"Our God and God of our Fathers, cause Your sovereignty to be acknowledged throughout the world. May Your splendor and dignity be reflected in the lives of all who dwell on earth. Then all creatures will know that You created them, all living things will comprehend that You gave them life, everything that breathes will proclaim; the Lord God of Israel is King, and His dominion embraces all."—Prayer from Rosh Hashanah
In the last year, our nation has been shaken with epochal storms and climactic disturbances, whole regions of the United States have been leveled. In the aftermath of these events, leading voices of the evangelical church world have divorced God from having any sovereign involvement. God is portrayed as being absent and passive, residing in sublime detachment. The constant mantra is heard, "The causative is not God," "God will not do such a thing." The palliating voices injected into the forces of nature (climate change, torrents, rain, floods) an independent volition as if they existed in isolation from God. The ecclesiastical spin doctors assumed that God needed an attractive image to present to an accusing world. The God who shakes violently His earth is not consumer friendly to the geo-centric religionists. To deny God's active involvement in the full spectrum of earthly life, is to renounce the supreme truth that God holds decreetively all life and death in His hands, (Deut. 32:39, I Sam. 2:6, Job 1:21, 14:5, 21:21, Ps. 31:15, 139:16, Acts 17:26, Rom. 14:7-9, Rev. 1:17-18). Any attempt to distance God from calamity and attendant suffering is to portray God as an absentee landlord. To live in denial of a theocentric-governed universe, with all its minute vicissitudes, is to live as if there is quiescence in God, a passivity in reference to His own world. This view of God is antithetical to the active Preserver of all creation. "Both creation and preservation are aspects of the divine creative activity. The same divine activity which brought the world into existence preserves the world from collapsing into non-being." (Isidore Epstein, The Faith of Judaism, p. 182).
In the religion of Israel any thought of a shared dominion or limited sovereignty was anathema to the nature of God. The basal belief of Judaism is the supremacy of God over all creation. "All theogonic motifs are seminally absent [from the Old Testament]. Israel's God has no pedigree, fathers no generations, he neither inherits nor bequeaths his authority. He does not die and is not resurrected. He...shows no need of or dependence upon powers outside himself." "The basic idea of Israelite religion is that God is supreme over all. There is no realm above or beside him to limit his absolute sovereignty. He is utterly distinct from, and other than, the world; he is subject to no laws, no compulsions, or powers that transcend him. He is, in short, non-mythological. This is the essence of Israelite religion, and that which sets it apart from all forms of paganism." (Yehezkel Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel, p. 60-61). In Exodus Rabbah 5:14, the story is told of Moses and Aaron being inquired of by Pharaoh to define their God in relation to the pantheon of beings in the Egyptian worship hierarchy. Moses and Aaron reply, "O fool! The dead can be sought among the living but how can the living be sought among the dead? Our God lives but those you mention are dead. Our God is 'the living God, and the everlasting King' (Jer. 10:10). Pharaoh then asked them whether God is young or old and how He is, how many cities has He conquered, how many provinces has He subdued, how many years is it since He became king. To which they reply, 'The power and might of our God fill the world. He was before the world was created and He will be when all the world comes to an end and He has created thee and gave thee the spirit of life." The absolute sovereignty over heaven and earth is the apriori right of God alone. All that precedes from His creative power is perpetually under His controlling authority.
The Old Testament declaration of God's sovereignty encountered a world steeped in the myth of theogeny, that the gods of the nations have a pedigree. Generations of father-gods bequeathed authority to each god over a certain territorial domain. They ruled only by inheritance of authority and sphere, always dependent on powers outside themselves. The gods were constantly vying for greater sovereignty over the earth. "In the context of ancient Mesopotamian religion no god would make a decision on his own lest he be taken to task by other gods." "In contrast to the Mesopotamian view where the council of the village elders is projected upon the polytheistic gods, Yahweh alone is Lord, Ruler, King, Law-giver, Judge." (Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, Vol. 2, p. 69) Piercing through this mythological prism of fear, was the transcendent declaration, "God is King!" Only one over all, Yahweh, in the present tense now. "For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods, …" (Ps. 95:3). "For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols, but the Lord made the heavens." (Ps. 96:4-5). In reality, the gods were only lifeless idols, vain images, non-entities, things of nought, amplifications of prideful man's desire to transcend creaturehood (Deut. 4:28, Lev. 19:4, I Chron. 16:26, Ps. 96:5, 115:4, 135:15, Isa. 46:1-2, 5-7, 42:17, Ezek. 14:7, Dan. 5:23).
