The question today: Is God sovereign over people?
There are many examples in Scripture that help us answer this question. Consider the evil tyrant Pharaoh who harshly oppressed the people of Israel in Egypt. He enslaved the entire people group and made them work in desperate, harsh conditions. Because he feared that they would grow too large in number, he decreed that all male babies be thrown into the Nile River as a sacrifice to his gods.
Moses shows up under the command of God and orders Pharaoh to release God’s people. After a series of God-delivered plagues, Pharaoh demands them to leave Egypt – all of them! But how will these impoverished slaves obtain the resources they will need for their journey? God is sovereign over people, the Egyptian people, and Pharaoh.
“Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”
“And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. The Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!”
God sovereignly influences the decisions of people. From a human perspective, we are at the mercy of other people. We are impacted by their decisions and actions toward us. Sometimes people treat us favorably, but sometimes people work against us with evil intent. Can God change their evil intentions? Yes, indeed, and at times He does just that in line with His purposes for us. Other times, he allows evil people to carry out their plans, but only to the extent that it fulfills God’s ultimate purpose of His glory and our good.
“The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;
he guides it wherever he pleases.”
Yes, God is sovereign over people. Yet the Bible also clearly teaches that people are free agents with moral responsibility. These two truths will never be reconcilable to our human understanding. We accept them both to be true because the Bible is clear that both are true.
Jerry Bridges, in his book, Trusting God, helps us here with three truths:
- God is infinite in His ways, as well as His being. Our finite mind cannot comprehend an infinite being beyond what He expressly reveals.
- God is never the author of sin. Thought people’s sinful intents and actions serve the sovereign purpose of God, we must never conclude that God has induced anyone to sin. (James 1:13-14)
- The Bible consistently portrays people as making real choices of their own will. The choices people make are moral; that is, people are held accountable by God for the choices they make.
So how should you respond when your plans or your future lies in the hands of someone else?
Pray! God will prompt and restrain according to His will.
Have confidence in God’s sovereignty over the other person.
God never allows people to make decisions about us that undermine His plan for us! God is for us, we are His children, He delights in us.
For the Lord, your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”