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In-Depth Biblical Content by Pastor Andy Davis

The Absolute Sovereignty of God, Part 1

The Absolute Sovereignty of God, Part 1

October 11, 2009 | Andy Davis
Proverbs 1:1-31:31
Sovereignty of God, Providence and Sovereignty of God


Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos, and he had a vision of a door standing open in heaven. And the voice of Christ beckoned him to come up. "Come up here," it said. And at once he was in the spirit, and a good thing too, because you can't make that journey without some divine help through the Holy Spirit, and he went through the doorway and there in heaven, he saw a throne and someone seated on it. Dear friends, that heavenly throne is the central reality of the universe. It's the central reality of your life, it's the central reality of this church, the central reality of every nation on earth, whether they acknowledge him or not, that throne is the throne of God, and the God who sits on that throne is absolutely sovereign, rules over everything all the time.

And we need to know that because we live in uncertain times now, we're going through various trials and difficulties and people may wonder, "Is human history spiraling out of control? Are we facing trials that we cannot overcome? Is history unfolding according to plan? What is going on?"

So at the big scale level, there's economic uncertainty, people look at what's happened over the last year and a half with the New York Stock Exchange and with the gold and silver prices going up, and with all kinds of things, and they look at that and they say, "What's going to happen to the American economy over the next 30 years? Will the stock exchange experience another crash? What will happen in the future? What will happen to Social Security? Will it still be around when we reach retirement age?" So there's economic uncertainty.

What about political uncertainty? Who's gonna control the future of our country? What direction are we going? Are we going to a bigger and bigger federal government? Are we going to lose freedoms that we've cherished as American citizens? Will those with an unbiblical agenda push through wicked laws that force us in painful directions? What's gonna happen with that? How will this nation address massive issues like care and concern for the poor and needy or healthcare or other things? Political uncertainty. How about international uncertainty? What will become of radical Islam? We know that there are cells, terrorist cells around the world that are plotting the demise of the West, will they succeed? Will the terrorists be able to obtain or threaten to use a thermonuclear device?

What will happen if communist China becomes the most powerful nation on earth, militarily and economically in the 21st century? What will that be like for us as Americans in the West? So those are the big questions people wanna know about that. More personally and individually people ask questions as well.

If you're in college, you may be wondering if you're gonna be able to get a job in your field or a job at all. Maybe your time of graduation is nearing and you're thinking about that. If you're single, in your 20s, wondering if God will provide a spouse for you, wondering who he or she will be and how the circumstances could even work, is there someone out there for you? If you're elderly, you may wonder about your health, or your relationship with your grown kids or your grandkids. All of these things, these pondering and things like they go through your mind, don't they?

And all of them have the temptation toward anxiety, that you can start to be afraid of the future, be anxious about it, and that is precisely where the doctrine, a firm grasp on the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God is so vital for us. There are two great displays of God's sovereignty in the Bible, doctrinally. That doctrine of predestination by which God displays his absolute sovereignty over human salvation, and then there's the doctrine of providence, by which God displays His absolute sovereignty over daily life events in the ebbs and flows of history here on earth. Predestination and providence, these are two great doctrines, two great mysteries, two great displays of that throne of God that I began this sermon with in Revelation 4.

Now, the book of Proverbs, I believe, has some of the most memorable verses in the whole Bible on one of those two, and that's the doctrine of providence, how God rules over everyday life absolutely for His own glory, and you know that really makes perfect sense as we've learned studying the book of Proverbs, it's a nitty-gritty, rubber meets the road kind of book that looks at practical everyday life and describes those kinds of issues. And so we're gonna look this morning at the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God over daily life as seen in the book of Proverbs.

Now, this was gonna be one sermon, it cannot be. It's a mathematical impossibility. And as I looked at it, I was like, "Alright, we've got to go two weeks on this just because the verses are outstanding and what's the rush anyway." And you guys don't wanna be here till quarter to one now do you? Come on, be honest. So given where we're at as sermon listeners right now in America, maybe in the future, it'll be different, but right now we can handle only so much, so I'm thinking, we'll do this in two weeks, okay? Is that good with you? 'Cause it's what's gonna happen. So at any rate, we'll do that. So we'll just continue.

But I want to look at just how sovereign God is over everyday life, and I was talking to... Actually talking to Herbert, right before he came up, I said to Herbert, I said, "How sovereign is God?" He said, "Absolutely sovereign." And God is... And I said, "Do you think he's more sovereign than we think?" He said, "Absolutely, he is more severe than we think."