God is no prevenu, no pretender to the throne, nor a king by inheritance or derived authority. Neither is God's sovereignty synergistic, as currently proclaimed by the majority in the evangelical and pentecostal realms. It depends on nothing outside His nature for its existence. There is not one power or volition, that can assist God in the rulership of His universe, nor extend His sovereignty to realms that are imagined as existing independently of Him. There is no maverick domain existing in isolation from God. All life is derived from Him and must by necessity depend upon God, whether consciously or not, for the next microsecond of existence (Neh. 9:6, Job 12:10, 33:4; Ps. 36:19, 57:2, 63:8, 66:9, 104:27-30, Dan. 5:23, Jn. 1:3, Acts 17:28, Col. 1:17, Heb. 1:3, Rev. 4:11).
God's sovereignty is inherent to His nature. It is innate to His Being. God has a right of dominion in His essence from all eternity. It is connatural and intrinsic to Him. God's aseity, His non-dependent nature, is the causation of His kingdom. The most personal august name of God, "Yahweh Ashere Yahweh" (Ex. 3:14), embodies His sovereign nature and dominion. Yahweh comes from a verbal root "to be," the verb of absolute existence. The Self-sufficient, Self-fulfilled, Self-sustained, quintessence of life within Himself as the Eternal God. The modality, extent and power of God's kingdom resides in the most personal self-revelation of His being, Yahweh. "But the Lord (Yahweh) abides forever (Heb. "sits enthroned"): He has established His throne for judgement." (Ps. 9:7). "The Lord (Yahweh) is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land." (Ps. 10:6). "But Thou O Lord (Yahweh), doest abide (Heb. "sit enthroned") forever; and Thy name to all generations." (Ps. 102:12). "The Lord (Yahweh) will reign forever and ever, Thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!" (Ps. 146:10, 92:8, 93:1, 96:10, 97:1, 98:6, 99:1, Jer. 10:10). God's eternal essence, His aseity of being, is conjoined to His position as King. "The extent of His dominion flows from the perfection of his essence; since his essence is unlimited his royalty cannot be restrained." "It is a dominion that originally resides in his nature, not derived from any by birth or commission; he alone prepared it. He is the sole cause of His own kingdom; his authority therefore is unbounded as infinite as His nature; none can set laws to him because none but himself prepared his throne for him. As he will not impair his own happiness so he will not abridge himself of his own authority. (Steven Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 2, p. 360, 381). The immutable foundation of His dominion is His eternal Self-Existent Being.
"The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all." (Psalms 103:19). This is the most succinct declaration of God's universal sovereignty in all of the Old Testament. The Psalmist emphasizes the limitless dimension of God's reign. The declaration encompasses everything and excludes nothing. The passage defines God's sovereignty as all-encompassing throughout time and eternity. The Hebrew particle "kol" (trans. all), is utilized to describe complete, whole, entirety, nothing lacking, complete perfection. Kol is used thousands of times in the Old Testament. The predominate usage is literal not poetical. It is used in the Shema, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One! And you shall love the Lord with all [kol] your heart and with all [kol] your soul and with all [kol] your might." (Deut. 6:4-5). Kol describes the quality of love that God demands in correspondence to His great love. The Hebrew particle is also utilized to designate a building in process of construction, that has the last stone placed within it. Kol is also used for the whole burnt offering that was set apart solely for God. "All" in the totality of universal particularities has been in God's direct purview and guidance forever, nothing excluded. "O Lord, the God of our fathers, art Thou not God in the heavens? And art Thou not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Thy hand so that none can oppose You." (II Chron. 20:6). God is the Eternal King, from the Genesis fiat (Ps.33:6,9) to the last recorded second of measureable time (Isa. 65:17, Rev. 21:1). All the animosity in the world directed toward God, coupled with the malignant personality of satan, is less an adversary to Him than an amoeba attempting to topple the Empire State Building. In the religion of Israel, any thought of a shared dominion or limited sovereignty was anathema to the nature of God. The cardinal postulate of Judaism is the supremacy of God over all creation.
