Pastor Joe Valenti
Last week we spoke of God’s mercy and his patience — two vital characteristics of God. But we cannot be good students of the Bible or faithful Christians if we neglect the parts of God’s character that are difficult for us. This week we look to God’s sovereignty and his justice.
Point #1: God is more sovereign than you think.
Nothing happens in the world that God is outside of God’s power. In his book “No One Like Him” John Feinberg notes that sovereignty is closely related to God’s omnipotence. Omnipotence tells us how MUCH power God has – all power – he is God almighty. Sovereignty speaks to the scope of that power. God being sovereign means that he is the ultimate, final, and complete authority over everything and everyone.
In this passage I see several statements that speak to the sovereignty of God.
- vv. 1-2 : Pharaoh is going to let them go this time – even push them out
- vv. 2-3: The Hebrews will leave rich with the gold and silver of the Egyptians
- vv. 4-6: All of the firstborn will die – no one else can do this – only an all powerful, sovereign God.
- vv. 7: No trouble will come upon the people of Egypt
And we see this not only in this short interchange, but if we go back in the story, we’ve been seeing the sovereign hand of God at work all along.
Genesis 12:1–3, Genesis 15:13–14, Genesis 45:4–8
And, we see at the end of Genesis – an interaction with Joseph’s brothers where they are worried he is going to kill them for all of the wrongs that they did to him. And he reminds them that God is sovereign even over evil people doing evil things – in his perfect plan he means them and uses them for good.
God, in his sovereignty is doing exactly what he had planned. God rules and reigns over Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. God rules and reigns over Joseph’s interpretations of dreams that get him a hearing with the ruler of Egypt. God rules and reigns over the famine that allows for Joseph’s God given organizational talents to be on display. God rules and reigns over a new Pharaoh coming to rule and enslaving the Hebrew people for 400 years. And God rules and reigns over the tenth sign – in which he will strike down the firstborn in all of Egypt.
God is all powerful and sovereign even over life and death. God is the only one who gives life and takes life. Not a single person is born outside of God’s sovereign plan. And not a single person dies outside of God’s sovereign plan. There are no accidents.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- 1 Samuel 2:1-7
- Psalm 115:3
- Ephesians 1:11
God holds within himself the ultimate power of life and death – so whether you die at 2 or 102, no one dies outside of God’s sovereign plan. God is more sovereign than you might be comfortable with. This is the epidemic of our time – replacing the one true God with the idols we create in our mind of how we think God should be.
God is sovereign – he rules and reigns perfectly and finally over all things and people. And when we encounter this God – even in situations we do not understand, our right response is to follow Job and submit to his sovereign rule – recognizing that we don’t have the capacity to know the beginning from the end like he can. If you or I were given the responsibility to be in charge tomorrow, we would be terribly inadequate. Only God is God.
Point #1: God is more sovereign than you might realize.
Point #2: God is more just than you might realize.
Up until this point, God caused the signs and wonders but the animals and the weather did the work. The Locusts ate all the vegetation, the hail killed everything that was outside, the disease caused the livestock to die. But here – God intends to do the work. God himself with go throughout the land of Egypt and take the life of every firstborn in Egypt. And it is right that God should do this. God has been exceedingly merciful to Pharaoh and his people. God has been extraordinarily patient with Pharaoh – and still the desire of his heart is for himself, his own power, his own arrogance, and his own way. And so, God brings the judgement that Pharaoh deserves
And this a theme that we see throughout the Bible – God is just – God will punish the wicked.
- Psalm 37:8–10
- Psalm 37:27–28
This is not the last place that we see plagues in the bible. Revelation tells the story of how the world as we know it will end, how God will judge the wicked once-and-for-all, and how he will usher his people into the new heavens and the new earth for eternity.
The story continues for several chapters. The wicked remain unrepentant, they amass for war – as many as sands on the sea shore – for war against God. And fire comes down from heaven and destroys them all. It’s not even a battle. And Satan is judged and thrown into the lake of fire – the place of eternal, bodily misery for all who have opposed God and not bowed to his sovereign Kingship. And then we read of the final judgement of all humanity
We can discount and disregard the justice of God so often and for so long that we are jarred by its appearance in a sermon or in the Bible. We are prone to prefer the tame version of Jesus that we’ve created by pulling out on the portions of the bible that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But let us not forget that Jesus is both Lamb AND Lion.
He is the lion of the tribe of Judah that will come like the angel of death and cut down everything and everyone that is opposed to his rule and reign. And their eternity will be in the lake of fire. Justice will be fully and finally done at his hands.
But just like Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, we have these warnings. It says it right here in Revelation and throughout the Scriptures – that opposed God will bring consequences. The question on the table today is whether or not you’re going to believe the truth of God’s sovereignty and justice and respond to his mercy and patience while there is still available for you.
What God did is pretty extraordinary. In his perfect sovereign plan that rules and reigns over everything and everyone, he did something unexpected. He planned and implemented a moment in history where his mercy and patience collide with his sovereignty and Justice. God the Father planned for the life of God the Son, Jesus Christ, to be taken on your behalf.
We look at the taking of the lives of the firstborn throughout Egypt and we ask, how can God do this!? But then we see that God did not spare his own son, but cut his only son down in the middle of his prime, dead on a cross, murdered for crimes he did not commit, so that you and I might not have to face the justice that we deserve. Jesus takes on himself the punishment for your sin and he gives you his righteousness in return.