2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14; Romans 9:1-24;
Psalm 19:1-14; Proverbs 20:1
Yachts are the closest a commoner can get to sovereignty.
Today, God is involved with good King Asa. Asa has taken over as the king in the Southern Kingdom of Judah/Israel. God is pleased with Asa and provides peace in the land for a period of time. Asa removes pagan altars and shrines that litter the land. He smashes the sacred pillars and cuts down the obscene Asherah poles, even the one put up by his own mother. The Bible tells us that Asa is able to build up his fortified cities, because God is giving him rest from his enemies.
At one point, an Ethiopian leader named Zerah attacks Judah with a one million man army. Asa wisely cries out to God, who is sovereign, to help him against this enemy. We have been informed that Asa only has 580,00 men to fight. God intervenes, fights for Israel, and secures their victory. After this victory, God uses a prophet to remind Asa that if he seeks God, he will find God. But if he abandons God, then God will abandon him. Asa accepts God's words, sacrifices as a sign of belief in the coming Messiah, and covenants to have himself and his people follow God, alone.
As time passes and Asa gets comfortable as the king, he is invaded by the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This time he does not consult God. Instead, he makes a treaty with the Arameans. Asa gives King Ben-hadad silver and gold from the Lord's Temple as payment to attack the Northern Kingdom. Ben-hadad is successful, but the Lord is displeased with Asa's methods. God states that His eyes search the whole earth for people to strengthen, whose hearts are fully committed to Him. Asa has fallen short in his faith.
What can we learn from Asa? Well, it is good to seek the Lord in all things. God brings peace and victory to those who seek Him. God is searching the earth for people who are committed to Him. He wants to strengthen those people. God is sovereign and involved in the events of this world.
How do these truths change your life?
So what happened? Did God fail in His promises about the Jews? No. There are several reasons that the events during Paul's life do not represent failures by God to accomplish His purposes for the Jews. Paul's first argument is that a person is not just a Jew by birth. A person can also be a Jew by belief in Jesus Christ. Paul quotes the Scriptures that say that Abraham has other children that are counted, in addition to Isaac's descendants (Genesis 21:12). Paul explains that this means that Abraham's physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. There is a distinction. The children of God are the children of promise.
Another proof that it is not good enough just to be of Jewish blood to be considered God's child is the story of Jacob and Esau. Both boys are born of Abraham's blood, but Jacob is chosen as God's child and Esau is rejected as God's child. Paul then asks, "Is God being unfair?" The answer is no. Paul quotes Genesis 18:10 and 14 when he explains that God gets to show mercy to whomever He wants to show mercy. He is also right in showing compassion to whomever He wants to show compassion.
Paul says that this is proof that we do not choose or work hard to receive the promise of God. God is the one who chooses and shows mercy in doing so. Paul furthers this argument by pointing out that God chose Pharaoh for the very purpose of showing His power in him and spreading His own fame across the earth. God shows mercy to some just because He wants to, and He chooses to make some people refuse to listen to Him. This is the definition of SOVEREIGNTY. This is complete unrestricted power and authority.
Paul then deals with whether or not God has a right to blame people if they don't listen to Him, since He made them not listen. Paul approaches this attempt to question God's actions by reminding us that we are pots made by a potter. The creation does not question the one who created it. One pot can be made to be decoration and another pot can be made as a receptacle of garbage. This is the right of the sovereign potter. God can do as He wishes. This is the truth about our God. Trust in His Goodness.
God has a right to pass judgment where He sees fit, and He has a right to be merciful and patient where He sees fit. He also has the right to pour out the riches of His glory to some and not to others. Paul indicates that God has decided to do this with both Jews and Gentiles.
God's sovereignty is a jarring reality for many. It is a stumbling block for some. Would you want a God who was not in control of His creation? God uses the good, the bad, and the ugly to show us His personality. There must be evil to show the good. There must be sorrow to show joy. There must be rebellion to show obedience. There must be Satan's darkness to show God's light.
Can you submit to God and trust that He is good? Can you accept God's sovereignty?
If today's teaching has shaken you to your core, read this psalm to find comfort.
This proverb is an indictment against the wine culture of our day.
What did you learn today? Don't be afraid to share.
PS. Happy Birthday to my son, Paul. Twenty-two years ago, God answered multiple prayers in multiple ways by bringing my first born son into the world. I love you, my dear!