The cardinal declaration of Scripture is that God is the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, throughout all time and eternity. His sovereign will is the matrix from which all creation and time emanate. From the moment of the Divine fiat, all creation has been ordered, arranged, preserved and directed to a consummate day of unveiling of the majestic presence of God. This is the basal truth of Judaic theology. "Lord our God, the soul of all living shall bless Thy name. The spirit of all flesh shall ever praise Thee and extol Thee, our King. From eternity to eternity, Thou art God. Besides Thee we have no King, no deliverer, no Saviour, no Redeemer, no Liberator, no Sustainer, no one who is compassionate at every time of trouble and distress; no King have we but Thee. God of the beginning, God of the end, God of all created beings, Lord of all that has birth, who is extolled in manifold hymns of praise. He guides His world with love…" (Nishmath, Prayer from the Morning Service, The Traditional Prayer Book, p. 174). "He who lives forever is the creator of the whole universe; right belongs to the Lord alone. Who can steer the world with His little finger, so that all things obey His will…" (Ecclesiasticus 18:38). "…Let us set a crown on the head of our Redeemer, whose is the royal crown, and he is King of kings in this world, and whose is the kingdom in the World to come and whose it is and will be forever and ever." (Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 15:18). "A benediction which contains no reference to the Divine Kingship is no benediction." (Ber. 40b). "… on beholding shooting stars, earthquakes, thunders, storms and lightenings, the benediction to be uttered, 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe. Whose strength and might fill the world.'" (Ber. 9.2). "We bend the knee and bow, proclaiming Him as King of Kings, the Holy One praise be He. He unfurled the heavens and established the earth. His throne of glory is in the heavens above, His majestic Presence in the loftiest heights. He and no other is God, our faithful King. So we are told in His Torah: 'Remember now and always that the Lord is God in heaven and on earth. There is no other.'" (Prayer on Rosh Hashanah). "There exists in the universe a certain force which controls the whole." "It is the source of the existence of the universe in all its parts. That force is God…blessed be His name!" (Maimonides, Guide to the Perplexed, Part 1, Ch. LXXII). "He is Lord of all the spheres." (Maimonides). "Everything in the universe is subservient to the Divine will." (David Kimchi, 12th Century Jewish exegete from Psalms 93:1). "Lord of the world, if it were possible to imagine a fraction of a second without your influence and providence, of what avail to us were this world, and of what avail to us were that other world? Of what avail to us were the coming of the Messiah and of what avail to us the resurrection of the dead? What would there be to delight in, in all of this, and what would it be there for?" (Rabbi Abraham "The Angel", 1776, Tales of the Hasidim, Martin Buber, p. 116). "The basic idea of Israelite religion is that God is supreme over all. There is no realm above or beside Him to limit His absolute sovereignty." (Yehezkel Kaufmann, The Religion of Israel, p. 60-61). "The one fundamental statement in the theology of the Old Testament is this: 'God is the ruling Lord.'" (Kohler, Old Testament Theology, p. 30). "The realization of the all-embracing rulership of God is the beginning and end of Israel's faith." (Martin Buber, Kingship of God, p. 58). "The Lordship of God over the whole created order is central to the Old Testament thinking, and is an evidence throughout, from the scenes of creation to Genesis to the theophany of Job, ch. 38-41." (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. 2, p. 657). "The Kingship of God as a metaphor, with it's natural experiential context in the monarchal period of Israel. It denotes the Divine and absolute rule of Yahweh over the entire creation…" (Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, Vol. 2, p. 96.
"And again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel." (Psalms 78:41). Redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, traveling through the wilderness onto Canaan, witnessed every miracle from A to Z. They were a living miracle. The people were so enmeshed in the miraculous that they lived only for the pragmatic present. God was certainly powerful enough to warm them by fire at night, cool them via cloud by day, cater their food, take sickness away from them and condescend to dwell in the very midst of them. Yet, in spite of God's tangible displays of power, Israel did not believe that God was the Sovereign Lord of all. The people that were redeemed from a genocidal slavery and witnessed the parting of the Red Sea did not believe God was the Lord of the nations, God of their enemies and Sovereign of all creation. "…they (Israel) confined God's might or His will to certain definitive areas. They conceived special 'compartments' of living and achievement, which they regarded either as beyond the scope of His power, or else as beneath the province of His concern or will." (Samuel Rafael Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms, p. 57). Israel had set restraints to the Holy One of Israel. They ascribed limitations to God's power. The mental constraints that erect a boundary beyond which God cannot pass is arrogant insolence. In actuality, we cannot limit God experientially, but we can circumscribe Him in our perception and understanding and disseminate a distorted portrait of God to another generation.
In First Century Judaism, there were those who abridged the Old Testament declaration of God's universal sovereignty. This theological perception did not reject the reality of God's existence, but repudiated any idea that God was ever present in His world as the King of heaven and earth. God's directing and controlling will in the intimate details of life was rejected. This religious obscurantism was expressed by the Epicurean, as defined by Josephus, the First Century Jewish historian, as the individual, "Who casts providence out of human life, and who do not believe that God takes care of the affairs of the world, nor that the universe is governed and continued in being by that blessed and immortal nature, but say that the world is carried along of its own accord, without a ruler and guardian; which, were it destitute of a guide to conduct, as they imagine, it would be like ships without pilots, which we see drowned by the winds, or like chariots without drivers, which are overturned; so would the world be dashed to pieces by its being carried without a Providence, and so perish and come to nought." (Josephus, Antiq. X.XII.7). The rabbis so despised the Epicurean teaching that they excluded from the World to Come all who propagated this heresy. "And these are the ones who have no portion in the World to Come: He who says the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from the Torah, and the Torah does not come from Heaven; and an Epicurean." (Misnah, Tractate Sanh. 10:1, A New Translation by Jacob Nuesner, p. 604). Eternal exclusion awaited those who redefined the nature of God's sovereignty. To reject the declaration of God's universal sovereignty was to deny and repudiate the God of Scripture.
