Summary: All things work together for ultimate good because God is Sovereign over all.

Sovereignty Gone Viral

(Isaiah 45:1-13)

1. My friend reviewed her young son's fill-in-the-blank homework. One line: "At Christmas, we exchange gifts with ____." His response: "Receipts." [Reader’s Digest]

2. The word “exchange” can imply the mutuality of gift exchanging, or returning an item for money, which is probably the more common usage. The boy is right.

3. God would exchange one empire for another: the Babylonian for the Medo-Persian. And he would do so to deliver his people from the Babylonians. This would be another Exodus.

4. At the first “Exodus,” Yahweh used a man of God, Moses, to deliver his people. At the “Second Exodus,” a pagan, King Cyrus, to return of the Jewish to the land.

5. The idea of God using a Pagan to deliver and bless Israel did not fit the theology of many of the Jews; indeed, many Christians today take the same attitude.

6. Yahweh is not only sovereign over the Kingdom of God, in which he delights; he is also ultimately Sovereign over the Kingdom of Darkness, though he puts that kingdom on a long leash. Thus he can accomplish whatever he wishes to do.

Main Idea: All things work together for ultimate good because God is Sovereign over all.

I. God Sometimes Takes Unbelievers By the Hand and PULLS Them Along (1-6)

A. God will lead CYRUS along (1-3)

The rulers of Babylonian typically took the hand of the idol-god Bel on their New Year, as had the Assyrians. But the Medo-Persian king would have God take his hand in contrast.

B. For the sake of JACOB (Israel) (4)

C. For the sake of God’s GLORY (5-6)

D. Three significant THEMES in the First Testament

1. Yahweh’s GLORY (the only God, sovereignty, holiness, love)

2. Yahweh’s FIDELITY to Jacob (Israel)

3. The scarlet thread of REDEMPTION

E. History and current events are NOT as they seem

All things work together for ultimate good because God is Sovereign over all.

II. God Has ORDAINED Blessings and Calamities (7)

Persian religion dealt with the opposites of light and darkness…

A. God creates LIGHT and well-being

B. God forms DARK times and calamity

KJV unfortunately translates “calamity” as “evil,” but “evil” has moral connotation

Job 2:7-10, “So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

1. This does not necessarily mean everything is directly from God

2. For example, Satan made Job miserable, but God permitted Satan…

3. James 1:13 teaches us that God himself does not tempt us:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

C. We might detest the PACKAGE, but bleak times pave the way for the Kingdom

Acts 14:22, “…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

D. We do not need to DEFEND God nor LIKE all his ways

E. How happy we are in life is based upon how well we ADJUST

Do we trust God even when we do not understand? Do we draw power from him, or lean upon our own understanding? Randy Kilgore shares this illustration:

My wife was working at home on her computer recently when she suddenly noticed her laptop battery power was low and the computer was about to shut down. The computer was plugged in, though, so it shouldn’t have been using the battery. Following the laptop cord to the extension cord, she finally noticed that the extension cord was actually plugged back into itself instead of the wall outlet!

All things work together for ultimate good because God is Sovereign over all.

III. God Rains Down BLESSINGS According to His Own Will (8-13)

A. Righteousness and SALVATION (8)

1. Brings to mind the account of the manna rained down…

2. Comes down from heaven; this text, along with 45:24-25, probably greatly influenced Paul in writing Romans.

1) Salvation is a gift bestowed from above,

2) righteousness we have in Christ is God’s righteousness.

3) This is us; we are the plants that grow and bear fruit!

B. The POTTER and the Clay (9)

✓I think it is funny when people try to tell me what I do as a pastor. They have ideas in their minds, and they somehow expect me to conform to their ideas. But, instead, I have to conform to how things are, not how they should be.

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