God Is In Control (Isaiah 14; 1 Corinthians 15)
God had brought Israel out of the land of Egypt; yet how many times did they turn their back on him, especially when Moses went up into the mountain for forty days and nights? They constantly doubted that he was in control and was watching over them at all times. After Moses’ time, toward the end of Joshua’s time as well, he said to the people, “The Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day (Joshua 23:9).”
I had Isaiah 14 read this morning, not because it’s the subject of my exhortation to you, but because of a few lessons from a few verses in it. Verse 27 reads, “For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” A similar verse in 2 Chronicles 20:6, where Jehoshaphat says, “O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?”
In Isaiah 14:12-14, the Lord refers to Lucifer, the king of Babylon, who has said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Yet, God says Lucifer will be brought down to hell, and that all who see it will look upon him as being someone who thought very highly of himself but was humbled.
Lucifer is the king of Babylon; that is who God addressed in this chapter, but anyone can act like Lucifer, thinking that they are somehow higher than God, or that they can outdo him or mess up his plans. Verse 27 may be taken out of context here, but the principle applies—verses 12-14 are about someone who thinks they’re above God, but the chapter concludes with God answering that he is in control. In modern-day, Richmond Virginian translation, this verse essentially says, “When God makes a plan, there ain’t no one going to stop it or change it.” The Lord will not grant the desires of the wicked, lest they exalt themselves (Psalm 140:8).
Everything God said would happen did happen exactly as he said it would; every ‘i’ was dotted, every ‘t’ was crossed. Isaiah said Babylon would be destroyed, and it was. History confirms it. There are many other examples that show that God had a plan and that he would make it happen. Today, we have the same God as always; the same one who spoke to Abraham and Moses and so many others. He hasn’t changed (James 1:17).
Let’s look for a minute at this past Presidential Election. We saw something that has never been done in this country: an outsider won the highest office in the land, against all odds, and a complete U-Turn from the way the country was being run: from Democratic leadership to total control by the Republicans. But Donald Trump did not just defy odds to become the President; in fact, no President-elect has ever had to jump as many legal hurdles as Trump.
On the morning of November 9th, a lot of people woke up very surprised; they were either thrilled, upset, or indifferent. But it was the biggest political surprise that most could remember. That night, people in downtown Richmond and many other cities gathered together in the streets to protest the election results, saying that Trump was “not my President.”
Between then and the official Electoral College vote on December 19, many attempts were made, mostly by the far-left, to undo the result of the election. Jill Stein tried to get a few states to recount their vote totals; many others tried to get the Electoral College to change their vote to someone other than Trump. In some states, it would have been legal to do that. The chances of it happening were very slim already, seeing as they would have needed at least 37 Republican electors to defect from Trump, but a giant effort was made. Some electors said they received thousands of postcards from people pleading with them to change their vote. But it did not work; only two electors defected from Trump, leaving him with 304 out of 270 needed to win the Presidency. On January 6, Congress met for a joint session, to certify the Electoral College vote; even then, Trump could have still been disallowed the White House, and many House Representatives tried to object to the vote count, which would have required the House and the Senate to discuss it and decide what to do or which candidate to award the votes to. None of the objections were entertained by Vice President Biden, and the vote was certified. Some delusional people even tried to use the courts to keep Trump from taking office. In all these cases, it was a small group of people who thought they could get their way by causing the most uproar, even using the phrase “We the People” to describe themselves, when really it was just a few loudmouths who acted as if their feelings were more important than anyone else. Even after Trump became President, and even now, there has been resistance; some celebrities encourage their fans and followers to resist this President in whatever way they can, to make his life and job as difficult and miserable as possible.
What all this has in common is that none of it has succeeded. Two years ago, no one really saw this coming; but God saw it coming from miles away; God probably worked with Trump for years in advance, when he was on “The Apprentice” and selling real estate and whatever else he did. The same thing applies with Barack Obama and George Bush and every world leader in the past.
Sure, if this country was left to itself, Trump may have still been elected. But God just ensured it. He had some reason for setting up Donald Trump to become one of the most powerful men on the planet; we just don’t know what it is yet. What we do know is that “the most High rules in the kingdoms of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the basest of men (Daniel 4:17).” It is written in Proverbs, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).”
