothing happens in all of Creation without His Sovereign permission.
That thought causes confusion and dismay for many. They think, “If God is truly Sovereign, if He is really in control, how could He allow evil in the world? How could He allow evil people to perform such hateful, selfish deeds upon others? How could He allow the suffering of those who are poor and oppressed?” Then, as they try to understand, as they try to find a reason for what they may perceive as apparent callous inaction, they think, “Perhaps He lacks power. Perhaps He doesn’t see. Perhaps He doesn’t care.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. But to understand, we must look at the wider picture of God’s relationship with humanity.
First, we need to understand that there is a distinction between God’s will and God’s permission. God’s will encompasses His purpose and plan. Job reminds us that God can do all things and that His purpose cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2).
But God has delegated a measure of authority to His Creation. Mankind has authority, within boundaries that God has set, to rule over earth’s creatures and to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:26-31). He also gave people the freedom to choose obedience to God’s ways or to go their own way (Gen. 2:15-17, 3:1-7). Although disobedience has consequences, God does not micro-manage. He permits people to exercise their authority to choose. He is in control, but He is not controlling.
As the absolute Sovereign and Righteous King, God will demand a reckoning for all injustice and for every evil deed. But in this current age, God defers final judgement in favor of mercy, compassion and patience. He does this in order to bring about His greater purposes of redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter reminds us,
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2Pet. 3:9)
God acts with eternity in mind. Our current suffering may feel interminable, but when viewed in retrospect from the perspective of eternal life, our anguish will seem fleeting. God is not blind to suffering, rather He looks forward to the day He will wipe every tear from our eyes and joyously welcome His people into His everlasting kingdom where there will be no more death or mourning, no more crying or pain (Rev. 21:3-4). Now is the time for choosing whether to go God’s way or to go our own. And so, for now, we suffer the consequences of wrong choices.
When we look upon man’s inhumanity toward man, we may wonder why God does not intervene. But, we rarely stop to consider what that intervention might mean. If we would have God intervene and prevent a person’s choice to perpetrate evil, where would we have Him draw the line? At what point would we have Him take away our human right to choose or at what point would we have Him prevent our choices from having consequences? At what point would we have Him restrict the consequences of our actions from affecting others?
The answer is not a simple one. And in truth, we never see the whole picture. God does set boundaries. He does sometimes intervene in answer to prayer. But because we never see the evil that He has intervened to prevent, we remain unaware of His actions.
One thing we can count on for certain, God always acts in a manner that is consistent with His nature and with His purpose. He is always unfailingly true to Himself. He is the Sovereign King and the day will come when “His kingdom will come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13).
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1Tim. 1:17)
From the Series: Nature of God