God Rules

Proverbs 21:1-31

According to Paul we’re supposed to be walking by faith, not sight. 2 Cor. 5:7 Yet, we get exercised about the things we see people doing and don’t always remember who is really in charge, who is working out his purpose on the stage of his creation.

A. Sovereign over sovereigns (the means) v.1

highest earthly authority also a subject;

one who appears impervious to external pressure is no challenge at all for God to direct

may be at least temporally a law to others yet is not a law to himself

At the coronation of Queen Elisabeth II on June 2, 1953 “the Orb [a 6.5” diameter hollow gold sphere] with the Cross [at the top was] brought from the Altar by the Dean of Westminster and delivered into the Queen’s right hand by the Archbishop [of Canterbury], saying: “Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

king is a subject to God in a way citizens never can be to their king

God rules the heart, something a king can never do in his subjects

Ezra & Nehemiah both recognized this truth regarding Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes

kings made decisions, issued decrees freely based on their genuine desires; it was God who gave them the desire to do his bidding

king can decree consequences for particular actions but cannot prevent those actions

Nebuchadnezzar – could have three men in furnace for failure to worship an idol, could not cause them to worship

would require change of desire, change of heart, beyond reach of king but not of God

God governs means to the end

not fatalism – if I fall overboard I will live or die; if I live it was Allah’s will; if I die it was Allah’s will; all Allah cares about is the end result

God cares about it all – the how as well as the what; he is concerned just as much about how a goal is achieved as whether it is reached. If God didn’t care about the how, everyone who reached the goal of the end of life would go to heaven.

B. defining the standard v.2 with vv.3 & 27

he has the right to define it

he’s the Creator

he has rights of ownership as well as rights of rulership

he has the responsibility to define it

he cares about the means, justice requires he define right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable

since he governs the heart, he can set the standard in heart issues

motivation is part of the means

Cyrus, Darius, Artaxerxes decreed what they did out of love; end result was acceptable to God, that’s why he moved them to do it. Motive was unacceptable – love for self rather than love for God; thus, no good attaboy from God for what they did

he has right and responsibility for defining standard especially regarding worship

as ultimate authority, first and best of beings, he must be satisfied

he defines who we worship, how we worship, what activities count as worship, what kind of worship is acceptable

his standard: worship is to be a natural outworking or overflow of life driven by genuine desire to please God and spend time in his presence

don’t miss the point: God doesn’t say sacrifice is unacceptable; it’s that sacrifice/worship given by holy people is more acceptable than that which is merely external

C. the final court of justice v.12 with v.15 & 21

since he sets the standard, it is right he should judge conformity to/compliance with the standard

God is just and justice will prevail

Revelation, written to a people (Christians) experiencing great injustice/persecution – significant theme: The Lamb Wins, which means righteousness wins, true and final justice is achieved

wickedness and injustice perpetrated even at the highest levels of society will not go unpunished

that God wins should give us joy; that the wicked get what they deserve should not cause us pleasure; instead, it should cause us to thank God that the Lord Jesus satisfied the Father’s demands for justice in our place

God has prerogative to not only punish the wicked but reward the righteous

numerous rewards: joy, life, greater righteousness, honor

God made man to be just and righteous; man is most content when following his design, experiences personal joy as gift from God when living pleasing to God

life, especially eternal life, gift from God treasured up for those who pursue righteousness

things lead to things – following righteousness leads to more of the same, increase in personal holiness, greater evidence of fruits of the Spirit

honor, perhaps from men, most importantly from God: “well done”, a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8)

D. ruling over ends as well as means v.30

Isa. 46:9-10 Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me,who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ NET

If God has announced the end (redemption of the human race) from the beginning (the Fall), then…

Prov. 21:30 “No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the LORD.” HCSB

no counsels of mankind can pervert God’s use of means to their own ends contrary to God’s design

God had the end in view (mind) when he ordained the means

it wasn’t “I like this way of doing things, let’s see what happens”; it was “this is the way to do what I purpose to do to achieve the end result I have declared”

E. guaranteeing ultimate victory (the ends) v.31

the accomplishment of God’s purpose is certain or God isn’t God

he declared what he intends to do – if it doesn’t happen God lacks the power to bring it about, the knowledge of how things really turn out, or integrity to speak the truth

whatever the reason, he isn’t God

it’s because God sovereignly rules over both means and ends that John could record in Revelation as a certainty that The Lamb Wins.

Rev. 17:14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.

God must have ultimate victory

he does all things for his own glory (Eph. 1:11-12)

he would not be glorified in defeat, therefore he must win

if God is God, the end must be that he is glorified since that is his stated purpose

The truth of God’s sovereign governance over all things should give great comfort, keep us from despairing when considering conditions in the world. God is good, works all things for the good of his children, what do we have to fear? He can surely be trusted to bring us safely home.


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