The Sweet Commands of God
If, by God’s grace, you are assured that God is for you and not against you, then the more evidences you find of God’s sovereignty, the happier you are. And the wider the scope of God’s sovereignty, the more secure you feel in all the perils of love.
And he is for us. The gospel is the good news that, because of Christ’s blood and righteousness, we are justified by faith alone, and God is for us forever. In Romans 8:31-33 Paul says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect.”
So, if God is for us, then all his power is on our side. All his sovereignty is exerted for our good and never against us. All his decrees are for our ultimate benefit. How sovereign is God over the things that threaten our lives? When God commands, who and what must obey?
Let’s start at the highest enemy level. Good angels and evil spirits must obey God when he commands them with omnipotent authority: “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!” (Psalm 103:20). “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). So no demon can do anything to God’s elect except serve the ultimate purposes of God who is for us. (See an example of this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)
Then let’s consider the apparent enemy of the natural world that often hurts us with calamity and disaster and disease and obstruction. How sovereign is God over nature? What parts of nature can he command with effective power? Here are some Biblical examples:
“I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” (1 Kings 17:4). “Have you commanded themorning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Job 38:12). “He commanded the skies above . . . and he rained down on them manna” (Psalm 78:23). “[He] commands the sun, and it does not rise; [He] seals up the stars” (Job 9:7). “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah” (Jonah 1:17). “The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6). “God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7). “He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea” (Psalm 107:25). “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25). “He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes” (Psalm 147:15). “He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?” (Psalm 147:17). “I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it” (Isaiah 5:6). “He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark” (Job 36:32).
If God commands all demons and all natural elements, and they obey him, and if God is always for us and not against us, then everything that befalls the elect is for our good. Everything. “All things work together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose” because he rules all things and is only for us and not against us.
Is that not the point of Jesus’ logic when he said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. . . . Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31).
But the sweetest commands of God are not commands to demons and ravens and wind. They are the commands to his own love and blessing and covenant. “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me” (Psalm 42:8). “For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 133:3). “He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!” (Psalm 111:9).