Prophecy and the Sovereignty of God (PART TWO)
by John Pappas
In the last article of prophecy and the Sovereignty of God, His sovereignty was revealed by words used in the Bible and the language used in prophetic passages. When He speaks about future events, He uses the completed verb tense! He says in essence "it was done!" In this article the definition of sovereignty will be discussed and what that means to the earthly reign of the Messiah.
The Sovereignty of God and the Modern Mind
The doctrine of the sovereignty of God means God is in control. With a world where evil is all around, where bad things happen to good people, where God’s chosen people Israel, has undergone persecution after persecution, how can God be in control? The answer is, He is because He has the power to be and has demonstrated His sovereign control through prophecy!
Many an old Puritan would speak, write, and proclaim this doctrine. While researching for this article I was amazed that most of the writings on the topic were written by authors of at least a hundred years ago. The old classics! With the exception of the famous work by Arthur Pink, and a couple modern writers, it seems either the subject is not popular today, or the caliber of the classics is so large, that nothing else needs to be written that has not already been written. One area where I believe a volume is needed is in the area of prophecy, because God’s control over history and His comforting words concerning the future are inseparable. How a Reformer Calvinist, who believes in the absolute sovereignty of God, but not the premillennial return of our Lord is beyond comprehension. Instead, the Reformer Calvinist believes the literal fulfilled prophecy- that which occurred before the time of Christ. But then turns, in confusion, even skipping large sections of Scripture and stumbles over the prophecies concerning His Second Coming. Even scoffing when it comes to unfulfilled Messianic prophecy. They simply spiritualize it away! Is God sovereign or not? Can He do what He says or not?
Dr. Pink writes, "The Sovereignty of God is an expression that once was generally understood. It was a phrase commonly used in religious literature. It was a theme frequently expounded in the pulpit. It was a truth which brought comfort to many hearts, and gave virility and stability to Christian character. But, today, to make mention of God’s sovereignty is, in many quarters, to speak in an unknown tongue."  What seems to have happened to the doctrine of old, is that Calvinism has been taken over by Covenant theologians who teach a perverted doctrine called Replacement theology. Replacement theology means that the church replaced Israel. All those prophecies decreed for Israel have been taken away from Israel and fulfilled in the Church.
Fundamental to the entire system of Calvinism is the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. "Calvinism asserts that the sovereignty of God is supreme; that He has absolute and indisputable authority over all creation, that nothing can lie outside of or be viewed as not being subject to the sovereignty of His will, that He is not only the Creator and Upholder but the Disposer of all events from the beginning of time to its close." 
The word sovereign comes to the English from the Latin ‘super’ meaning "above" or "over." The word means "above or superior to all others; chief; greatest; supreme."  In the Old Testament God is called the sovereign over all (Ps. 103:19).
In the Old Testament it is best described by the prophet Isaiah who, in proclaiming the prophecy of the coming Messiah, says, "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6). He is referred to as "Mighty God," in the Hebrew, a gibbor meaning to be strong. The noun form of the word means "one who exercises supreme power; a supreme ruler; the person having the highest authority in a state, as a king." The Hebrew expresses it as a ruler over a kingdom by the word malkuth meaning "royal power, reign, kingdom, sovereign power," and is used for example in, "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all" (Ps. 103:19). The accompanying term mashal "reigns," or "rules," follows sovereignty because His authority reigns! Notice the verse that follows, "Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone" (1 Chron, 29:12).
The idea of sovereignty is directly related to the concept of a kingdom rule. One speaks of nations as having sovereignty. The sovereign nation has (1) a land, which contains borders; (2) subjects, which includes everyone and everything that dwells within the borders of the kingdom; and (3) rules to live by in the kingdom. The governing of the land involves laws or decrees that regulate life within that nation. The idea of free will does not exist because all subjects are bound by the laws and the will of the sovereign of the land. Today’s modern governments do not reflect the sovereign rule of great kingdoms of the past. In ancient times, the sovereign would rule with absolute control. Most times the nation would be ruled at the king’s command. In rare cases immutability was forced upon some kingly rule as is seen in Babylon of Daniel’s day where king Darius made a decree that could "not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which does not alter" (Dan. 6:8). With God, however, His sovereignty extends beyond that of man’s sovereignty. He possess an unlimited sovereignty that is characteristic with His character and attributes, so that His sovereign rule is infinite in every sense; infinite in power, infinite in time, and infinite in space.
