Discover the Truth About Our Creator’s Sovereignty
Most people recognize God as sovereign. Yet they may not have a good understanding of what that word means. And because of their misperception, God often gets blamed for things he didn’t do.
Sovereign in the Bible
The word sovereign shows up 295 times in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, with over 200 times in Ezekiel alone. In all but a handful of cases it’s an adjective along with the word Lord, as in sovereign Lord. God is our sovereign lord.
Only in the book of Daniel does the word sovereign appear as a noun.
Four times we see that “the Lord Most High is sovereign,” three times from Daniel and once from the unlikely source of King Nebuchadnezzar.
And later we read the forward-looking prophecy of Daniel that Jesus is coming and will receive authority, glory, and sovereign power.
Sovereign in the Dictionary
Yet none of these places in the Bible define what sovereign is. But the dictionary is most helpful.
As an adjective—which is how the Bible mostly uses it—sovereign means supreme power. So as our sovereign Lord, we confirm that God has supreme power. No one surpasses his dominion. It is paramount.
As a noun we learn that sovereign refers to someone who exercises supreme, permanent authority, as in a king or queen. God is our king, the king of kings. We ascribe to him ultimate authority without end.
This is how we rightly understand God’s sovereignty.
Sovereign As Most Perceive It
Yet this is not how many Christians—as well as secular society—understands God’s sovereignty.
The common perception is that in God’s sovereign power, he controls everything. Therefore, nothing happens without his approval. But this eliminates us having free will, the ability to make our own decisions—be it right or wrong—about what we do.
More importantly, this incorrect view of sovereignty, also means that people can then blame God for everything bad that happens.
How often have we heard someone lament, “Why did God let this happen”?
Yet these things that God gets blamed for stem from three other sources. One is people who make bad decisions. Another is the natural order of how he created the world to function. And the third is the sinful nature within every one of us.
Though God can use these things to accomplish his will and ultimately bring about good, it’s an overstretch to say he caused them to happen.
Yes, God’s sovereignty does allow him to supernaturally intervene in situations. And he can divinely determine to bring about hardship to accomplish his purposes. Though these are both biblical concepts, they emerge as exceptions and not the norm.
To assert that God’s sovereignty makes him responsible for all the horrible events that happen in our life and in our world misrepresents who he is. We must stop blaming him for our disappointments.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.