"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, 'Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.'" (Rev. 19:6)
The voices of Judaism resonate through the prism of the Christian church as it reaffirms the truth of God's sovereign rule. The early church, in adducing Old Testament passages of God's kingship, reaffirmed Judaism's affirmations of the unbounded nature of God's universal power. A theological concert exists between orthodox Judaism and historic Christianity regarding the nature of God and His relation to His creation. "He only is God who made all things. He alone is omnipotent. He adapted and arranged all things by His wisdom. He contains all things and is contained of none. He is Creator, Maker and Fashioner. He is the Molder and Lord of all. And neither is there anything above or beside Him… but there is only God, the Creator. He is above every principality and power and dominion and virtue." (The Treatise of Irenaeus of Ludunum, 130-202 A.D., Against the Heresies, translated by Hitchcock, p. 45-74). God was, " Lord because He is Lord over all things. Most High, because He is above all things; Almighty, because He holds all things; for the heights of the heavens, the depths of the abysses, and the ends of the world are in His hands." (Theophilus, late Second Century Bishop of Antioch, Supplic. I, 5). "...ever beautiful and well-ordered in all its parts is the universe whose Maker and Governor is God." (Augustine, on free will, Library of Christian Classics, Vol. 6, p. 187). "For the essence of all creaturely beings so depends upon God that they could not continue to exist even for a moment, but would fall away into nothingness unless they were sustained in existence by His power…" "…nothing can exist that is not created by God, so also nothing can exist that is not ruled by Him." (Thomas Aquinas, Divine Government, Vol. 14 of Summa Theology, p. 21, 39). "Providence is the enduring and unchangeable rule over and direction of all things in the universe." "…is, therefore, immoveable, because the Deity is infallible and unerring, because His power is unwearying, because His goodness is uninterrupted." (Ulrich Zwingly, On the Providence of God, p. 136-137). "First, then, let the reader remember that the providence we mean is not one by which the Deity, sitting idly in heaven, looks on at what is taking place in the world, but one by which He, as it were, holds the helm and overrules all events." (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.16.4). "Were God to withdraw His supporting hand and preserving power and influence, creatures would soon come to destruction and perish; the whole fabric of the world would at once fall to pieces;…" (John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 1, Ch. 11, p. 11). "Over the whole universe He stretches His scepter. He now reigns universally, He always has done so, and He always will. The warring elements are marching beneath His banner when they most wildly rush onward in furious tempest. Great and small, intelligent and material, willing and unwilling, fierce or gentle, all are under His sway. His is the only universal monarchy, He is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords." (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 4, p. 456). "Providence is the execution in successive time of God's eternal, unsuccessive purpose. We believe the Scriptures to teach, not only that God originated the whole universe, but that He bears a perpetual, active relation to it; and that these works of providence are 'His most holy, wise, powerful, preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions." (R. L. Dabney, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 276). "And were God lacking one infinitesimal modicum of power, that lack would end His reign and undo His kingdom; that one stray atom of power would belong to someone else and God would be a limited ruler and hence not sovereign." (A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 115). "Providence is that continuing exercise of the Divine energy whereby the Creator upholds all His creatures, is operative in all that transpires in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end." (Martin-Lloyd Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible, p. 143). "In the main, however, Old Testament statements concerning Yahweh as Lord already go far beyond the idea that he is just the lord of the land or people and more or less clearly presuppose belief in Yahweh as Lord of all. The phrase 'Lord of all the earth' (Micah 4:13, Zech. 4:4, 6:5, Ps. 97:5, Josh. 3:11, 13) give us clearest evidence of the enhancement of the sense to embrace everything." "The God to whom the Canon bears witness is called 'Lord' because He is there shown to be the exclusive holder of power over the cosmos and all men, the creator of the world and the Master of life and death. The term 'Lord' is thus a summation of the beliefs of the Old Testament." (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 3, p. 1061, 1062).
Three epochal events in the earth's formation and redemptive history illustrate the providence of the Creator over the elements of creation. "And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving (Heb. rachaph) over the surface of the waters." (Gen. 1:2). The verb "rachaph" is used only three times in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 32:11, the verb is used to depict the eagle hovering over her young to care and protect them. God's protective presence over Israel in the wilderness is likened to the outstretched wings of the eagle. Genesis 1:2 describes the lifeless matter that is the result of the fiat of God. The earth is a terra aquaeous globe. God's Spirit envelopes and encompasses the entire 24,000 miles of earth's circumference to bring definition, life, and separation of landmass. The Spirit of God quickens and transforms the lifeless matter into material for a living world. This is a simultaneous action of God to bring life and definition to the entire globe. God fashioned the earth as a potter would mold a clod of clay, but with no expenditure of effort. The incalculable wisdom and power of God. The Messiah is first mentioned in Jewish literature in reference to Genesis 1:2, "... and the Spirit of Mercies from before the Lord breathed upon the face of the waters." (Jerusalem Targum).
