The Sovereign Lord and His Plan: 5 Truths

Prayer reveals a lot about what people really believe. In Acts chapter 4, we are given the privilege of listening into an early church prayer meeting prompted by the threat of persecution from the Jewish authorities. Their prayer betrays an unbelievably high view of God’s sovereignty over sin, human history and individual human actions.

And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, "' Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'- for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:24-28)



The title ascribed to God sets the theme. God is the ‘Sovereign Lord’. Added to this title are two descriptions: (1) The Sovereign Lord created the universe and (2) the Sovereign Lord foretold in the Scriptures the opposition to His Anointed (quoting from Psalm 2). This last point is explained as finding its fulfillment in Jesus.

“for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

Shockingly this opposition to Jesus was not simply foreknown, but was planned by God. Notice 5 points about this plan.

1. God’s plan dictates the events.

The plan was prior to all that took place, and predestined it all to be. The events that transpired were the outworking in time and history of what God had decided would happen.

2. God’s plan incorporates sin.

The crucifixion of the Son of God was perhaps the most heinous sin of all time. Creatures murdering their creator; could there be a greater expression of rebellion? Yet, it happened because God’s plan had predestined it to take place. Does this make sin good? No, sin is utterly abhorrent to God. Does this make God sinful? No, God is not a sinner in willing that sin be. But it does make sin purposeful. 

3. God’s plan incorporates human history.

It wasn’t just random people who opposed Jesus. Pontius Pilate was a particular individual. So was Herod, Judas and every other person gathered in Jerusalem to fulfill God’s plan. Think of all the strands of history that had to be weaved together to bring these individuals to this geographical/historical situation. They are referred to as ‘being gathered together’ in Jerusalem. The verb takes the passive form indicating this action happened to them. They didn’t just gather themselves together; someone else did the gathering. Guess who.

4. God’s plan incorporates human decisions and actions.

Who decided Judas would betray Jesus, God or Judas? Answer: Both. Who decided Pilate would hand Jesus over to be crucified, Pilate or God? Answer: both. Each person involved chose to do what they did. This is obvious from the gospel accounts. No one was forced to act against their will, and each was morally responsible for what they did (John 19:11). Yet each did what they did because God had planned that they would.

5. God’s plan is certain.

What God plans comes to pass. Notice the pairing of God’s ‘hand’ (signifying His power) with His plan. “…to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” God’s plan is accompanied by God’s power. It will happen. ‘“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, "What have you done?" (Daniel 4:35)’. The Sovereign Lord has a sovereign plan.

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