God is Sovereign Part One
Previously we examined the senselessness and consequences of idol worship. Here we will examine spheres that are subject to the sovereignty of the true and living God.
God’s significant relationships with the angels indicate His sovereignty over them.
God created the angels, signifying that He is their sovereign.
In eternity past, God determined to have a Kingdom that He would rule as King. He created two major types of personal subjects for His Kingdom. First, He created an enormous host of angels to serve Him primarily in the heavenly realm of His universal Kingdom. The apostle John saw hundreds of millions of angels around God’s throne in heaven (Greek text of Revelation 5:11). The prophet Daniel saw a similar spectacle (Dan. 7:9–10).
Because the angels were created by God, they owe their existence to Him. They are not self-existing beings. In Psalm 148:2–5, all of God’s angels are commanded to praise the Lord, “for he commanded, and they were created” (v. 5). In addition, the apostle Paul declared that angels were created (Col. 1:16).
God holds a position of authority over the angels, signifying that He is sovereign over them.
God created angels with different degrees of intelligence and power, established them in ranks on the basis of these differences, and organized them similar to the way armed forces are organized. Thus God is called “LORD of hosts” in the Old Testament (Ps. 24:10). The Hebrew word translated “hosts” means “armies”; therefore, God is “LORD of armies.”1
The holy angels constitute a powerful, heavenly army (or armies) that is divided into legions (Mt. 26:53); is under the command of other angels; and wages angelic warfare (Rev. 12:7). Thus God’s title LORD of armies indicates that He is the Commander in Chief of the angelic armies of heaven.
Angels obey God’s commands, revealing that God is sovereign over them.
King David wrote,
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts, ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure(Ps. 103:20–21).
Angels worship and adore God, signifying that He is sovereign over them.
The apostle John saw the four beasts, twenty-four elders, and all the holy angels worship God in heaven (Rev. 4:8–11; 5:13–14; 7:11–12). All of God’s angels are commanded to praise Him (Ps. 148:2). The multitude of angels who appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem praised God and ascribed glory to Him (Lk. 2:13–14).
God has authority to judge the fallen, evil angels, indicating that He is sovereign over them.
God has already administered some forms of judgment on these angels. For example, He cast the magnificent, wise, “anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezek. 28:14) from His heaven to the first heaven above the earth because that exalted angel became consumed with pride and became God’s great enemy, Satan (Ezek. 28:11–17; Eph. 2:2; 1 Tim. 3:6). God cast other angels from His heaven when they followed Satan in rebellion. Those angels are with Satan and under his command (Eph. 2:2; 6:12; Rev. 12:7–9). Because some fallen angels committed another grievous sin later, God imprisoned them in Tartarus (the abyss, or bottomless pit) until the great day of judgment (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6–7).
God will administer additional forms of judgment in the future. In the middle of the seven-year Tribulation, Satan and his fallen, free angels will be cast from the first heaven to Earth and will be confined here for three and one-half years (Rev. 12:7–17).
Satan and these angels will be removed from the earth and imprisoned in the bottomless pit in conjunction with Christ’s Second Coming after the Tribulation (Isa. 24:21–23; Rev. 20:1–3). They will remain there throughout the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ and His saints on the earth (Rev. 20:2–6).
After the Millennium, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will return to the earth to lead a final revolt against the rule of Christ and His saints; but God will crush it quickly (Rev. 20:7–9). Then Satan will be removed from the earth and cast forever into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10); and all the fallen angels will be “visited” with that same, final judgment (Isa. 24:22; Mt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6–7).
God has a purpose for history and will fulfill it, indicating that He is sovereign over history.
After God created an enormous host of angels to serve Him primarily in the heavenly realm of His universal Kingdom, He created the earth and then made man, the second type of personal subject. God gave man dominion over all the earth (Gen. 1:26–29). That act of God reveals the original form of government He ordained for the earth—a theocracy. In a theocracy, God’s rule is administered by a representative. God appointed the first man, Adam, to be His representative. Adam was responsible for administering God’s rule over the entire earthly province of His universal Kingdom.