"The Lord sat as King at the flood; yes, the Lord sits as King for ever." (Ps. 28:10). This is a retrospective reference to the Noaic flood. Throughout the centuries of the degradation of humanity, God's sovereignty was not diminished nor augmented. The rebellion and unbelief of man did not alter God's sovereign position. If all the world were to array themselves against the Most High and in unison decry His Name, there would be no fluctuation in the constancy of God's rule. "The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed: 'Let us tear their fetters apart, and cast away their cords from us!' He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them." (Ps. 2:2-4). When God's longsuffering expired, the promised judgment rained down from the throne. The known world would have appeared to be in chaos, discord and complete ruin, greater than any calamity in recorded history. But God sat calmly as King ruling over all the changes. His throne is the one constant in all history. "No nation on earth not even all mankind have the power to alter the will of God. His rule moves on inexorably to bring about the fulfillment of His will." (Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms, p. 210).
"And at the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up, the flowing waters stood up like a heap; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea." (Ex. 15:8). In the context of the redemptive deliverance of Israel, from a genocidal slavery, Egypt's army was in aggressive pursuit of the defenseless Jews. Suddenly, the waters of the Red Sea are congealed, the Hebrew word describes a condition of jello-like consistency. The waters became a wall-like formation of solidity. The nation of Israel walked through the Sea. The parted waters became a memorial of what only God could perform. Redeemed Israel witnessed the execution of God's mighty hand that transcended the collective might of all the earth. The kingdom of God is first mentioned in the Exodus paean extolling God's great power and deliverance. "Yahweh Melek la-olam vaed," Ex. 15:18, "The Lord is King forever and ever and still more," is the force of the Hebrew.
"Lord who art mighty for all eternity, Thou revivist the dead. Thou art great in saving power, making the wind to blow and the rain to fall, sustaining the living in love. With great love Thou revivist the dead. Thou upholdest the falling, Thou healest the sick, Thou freest the bound, keeping faith with those who sleep in the dust. Who is like Thee, Lord of Power! Who can be compared with Thee, King who sends death and gives life, and causes His saving power to flourish!" (The Shemoneh Esreh, "The Eighteen Blessings," from The Traditional Prayer Book edited by David de Sola Pool, p. 8).
"For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens. When He imparted weight to the wind, and meted out the waters by measure, when He set a limit for the rain, and a course for the thunderbolt. Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out." (Job 28:24-27). God's wisdom encapsulates all creation. This knowledge is not a minimal cognizance of reality, but a regulating, ordaining knowledge. His ordaining wisdom embraces all the earth. The pronoun "He" is emphatic in verse 24, God alone is in possession of such knowledge. God's knowledge, "… is present to Him, as an objective reflection of Himself, which He sees and declares, takes as the ideal of the visible universe, and examines in every detail." (F. C. Cooke, Job, p. 102). If God's knowledge comprehends all creation, then by necessity, His knowledge must order and govern all the elements of creation. Several examples are given as illustrations of God's providential care of the earth. God gives weight (Heb. mishqol), verse 25, to the wind. Mishqol pictures an ancient balance scale wherein silver or gold was weighed out for payment for something (see also Isa. 40:12). God, like placing metals on a balance scale, weighs all the imponderable wind that easily. How incomparable is God? The passage states that God takes all the wind currents that will ever move in the atmosphere and He puts them on one side of the scale, He measures it all at the dawn of creation. The greatest super computers in the world cannot equate such an imponderable. He knows how much it weighs, because God regulates the force of the wind. "The wind is the lightest of things, and yet God determines for it a weight!" (E. Dhorme, Job, p. 412). He gives weight to it, designates its force. Whether the wind will be feeble, gentle or fierce, God is regulating the atmospheric air and wind currents (Ps. 103:25, Amos 4:13, Matt. 8:27). The Lord also "meted out" (Heb. takan), the "waters by measure" (Heb. middah), verse 25. Takan is used in the Old Testament to estimate a thing by comparing it with a standard. It is utilized to gauge something. Middah is a measurement, whether length of man's life (Ps. 39:4), God's wisdom (Job 11:9), or the volume of the seas (Isa. 40:12)?equations that are beyond the capacity of man to calculate. God regulates the exact amount of rainfall, determining its volume. God has determined the volume of all the rain that will ever fall on the earth. Every amount of rain that falls is gauged by God, "… in making a weight for the wind, and regulating the waters by measure." (Driver Trans. of verse 25). God sets a "limit" (Heb. shaq, "to mark out, engrave, inscribe, govern, decree") for the rain, verse 26. Shaq is used to describe God's regulating the orbits of stars (Ps. 148:6) and the fixed boundaries of the seas (Jer. 5:22, Job 38:10). God has decreed the rainfall, what geographical area it will fall upon, the volume of downpour and the nature of the storm. "… the waters He prepares (orders or dispenses of) by measure." (Jer. Targum on Jer. 28:25). Rain is the result of the sovereign action of God. "Can any of the false gods of the nations give rain? Can the skies of themselves give showers? Only You can, O Lord our God! So we hope in You for only You made all these things." (Jer. 14:22, Tanakh trans., Jewish Publication Society). (Lev. 26:4, I Sam. 12:17, I Kings 8:35-36, Amos 4:7, Zech. 10:1, Job 5:10, 37:6, 27 Ps. 147:8, Deut. 11:11, 14, 28:12, Matt. 5:45, Acts 14:17). "… and causes it [the rain] to fall sometimes on one place and sometimes on another, sometimes in greater, sometimes in lesser showers; and according to His sovereign pleasure He gives or withholds it; the effects of which are quickly seen." (John Gill, Gill's Commentary, Job 28:26). Also the thunder has been given a passage through the clouds to discharge the water vapor to earth. Every drop of rain, wind current or atmospheric phenomena has been decreed by God before the genesis of earth's history.