So my desire is to use this sermon and the next time I preach on this to ratchet up your sense of just how active God is in everyday life, so that you will lose your fear, that you will not be anxious, you'll be put on display by God, you'll go through trials and you'll go through it with absolute certainty that God is in it and his purposes are good, and people will be led to ask you, "What is the nature of this hope that you have?"

Jesus taught this absolute sovereignty very, very plainly in many places, perhaps the most memorably in Matthew 10:29-30, he said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny and yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Absolute sovereignty over the death of a sparrow, fluttering to the ground.

The apostle Paul taught the same thing, Romans 8:28, a very familiar verse. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Or again, in Ephesians 1:11, he speaks of “the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” Not some things, everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.

And so King Solomon gives us some of the most memorable statements in the Bible in this great doctrine of providence and how God actively rules over seemingly tiny events or even over great ones to achieve his eternal mysterious purposes.

So we're gonna see the sovereignty of God pertaining to a variety of things. First in how God chooses to retain some secrets to himself and reveal some other things. How God has sovereignty over human actions, like the words of our mouths and the paths of our feet, how we may make many plans, but it's God's purpose that overrules all of that, and that's going to free us up I hope from that man-centered view of the universe that makes human free will and human decisions the hub of every wheel, and everything's revolving around our choices, which is just not biblical, and it's not helpful.

We're gonna also see God's sovereignty over the decision of kings, how God rules over the decisions of kings, an incredibly comforting and incredibly challenging and deep doctrine. The next time I think we're gonna talk about God's sovereignty over seemingly random events like the roll of a dice. We're gonna talk about God's sovereignty over the outcome of major events in history, like the outcome of a battle, and God's sovereignty even over his enemies, no matter how powerful they may seem, so that's for next time. Taken together, these six categories give us just a sampling of God's providential control over human history. My desire is to strengthen you, to give you a sense of confidence as you face everyday life based on these verses.

God’s Sovereignty over His Mysteries

Let's start with this first one. And that is God's sovereignty over his mysteries. I want you to go over to Proverbs 25:2, I'll start there. And in this doctrine, I have in mind the fact that God decides what he's gonna tell us and holds back from us what he won't tell us. He reveals some things and he conceals other things, and it's to His glory to do so. And those things that are revealed, we should study and search out, and those things that he has concealed, we may not know no matter how much we study. And so Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. To search out a matter is the glory of kings." So this is a good place to start. God's sovereignty over earthly life is both a comforting and a distressing or disturbing doctrine to most of us, it's comforting because it means that we can look forward to the future with confidence.

As someone once said, "I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future." You've heard that kind of thing. What does it mean that he holds the future though? It certainly means more than he just knows the future. I think it means that he actually decrees and controls what that future will be, and that it's going to be a good future for you in Christ. That's very confidence-producing. It gives us strength. God has ordained it and he is sovereignly working it out. But the flip side is the doctrine is distressing to many. It brings up distressing questions that we have a hard time working through. If God is sovereign over all things, then why does such evil happen in the world? That's one question that comes up. Is God sovereignly responsible for a drive-by shooting of an innocent little girl who just happened to get caught in the crossfire? Is he sovereign over that? Could God have prevented that?

I was watching a movie about a wonderful African-American neurosurgeon named Dr. Ben Carson and his story is really very inspirational about how he came up from poverty and from very challenging circumstances to become a neurosurgeon. Amazing man. But at a key juncture in his life when he was a young teenager, he had a very bad temper and he pulled out, just in a moment, a flash of rage, pulled out a Swiss army knife and stabbed his friend in the stomach with it, just thrust it right into the man's... In the young man's stomach. And the man bent over, the young man bent over, and there were multiple people standing around watching, "What did you do?" But then this young man stood up unharmed and there at their feet was the knife blade broken in half, it had hit the man's belt buckle.

God had decreed other things than prison for Ben Carson. And he intervened there, though he clearly intended murder at that moment, he intervened and saved both that man's life, the young man's life, and Dr. Carson's life from going to prison. Now, okay, that's wonderful. In that case, what about when the knife blade doesn't break? What about when the bullet goes ahead and kills the little girl, what then? What do we say? It's troubling to some people, and they struggle with it. Some people go so far as to say God has nothing to do with those kinds of things. He either can't or won't intervene and just lets it happen. And so what really matters is the human choice in the matter, and that was just a lucky break for Dr. Carson. But that's not biblical, that's not what the Bible teaches.

