In Sunday's sermon, pastor John preached from Isaiah 40. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah focus on God’s judgment. But beginning in chapter 40, the focus is on God’s salvation. Because God is sovereign, He will move to save His people! God’s sovereignty is His absolute rule and reign—His control, direction and governing of everything in heaven and on earth—the goal of which is the display of God’s glory in the redemption of His people. This is seen in our text. The first 5 verses of our text show outline how God was going to deliver His people from exile in Babylon. How? Because God is the sovereign Creator who is greater than man, nations, nature, and false gods, so, they can trust in His promises to save them. So, the key idea of the text is that because God is sovereign over all creation, we must rest and trust in God’s power and promises. 5 points to see related to this:
1. Man is nothing compared to God
a. In vv. 6-7 man is said to be like the withering grass:: he is finite and temporal. We spring up for little while (70-80 yrs), but then die. But Jesus took upon Himself all our withered “grass-ness” to deliver us from our withered “grass-ness.” (Jn 11:25; 1 Cor 15). So, let’s invest our lives in the true treasure that will never fade away: Christ’s Kingdom.
b. In contrast the to temporal/powerless nature of man, v. 8 says that God’s word will stand forever. God is the supreme power of heaven and earth who “works all things according to the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11). God’s word is eternal, and what He purposes and promises will come to pass precisely as He said, so we can trust it!
2. The nations are nothing compared to God
In vv. 15-17 the nations are accounted by God as less than nothing. The rulers of the earth may exalt themselves, but the reality we see in vv. 22-24 is that one stretches out the heavens brings rulers to nothing. (see Psa. 33:9-11). King Nebuchadnezzar found this out the hard way (see Dan. 4:29-37). So, man doesn’t rule, God does. God is the mover and shaper of history. So, we need not fret over things nor fear men. We must pray for the nations.
3. False gods are nothing compared to God
a. Contrary to the false idols, the true God is the uncreated Creator of all things whose glory bursts forth from the very nature of who He is, so even the angels in heaven cover their eyes (Isa 6). God is far greater than the false idols who can’t hear, see or speak! He not only sees, hears, and speaks, but He decrees, and declares what will happen before it happens! (Isa 46:9-10)
b. Man still makes its own false idols—God replacements—to give us what we want. Tim Keller: “An idol is whatever you look at and say in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” Let us identify and destroy our false gods, and turn to the true God who sent His only Son to die the death we deserved to die so we could have true life, and that more abundantly! (Jn 3:16; Jn 10:10)
4. Nature is nothing compared to God
a. In v. 12, immense and infinitely numerous things—waters, heavens, dust, mountains, hills--are all puny compared to the immensity of God and His infinite nature!
b. Nature is under God’s sovereign rule, designs, and intentions. As R.C. Sproul puts it: “there are no maverick molecules running around in universe apart from God!” God determines everything in it (Acts 17:28).
c. And in vv. 13-14 God is the true source of all knowledge and His knowledge extends to all things past, present, and future. He knows it all because he ordained it all. God wrote the script, and is the director and the main character of the movie so to speak.
5. We must rest in God’s power
a. In vv. 25-31 we see that God is the everlasting God who has not disregarded His people. So, they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength. We must recognize our weakness and rest in God’s power and live with confident expectation in His promises.
c. Verses 10-11 captures all this well when it speaks of God as the shepherd who will gather his flock in his arms. This looks forward to when God would send Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to accomplish the ultimate salvation of His people! On the cross Jesus undertook the ultimate exile we deserved—the curse of God—so that we could be brought back to the true promised land of eternal life and union with Christ forever! Are you resting in the Sovereign Shepherd who has gathered you up in His arms and is carrying you close to His heart? Rest in His power and promise of salvation (see Romans 8:18-39)
Some final thoughts:
1. God’s sovereignty is one of the most complex doctrines in the Bible, but is of immense practical value. It teaches us that God is God, and we are not. He is in control (not angels, devils, nature, and not the “free will” of man), and God is working all things to a glorious end that is centered upon the person and works of Jesus Christ, and our redemption in Him.
2. Our call is not so much to fully understand, as it is to fully believe that He is indeed the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth, and that no power can frustrate His plans and purposes. Because God is sovereign, all of His promises in Christ are yes, and amen! You can trust Him. You can rest in Him. You can take comfort in Him. May we do that today!
To explore more about the sovereignty of God, see the extensive resources at: http://www.monergism.com/topics/sovereignty-god