"Who has cut (Heb. palag, "to split, divide, channel, canal") a channel (Heb. tealah, "to climb, ascend") for the torrents, and a path for the thunderstorms." (Job 38:25). The Rabbinical scholar Jarchi (Solomon Shelomoh Witschoki, 1040 A.D.), said this passage indicates that God has given each drop of rain a unique and particular channel through which it passes. "Between each drop of rain there is no more space than the breadth of a hair, which is to teach us that a day of rain is as great before the Holy One, blessed be He, as the day on which heaven and earth were created." (Taan. 9b). Vigintillions of vigintillions of atmospheric canals have been ordained by God to provide each raindrop with an appointed path to earth. For each drop of rain that has fallen to earth, God has prepared a passage way for it to travel. The incalculable raindrops that have fallen since earth's creation have all been designed to follow a distinct path to earth. The unsurpassed, immeasurable nature of God's supremacy is beyond human comprehension. Just to have been graced with a molecule of knowledge regarding His being, reveals the greatness of His condescension. "Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; and of His greatness there is no searching out." (Heb. trans. Ps. 145:3, Job 11:7, Isa. 40:28). If God's will arranges a separate division for each raindrop, how intimate is His sovereign will for us. Not a cell in our body, second of our lives or one single breath is outside of God's loving purview. Regarding the intimate particularities of God's will, we are left to only theorize of the degree of His minute ordering and design in creation. "… those aspects of His power which we ourselves can see and recognize do not tell the whole story of the greatness of His essence. His greatness, which is incomprehensible to human thought, extends far beyond this limited sphere. Therefore, whatever we might be capable of proclaiming about Him in our own is only an infinitely small part of His true greatness." (Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms, p. 470).
"Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; …" (Ps. 148:7-8). The intractable elements of creation that man cannot harness are all under Divine authority. The world will never be able to control one of these elements. All the collective might of the nations cannot restrain one single climactic element of the natural world. The Talmud says that, "All the world cannot give life to a dead fly." It was God's fiat, the monosyllabic "Be!" of Psalms 33:6, 9, that brought the elements and forces of creation into existence. It is through the power of His word that they remain constant and under His sway. The fire, wind, snow, clouds and hail owe no allegiance to man, but praise God by incessantly performing His will. "The elements seem to be free and intractable perform God's will. All these phenomena of nature are messengers and servants of God." (Franz Delitzsch, the Psalms).
One of the most exalted titles of God in the Old Testament is Yahweh Tsaba, "The Lord of Hosts (armies)." "Our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel." (Isa. 47:4). "For they call themselves after the Holy city, and lean on the God of Israel; the Lord of Hosts (Armies) is His name." (Isa. 48:2, see also Isa. 50:4, 5, Ps. 24:9ff, Isa. 6:5ff). The title denotes God's universal sovereignty. It affirms that all creation is under the command of God. This Divine epitaph emphasizes the scope of Yahweh's power. He is the Supreme Ruler of the universe and all its creations. All agencies of the visible and invisible universe fulfill His will. He commands all the forces of nature and all the powers of men. "The title affirms His universal rulership that encompasses every force or army, heavenly, cosmic and earthly." "Although the title has military overtones, it points directly to Yahweh's rulership over the entire universe." "… He is master of every force …" (Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, Vol. 2, p. 750, 751). Every force, star, planet and element are marshaled by God to perform His will. Like a general who dispatches his army from one stage of engagement to another, so God commands His creation to bring judicial or redemptive salvation to His people. "For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord God of Hosts is His name." (Amos 4:13, see also 5:8ff, 9:5ff).