The Shack takes that approach, okay? God didn't do that, when your young daughter was abducted by that pervert and tortured and killed, God didn't do that, and frankly couldn't really have intervened, it's not his way to intervene, etcetera, well, look, that may be quickly kind of, in a superficial way, comforting, but in the end, it's poison, dear friends, it's poison because then there's this random thing in the universe and even God can't do anything about it or won't do anything about it, and he just tries to pick up the pieces. That's not the God that I know in the Bible. So it is a distressing doctrine to many.

Other questions people ask, "If God's sovereign over all human decisions, then how does he hold sinners accountable for what they decide?" If they have no choice in the matter, if we're just robots, which the Bible doesn't teach at all, that kind of thing, I would have to say though I don't understand the statement, how you can reconcile that not only is God far more sovereign than we can possibly imagine, we are far more accountable than we can possibly imagine too. And in some sense, some mysterious ways, far freer than we can... We have the total freedom at any moment to act according to our heart nature, that shouldn't be comforting to you if you know anything about your heart, but we have the freedom to do what our heart dictates. We do have that freedom.

So why doesn't God intervene? He does intervene, all of us willing to go to hell, not directly, but indirectly, and God intervenes. Why doesn't he do that with everybody? Why doesn't he save everyone? If he can do this with anyone, why doesn't he save everyone? These are questions that come up in people's minds. Alright, what does the proverb mean, Proverb 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. To search out a matter is the glory of kings." God retains to himself many significant secrets. For example, we talked about predestination a moment ago, he retains to himself who is predestined and who isn't. We don't know who they are, we have no idea. His sovereign plan for human beings, predestination and reprobation, applied to this or that person, we cannot know.

We also cannot know exactly how God uses human wickedness and sin for His own purposes, how he crafts that together for his own good, we don't know. We don't know how God can hold Judas accountable for the very thing that it was decreed he should do, even down to the 30 pieces of silver. We don't know how God can hold that. God alone knows and can explain that. We also don't know the question we wanna ask more than any other question. When we think about Job, Job went through terrible suffering, lost all of his children in one instant, lost all of his possessions, lost pretty much all of his health, terrible wave upon wave of trial.

And if there's just one thing that Job wanted to know, it was why. Why? Why did this happen to me? It's the one thing God does not tell him. At the end of the book, he just gives him himself in all of his greatness and His power and His glory and His Majesty as a powerful creator, and he doesn't answer why. And isn't it amazing that Job doesn't seem to need to know why at the end, he doesn't need an explanation, certainly doesn't feel that God owes him an explanation. So God holds these things to himself, he doesn't tell us why. He doesn't need to tell us why. He never will tell us why. I think we'll just have God and we'll know that God's wisdom ordains certain things.

Also we don't know the exact timetable, and many of the circumstances of Christ's return, the glory of God conceal that. Acts 1, Jesus in his resurrection body, instructing his apostles, getting them ready for a world-changing mission. And they say, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" And Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." So this is not for you, this is for you, that's what he says. He has the right to do that.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says it best, I think. “The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” So we have these two categories: The things concealed, the things revealed to the glory of God. Now, in the proverb, it's to the glory of God to conceal the matter, but the second half it's the glory of kings to search it out. So we can play to some degree the role of kings and queens, we can search out what God has revealed. Let's search it out. Let's try to find out. We must seek to go, dear friends, as far as God has revealed and not farther.

I fear that many Christians in this area of predestination and providence fall far short of what God has said about himself, they fear controversy, they fear that they're gonna get in a fight, probably even more, they fear that they will lose the fight, so they don't wanna get involved. And so they stay away from it. It's controversial. We don't wanna talk about it. Well, look, who made it controversial, God didn't, it was Satan that made it controversial and divisive and all that, these things are... This is our treasure, this is our inheritance. We get it all, all 66 books, all of it, and we get to treasure it, and we should search out what God has revealed, but not go beyond it.

Philipp Melanchthon, who was a good friend of John Calvin's, he was Martin Luther's right-hand man and a successor in the German Reformation, as far as we know, believed everything Calvin did about predestination, but Philipp Melanchthon said, wrote in a letter to Calvin saying it's best never to mention it or talk about it. It just causes division. Calvin disagreed. Now, Calvin, if you know anything about him, absolutely hated any kind of theological speculation, but he wanted to go as far as God had in fact revealed. And I think we ought to do the same. We ought to study ourselves, study scripture, we ought to study what God has revealed and go as far as he has ordained. Secondly, let's look at God's sovereignty over human wills and actions. Look at 16:1, go back to Proverbs 16:1. You heard Herbert read it for us in two languages. So you get it twice. Now, you get it a third time.