God is also in control of the universe; not just here on earth. This coming August, there will be a total solar eclipse over certain parts of the United States; I hope to see it. God controls what happens all throughout the universe (Job 26:7-14).
We live in a world full of stress; half of all doctor visits now are stress-related. How much sleep have you lost because of stress, even just recently? David was fleeing from Absalom when he wrote, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (Psalm 3:5-6),” and he also wrote, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8).” I saw a picture online recently that said, “God is in control. Go to sleep.” It’s hard for me sometimes.
I’m not very old; most of you here are older than me; but even in my youth, I can’t remember a time in this world where so many people were afraid. During the election season, I was talking to my aunt, who is not a believer; she said she was really worried about what would happen if Hillary got elected as President. Many people out there now are worried about what will happen because of the current administration. Some people on both sides promised to move out of the country if the other candidate was elected. But we need not worry or be afraid as so many others are. They may be afraid because they are depending on people for their peace and happiness. Even though people like our family and our friends certainly can bring some peace and some happiness, it most likely does not last. Most are probably afraid because of the unknown. Some think that our President will start World War III; either him or some madman, either in Russia or North Korea. But we know that God created the heavens and formed the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18); he is not going to let anyone press the proverbial “red button” that could wipe out the planet.
He is always watching; that could be good news or bad news for us. Look at 2 Chronicles 16:9—“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” Now this is one of those verses where I wish that it had ended there; it may have been something that was not thought about by the people who divided up the verses. But this verse goes on to say, “Herein thou hast done foolishly; therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” King Asa had done something foolish; he had relied on the king of Syria instead of relying on the Lord his God (2 Chronicles 16:7). This verse is a great verse, but it is also a warning, that God is in control, and we are to remember that.
Be careful what you say to God; if you tend to vent when you’re angry he will hold you accountable; have you ever cursed at him or yelled at him as if it’s his fault? Let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2); talk to him but remember that he knows what he is doing; he is not hard of hearing or forgetful as if he needs a reminder (Isaiah 59:1).
The Lord told Joshua, after Moses died, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9). The most frequently used command in scripture is “do not fear.” No weapon that is formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). We’re told to “be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).” The Psalmist also wrote “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also shall rest in hope (Psalm 16:8-9).” He gives his angels charge over us, to protect us in all our ways (Psalm 91:11). He that watches over Israel does not sleep, and he will protect our going out and coming in from this time forth and even for evermore (Psalm 121).
Paul asks, “What shall we say then? If God be for us, who then can be against us (Romans 8:31)?”
Even though God is in control, we still have to do work. Psalm 127 starts out, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Psalm 127:1).” The Proverbs say that even though a horse may be ready for the day of battle, victory is from the Lord (Proverbs 21:31), and that even when a lot is cast, or in today’s world, when a coin is flipped, the Lord controls the result and knows it beforehand (Proverbs 16:33). You may notice in Psalm 127 that builders and watchmen are still needed; God does not do all the work. Reading and praying won’t get you anywhere if you don’t get out and do something. As an example, if you are asking God for help in finding a job, but don’t go and apply somewhere, you can’t expect your phone to ring with someone asking you for an interview. If you’re asking the Lord for help in finding a spouse, you can’t just expect them to show up on your doorstep; you have to actually go out and meet people and give God the chance to give the increase.
The Lord also works in the body of Christ, of course. He has been working with this great group of people here and many other places; we can look back at good and bad times and see that they have brought us to where we are now.
Jesus said that he would rise after three days; even the angels said “Why seek the living with the dead? For he is risen (Luke 24:5-6),” almost as if they were asking “What are you doing here? He said he was going to rise (Matthew 17:22-23).” They knew the scriptures; they knew where it said, “For you will not leave my soul in hell, neither will you suffer your Holy One to see corruption (Psalm 16:10),” and from Isaiah 53:8-12.
Nothing is left to chance when God does something. Yes, time and chance happen to everyone, but when God takes control, there is no chance of anything else happening.
God is in control; we see it from Genesis to Revelation, we see it in the way the universe works, we see it in the nations of the world, and we see it in ourselves. He was in control yesterday; he is in control today; he will still be in control tomorrow. It’s something to remember, to always keep in mind.