"He sends forth His command to the earth, His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow." (Ps. 147:15-17). The creative word (Gen. 1:3, Ps. 33:6, 9, 104:24) executes His eternal will instantaneously. The Hebrew phrase yesh me-ayin "that which is from that which is not" indicates that all matter comes from the matrix of an eternal will, not preexistent material. One of the designations of God in Jewish literature is, "He who spake and the world came into existence." (Authorized Prayer Book, p. 16). "It was through His decree 'let their be …' that they [all creation] came into existence to begin with; it is through the might of His will that they remain constant and immutable…" (Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms, p. 490). The General of the universe commands the armies of the climactic and atmospheric world to execute His will. His command finds instantaneous response. The imperative of God orders all the elements like myriad divisions of infantry, air and sea. When He says, "Go!" they go and when He says, "Cease!" they cease. "God's commands in nature and providence are fiats against which no opposition is ever raised; say, rather, to affect which all things rush onward with alacrity." (Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. 7, p. 407). God orders instability and distress and then a halcyon period. The seasonal changes interrupt our normality and jar us from daily mundanity. The personal pronouns of verses 15-18 are very instructive: "His command," "His word," "His ice," "His cold," "His wind and water." His solitary word created, ordered, preserves and directs all the forces of creation. All the elements are His personal possession. They exist in the treasury of God's natural riches. "O Lord, how many are Thy works! In wisdom, Thou hast made them all; the earth is full of Thy possessions." (Ps. 104:24)
"O Lord, you send pestilence, earthquakes and floods to the nations to make them turn to you." (Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof). "God overthrows and judges who boasts of and trusts in, their power status and do not recognize the sovereignty of God." (David Kimchi, The Chumash, p. 1031).
"For to the snow He says, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the downpour and the rain, 'Be strong.' He seals (Heb. hatam, "to wall up or close up") the hand of every man, that all men may know His work." "Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen." (Job 37:6-7, 13). Man lives each moment against the backdrop of eternity. He has been made for two worlds. "God created man to be immortal and made him to be an image of His own eternity." (Wisdom of Solomon 2:23, see also Gen. 2:7). Time, in the words of William Blake, "… is the mercy of eternity." It is the time-space continuum into which God enters to display His eternal nature and make eternity accessible to man. Time is preparatory for eternal communion with God (Ps. 11:7, 73:25-26, 140:13, Jn. 17:26, II Cor. 5:8, Rev. 21:1-4). Time by nature is theistic. As Abraham Heschel frequently stated, "Time belongs to God, not man." Solomon describes the theistic perspective of time, "He has made everything beautiful (Heb. yaphah, "contoured, shaped, harmony") in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." (Eccles. 3:11). The Hebrew word yaphah is used frequently in the Old Testament to describe the contour of a beautiful woman. There is in history and the flow of time, a contour of interrelatedness and design. There is a beauty to time as designed and directed by God. But man is blind and myopic to the eternal. He is cocooned in a sight-seen world, a prisoner of the sensory.
Man lives in flagrant contradiction to the raison'de'etre of his being. He trusts his whole life on his next breath. "Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?" (Isa. 2:22). The literal Hebrew is "in whose nostrils is a breath, in nothing is he to be relied upon." Man was created with a transcendent potentiality (Ps. 8:5), but lives for the next breath. Even when he extends trust, it is toward his fellow man, whose only resources are their next inhalation and exhalation. How imbecilic! Even one's breath comes from God, it's not self-generated (Job 12:10, 33:4). In flagrant arrogance we trust in another's breath, in contradistinction to God's eternal power and nature. Man is to reject all trust and confidence in his fellow man.
God does not sit passively idle absorbing the rebellion of mankind. God breaks into this stolid condition with a concatenation of events; storms, floods, calamities and terrestrial convulsions, to disengage us from the stultifying dream that life on earth, whether 10, 20 or 80 years, is the finality of reality. God interdicts us with His power and in an act of severe mercy, disrobes us from all self-sufficiency and confidence until we stand naked before Him and realize He alone is the reason of our being. The degree of our rebellion and unbelief is the gauge of God's severity. "One mere signal from Him will suffice to bring to a standstill all that world order which He Himself had instituted and upon the stability of which men base all their hopes and plans." (Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Hirsch Psalms, p. 236). The interruption into our fragile normality by the elements of the atmospheric and terrestrial order testify eloquently of the wisdom and might of God who ruleth over all creation.
"When a person enters it [the world] his hands are clenched as though to say, 'Everything is mine; I will inherit it all.' When he departs from the world, his hands are open, as though to say, 'I have acquired nothing from the world.'" (Eccles. R. V.14).