Dr. Charnock in his famous work "The Existence and Attributes of God" writes,
He [God] doth not muffle and cloud up himself in heaven, or confine his sovereignty to that place, his royal power extends to all visible, as well as invisible things: he is proprietor and possessor of all (Deut. x.14): ‘The heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that is there.’ He hath right to dispose of all as he pleases. He doth not say, his kingdom rules all that fear him, but, ‘over all;’ so that it is not the kingdom of grace he here speaks of, but his natural and universal kingdom. Over angels and men; Jews and Gentiles; animate and inanimate things…. God is sovereign Lord and King, and exerciseth a dominion over the whole world, both heaven and earth. This is so clear that nothing is more spoken of in Scripture. The very name, ‘Lord,’ imports it; a name originally belonging to gods, and from them translated to others. And he is frequently called ‘the Lord of Hosts,’ because all the troops and armies of spiritual and corporeal creatures are in his hands, and at his service .
The idea of sovereignty assumes a reign and authority over both a people and a land. This concept is illustrated by examining the book of Daniel – that great book which provides a prophetic look at ALL the kingdoms of the future. First, the great pronouncement by the king of Babylon who testified in an open letter to the world. After witnessing God’s absolute control over his great Babylonian kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar writes,
Incredibly, the very next world government in line proclaims the same truth. After conquering the Babylonian Empire, Darius, the representative of the Media-Persian Empire, witnesses and testifies of God’s sovereign control over all.
What is seen is that God has revealed His sovereignty even over the most brutal, stubborn, pagan sovereigns of all time. He does this because He is the Creator of the Universe. Dr. Chafer writes, "The sovereignty of God is discerned in the absolute manner in which all things have been assigned their respective place in creation, in appointing to men their day and generation as well as the bounds of their habitation, and in the exercise of saving grace."
Dr. Hodge summaries in his popular theology, "…it is plain, (1.) That the sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all his creatures from the highest to the lowest. (2.) That it is absolute. There is no limit to be placed to his authority. He doeth his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. (3.) It is immutable. It can neither be ignored nor rejected. It binds all creatures, as inexorably as physical laws bind the material universe. This sovereignty is exercised, (1.) In establishing the laws, physical and moral, by which all creatures are to be governed. (2.) In determining the nature and powers of the different orders of created beings, and in assigning each its appropriate sphere. (3.) In appointing to each individual his position and lot. It is the Lord who fixes the bounds of our habitation. Our times are in his hands. He determines when, where, and under what circumstances each individual of our race is to be born, live, and die. Nations, no less than individuals, are thus in the hands of God, who assigns them their heritage in the earth, and controls their destiny. (4.) God is no less sovereign in the distribution of his favours. He does what He wills with his own." 
Finally, Dr. Pink says of the sovereignty of God: "To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will (Ps. 115:3). To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is ‘The Governor among the nations’ (Ps. 22:28), setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as pleaseth Him best. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the ‘only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords’ (1 Tim. 6:15). Such is the God of the Bible." 
It is clear that if God has created the heavens and the earth that He is the Sovereign over them and that He alone is in control over all creation! This control is demonstrated in the way He has created the "laws" of nature, the "laws" of language, the "laws" governing reproduction, family life, and virtually every aspect of life on earth. He holds everything up in every instant of time.
 Arthur Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Baker Books, 1995), p. 19
 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), p. 480
 Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, 1979
 Webster’s Dictionary
 Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Baker Books, 2000), vol 2, pp. 362-363
 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1993), Vol. 1, p.222
 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Hendrickson, 2003), Vol. 1, pp. 440-441
 Arthur Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Baker Books, 1984), p. 19