Sovereignty is the right or authority to exercise total control over a person, peoples, situation, or place.
God is sovereign, exercising his sovereignty over us. This concept doesn’t sit well with most people in today’s culture. This fact, however, doesn’t make it any less true, just harder to accept.
The concept of sovereignty is demonstrated brilliantly by the metaphor of a potter working with clay (Romans 9:21 et al), where the potter enjoys total control over what the clay becomes. (Note that this is just one word picture of understanding God and his relationship to his followers; it must be held in balance with other equally insightful — and more encouraging — metaphors that help us understand more fully who God is.)
In the story of Jonah, we see God’s sovereignty at work, with God exercising control over nature. Here’s what God does:
Furthermore, God’s sovereignty allows him to show mercy towards the people of Nineveh and not destroy them as he had originally planned.
However, God does not exercise control over Jonah, allowing him to do what he wants, when he chooses,and how pleases. Jonah has free will — and God does not interfere with that even though Jonah’s choices cause him a lot of grief.
God gives Jonah the freedom to mess up — or to do what is right. That’s how God rolls.
God is sovereign; it is one of his characteristics. To be sovereign means to have supreme rank, power, and authority.
The word sovereign appears hundreds of times in the Bible (mostly in the Old Testament) and is usually used as a title for God or in addressing him, as in “Sovereign Lord.”
Many people object to the idea that God is sovereign; it offends them or causes fear. That may be because of a tendency to see sovereignty from a human perspective. They assume that God’s sovereignty allows him to be malevolent; that is, he is just waiting for us to mess up and then he will do us harm — or give us grief just because he can. But that is not his nature.
God is good and just. His sovereignty actually allows him to be benevolent. He wants to do good to us, to offer us good things we don’t deserve (grace) and to withhold punishment that we do deserve (mercy).
God’s sovereignty allows for benevolence; his love prohibits malevolence.
The Bible contains many word pictures that help us to understand better our relationship with God. I have eight of them that I will share in the coming days. Note that each offers but a partial picture into God’s character and none is all-encompassing, but they are highly illustrative. Here is the first:
God is a potter and we are the clay.
He molds us and makes us into whatever he wishes, sometimes into elegant vessels and others into common utensils. From this, we can see God portrayed as being in control, creative, a craftsman, a workman, and sovereign. God’s sovereignty, is something that is not too popular in today’s world.
Correspondingly, we, as clay, are moldable, subject to his will and pleasure; we have no real will of our own.
[Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:6, Isaiah 29:16, Isaiah 45:9, Romans 9:21]