Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Sovereignty of God over Nature & Creation

A. Over Nature and Weather
Psalms 104; 105:16; 135:7; 147:7-20; 148; Job 9:5-10; 26:5-14; 37:1-24; 38:8-38; Mark 4:39,41. Other texts:
"It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses" (Jer. 10:12-13).
"Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not Thou, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in Thee, for Thou art the one who hast done all these things" (Jer. 14:22).
"And furthermore [declares the Lord], I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up" (Amos 4:7). "

- Sam Storms

"Perhaps no word expresses it more pointedly than that of the Psalm: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6). The import is that the word, or breath of God, breath being the symbol of His almighty, creative will, is the antecedent, or prior cause, of all that is. "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast" (vs. 9). This mode of statement harks back to the first chapter of Genesis, where on some eight occasions the successive steps of the creative drama are introduced with the formula "and God said."
God made heaven and earth; by his spirit the havens were garnished; he laid the foundations of the earth; by wisdom he founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; his hands stretched out the heavens, and all their host he commanded; heaven and earth, his hand made, and so all those things came to be; he made the sea and the dry land; he is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega; he is the beginning of creation; by his will, heaven and earth were, and were created (2 Kings 19:15; Job 26:13; 38:4; Prov. 3:19; Isa. 42:5; 44:6; 45:12; 66:2; Jonah 1:9; Rev. 1:8; 3:14; 4:8).
The piety on which the Scripture places its imprimatur is true piety; this, we find, rests upon, and is necessarily suffused with, the recognition of God's creatorhood. The address to God in adoration, prayer, and praise begins with it; the address to men in law and gospel rests upon it. The faith that is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," the faith through which the catalogue of saints had witness borne to them that they were righteous, is the faith through which "we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). And when Paul made his appeal to the idolatrous Athenians that God now commandeth men that they should all, everywhere repent, he began his address by saying, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 17:24).
If the sovereignty of God rests upon the fact of his oneness and upon the fact of creation, it may be said to consist, first of all, in the right of dominion and rule over all and in the fact of universal possession. The Psalm sounds this note succinctly. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Ps. 24:1). The prophets do the same when they affirm that he is "the God of the whole earth" and as the "Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will" (Isa. 54:5; Dan. 4:17, 25). In the formula of Melchizedek and of Abraham, he is the "possessor of heaven and earth" (Gen. 14:19, 22), and in the words of Paul, "in him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28)."
- John Murray

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 differeth 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 Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11).
Come now to our own planet. 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 kid, 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, others unfit; some are beautiful, others ugly; some are endowed with great strength, others are quite helpless; some are fleet of foot, others can scarcely crawl—contrast the hare and the tortoise; some are of use to man, others appear to be quite valueless; some live for centuries, others a few months at most; some are tame, others fierce. But why all these variations and differences?
What is true of the animals is equally true of the birds and fishes. 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? Truly, "whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in the earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Ps. 135:6).
- A.W. Pink

"One night while working on this chapter, I watched the evening news on television. One of the top stories was about several powerful tornadoes that swept across central Mississippi killing seven people, injuring at least 145 more, and leaving nearly 500 families homeless. As I watched the scenes of people sifting through the rubble of what had been their homes, my heart went out to them. I thought to myself, “Some of those people undoubtedly follow Christ. What would I say to them about God’s sovereignty over nature? Do I really believe it myself at a time such as this? Wouldn’t it be easier to just accept Rabbi Kushner’s statement that it is simply an act of nature-a morally blind nature that churns along following its own laws? Why bring God into chaos and suffering such as this?”
But God brings Himself into these events. He said in Isaiah 45:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” God Himself accepts the responsibility, so to speak, of disasters. He does more than accept the responsibility; He actually claims it. In effect, God says, “I, and I alone, have the power and authority to bring about both prosperity and disaster, both weal and woe, both good and bad.”
This is a difficult truth to accept as you watch people sift through the rubble of their homes or-more to the point-if you are the one sifting through the rubble of your home. . . . We obviously do not understand why God creates disaster, or why He brings it to one town and not to another. We recognize, too, that just as God sends His sun and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous, so He also sends the tornado, or the hurricane, or the earthquake on both. . . . God’s sovereignty over nature does not mean that Christians never encounter the tragedies of natural disasters. Experience and observation clearly teach otherwise.
God’s sovereignty over nature does mean that, whatever we experience at the hand of the weather or forces of nature, all circumstances are under the watchful eye and sovereign control of our God."
- Jerry Bridges

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