After God completed the creation of His Kingdom, He evaluated everything as “very good” (Gen. 1:31). No part of His Kingdom had yet turned against Him. But later His most exalted angel became consumed with pride and turned into God’s enemy, Satan. Satan began a revolt to make himself like God, the Most High (Isa. 14:12–14). Since God was the ultimate sovereign of the universe, Satan wanted to be that ultimate sovereign. Since God had a Kingdom He ruled as sovereign King, Satan wanted to rule a kingdom as sovereign king. Since God had angelic and human subjects serving Him in His Kingdom, Satan wanted angelic and human subjects serving him in his kingdom. But, since Satan was only a creature and not the Creator, he lacked the ability to create angels and humans. The most he could hope for was to persuade God’s angels and humans to join Him in his revolt against God.
Satan persuaded a significant number of angels to join him. Thus the Bible refers to “the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7–9). He also succeeded in getting Adam and Eve, the first humans, to do the same (Gen. 3:1–6).
Because God’s representative, Adam, defected from Him, the theocracy was lost from the earth; and Satan usurped the rule of the world system away from God. He and his forces have dominated the world system ever since. Thus Satan indicated that he has authority to give the rule of the world system to whomever he wishes because it had been handed over to him (Lk. 4:5–6). Jesus called Satan the ruler of this world (Jn. 14:30), Paul called him “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), John declared that the whole world lies in wickedness (this could also be translated “in the wicked one,” 1 Jn. 5:19), and James indicated that anyone who is devoted to the present world system is God’s enemy (Jas. 4:4).
Now there were two spiritual kingdoms operating in the universe—God’s Kingdom and Satan’s. Satan revolted to make himself the ultimate, sovereign ruler of the universe. But God already was that ruler, and there can be only one. Thus the only way Satan could accomplish his goal would be to overthrow God and usurp His position by waging war against Him and His Kingdom. That war has continued throughout the course of history. It provides the key to understanding history’s ultimate purpose.
Satan’s purpose for history is to make himself the sovereign ruler of the universe. God’s purpose for history—the ultimate purpose—is to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the universe’s sovereign ruler. To fulfill that purpose, God must crush Satan by ridding the world of him and his kingdom rule and then restoring His theocracy to the earth. If God does not restore His theocracy for a significant time before Earth’s history ends, then He will be defeated by Satan within the scope of this present Earth’s history. Thus the Millennium is absolutely essential for God to fulfill His purpose for history.
For God to restore His theocracy, He must have a human representative, an “Adam,” who will administer His rule over the entire earth. God has such an Adam. His name is Jesus Christ, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). The theocracy was lost from the earth because the first Adam defected from God. Jesus Christ will return to the earth in His Second Coming as the last Adam to restore the theocracy and administer God’s rule over the entire earth. Jesus’ incarnation was necessary for this event to happen.
How will God crush Satan by ridding the earth of him and his kingdom rule? He will use a combination of the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ. Throughout the seven-year Tribulation, God will systematically devastate Satan’s kingdom by unleashing three series of judgments on his earthly domain (Rev. 6—18). The last series will culminate with Christ’s Second Coming, the complete end of Satan’s rule, and the restoration of the theocracy. Thus, when the last series will be unleashed with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, great voices in heaven will proclaim, “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (for a thousand years on this earth and throughout eternity on the new, eternal earth, Rev. 11:15).
After the Tribulation, Christ will come from heaven as God’s warrior to complete the work of crushing Satan and his kingdom (Rev. 19:11). He will rid the earth of Antichrist, the False Prophet, all the political rulers and armed forces of Satan’s kingdom (Rev. 19:19–21), all unsaved survivors of the Tribulation (Mt. 13:40– 42, 47–50; 24:37–41), Satan (Rev. 20:1–3), and all evil angels (Isa. 24:21–23).
Then Christ will restore the theocracy to the earth. As the last Adam, He will administer God’s rule over this entire earthly province of God’s universal Kingdom for the last thousand years of its history (Rev. 20:4–7). “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9).
As a result of crushing His enemy Satan and restoring His theocracy to this earth, God will have fulfilled His purpose for history and thereby demonstrate that He is sovereign over it.
- John E. Hartley, “sebaoth,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Press, Chicago, 1980, Vol. II, p. 750.