“When we woke up on Wednesday morning, the world was suddenly a more scary and less predictable place.” So wrote one political commentator (Robert Peston) about the news that Donald Trump has been elected to be the next President of the United States. Other people expressed stronger reactions of deep unease, panic and even despair, describing it as a “dark” and a “devastating” day. The website for applications for Canadian citizenship crashed on the news and there have even been reports that State of California is contemplating breaking away from the United States altogether. Many American cities have seen protests and even riots with slogans such as, “Not my President”. For me that rejection of the democratic process is much more disturbing than the actual outcome of the election.
The analysists and the media did not see any realistic likelihood of the “uniquely unqualified” Donald Trump beating the supremely qualified Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency. Even those who did were surprised by the margin of his victory! It appears that a major reason why Trump won was because he tapped into the feelings of a number of marginalised groups, particularly white working class men and rural voters, who felt that the current political establishment and economic systems were just not working for them. People who saw the big cities and the coastal elites prospering while their farms and their factories were closed and their communities left to decay. People who felt overlooked and left behind viewed Donald Trump as “their candidate” precisely because he was the underdog and the outsider, both to Washington politics and to his own Republican Party. Perhaps more than anything else, many people were just voting for a change from the status quo. Many Americans, and among then many Christians, were prepared to overlook Donald Trump’s personal flaws and were swayed instead by allegations of deception by Hillary Clinton. Some probably saw Trump as the lesser of two evils. Even more than the unexpected result of the Brexit Referendum, the outcome of this Presidential election has many lessons for us all, and not least for the churches in America. This election may just prove to be the most significant political event in my lifetime. Because the result has left many people very worried.
People are troubled because Trump’s campaign has been extremely divisive and discriminatory, sexist and racist and playing on people’s fears. People are nervous of his foreign policies in relationships with Russia, China, North Korea and NATO. Many businesses are optimistic but financial markets are troubled by his wish to abandon Free Trade deals with Canada and Mexico. And while the world is reeling from this news, we pause today to remember those who gave their lives to win our freedom. We are reminded of so many examples of man’s inhumanity to man – the legacy of Auschwitz and Belsen and the horrors of the Holocaust. Such atrocities continue even today at the hands of Daesh – the so called Islamic State. The recent wars in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan and Nigeria have taken at least two million lives. With all this on top of Tuesday’s election, no wonder many people think that the world is in a bigger mess than ever!
As Christians, what should we think about all these things? How can we avoid being dragged down into the depression and despair so many people seem to be trapped in? The message for today is very simple. God is still on the throne! Whoever is on the thrones of human empires, this Almighty and Eternal God is still on the throne of heaven and earth! Donald Trump may be going to be President of the United States, but Jesus Christ is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There will always be wars and rumours of wars. “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” But we must never forget – God is still on the throne!
Today is a day to proclaim the surpassing greatness of God – the greatness no-one can fathom.
Psalm 150:2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
J.B.Phillips wrote a book, Your God is too small, and he was right!! WHATEVER ideas you have about God, your God just isn’t big enough! Your ideas about God aren’t great enough! God’s surpassing greatness is so great – no-one can fathom it! Although we can catch glimpses that greatness. The Bible reminds us in so many places about the awesome power of the natural world. In Creation we see a greatness which is so much bigger than we are, and that shows us just a fraction of the greatness of God. The heights of the mountains and the vastness of the oceans and the unstoppable power of a hurricane or a glacier give us just a glimpse of the even greater greatness of God.
Job 38: 4 ¶ “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you
understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a
measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Back in the 18th century Thomas Paine wrote “Do we want to contemplate God’s power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth.”
Of course the whole of Creation is much, much, much bigger than our little planet Earth! Our minds stretch to consider the vastness of space – God is bigger than space.
Isaiah 40:25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Job 38:31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God’s] dominion over the earth?
We lift our eyes to the grandeur of creation and the vastness of space. God is bigger than space. Then consider the sheer power displayed in the natural world. God is so much greater than hurricanes and earthquakes and volcanos and tsunamis. I have never experienced a hurricane or a tornado but I have sat huddled on Kinder Scout in the Peak District battered by the driving rain and wind as lightning struck the hillside less than 50 yards away. When you are outdoors, thunderstorms can be terrifying, even in England!
When God spoke out of the power of a storm, Job realised that God is much bigger, much greater, much more powerful than he can possibly imagine.
Job 37:14 ¶ “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is
perfect in knowledge?