God’s Sovereignty over Human Wills and Actions

Proverb 16:1 says, "To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue." So what does this proverb actually say? Well, it's talking about the capability that human beings have to make plans. We make many plans. This is, I think of the essence of our status as created in the image of God. We have the ability to plan ahead. A plan is an intended course of action, you peer ahead into the future anticipates what's coming, and you make... Take certain steps, set certain precautions or whatever, it's a plan. And frankly, planning ahead is a good thing in the book of Proverbs; it's something we ought to do. Proverbs 22:3 says, "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."

The ultimate example of that, dear friends, has to do with the Gospel itself. If you're a Christian, you saw danger coming and you took refuge in Christ, amen? You saw it coming, you saw judgment day coming, you knew you weren't ready, you knew that you were a sinner and you could not face such a holy judge, and so you fled to Christ, in Jesus' blood shed on the cross as your refuge, and it is a sure and certain refuge.

Maybe you have never done that, maybe you're here today and you have never fled to Christ, you've never come to Him for forgiveness, I'm telling you, danger is coming, I'm urging you to flee the wrath to come, and you ought to plan ahead 'cause it's coming. And the best plan of all is flee to Jesus, run to Jesus. Let Jesus save you. Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved. So I'm just saying, "Look, planning ahead is a good thing. However, all of our plans are subject to the final review of the sovereign king of the universe, and he'll decide yes or no." That's all.

You can go ahead and make your plans. You ought to, but he gets to decide finally, what will happen. It even comes down to your words, you plan a response and you end up saying this, many of the plans are of a man's heart, but the reply actually comes from the Lord. Wow, this actually goes beyond what Psalm 139:4 teaches, that says, "Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord."

Well, that's just the omniscience of God, his fore-knowledge, God knows what you're gonna say before you say it. This says God actually ordains in some mysterious way what you're gonna say. From the Lord is the reply of the tongue. You may plan to say this or that to a person, but the words you actually end up saying have been ordained by God, that's what the proverb is teaching.

There are supporting proverbs like Proverbs 16:9, just look a few verses down, 16:9. "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Same kind of teaching, you make your plan, but the steps, the walking in the way represents all of life in the book of Proverbs. The way you live, your steps, and so you may make a plan, but God decides how you actually end up living. Look ahead to Proverbs 19:21, this kind of sums this whole thing up. Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

We may make many plans large and small to orchestrate the events and paths of our lives, but God decides in the end what's going to happen.

It's true of major life plans, when I plan to go to college, plan to get married, plan to have children, plan to have a certain career, plan to visit certain countries, plan to go on mission trips, plan to retire at the age of 55, you can make those plans, but all of those plans are subject to the overriding, overruling sovereign power of God, it's true on a daily level as well.

Daily life plans, you may plan to go to Walmart and buy a new set of towels for the guest bathroom, and actually sometimes it even happens that way. Has that ever happened to you? You actually planned and it actually worked out that way. But so many times it doesn't.

I may plan to go to The Streets at Southpoint to meet a friend for lunch. It may happen, it may not. I may plan to get to church early, have been doing that, planning for weeks, still waiting for that to happen, okay? That's a hard one. Doesn't seem to be the Lord's will for us to get here early. We'll talk about that another time, it's all very mysterious.

But all of those plans are subject to the overriding will of God. I think James really sums up our disposition, our proper attitude in all of this, James 4:13-16. “Now listen, you who say today or tomorrow, I'll go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that."”

So first, you won't even be alive tomorrow if God doesn't will it. So when you wake up and it's another day, thank him for life, he gave it to you. But go beyond it. If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. Make your plans and say, "Lord, is it your will? Is this your will?" I will rest in this and you seek and you go and you live, alright? But it's ultimately up to God what you do. Okay?

God’s Sovereignty over the Hearts of Kings

Thirdly, we see God's sovereignty over the hearts of kings. Look over at Proverbs 21:1, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases."

Now, what does this mean? Well, this is just the last proverb or doctrine applied to kings and rulers, that's all, the same thing, only it's applied, very helpful, I think, and significantly to the hearts of rulers. Now, the image here is of an irrigation system, let's say coming from the Nile river with channels like troughs of water and sluice gates that control the flow of it. That's the image I get, at least. The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord like a watercourse, he directs it whichever way he pleases.

