Category: God, Word: SOVEREIGNTY
May 22, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 1 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. In your hand are power and might, and it is in Your hand to make great and give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:12-13)
DEFINITION: God’s sovereignty includes both His power to do all that He wills and His rightful exercise of authority over His creation and His creatures. As the Almighty, His rule is righteous, and He expects human beings to recognize and submit to His lordship.
In the language of classic Christian teaching, God’s power is called His omnipotence. Whatever He wills surely comes to pass. After the New Testament period, the earliest Christian confession (the Apostles’ Creed) opened with the words, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Biblical teaching and Christian belief always and everywhere have declared the twin truths that God has all power and that He rules actively as universal Sovereign.
The Old Testament used various names for God, most of which underscore His rule as Lord, both of the world and of Israel. The following list shows the most important of these. The translation is that of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Other English versions are similar.
Hebrew Original English Translation
Yahweh (YHWH) Lord
Adonai Yahweh Lord God
Yahweh Sabaoth Lord of Hosts
El Shaddai God Almighty
In Scripture, adonai was also used for the human master in a master-servant relationship (Ex 21:1-6). Since the same term is applied to the God-human relationship, this shows His authority and the duty of His people joyfully to submit to Him. This master-servant bond was reciprocal. On one hand, the servant was to obey the Lord absolutely. On the other hand the Master obligated Himself to care for His servants. Those who called on God by His name, Lord, expected Him to take care of them, and God in turn expected their obedience in all things.
When the New Testament quotes the Old, the Greek kyrios (Lord) translates both Adonai and Yahweh. A striking example is the quotation of psalm 110:1 in Mark 12:36: “The Lord [Hebrew Yahweh; Greek kyrios] declared to my Lord [Hebrew Adonai; Greek kyrios], ‘Sit at My right hand until I put Your enemies under Your feet.’” Thus, when Jesus’ followers addressed Him as Lord, this meant much more than “master” in an earthly sense. Paul wrote that someday everyone will bow to Jesus and all will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:11). Hence Old Testament belief regarding God’s authority was recognized as fully resident in Christ. The New Testament term “master” (Greek despotes, from which the English term “despot” comes), used infrequently, referred either to a human master or to God as the sovereign Master (Lk 2:29; Ac 4:24; 2 Tm 2:21; 2 Pt 2:1; Jd 4; Rv 6:10).
REFLECTION: What is the distinction between God’s absolute power and His right to exercise authority? Do you agree that it is your duty “joyfully to submit to Him?” Why or why not?
PRAYER: Sovereign Lord, I acknowledge Your mighty power and wonderful rule over all things. I gladly submit to You and praise You that You care for me, Your willing servant. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.