The inebriated egotism of man rejects any consideration that his life is as fragile and transitory as a breath in God's sight and can be crushed as easily as a moth by God's power. "Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight, surely every man at his best is a mere breath (Heb. hebel, "vapor, vanity, empty, bubble)." "With reproofs Thou doest chasten a man for iniquity; Thou doest consume as a moth what is precious to him, surely every man is a mere breath (Heb. hebel)." (Ps. 39:5, 11). In God's sight man at the height of his vitality is as a breath (Heb. hebel, a "bubble"), something without substance. God seals up the hand of man. There is an appointed season ordained for reflection. In His creative work of storms, calamities and earthly convulsions, there comes a revelation of God. Under divine provocation, the inestimable knowledge of God is revealed to us. The knowledge of who God is. The knowledge the world was founded upon.
"He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness." (Ps. 147:10,11).
God brings all mankind to a terminus of human resources. He extracts from us all trust in human ingenuity and ability. He puts us in cul-de-sacs of despair to reduce us to humility and recognition of who He is. He displaces us from this world so we will not be displaced from eternal communion with Him. The elements of creation are God's pedagogues. They are designed and sent to teach us the reality of God's authority and the impinging of eternity. This is an act of incomparable love. "That which God sends, whether it be heat or cold, no man can defy with impunity, but he is happy who bows before it with child-like submission." (Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Vol. 7, p. 401).
The Messiah is accorded a position of transcendent exaltation and a boundless authority over heaven and earth. Jesus utilizes the Greek word "panta", which is the equivalent of the Hebrew particle "kol" to describe His exalted position over the cosmos: "All (Gk. panta) authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18, see also Jn. 1:3, Rom. 11:36, I Cor. 8:6, Col. 1:16, Jude 1:25, Rev. 1:8, 17-18, 4:11). The Greek word panta defines everything severally that make up the totality of the universe. The word encompasses the entirety of the cosmic order and every individual element contained within. Jesus affirms that the totality of universal particularities is all in His purview and guidance. All things collectively are under His authority (Gk. exousia). This pantacratic statement is the New Testament equivalent of Psalms 103:19. "... and upholds [Gk. phero, "to bear, carry, maintain, cohere, move along"] all things by the word of His power." (Heb. 1:3). Within the continual movement of creation; atoms, planets, suns and the movement of time, from the microscopic second to the epochal, the coherence and moving direction of all the universe, rests within the dominion of the Messiah. "The Lordship of Christ must extend over every area of creation. If there were a single area excluded from his lordship that lordship would not be complete and Christ would no longer be the 'Kurios'." (O. Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, p. 228). The coherence of all things originates from the reality of His presence. "It seems to be an innate property of His personality, seeing that He as distinct from all others, holds for his own the claim to the Sovereignty of the world..." (G. Dalman, The Words of Christ, p. 285). Jesus has all things, from the macro to the micro, in the epicenter of His powerful hands. Nothing lies outside of His sovereign control.
The exalted Christ designates Himself the "Almighty" in Revelation 1:8 and 4:8, also used in 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 14, 19:6 and 22:2. The word "almighty" is made up of two Greek words, "panta", (i.e., all, totality, everything) and "krateo", (i.e., to grasp securely in one's hand). Pantakrateo defines everything severally that make up the totality of the universe. The word is all-comprehensive, all realms are included, not one atom is excluded from the controlling and preserving hand of Jesus Christ. This is a transcendent declaration of universal Lordship and dominion. Christ declares that He holds all things at all times in his hands. Even the masculine singular morphology of "Almighty" affirms this, "I and I alone am the Almighty." A monergistic declaration of sovereignty is asserted by Christ. He depends on no assisting arm. The incomparable title Pantakrateo, "Denominates the Lord God Who is First and Last, past, present and future. Who takes His great power and reigns despite what earth and heaven can do,..." "He is the Lord of all power and might,..." (Nigel Turner, Christian Words, p. 6) It is pathetic that a perponderance of current preaching expound a synergistic sovereignty, that man "working with God" makes this declaration (Rev. 1:8) a present reality. This prideful enebriation is a grand illusion that believes man can extend the sovereignty of God. But all things are incessantly in His powerful hands. Christ's cosmic control over all realms, excludes nothing from the purview of His ruling sovereignty. The old spiritual sums up this declaration succinctly, "He's got the whole world in His hands." What was the bedrock of Judaism, God's universal sovereignty, would be the foundation of Christianity advancing through the storm of the Roman era. "This sovereignty of God is the ground of peace and confidence to all his children. They rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; that neither necessity nor chance, nor the folly of man, nor the malice of satan controls the sequence of events and all their issues. Infinite wisdom, love, and power, belong to Him, our great God and Savior, into whose hands all power in heaven and earth has been committed." (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 441).
"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, 'Mine!'" (Abraham Kuyper)
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