The Sovereignty of God
By Arthur Pink
The Sovereignty of God in CREATION
"You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power! For You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created!" Revelation 4:11
Having shown that sovereignty characterizes the whole Being of God, let us now observe how it marks all His ways and dealings.
In the great expanse of eternity, which stretches behind Genesis 1:1, the universe was unborn, and creation existed only in the mind of the great Creator. In His sovereign majesty, God dwelt all alone. We refer to that far distant period before the heavens and the earth were created. There were then no angels to hymn God's praises, no creatures to occupy His notice, no rebels to be brought into subjection. The great God was all alone amid the solemn silence of His own vast universe. But even at that time, if time it could be called—God was sovereign.
He might create—or not create, according to His own good pleasure. He might create this way or that way; He might create one world or one million worlds—and who was there to resist His will? He might call into existence a million different creatures and place them on absolute equality, endowing them with the same faculties and placing them in the same environment. Or, He might create a million creatures each differing from the others, and possessing nothing in common but their creaturehood, and who was there to challenge His right? If He so pleased, He might call into existence a world so immense that its dimensions were utterly beyond finite computation; and were He so disposed, He might create an organism so small that nothing but the most powerful microscope could reveal its existence to human eyes.
It was His sovereign right to create, on the one hand, the exalted seraphim to burn around His throne—and on the other hand, the tiny insect which dies the same hour that it is born. If the mighty God chose to create millions of differing creatures in His universe, from loftiest seraph—to creeping reptile; from revolving worlds—to floating atoms; from macrocosm—to microcosm; instead of making everything uniform—who was there to question His sovereign pleasure?
Behold then, the exercise of Divine sovereignty, long before man ever saw the light. With whom did God take counsel in the creation and disposition of His creatures. See the birds as they fly through the air, the animals as they roam the earth, the fish as they swim in the sea—and then ask, Who was it, that made them to differ? Was it not their Creator who sovereignly assigned their various locations and adaptations to them!
Turn your eye to the heavens and observe the mysteries of Divine sovereignty which there confront the thoughtful beholder: "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory" (1 Cor. 15:41). But why should they? Why should the sun be more glorious than all the other planets? Why should there be stars of the first magnitude and others of the tenth? Why such amazing inequalities? Why should some of the heavenly bodies be more favorably placed than others in their relation to the sun? And why should there be "shooting stars," "falling stars," "wandering stars" (Jude 13), in a word, ruined stars? And the only possible answer is, "For Your pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
Come now to our own planet earth. Why should two thirds of its surface be covered with water—and why should so much of its remaining third be unfit for human cultivation or habitation? Why should there be vast stretches of marshes, deserts and ice-fields? Why should one country be so inferior, topographically, from another? Why should one be fertile—and another almost barren? Why should one be rich in minerals—and another own none? Why should the climate of one be congenial and healthy—and another uncongenial and unhealthy? Why should one abound in rivers and lakes—and another be almost devoid of them? Why should one be constantly troubled with earthquakes—and another be almost entirely free from them? Why? Because thus it pleased the Creator and Upholder of all things!
Look at the animal kingdom and note the wondrous variety. What comparison is possible between the lion—and the lamb; the bear—and the rabbit; the elephant—and the mouse? Some, like the horse and the dog, are gifted with great intelligence—while others, like sheep and swine, are almost devoid of it. Why? Some are designed to be beasts of burden—while others enjoy a life of freedom. But why should the mule and the donkey be shackled to a life of drudgery—while the lion and tiger are allowed to roam the jungle at their pleasure? Some are fit for food—while others are unfit. Some are beautiful—while others are ugly. Some are endowed with great strength—while others are quite helpless. Some are fleet of foot—while others can scarcely crawl—contrast the tortoise and the hare. Some are of use to man—while others appear to be quite valueless. Some live for centuries—while others a few months at most. Some are tame—while others fierce. But why all these variations and differences? What is true of the animals is equally true of the birds and fish. Why? Because thus it pleased the Creator and Upholder of all things!
But consider now the vegetable kingdom. Why should roses have thorns—and lilies grow without them? Why should one flower emit a fragrant aroma—and another have none? Why should one tree bear fruit which is wholesome—and another that which is poisonous? Why should one vegetable be capable of enduring frost—and another wither under it? Why should one apple tree be loaded with fruit—and another tree of the same age and in the same orchard be almost barren? Why should one plant, flower a dozen times in a year—and another bear blossoms but once a century? Why? Truly, "whatever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in the earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psalm 135:6).
Consider the angelic hosts. Surely we shall find uniformity here. But no! There, as elsewhere, the same sovereign pleasure of the Creator is displayed. Some are higher in rank than others; some are more powerful than others; some are nearer to God than others. Scripture reveals a definite and well-defined gradation in the angelic orders. From arch-angel, past seraphim and cherubim, we come to "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 3:10), and from principalities and powers to "rulers" (Ephesians 6:12), and then to the angels themselves, and even among them we read of "the elect angels" (1 Timothy 5:21). Again we ask, Why this inequality, this difference in rank and order? And all we can say is "Our God is in the heavens, He has done whatever He has pleased" (Psalm 115:3).
If then we see the sovereignty of God displayed throughout all creation—why should it be thought a strange thing if we behold it operating in the midst of the human family? Why should it be thought strange if to one, God is pleased to give five talents—while to another only one talent? Why should it be thought strange if one is born with a robust constitution—while another of the same parents is frail and sickly? Why should it be thought strange if Abel is cut off in his prime—while Cain is allowed to live on for many years? Why should it be thought strange that some should be born black—while others are born white; some be born idiots—while others are born with high intellectual endowments; some be born constitutionally lethargic—while others are full of energy; some are born with a temperament that is selfish, fiery, egotistical—and others are naturally self-sacrificing, submissive and meek? Why should it be thought strange, if some are qualified by nature to lead and rule—while others are only fitted to follow and serve? Heredity and environment cannot account for all these variations and inequalities. No! It is God who makes one to differ from another! Why should He? "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight" must be our reply."The Lord has made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4).
And had He not a perfect right to? Since God is God, who dare challenge His prerogative? To murmur against Him is rank rebellion. To question His ways is to impugn His wisdom. To criticize Him is sin of the deepest dye. Have we forgotten who He is? Behold, "All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are considered by Him as worthless and less than nothing! To whom, then, will you compare God?" (Isaiah 40:17, 18).