So God Is like the gatekeeper and pulls up gates, puts other gates down, it's the best way that I can harmonize God's sovereignty over wicked things that he doesn't, in some way, decree to happen verbally. Like God gives us 10 commandments and then things happen contrary to his commands, how does that all work? Wicked things. How does God overrule that?

I think what it is, is that the heart of the king is to do evil, he just wants to do evil, God lifts up sluice gates to have a certain specific kind of evil flow down that accomplishes his purpose. That's the best I could come up with. But the evil is the king's and he's responsible for it, God just controls the direction of it. Very difficult to understand that, but God is able to shape the thought patterns of the king. He's able to put thoughts in the heart and the mind of the king so that he behaves a certain way.

Now, this is displayed all over the place in biblical history. Think about the time when David was fleeing for his life from his son, Absalom. Absalom had come to usurp the throne, to take the throne from David, David is running for his life, Absalom is succeeding in that revolt, he has taken over Jerusalem, David is running.

And all it would take is just a sharp blow on David, and he'll fall over like a rotten fence post. It's very fragile, David's throne, at that point. Now, at that time, the shrewdest counselor in Israel was a man named Ahithophel. It says in 2 Samuel 16:23, "Now in those days, the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. And that was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel's advice." Now, as David flees for his life, he prays this prayer, "Oh Lord, turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness." Praise that prayer. It's recorded right there in 2 Samuel 15:31. Now, what did that mean? Either make Ahithophel give bad advice, or make Ahithophel's good advice seem like foolishness to Absalom, either way, to accomplish God's purpose, David hoped, of restoring David to the throne. Either way, frankly, it would be a display of our proverb.

As it turned out, just within the context of the success of Absalom's rebellion, Ahithophel gave excellent advice. He said, "David is exhausted, he is weary, he is worn out, pursue him tonight. Find him and kill just him, and there'll be no one left for Israel to turn to except you, it's done. Don't wait." But at that particular moment, at that key moment, suddenly for some reason, Ahithophel's advice didn't seem the best. Why? I'm talking to Absalom. Suddenly, it just didn't seem like great advice, so he asked for a second opinion. Remember at that time Ahithophel's advice was like that of God, they said. Just as like listening right to the mouth of God, except at this moment, at this key moment.

So he asked for a second opinion, and along comes this man, Hushai the Archite who's a plant from David. So Hushai is there and he gives this advice. He said, "Now David, he's a cagey, wild fighter, he's probably already dug in, he's waiting for you to come. He's won lots of battles. I think you ought to wait. Bide your time, get stronger and stronger, you'll get stronger and stronger, he'll get weaker and weaker, and eventually you'll win."

What happened? 2 Samuel 17:14, “Absalom and all the men of Israel said the advice of Hushai the Archite is better than that of Ahithophel. For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring destruction on Absalom.” Wow, he controlled Absalom's reaction to the two pieces of advice, which one seemed wise to him. The king's heart is like a watercourse in the hands of the Lord. He directs it whichever way he pleases. Oh, there's lots of examples.

You know, Pharaoh, God hardening Pharaoh's heart. That's a clear example. God didn't just want one or two plagues, he wanted all 10, including the 10th plague, the plague on the firstborn. And so the Passover, the blood of the lamb, the Angel of Death passes over, all of it, a picture of the sovereign power of God, God hardened Pharaoh's heart to bring it about.

But even that wasn't enough. God wanted the Red Sea crossing, so he hardens Pharaoh's heart again even after all the 10 plagues and out he goes so that God can show his might in the Red Sea crossing. But the king's heart is in the hand of God and he's directing it whichever way he pleases.

Then there's Nebuchadnezzar, plain example, a mighty potentate, one of the great, great emperors of the world, a brilliant man, capable man, an architect, scholar, military conqueror, brilliant man, a tyrant. God gives him a warning, and when he doesn't take that warning, a year later, God turns his mind into that of an animal.

So for seven years, he thought he was a cow eating grass, like that. And why did he do it? Well, it says in Daniel 4:15-17, "Let him the king be drenched with the dew of heaven. Let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth, let his mind be changed from that of a man, and let the mind of an animal be given to him till seven times pass by for him. The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the most high is sovereign over the kingdoms of men, and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men." The lesson is, God is sovereign over the minds of kings, he can do anything he wants with their minds.