A. W. Tozer wrote,
“ Our concepts of measurement embrace mountains and men, atoms and stars, gravity, energy, numbers, speed, but never God. We cannot speak of measure or amount or size or weight and at the same time be speaking of God, for these tell of degrees and there are no degrees in God. All that he is he is without growth or addition or development. … To say that God is infinite is to say that he is measureless. …. (God) is above all this, outside of it, beyond it. Indeed God is above and outside and beyond the whole of creation. Before anything in the universe existed, there was God Almighty!”
The laws of nature, the rules of space and time, only exist because God created them! They only continue because God keeps them going. God is powerful enough to bend or break or change those rules whenever and wherever He chooses. God is THAT great and Almighty!
Jim Packer wrote: “Your thoughts of God are too human. This is where most of us go astray. Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of his limitless wisdom and power. Put this mistake right: learn to acknowledge the full majesty of your incomparable God and Saviour.”
God is beyond our ken—infinite, immense, and his real greatness is known to himself alone. Our mind is too limited to understand him.
Psalms 145:3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no-one can fathom.
Think for a while about the unsurpassable unfathomable greatness of God.
God is OMNIPOTENT. God is Almighty God can do absolutely ANYTHING He chooses. “Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37)
God is OMNISCIENT. God has TOTAL knowledge, understanding and wisdom
God knows everything there is to know about the past, the present and the future
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counsellor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)
So God completely understands our situations.
God is OMNIPRESENT. God is everywhere and with us all the time
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-10)
God is with us whatever problems we face.
God is ETERNAL. God is outside time and beyond time. God is before created time and after created time.
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. Isaiah 46:10
God sees this world and God sees every detail of each of our lives from the perspective of eternity.
Here is the unsurpassable unfathomable greatness of God. Omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal. Bow down and worship – for THIS is your God!
ISAIAH 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
To Almighty God, the nations of the earth are like a drop in the bucket and dust on the scales. God reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. Donald Trump may be President Elect of the United States, arguably the most powerful individual in the Western world. But God is on the throne of heaven. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The word that theologians use to describe this state of affairs is the Sovereignty of God. God is Sovereign
In his landmark book, “The Sovereignty of God”, A.W.Pink explained things this way. By the sovereignty of God, “We mean the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His hand or say unto Him what doest Thou?
Daniel 4 34 … I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”
Pink goes on, “To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in Heaven and earth, so that none can defeat His counsels, thwart His purpose, or resist His will.
Psalm 115 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is “The Governor among the nations”, setting up kingdoms, overthrowing empires, and determining the course of dynasties as best pleases Him.
Psalm 22:28 Dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15) This is the God of the Bible.”
The Bible declares God’s Sovereignty in so many places!
Isaiah 14:26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
God is ruler of all things – God is Sovereign. I am sad to say that too often Christians today have lost sight of the Sovereignty of God. We have lost confidence in the fact that God is on the throne, God is ruler of all things, God is in control, God is the boss!
Ultimately nothing happens on earth unless He has allowed it!
Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37-38)
God is Sovereign whether the peoples of the world choose to recognise that sovereignty or not! God is sovereign. Jesus is not Lord because people invite him or allow Him to be Lord. Jesus is not only Lord of the people who recognise and submit to His Lordship. Jesus is Lord of all! Exclamation Mark! God is Sovereign over everything! Exclamation Mark! God is Ruler of all things. God is in control. God is the boss!
God is in control of the big things and God is in control of the little things as well. God rules over men and nations, and God rules over the smallest details of all of our lives. It is not usually world events which cause Christians to question whether God is really on the throne. Nor is it usually the abstract philosophical problem of innocent suffering.
Rather it is suffering in our own lives or in the lives of people we love. It is illnesses and accidents and bereavements which more often cause us to doubt whether God is really in control of our lives. It is events and experiences in our own lives which lead us to ask whether God really intended that terrible thing to happen to me, or to that person I love. And it is also when other people hurt us or disappoint us that we start to question whether God is Sovereign or not.
What we need to remember is that God never promises that our lives will be comfortable or easy. What He does promise is that, however hard life gets, and however much it may appear otherwise, God will never fail us or forsake us. The Almighty Creator God is entirely powerful enough to keep His many promises to us. And the Sovereign God is faithful and He will care for us!
Today we mourn in Remembrance for the horrors of the World Wars of the last century. We are saddened by the conflicts which continue in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan and Nigeria. We are troubled by the plight of refugees in Europe and benefits claimants in our own country. Many here today are weighed down by our own illnesses and griefs and anxieties and fears. And on top of all this, we contemplate a future with Donald Trump as President of the United States. Closer to home we face all the uncertainties which Britain leaving the European Union will bring. So now is the time to declare with faith that God is still on the throne. Jesus Christ is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Our Almighty, All-knowing, Ever-present, Eternal Creator God is still Sovereign. God encourages us to put our trust in Him. And He says to us,
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)