2 Chronicles 36, God sovereignly moved King Cyrus to allow Jews to go back and rebuild Jerusalem. And probably the key example in all history is this one, the Jewish leaders, high priests, Annas, Caiaphas, all of them, Sanhedrin plus Pontius Pilate together agreed to kill Jesus. Acts 4:27 and 28, "Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and all the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had determined beforehand should happen."

It was God's will to crush Jesus and cause him to suffer. Isaiah 53:10,  Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and ... the LORD makes his life a guilt offering”

Pilate did everything he could to let Jesus go.  Did you notice? He wanted to let him go, but in the end, pressures came on him, his wife's dream, all kinds of things, the Jewish leaders, and in the end, he made that decision, he's accountable.

And he is accountable too. This is part of the mystery, dear friends. You may say, "How can this be? If God's sovereign, how can he be accountable?" He is. Listen to what happened. You remember how Pilate, after scourging Jesus, scourging an innocent man, Jesus is standing there bleeding now, stands before Pilate, and Pilate asks him a question, Jesus will not answer. He said, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Don't you realize I have the power to crucify you and the power to set you free?"

And Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above. Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of the greater sin." That's accountability, friends. Greater than what? Greater than Pilate's sin. Pilate sinned, scourging at that point, but soon, scourging an innocent man, that's a sin, Annas and Caiaphas sinned more said Jesus, greater sin.

Well, there are so many examples of this, examples in secular history, like when Hitler left a third of a million British troops alive on the beaches of Dunkirk rather than wiping them out, so they're all rescued by all these ships that came across the English channel, what did he do that for? Why did he invade Russia? That was absolutely foolish. He had continental Europe by the throat, and some kind of a truce, a peace with the Russians. Why invade Russia? And if you're gonna invade, why go down and punish the Balkans first for a little uprising and then invade like in mid-June so that winter sets in before you reach your objectives, and most of those guys, those German soldiers died.

Why didn't he declare war on the United States the day after the Pearl Harbor attack? I'm talking about Nazi Germany now. That was stupid. Probably the US would have focused on Japan and done nothing with Germany, I don't know, but it's quite possible. That was a stupid move. Why did he make all of these stupid decisions?

Well, I don't know, I can't say ultimately, based on some scriptural statements, it was the Lord's will to frustrate him and cause him to fail, that's why. I know that none of those things were accidents, I just don't get the interpretation. God hasn't sent an angel down to say, "This is why Hitler did this or that." He didn't tell us, he just tells us in the Bible, God's sovereign over king's hearts, he turns them whichever way he chooses.

I think the key concept for this in me is the book of Esther, this whole book never once mentions God, never once mentions the Lord, you never see him, he just doesn't even appear. You might say, "Why would it make it into the Bible? I thought the Bible was a book about God. I mean, why would there be a book that never even mentions him?" You know why? The lesson of Esther is I am here whether I'm named or not, and I rule whether you see me doing it or not, and so just, the king chances to read a certain book and something happens to happen a certain way, and then everything changes as a result. There's no accidents, dear friend, God is sovereign over the hearts of kings.

So how can we apply this? Well, first of all, just be comforted. It's a scary thing to think it all depends on you. Isn't that scary? Sometimes I hold my kids and they got their little arms around my neck, I shouldn't even tell this story, this is a bad story, but anyway, at least I'm the one that looks bad, but anyway, and I just let them go and they hold on to my neck, but then they start to slip and they hold on tighter and they're filled with, yeah, their little heart's beating, it's all very exciting. [laughter]

God holds us firmly. It's not up to us to hold on to him, he's holding on to us and he's holding on to the world, he knows what he's doing. Be comforted. Be encouraged. It's not up to you and your grip. I'm not saying you shouldn't grip Jesus, grab hold of him, yes, you should. But be encouraged, God is ruling. Secondly, I would urge you to pray for kings and rulers, those in charge, because God is able to influence their decisions, even if they don't come to Christ, and he can make them come to Christ. Even if they don't, God can influence their decisions for the advance of the Gospel, pray for them that they would make decisions that would be helpful for the advance of the Gospel.

And finally, if I can just urge you as you face the trials of your life, trust in God, trust in what he's doing, don't be afraid, suffer well in front of the non-Christian world that doesn't have your kind of confidence and suffer well based on this doctrine of the absolute providence of God over daily life. Close with me in prayer.

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